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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.   


 

In This Issue

1. October 2010 Visa Bulletin-continues to show Substantial Movement in Family Category.

2. I-9 Verification Compliance by ICE.

3. USCIS continues to accept H-1B petitions for fiscal year 2011.

4. USCIS Lockbox.

5. DV Visa Lottery – What is it?.

6. Reduction in Unauthorized immigration since Mid-Decade.

7. Acronym of the Month: USCIS.

8. Processing Times.


 

Section 1 – October 2010 Visa Bulletin-continues to show Substantial Movement in Family Category

The visa bulletin for October 2010 was released this month showing substantial movement in both the employment and family based categories with oversubscribed visa numbers. 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

Since May of 2010 we have seen a drastic increase in all family based categories with the most significant numbers moving in the 2A, 2B, and 3 preference categories.

Family-First Preference

In May 2010 visa numbers for all countries were backlogged to September 2004. In the past five months we have seen numbers in this category move up to February, 2006. That’s over a year and a half of movement for those unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. Citizens.

While we see relief for those waiting in all countries there are still major backlogs for both Mexico and the Philippines in the 1st preference category leaving those family member who filed back in 1997 an extensive amount of time before their numbers become available.

Remaining Categories

In Family 2A category, we have seen a surprising jump in numbers for the Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents across the board. May 2010 Visa Bulletin had number stuck at December 2006 priority dates (Mexico-June 2005) however astonishingly the numbers for all 2A categories are nearly current allowing many applicants to file for their green card right away.

Visa Bulletin movement and CSPA? (Child Status Protection Act)

The CSPA amended the Immigration and Nationality Act (Act) to permit an applicant for certain immigration benefits to retain classification as a child under the Act, even if he or she has reached the age of 21. The CSPA added section 201(f) for applicants seeking to qualify as Immediate Relatives and section 203(h) for applicants seeking to benefit under a preference category, including derivative beneficiaries. It does not matter if the alien aged out before or after the enactment date of the CSPA, so long as the petition is filed before the child reaches the age of 21 provided the alien did not have a final decision prior to August 6, 2002 on an application for permanent residence based on the immigrant visa petition upon which the alien claims to be a child.

A beneficiary’s CSPA age is determined using the formula below:

    • To determine the age of you must take the date that a visa becomes available whichever is the later of (a) the first day of the month of the Department of State (DOS) Visa Bulletin, which indicates availability of a visa for that preference category or (b) the petition approval date if a visa number is already available on the approval date.
  • Subtract the number of days the petition was pending as described in paragraphs. (The number of days that a petition is pending is the number of days between the date that it is properly filed (receipt date) and the date an approval is issued on the petition, including any period of administrative review).

 

This is the alien beneficiary’s CSPA age. If the alien beneficiary’s CSPA age is under 21, he or she remains a child for purposes of the application for permanent residence provided the beneficiary properly applies for permanent residence, based on the subject petition, within one year of visa availability and notwithstanding the alien’s CSPA age on the date of adjudication of such application. If the petition is approved and the priority date becomes current before the alien’s CSPA age reaches 21, then a one-year period begins during which the alien must apply for permanent residence in order for CSPA coverage to continue.

In addition to benefits under CSPA some family members may be able to retain F2B priority category despite a parent’s recent naturalization.

This is important to remember as it the F1 category in the Philippines is oversubscribed by more than 5 years compared to that of the F2B for the same country. Although F1 for all other countries is more advanced than the F2B, it is the reverse with regards to the Philippines. It would be at a severe disadvantage for the beneficiary of an F2B petition to convert to an F1 if the beneficiary of that petition was born in the Philippines.

Section 204(k) of the Immigration & Nationalization Act (INA) entitled “Procedures for unmarried sons and daughters of citizens,” which provides a beneficiary filed under section 203(a)(2)(B), based on a parent of the son or daughter be¬ing an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence protection to remain in that category if such parent subsequently becomes a naturalized citizen of the United States.

