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U.S. IMMIGRATION NEWSLETTER  is the E-Newsletter regarding U.S. Immigration Laws, News & Issues compiled by GLOBAL LAW CENTERS on a Bi-weekly basis and special news issues are sent when important immigration news arises. It is a must reading for potential immigrants, employers and human resources managers. It provides analysis of the latest developments in U.S. immigration laws. Information provided in this newsletter is general information only and may not apply to any particular set of facts or situations.

 

Disclaimer: Readers are encouraged to consult a qualified immigration lawyer in order to obtain proper legal advice according to the case specific situation. The information provided in this newsletter is not legal advice or transmission of this information and receipt by you does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. All information contained in this newsletter is generalized. Any reliance on information contained herein is taken at your own risk. Readers should not act upon any information without first seeking advice from a qualified immigration attorney. To continue receiving this U.S. Immigration Newsletter via email, follow this link to subscribe. To Unsubscribe, please go to the end of this email and click the URL provided.

 

Topics In This Issue

Section 1 – Department of State releases October 2008 Visa Bulletin-EB-3 Category backlogged for start of FY2009

Section 2 – CPB addresses immigration enforcement for victims of Hurricane IKE

Section 3 – OIG Release study on K-1 Fiancee visa holders and SSN’s

Section 4 – DHS Releases update on Naturalization Processing times & FBI Name Checks

Section 5 – ICE asks School to create emergency disaster plan for foreign students

Section 6 – Introducing: Global Law Centers Immigration News Blog

 

CONSULTATION: GLOBAL LAW CENTERS (Toll free: 1-800-605-5801), assists in obtaining visas, permanent residence, and citizenship status, i.e., green cards, work permits and other non-immigrant visas on behalf of individuals, as well as for corporate, business, academic, scientific, governmental and non-profit clients. Successful immigration starts with a law firm solidly grounded in experience and commitment; a firm that both excels and understands the diverse needs of global clients. While Global Law Centers are experts in handling all aspects of employment-based and business immigration, we are also widely known as a firm willing to take on, and who successfully tackle, not just the ordinary, but the extraordinary situations that can arise.  At Global Law Centers, all our cases and clients are given continuous, full and individualized attention; communication is of the ‘highest priority’; and we bring years of experience to each and every matter. Global Law Centers takes pride in representing clients from all nationalities and locations anywhere in the United States or abroad on employment based U.S immigration matters. Our philosophy is simple: we care about our clients. Please contact our office to schedule one time free consultation with no obligation. You will have an opportunity to speak in depth of your case with our office & discuss your immigration plans and alternatives.

 

Section 1 – Department of State releases October 2008 Visa Bulletin-EB-3 Category backlogged for start of FY2009
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) released the October 2008 Visa Bulletin on September 11, 2008. Visa dates are announced by the DOS every month. Only applicants who have a priority date earlier than the cut-off date may be allotted a number.  Should it become necessary during the monthly allocation process to immediately retrogress a cut-off date, supplemental requests for numbers will be honored only if the priority date falls within the new cut-off date.

Reactions about the updates for EB-2 category have been mixed. We have seen dramatic changes for the past two months with priority dates in EB-2 moving forward by years for both India and China only to have October’s visa bulletin showing a retrogression of three years for India, and two years for China. So many were looking to the October visa bulletin in hope that visa numbers would replenish even slightly at the start of the new fiscal year.

While we are extremely disappointed about the results of the backlog for EB-2 Categories for India and China, clients who fall into the EB-3 category have been placed in the same frustrating situation. Back in the June 2008 Visa Bulletin, visa numbers for the EB-3 Category were backlogged extensively.  Those clients especially from India, China, and the Philippines had seen little progress in advancement of priority dates for most of FY2008. Now, with the FY2009 release visa numbers seem to be starting out worse off than they were before. For example, in the release of the June 2008 visa bulletin, applicants from the Philippines were able to apply for their Adjustment’s if they had a priority date of March 2006 or before. Now, with October’s release the ability for citizens from the Philippines to file adjustment cases will be limited to those who have priority dates of January 2005…that’s over a year of retrogression!

Unfortunately, we predict that the EB-3 category will continue to move slowly. It may be some time before the bulletin begins to show even the slightest recovery of the cut-off dates.

Make sure to stop by our website for the latest updates and information on the DOS Visa Bulletins. Pursuant to INA § 245(a)(3), aliens with priority dates prior to the cut-off dates shown on the Visa Bulletin will be eligible to file adjustment of status (green card) applications during the month of October 2008.

