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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 – USCIS releases update regarding pending H-1B Petitions.

Section 2 – Mandatory LCA registration begins October 1st.

Section 3 – US Embassy in Pakistan halts issuance of visas to the U.S.

Section 4 – USCIS to implement new naturalization test starting October 1st.

Section 5 – Senate Passes Bill to Extend Conrad 30 and Religious Workers Programs.

Section 6 – ICE announces new fee structure for Student and Exchange Visitors.

Section 7 – Important Processing Times Updates for All Service Centers.

Section 8 – 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 – USCIS releases update regarding pending H-1B Petitions.
We have learned through our AILA liaison that the USCIS has provided information regarding pending H1B petitions. USCIS historically accepts more petitions than it has numbers to account for denials, withdrawals, etc. Under the regular cap, USCIS accepted 71,000 petitions and under the master’s cap, USCIS accepted 22,000 petitions.

To date, 59,100 petitions under the regular cap have been approved and 9500 remain pending. 19,500 petitions under the master’s cap have been approved and 2100 remain pending. This accounts for 92% of the regular cap allotment being reached already and 97% of the master’s cap.

95% of the regular cap petitions have been touched and 94% of the master’s cap petitions have been touched. That leaves 3500 petitions untouched for the regular cap and 1400 untouched for the master’s cap. USCIS expects to get to all of them shortly, but it may not be by October 1.

Unfortunately this means that about 3,600 petitions may have passed through the first stage of getting receipted, but actually obtaining an approval may be impossible. Please contact our office if you require assistance with obtaining your H1b work visa.

 

Section 2 – Mandatory LCA registration begins October 1st.
Beginning October 1, 2008, anyone wishing to create and submit an LCA Form 9035 electronically on the DOL website must do so through an account. Previously, the LCA online system had a function which allowed one to generate an LCA without registering. The system will no longer accept electronic applications submitted by non-registered users. Creating your own personal account is free and can be done by clicking on the “Register” link on the LCA online system page.

 

Section 3 – US Embassy in Pakistan halts issuance of visas to the U.S.
After a recent increase in terrorist activities, including a massive suicide truck bomb attacking the heavily guarded Marriott Hotel in Pakistan earlier this month, the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan has announced that they will halt all issuance of both immigrant and non-immigrant visas to the U.S.

The terrorists that targeted the American hotel chain committed one of the largest and most terrible terrorist attacks ever in Pakistan killing at least 40 people and wounding at least 250. Sources say that the attacks occurred as a result of the growing anger in Pakistan over a wave of cross-border strikes on militant bases by U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

The U.S. Embassy in Pakistan indefinitely halted issuing visas and stopped other consular services effective Thursday September 24, 2008. According to the Embassy’s website, both immigrant visa interviews and non-immigrant visa interviews will have to be rescheduled. The Embassy has stated that they will contact immigrant visa applicants to advise them of their new appointment dates, while Applicants for non-immigrant visas should contact their local American Express or Speedex Office and reschedule their appointment. Please check back for more updates regarding this announcement.

As of now, the U.S. Embassy is only offering emergency services to Americans. The Embassy reiterates its advice to all Americans to take appropriate individual precautions to ensure their safety and security at all times. These measures include maintaining good situational awareness, avoiding crowds and demonstrations and keeping a low profile. Americans should avoid setting patterns by varying times and routes for all required travel. Americans should ensure that their travel documents and visas are valid at all times.

American citizens are encouraged to register with the nearest Embassy or Consulate

 

Section 4 – USCIS to implement new naturalization test starting October 1st.
The USCIS has announced that they will begin administering a redesigned (new) naturalization test on October 1, 2008. The USCIS had originally begun steps to change the test to create a more standardized, fair, and meaningful naturalization process.

USCIS recently completed a multi-year redesign of the naturalization test after various pilot test programs. After receiving feedback from the pilot program, the results were used to finalize testing procedures. English reading and writing prompts were completely overhauled and a list of 100 new history and government questions has been updated. To ensure the pilot program accounted for a representative sample of candidates with a variety of education levels, the test was also piloted at adult education sites nationwide.

