Hello and welcome to the July 2013 Immigration Newsletter!
It’s been quite a month! Just after the release of our June 2013 Immigration Newsletter, two historic immigration events occurred.
As we reported in our earlier news item, the U.S. Senate passed the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill (CIR) - Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, by a decisive vote of 68-32. Unfortunately, its passage through the House of Representatives still remains uncertain. Under the U.S. legislative process, the bill, or a version of it, must be approved by the House of Representatives. Once they have agreed upon a bill, the Senate and House of Representatives must “conference” if both of their versions differ to create a “compromise bill” that both houses of Congress can agree upon. Only then, can the bill be sent to the President of the U.S. to sign. While President Obama has made no secrets of his desire to see the current bill being enacted into law, it is unclear at the moment how the current version of bill will fare in the Republican dominated House, especially when House Representatives have yet to reach any compromise on their version of a comprehensive immigration reform bill, while others are working on piecemeal bills. We at VisaPro are closely monitoring the developments and will keep our readers informed of all significant developments in this matter.
The announcement that CIR had passed the Senate came on the heels of another historic moment - The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) essentially struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Specifically, SCOTUS declared that Section 3 of the Act, which prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, was unconstitutional. By not allowing the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages that were legal in the places they took place in, the government was also not allowed to afford these couples key federal benefits, including in the context of immigration benefits. As a consequence of this ruling, same-sex partners should now be able to avail immigration benefits on par with other married couples, including the ability to file immigrant petitions and seek status as immediate relatives and dependents of U.S. citizens. Welcoming the decision, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, announced that DHS will immediately begin to work with other federal departments including the Department of Justice to implement the decision so that all married couples will be treated equally and fairly in the administration of immigration laws.
In other immigration news, as predicted by the Department of State in the previous month, the EB-2 priority date for India advanced significantly from 09/01/04 to 01/01/08 August 2013 Visa Bulletin. The EB-2 priority date remained at 08/08/08 in respect to mainland China. The EB-3 category did not see any movement in priority dates, except for some marginal advancement in respect to the Philippines. Just as significant, was the fact that the F2A Family-based immigration category (the spouse and unmarried children under 21 of legal permanent residents) became “Current”. It is important to note that the DOS has warned that these priority dates may be retrogressed again based on response. It is important that you contact VisaPro immediately if you need any assistance in filing for an Adjustment of Status application or for an Immigrant Visa in these categories.
USCIS has just released the revised Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) for use, which applicants can begin using immediately. USCIS will continue to accept previous versions only until September 16, 2013. USCIS also announced that it has begun issuing redesigned certificates for citizenship and naturalization for individuals who request replacement certificates. Although the look and feel of the documents is new, the process of applying for and receiving them has not changed. Previously issued certificates will remain valid.
In consular news, the U.S. Consular Sections in India has recently adjusted the consular exchange rate from INR 58 to the dollar to INR 62 to the dollar. Applicants are advised to verify that the visa fee on their deposit slip matches the current consular exchange rate listed on the visa fee page before submitting the payment.
Other Developments in Immigration Law:
DHS Issues FAQs on Immigrant Visa Petitions for Same-Sex Couples
The Secretary of Homeland Security has directed USCIS to begin accepting and reviewing immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse. DHS has also issued an initial FAQ and it is expected that more FAQ’s and guidance will follow as more questions on how to handle cases involving same-sex couples arise.
E-Verify: Enhancement to Allow Direct Notification to Employees
USCIS has announced an enhancement to the E-Verify system that will allow direct notification to employees when a Tentative Nonconfirmation occurs. With this new enhancement, if an employee voluntarily provides his or her email address on the Form I-9, E-Verify will notify the employee of a Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC) at the same time it notifies the employer. E-Verify will also send reminder emails to employees if no action to resolve the TNC has occurred within four days of a decision to contest and to notify them about the possible need to update a Social Security or Department of Homeland Security record. Please note that providing the email address is voluntary. Regardless of whether or not an email address is provided, the employer must notify each employee of a TNC. It is also important to remember that an employer cannot terminate an employee based solely on a Tentative Nonconfirmation.
and Other Fun Stuff:
Our ‘Featured Video’ for this month is“Opening a New Office in the US using the L-1 Intra-Company Transfer Visa” where we discuss how the “New Office” L-1 Visa offers a great way for companies looking to expand or start operations in the U.S. and move key personnel to the U.S. We will also demonstrate how the New Office L-1 provides senior managers and executives a fast track to the US Green Card under the EB-1 category. Please check out and subscribe to our YouTube channel to take advantage of another great service provided to you by VisaPro.
Check out our ‘In Focus’ article for this month titled “Obtaining U.S. Immigrant Visa for Family Members: Filing the Form I-130 at USCIS” to learn more about the I-130 process that enables foreign national relatives of U.S. Citizens and Green Card holders to come to the U.S. to live permanently.
Every month we introduce a new and interesting question for our opinion poll. Results of our previous poll indicate that a majority of respondents (43%) are unsure whether the House of Representatives will manage to come up with their own version of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill. We continue to appreciate that people take interest in the opinion question and cast their votes to give us their feedback. Keep it up! And continue to cast your vote to express Your Opinion.
We also congratulate Suman Kishore for winning last month’s Immigration Quiz. While we received more than one correct response to the quiz question, Suman gave the best answer and won a free online consultation to discuss the concerned Immigration issues. It’s time to get ready for this month’s quiz. If you know the correct answer your name might be featured in next month’s newsletter. All the Best!!!
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See you next month with a lot more noise from the Immigration World!