Reports of Scam Letters Being Sent to L-1A Executives

Members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) have reported that suspicious letters are being sent to L-1A executives. The scam letters claim to be from USCIS and signed by Lori Scialabba, Deputy Director of USCIS. The letters use incorrect grammar and make reference to the receiver’s recently approved I-129 Petition for nonimmigrant worker being under investigation. USCIS has confirmed that they did not send the letters. To report a scam letter, please send a copy of the letter to Public.Engagement@uscis.dhs.gov with the subject line “L-1A Executive Letter Scam.”

An example of one of these reported scam letters can be found here: L-1A Executive Scam Letter

Rachel is an intern with the firm and is not a practicing attorney.

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DHS Proposes To Raise Filing Fees By 21%

In a proposed rule published in the May 4 Federal Register, DHS is proposing to raise its fees by an average of 21% to recover the full cost of USCIS operations.

DHS is also proposing to establish a three-level fee for Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. First, the standard Form N-400 fee would increase from $595 to $640. Second, DHS would continue to charge no fee to an applicant who meets the requirements of sections 328 or 329 of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 with respect to military service and applicants with approved fee waivers. Third, DHS would charge a reduced fee of $320 for naturalization applicants with family income greater than 150 percent and not more than 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. DHS is proposing these changes to increase the access to United States citizenship.

To read more about the fee increases proposed by DHS, see the Federal Register notice published on May 4, 2016. DHS invites the public to submit comments on or before July 5, 2016. See www.regulations.gov and search for “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Fee Schedule” to submit comments.

Rachel is an intern with the firm and is not a practicing attorney.

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USCIS Has Completed Data Entry of FY 2017 H-1B Cap-Subject Petitions

On May 2, 2016, USCIS announced that it has completed data entry for all FY 2017 H-1B cap-subject petitions selected in this year’s lottery. H-1B cap-subject petitions that were not selected in the lottery are being returned. USCIS is unable to provide a definite time frame for returning petitions and asks that petitioners do not inquire about the status of a case until they receive a receipt notice or an unselected petition. USCIS will issue an announcement when all the unselected petitions have been returned. In addition, some H-1B petitions are being transferred from the Vermont Service Center to the California Service Center. If a case is transferred, a transfer notification will be sent in the mail.

Rachel is an intern with the firm and is not a practicing attorney.

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Posted in H-1B Visa Petitions, In The News

Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Important Immigration Case, United States v. Texas

On April 18, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in United States v. Texas, the lawsuit challenging President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. The case concerns a program that President Obama announced in November of 2014 called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA. This program would allow more than four million unauthorized and undocumented immigrants who are the parents of citizens or lawful permanent residents to apply for a program that would spare them from deportation and provide them work permits. President Obama issued these actions in response to Congress’ inactivity in dealing with immigration reform. Along with DAPA, President Obama announced an expansion to the existing program Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which is aimed at non-citizens who came to the country as children. A topic of argument in the case is whether or not the President has overstepped his authority by announcing these programs and taken over something that would normally be handled by Congress.

Most of the April 18 arguments suggest that the court will break in a 4-4 split along party lines. A 4-4 tie would uphold a Texas appeals court ruling that blocks the program and denies President Obama the chance to revive it while he remains in office, therefore allowing a renewed challenge to the plan once the court is back at capacity.

To read more information about the case, please visit the articles below:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/19/us/politics/supreme-court-immigration.html?_r=0

http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/18/politics/supreme-court-immigration-executive-actions-texas/

To read the transcript of the court proceedings, click here.

Rachel is an intern with the firm and is not a practicing attorney.

 

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USCIS Has Completed FY 2017 H-1B Cap Lottery

On April 7, 2016, USCIS announced that it had received enough H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 visas for FY 2017. They also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption, also known as the master’s cap. In total USCIS received more than 236,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period which began on April 1. On April 9, 2016, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and the 20,000 master’s cap. Only about 27% of H-1B petitions that were filed were selected in this year’s lottery. USICS will reject and return all unselected petitions with their filing fees. Premium processing for H-1B cap cases will begin no later than May 16, 2016. Read the full alert on the H-1B cap lottery here.

Rachel is an intern with the firm and is not a practicing attorney.

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Posted in H-1B Visa Petitions, In The News

USCIS Transfers Workload from the Vermont Service Center to the California Service Center

USCIS has issued an alert on workload transfer from the Vermont Service Center (VSC) to the California Service Center (CSC) to balance workloads and decrease processing times. The CSC will now be processing some:

  • Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, for petitioners requesting L-1 Intracompany Transferee nonimmigrant classification;
  • Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, for the L-2 nonimmigrant classification; and
  • Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, for L-2 nonimmigrants applying for employment authorization.