 

Section 2 – CBP addresses immigration enforcement for victims of Hurricane IKE
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has stated that they are currently maintaining normal border security operations at and between our ports of entry in the potential Hurricane IKE impacted area of the border.

In addition, the agency has maintained liaison with officers at local, state and FEMA command and coordination centers in order to most effectively commit our resources to those agencies and individuals in need.

In case the conditions become extreme, the CBP has prepared by stating they will forward deploy or put on alert some of our specialty units, Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue and Border Patrol Tactical Unit and have additional frontline personnel and equipment from outside the impacted area on standby to deploy should it become necessary to assist in the recovery effort.

CBP has assured the public that enforcement responsibilities will be safe, and speedy at an officially ordered evacuation. In addition agents and officers are available to help anyone, regardless of citizenship or nationality. Enforcement operations will not impede the evacuation and sheltering of residents during an officially ordered evacuation.

 

Section 3 – OIG Release study on K-1 Fiancee visa holders and SSN’s
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report this month discussing the issues that they’ve seen with K-1 Fiancee visa holders being issued social security numbers. Part of their research included obtaining a data extract of 10,293 original SSN’s assigned to K-1 visa holders from April 1 through December 31, 2005. From this population, the OIG randomly selected a sample of 250 records to determine whether the K-1 visa holder (1) married and changed his/her immigration status, (2) departed the
United States or (3) remained in the United States beyond the date DHS authorized.

Not surprisingly they found that K-1 visa holders who did not marry their American petitioner and had remained in the United States beyond the date DHS authorized date.  Additionally, they also discovered that of the individuals who did not marry the intended spouse, many had wages posted to their earnings records after their immigration status expired.  Current DHS regulations authorize K-1 visa holders to work and the Social Security Act allows K-1 visa holders to obtain an SSN before they marry, from what OIG believes is not okay.

While the OIG believes the Social Security Administration should not assign SSN’s to K-1 visa holders until they marry and adjust their immigration status with DHS, we must also point out their error in the lack of research as to why they did not marry intended spouses.

 

Section 4 – DHS Releases update on Naturalization Processing times & FBI Name Checks
After the July 2007 fee increase the US DHS witnessed an immense amount of filings for Naturalization applications. With such an unprecedented amount of pending applications, hopeful to-be citizens found themselves facing long delays for receipting, processing, and FBI background checks. However, times have improved according to the DHS. The USCIS Ombudsman announced a significant decline in the number of pending FBI name checks for individuals seeking immigration benefits in the United States. FBI name checks, one of several security screening tools used by the USCIS, have delayed the adjudication of benefits for many thousands of applicants.

Michael Dougherty USCIS Ombudsman commented that. “Congress provided the necessary funding for USCIS and the FBI to complete a larger percentage of FBI name checks in a timely manner. We appreciate the resolve of USCIS and the FBI in realizing this customer service achievement; both lack of funding and delays had been a significant concern of my office. We are happy to see significant progress is being made.”

In a previous release, the USCIS Ombudsman had identified FBI name check delays as one of the major hurdles to improved customer service at USCIS in his 2008 and 2007 Annual Reports to Congress. USCIS now anticipates naturalization application processing will average 10-12 months nationally by the end of September 2008. Previously USCIS estimated that processing naturalization applications would take 16-18 months before reducing the estimate to 14-16 months and later to 13-15 months. Average processing times significantly increased after the surge in immigration filings in the summer of 2007.

 

Section 5 – ICE asks Schools to create emergency disaster plan for foreign students
When a natural catastrophe like Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Ike strikes thousands of families, and residents become displaced without vital records, insurance cards, or even worse, immigration documentation.  In hopes to avoid future problems for foreign students studying in the US, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has asked SEVP-Approved Schools to create emergency disaster plans.

Resulting from the effects of Hurricane Katrina ICE has noted that the damage to large scale buildings, infrastructure and telecommunications systems led to the displacement of many international students throughout the affected Gulf Coast region. It has been reported that school officials and students had few lines of communication through which to share information and assistance. First addressing safety the schools then created interim plans to either continue or cancel classes for the semester.  If a school was unable to reopen SEVP provided emergency guidance on how to transfer students to other SEVP-certified schools around the country. While some cases were resolved and prepared, many schools were unprepared for, the magnitude of the event and lack of preparation for such a catastrophe led to an extended period of instability and confusion.