The revised test now includes an emphasis on the fundamental concepts of American democracy and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship in hopes that it will help encourage citizenship applicants to learn and identify with the basic values we all share as Americans. The major aim of the redesign process was to ensure that naturalization applicants have uniform, consistent testing experiences nationwide and that the civics test can effectively assess whether applicants have a meaningful understanding of U.S. government and history. Applicants will now follow a basic U.S. history and civics curriculum, in hopes that these questions will instrument an interest in civic learning and patriotism among new and prospective citizens.

If you have recently applied for citizenship, or, are considering applying please read below the following guidelines which will determine whether you will take the current test or the redesigned (new) test.

If you:

• Filed the Application for Naturalization, Form N-400, BEFORE October 1, 2008, and are scheduled for your naturalization interview BEFORE October 1, 2008, you will take the current test.

• Filed* the Application for Naturalization, Form N-400, BEFORE October 1, 2008, and are scheduled for your naturalization interview ON or AFTER October 1, 2008 up until October 1, 2009, you can choose to take the current test or the redesigned (new) test.

• Filed* the Application for Naturalization, Form N-400, ON or AFTER October 1, 2008, you will take the redesigned (new) test.

• Are scheduled for your naturalization interview ON or AFTER October 1, 2009, regardless of when you filed* the Application for Naturalization, Form N-400, you will take the redesigned (new) test.

* NOTE: If you fail the English and/or civics test during the first exam, you will be required to take the same version of the test, current or redesigned (new), when you are retested, even if the retest is scheduled on or after October 1, 2009.
For additional information regarding the new test questions, please visit http://globallawcenters.com

 

Section 5 – Senate Passes Bill to Extend Conrad 30 and Religious Workers Programs.
On September 26, 2008 the Senate passed by unanimous consent a bill to extend the Conrad 30 program and a bill to extend the religious worker program. While the bills are not yet available, our understanding is that both programs are extended through March 6, 2009. We will post the bills as soon as they become available.

The bills will now go to the House, where they will most likely be considered on the Suspension Calendar. Bills on the Suspension Calendar are only debatable for 40 minutes, may not be amended, and require a 2/3 vote for passage.

 

Section 6 – ICE announces new fee structure for Student and Exchange Visitors.
In an attempt to upgrade an outdated paper-driven system, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has finalized the enormous fee increase to students, schools and businesses that sponsor F, M and J visas. Published their final rule for the new fee structure required by certain schools and international students and exchange visitors within the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). This final rule will adjust the SEVP school certification petition fees and the SEVIS I-901 fees for foreign citizens seeking to become academic or vocational students, or exchange visitors.

Those in support of this fee increase believe that it will significantly enhance SEVP operations and establish procedures for the oversight and recertification of participating schools. Julie L. Myers, Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for ICE, states that,   “U.S. colleges and universities attract hundreds of thousands of individuals from overseas every year, and validating the identity of foreign students, verifying their intentions for entering our country, and knowing where they are while they are here is
critically important to the security of our country.”

Fee changes made in the SEVP rule will affect both students and schools. Schools now hand over a hefty sum of $1,700 for a school certification petition and $655 for each site visit for certification (before the fee change schools were only paying $350 for certification and $230 for site visits). Fees for non –immigrant students have now been raised to $200 for each F or M student (before this change the fee for non-immigrant students was only $100); and there will be a $180 fee for certain J exchange visitors. Schools currently participating in SEVP will not be required to pay additional fees to recertify under this new fee structure. The return from the new fees will fund the creation of a new database used to track visiting students, improve interactive features for school administrators, and dramatically reduce on user errors.

All fee payments addressed in SEVP final rule must be made in the amounts established by this rule. ICE first announced the new fee structure in April to a group of post-secondary education stakeholders and their respective national associations as well as through publication in the Federal Register inviting public comment on this proposed rulemaking. SEVP does not receive any federal appropriated funds. The program is obligated to increase its fees to comply with regulatory requirements and periodically review its fee structure to ensure its’ costs are fully covered; and to enhance its capability to improve national security and counter immigration fraud.

 

Section 7 – Important Processing Times Updates for All Service Centers.
USCIS has updated the processing dates for VSC, TSC, NBC, CSC, and NSC. Visit our website at http://globallawcenters.com where you can find all the links to these updates!

 

Section 8 – 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.