However, this protection is only applicable if the son or daughter files with the Attorney General a written statement that he or she elects not to have such conversion occur (or if it has occurred, to have such conversion revoked). In the event, that such an election has been made, any determination with respect to the son or daughter’s eligibility for admission as a family-sponsored immigrant shall be made as if such naturalization had not taken place.

If you have family members or you are the beneficiary of family based visa petition whose priority dates have become current, contact Global Law Centers immediately for assistance. Please visit our website http://globallawcenters.com for additional information.

 

Section 2 – I-9 Verification Compliance by ICE

The Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 is a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services form used by an employer to verify an employee’s identity and to establish that the worker is eligible to accept employment in the United States.

American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) reports rise in the enforcement of I-9 inspections which have taken place over the past three years. Many of these enforcements include lists of current and terminated employees, copies of quarterly wage and hour reports, tax statements, company hiring policy, and a list of all contractors, recruiters, and temporary employment agencies.

It is reported that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has lately summoned many employers to inspect I-9 compliance and requested production of documents, such as list of current employees, list of terminated employees, quarterly wage report/payroll data for all employees, quarterly wage statements for at least 3 years, company’s standard operating procedure (SOP) reflecting hiring practices, list of temporary or contract workers, Employer Identification Number (EIN), etc. ICE will give an employer 3 (three) days advance notice prior to conducting the review of employment records.

If such a notice is received, a special agent from ICE will visit your business to conduct the review of records. If you have received such a notification from ICE, our office can provide assistance to ensure the compliance.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) required employers to verify that all newly-hired employees present “facially valid” documentation verifying the employee’s identity and his or her legal authorization to accept employment in the United States. The I-9 form or more properly the Employment Eligibility Verification Form is provided by the federal government for that purpose. Every employee hired after November 6, 1986 must complete an I-9 form at the time of hire. Employees must complete Section 1 of the form at the actual beginning of employment. The employer must complete Section 2 within three days of starting work. The employer is responsible for ensuring that the forms are completed properly, and in a timely manner. The I-9 is not required for unpaid volunteers or for contractors. However, a company could still find itself liable if it contracts work to a company knowing that the contractor employs unauthorized workers. The employee must present a document, or a combination of documents that establishes both his or her identity, and his or her legal authorization to work in the United States. For more details on the documents that can be presented, see the “Documentation” section below.

If an employee doesn’t read and write English, a translator or preparer may complete the form and sign it, in addition to the employee’s own signature. In October 2004, new legislation made it possible to complete the I-9 electronically.

 

Section 3 – USCIS continues to accept H-1B Petition for fiscal year 2011

An H-1B Visa (Specialty Occupation) is a non-immigrant visa that is available to a foreign national who has been offered a job by a United States company for services to be performed in the United States. H-1B Visas are available to workers in specialty or professional occupations. It allows one to stay and work in the U.S. for an initial period of three years, but not to exceed six years. H-1B Visa holders can travel in and out of the United States, when it has been granted by a U.S. consulate. Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may receive visas as well.

Per federal regulations, the USCIS is only permitted to issue 65,000 H-1B visas each fiscal year (FY). They are also required to set aside 6,800 for nationals of Chile and Singapore, thereby leaving only 58,200 visas available for the regular H-1B program. Out of these individuals who have earned a U.S. Master’s degree are processed under a separate quota of 20,000. Any remaining master’s cap applicants not selected in this special category will then be run in the random selection under the regular H-1B cap.

As of September 10, 2010, the USCIS has received approximately 37,400 H-1B petitions counting toward the 65,000 cap. The agency has received approximately 13,700 petitions for individuals with advanced degrees. Employers interested in obtaining H-1B Visas for prospective employees do not need to demonstrate that there is a shortage of qualified U.S. workers so there is no need for Labor Certification.