ICE has now asked SEVP schools to develop a COOP (Continuity of Operations) plan which will help school officials in developing a method by which students can communicate their location, safety concerns, and short and long-term plans during a crisis.

In creating a COOP plan, school officials should focus on the following information, as suggested by the DHS:

Communication is critical. Can you easily contact your international student population? Do you have emergency contact information/email addresses for all students, an individual to be notified in case of an emergency or the student’s next of kin? Do students have emergency points of contact at the school? Do they know how to contact SEVP?

Nonimmigrant documentation must be preserved. Have students been instructed to hand carry their travel documents, including the passport, visa, I-20, I-94 card, immunization record, proof of personal finances and student ID?

Regulations must be observed. Do your administrators and students know the basic rules governing how students can maintain status in the event of a crisis? Are both parties well-versed in the regulations with respect to transferring between SEVP-certified schools, the definition of a full course of study, student reporting and registration requirements, online training guidance and coordinating special tuition arrangements in the event that classes are postponed or cancelled?

Records must be accessible. Do you have a backup server for electronic records/communication? Does the International Student Office (ISO) maintain copies of the students’ documentation, including passport, visa, immunizations and emergency contact information? Is the ISO aware of the notice protocols involved if a death occurs? Does the ISO know which government agencies to contact?

Alternate arrangements should be pre-established.

Do you have pre-arrangements with other schools by which instructors can provide offsite instruction to your displaced student population? If not, do you have agreements with other schools to which your displaced students could easily transfer? Do you offer online classes that can be substituted for on-site training/education? Do these classes meet Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) requirements?  Has your school considered the use of educational resources such as Blackboard (Bb)? Can teachers go virtual? Can your administrative staff operate remotely/virtually? This includes provisions for encrypted laptops for key personnel, communications equipment, Satcom phones, Blackberry devices for text messaging (Katrina-affected schools noted that instruments such as a Blackberry worked when cell phones could not) and cell phones with alternate area codes.

Emergency guidance should be disseminated ahead of time and during the crisis. Can you post emergency instructions on your Web site from a remote location? Do you have an operational plan to do so?

All parties should be prepared. Have you established a training program? Have you established a listserve and points of contact for communication?

While it is excellent that the DHS has created this guide to assist schools in emergency disasters it is important that these agencies also demonstrate compassion in these types of situations. Evidence has shown that Noncitizens in the affected area suffered all the same types of experiences and losses as others, but others have experienced severe complications by unbending provisions of immigration and public benefits laws. Specifically, these Katrina survivors lost their right to remain in the U.S. even, in some cases, temporarily when the loved ones whom they accompanied to the U.S. lost their lives or when the jobs they’d come to perform or schools they’d come to attend were swept away by the storm.

 

Section 6 – Introducing: Global Law Centers Immigration News Blog
Global Law Centers is pleased to announce the new Immigration News Blog just added to our website. So, why are we blogging? We take pride in providing the most up-to-date immigration news and memos. Blogging will allow Global Law Centers to communicate with our clients and others interested in the ever-changing arena of immigration law. With the addition of this blog, we can elaborate on news topics we cover and bring you up-to-date information that you may not have access to or the time to find on your own.

It also allows our firm to have a conversation with you. We hope you will share your thoughts on the topics we cover and ask plenty of questions. Is there a topic you want to learn more about? Please let us know! Make sure to visit our Blog at http://globallawcenters.com/blog/.

 

Copyright © 2008, GLOBAL LAW CENTERS. All rights reserved.

 

The information contained in GLOBAL LAW CENTERS U.S IMMIGRATION NEWSLETTER is intended strictly to be used for information purposes and to educate the public in a general manner. The information contained in this newsletter should not be considered legal advice, legal consultation, expressed or implied representation or a formal or an informal retention of this office. To create a formal attorney-client relationship a retainer must be signed and a fee must be paid to this office. Our response to any of your questions, comments, concerns etc. does not establish an attorney-client relationship. By responding to your questions we do not consider ourselves your attorneys. The response to your questions are strictly informational in nature and should not be considered or used as legal advice in any manner. The information contained on this site is general information on immigration laws and issues. The general information that is included in this web page will not cover the various exceptions and loopholes that are prevalent in the Immigration laws. We hope that our newsletter will educate you and hopefully enhance your understanding of Immigration laws. To read more information please visit GLOBAL LAW CENTERS website.