If USCIS transfers your case, they will send you a transfer notice. The original receipt number will not change and the transfer will not delay the processing of your case. USCIS asks that you allow two weeks from the date of the notice before referring to the webpage for CSC processing times for your petition. The filing location and instructions for the previously mentioned forms have not changed.

For more information and to read the alert, click here.

Rachel is an intern for the firm and is not a practicing attorney.

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Posted in In The News, Nonimmigrant Visas, USCIS New Policies/Procedures

DOS Announces New Policy for Phasing-out of U.S. Employment Authorization for Diplomats’ Dependents

The Department of State has announced a new policy for phasing out the ability of diplomats’ dependents holding A-2 visas to receive employment authorization in the U.S. For new applications, the Department’s Office of Foreign Missions (OFM) will consider applications only from dependents of PA2 employees who began or will begin employment between July 1 and December 31, 2015. For renewal applications, OFM will consider applications only from a PA2 employee’s dependents whose current employment authorization card (EAD) expires on or before June 30, 2016. This new policy is outlined in the Office of Foreign Missions’ (OFM) Diplomatic Note dated November 18, 2015.

Rachel is an intern with the firm and is not a practicing attorney

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USCIS Will Begin Accepting H-1B Petitions for FY2017 on April 1, 2016

USCIS has announced that it will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the fiscal year (FY) 2017 cap on April 1, 2016. The congressionally mandated cap on H-1B visas is 65,000. The first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the 65,000 cap. USCIS expects to receive more than 65,000 petitions within the first five business days of this year’s program, and the agency will notify the public when the H-1B cap has been reached. H-1B petitioners may still request premium processing together with their petition. Premium processing will begin no later than May 16, 2016

For more information on filing and premium processing, please visit USCIS’ press release.

Rachel is an intern with the firm and is not a practicing attorney.

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DHS Extends OPT Period to Improve Opportunities for F-1 Visa STEM Students

The Department of Homeland Security published a final rule in the Federal Register on March 11, 2016 that will allow certain international students to stay and work in the United States on their student visas as long as three years after graduating. Certain STEM students (students studying science, technology, engineering, and math) with an F-1 visa who have elected to pursue 12 months of optional practical training (OPT) will be able to extend that OPT period by 24 months. Previously, the extension period was 17 months. The new regulations give STEM students the opportunity to apply for an H-1B visa multiple times to increase their chances of being allowed to work in the U.S. long-term.

To read more about the new visa rules, visit this article. You can read the final rule in full here.

Rachel is an intern with the firm and is not a practicing attorney.

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Posted in In The News, Nonimmigrant Visas

Carnival company voluntarily dismissed from H-2B prevailing wage class action

Last week, plaintiffs from a proposed class action involving H-2B visa guest workers voluntarily dismissed a Florida amusement park company from the pending litigation. The case involves the prevailing wage rate offered to guest workers.

This proposed class action involves the guest workers’ ability to receive supplemental prevailing wages. The prevailing wage rate involves two government agencies: the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The DHS issues H-2B visas for foreign workers coming to the United States to perform non-agricultural labor. The DOL requires that employers pay these workers at least the prevailing wage.

In November 2015, Pablo Gonzales-Aviles and Heleodoro Pena-Gonzalez filed a complaint on behalf of H-2B guest workers against the DOL and 79 identified employers. The potential class could exceed 1,500 workers—all the workers in the 79 companies’ employ. The complaint alleges that the guest workers on H-2B visas have yet to receive payment for work performed in 2013 because the DOL allowed the employers to challenge a wage increase. The complaint further alleges the wages were required pursuant to Supplemental Prevailing Wage Determinations (SPWDs) that the DOL issued to H-2B employers in accordance with a court order in Comite de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agricolas v. Solis, 933 F.Supp.2d 700 (E.D. Pa. 2013) and the DOL’s Interim Final Rule published on April 24, 2013, in response to the order. 78 Fed. Reg. 24,047 (Apr. 24, 2013). Due to the employers’ challenge to the DOL, the plaintiffs allege, the employers kept the lower wages throughout 2013.

On February 17, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed one of the 79 named companies, Interstate Amusements of America, Inc., a Florida-based amusement park company. This dismissal follows the February 1 filing of a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim and for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Several of the companies jointly filed this motion to dismiss, stating the workers lack legal standing to bring this lawsuit. On February 18, the plaintiffs filed a response to the motion to dismiss, stating the DOL’s policy on paying the prevailing wage gives the workers the necessary “injury-in-fact” to establish constitutional standing.

The case is pending in the U.S. District Court for the District Maryland, Case No. 1:15-CV-03463-MJG.

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About ABCs of Immigration Law
The global economy has become increasingly transactional and transcontinental. Since 9/11, there have been many amendments to immigration laws in the United States that have largely affected both individuals and businesses. Cozen O'Connor's immigration law blog, ABC's of Immigration Law, focuses on the interests and the challenges faced by those individuals and business impacted by immigration laws.
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