It is recommended that employers have an attorney to present the proper documentation and establish that the offered position is a specialty occupation; and that the employee has the appropriate credentials for the job. To further discuss your possibilities for an H-1B visa please contact our office at 714-657-7460 for a free consultation.

 

Section 4 – USCIS Lockbox

To provide a more efficient and effective initial processing of applications and fees, USCIS is transitioning the intake of additional forms from USCIS Service Centers to USCIS Lockbox facilities. These forms include, I-129 F, I-140, I-130, I-526, I-539, and I-817.

In general, a lockbox is a post office box used by organizations to accelerate the collection of receivables. In the case of the USCIS the Lockbox is used to accelerate these receivables (which are applications and petitions) by electronically capturing data and images from these Forms and by performing fee receipting and fee deposit. USCIS employees oversee Lockbox operations and perform case resolution activities on cases processed at the Lockbox. Cases are reviewed at the Lockbox for basic information only, including the completion of forms.

How can you reach the Lockbox if you have a question about a petition or application that has been filed and has not been receipted or has been rejected? American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) recommends that best way to reach the Lockbox is via e-mail at lockboxsupport@dhs.gov. Even though it may be confusing to many foreign nationals, Global Law Centers provides assistance with the filing of these forms and is well apprised of the changes that are being implement by the USCIS on a regular basis.

 

Section 5 – DV Visa Lottery – What is it?

The Diversity Immigrant Visa program is a United States congressionally-mandated lottery program for receiving a United States Permanent Resident Card. It is also known as the Green Card Lottery. The lottery is administered on an annual basis by the Department of State and conducted under the terms of Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Diversity Immigrant Visa Program makes available 50,000 diversity visas (DV) annually, drawn from random selection among all entries to persons who meet strict eligibility requirements from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

The following 13 countries are ineligible for submitting applications under the DV Lottery: Canada, China (mainland), Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, Vietnam, Peru, Brazil, Polans, Ecuador, & Guatemala.

In order to allow for those who do not pursue immigrant visas, and for the applicants who do not qualify, more ‘winners’ are selected in the lottery than there are visas available. Hence being selected from the lottery does not guarantee an immigrant visa to the U.S. To receive a diversity visa and immigrate to the United States, ‘winners’ must meet all eligibility requirements under U.S. law to qualify, and must be interviewed before the 50,000 green cards are distributed. Requirements include at least a high school diploma, or its equivalent, or two years of work experience in an occupation requiring at least two years training.

Online registration for DV-2012 DV Lottery begins noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT -4), Tuesday, October 5, 2010, and ends noon, Eastern Standard Time (EST) (GMT -5), Wednesday, November 3, 2010. The law and regulations require that every diversity visa entrant must have at least a high school education or its equivalent or have, within the past five years, two years of work experience in an occupation requiring at least two years’ training or experience. If you have won a DV lottery, we can assist you in completing the additional immigrant visa formalities. In certain circumstances you can even apply for adjustment of status, please communicate with Global Law Centers for further assistance.

 

Section 6 – Reduction in Unauthorized Immigration since Mid-Decade

According to new estimates by the Pew Hispanic Center, the annual inflow of unauthorized immigrants to the United States was nearly two-thirds smaller in the March 2007 to March 2009 period than it had been from March 2000 to March 2005. These new Pew Hispanic Center estimates rely on data mainly from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey and decennial census. The most marked decline in the population of unauthorized immigrants has been among those who come from Latin American countries other than Mexico. From 2007 to 2009, the size of this group from the Caribbean, Central America and South America decreased 22%.

Section 7 – Acronym of the Month-USCIS

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the government agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States. USCIS is one of the many governmental agencies oversaw the by U.S. Department of Homeland Security. They currently employ over 18,000 government employees and contractors of USCIS working at 250 offices across the world.

Section 8 – Processing Times

USCIS has updated the processing dates for VSC, TSC, NBC, CSC, and NSC. Visit our firm’s website at http://globallawcenters.com/processing_times.php where you can find links to these updates.


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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 is 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.