Hello and welcome to the July 2008 Immigration Newsletter!
Here we are in July; half the year is already gone. Many think that this being the middle of the summer, and in the middle of an election cycle, for the US Presidential and control of the legislature, that this month was a period of tranquility in the world of immigration. Well if you too think so, then you need to think twice. There have been many new developments this month. One of the most controversial was the US Department of Labor’s announcement that it is initiating measures to supervise the recruitment of Permanent Labor Certification Applications (LCA) filed by Immigration Law Firms. This brought a great outcry from many sectors. The DOL stated that the sole intention behind the decision was only to protect the employment activities for American Employees.
Indian and Chinese citizens have reason to celebrate this month. For individuals from those countries in the Employment-Based, Second Preference (EB-2) category, the U.S Department of State (DOS) Visa Bulletin has good news for you. This category has now moved forward to a cutoff date of June 1, 2006, meaning that those who have priority dates prior to June 1, 2006, will be eligible to obtain their immigrant visas, now may file their I-485s in August 2008.
This month the USCIS announced its plan to extend the validity period of certain EADs, giving us an insight into what they may be thinking for the future. The USCIS stated that in order to provide better customer service to refugees, reducing the financial burden on them and eliminating the need for many refugees to apply for renewal of work documents before they are able to adjust status to permanent residency, they announced that they would extend the validity of initial work authorization documents for refugees to two years after arrival in the United States. In our view definitely a move in the right direction.
And as we do every month, we strive hard to bring you what you want to see and take the initiative to introduce exciting services to make your visa processing even more Fast, Easy and Economical. Your support and feedback paves the way for us to improve even more and bring our valuable services to you. And now as we promised last month, this month we continue our series on possible alternatives to the H-1B Visa. In this article we strive to bring you, in the most eloquent way, an introduction to another alternative to the H-1B visa. We hope that these articles will give you a way to explore how these alternatives to the H-1B may work for you and your employer.
Now, on to “Other Developments in Immigration Law”
H-2B Cap Count Updated
On The USCIS on June 26th, 2008 released the cap count annual numerical limitations set by Congress on H-1B and H-2B nonimmigrant visas. But again on July 1st, 2008, the USCIS updated the Cap Count for the H-2B Seasonal Workers which showed an increment in the number of approved beneficiaries for the fiscal year by 1, 396
USCIS Announces New Special Immigrant Visa for Certain Iraqis
The USCIS announced guidelines for a new special immigrant visa category for certain Iraqi nationals who worked for, or were contractors of the United States government in Iraq for at least one year after March 20, 2003. Section 1244 of the Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 authorizes 5,000 special immigrant visas for Iraqi employees and contractors each year for fiscal years 2008 through 2012. This section also has provisions for the spouses and children of qualifying special immigrants. We will address this new category in more detail in a future issue of Immigration Monitor, but we can tell you that there are no filing or biometric fees associated with this petition. This new program is not the same as the Section 1059 special immigrant visa program for Afghan and Iraqi translators.
USCIS Biometric Changes for Re-entry Permits and Refugee Travel Documents
USCIS has issued revised instructions for Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. The instructions include changes that were effective March 5, 2008, that require all applicants for re-entry permits and refugee travel documents to provide biometrics (e.g., fingerprints and photographs) at a USCIS Application Support Center (ASC). These biometrics will be used for background and security checks, and to meet requirements for secure travel and entry documents containing biometric identifiers.
USCIS Reverts to Prior Edition of Form I-9
On July 8, 2008, USCIS announced that it has withdrawn the June 16, 2008 version of the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, and has reinstated the use of the June 5, 2008 version. The USCIS is now directing employers to use the June 5, 2007 version, which has been updated with a new expiration date of June 30, 2009. Other than the revision date, there are no differences between the two versions.
USCIS Continues Suspension of Premium Processing Service for Religious Workers
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that the suspension of premium processing service for religious worker (R-1) nonimmigrant visa petitions will continue at least until January 7, 2009. A previous six-month suspension was announced on January 4, 2008. As you may remember this move was initially made to combat widespread fraud that was found, or perceived to be, in the religious worker category. Because of the high incidence of fraud USCIS was investigating all R-1 petitions and removed them from the premium processing program.
Immigration Articles and Other Fun Stuff:
Now for the regulars — this month’s Immigration Article, is the second in a series of articles that will explore alternatives to the H-1B visa. In last month’s newsletter we published the first in a series of articles that will take a look at different visa categories that can be used instead of the H-1B, and we promised that we would continue to bring you the best possible alternatives to the H-1B. Holding true to our promise this month we introduce you to a non-immigrant visa which is often overlooked and underutilized, but is one of the most feasible alternatives to the H-1B visa: the H-1B1. We continue this theme (alternatives to the H-1B) in our In Focus section. This month will help you to learn more about the TN Visa, focusing on the requirements for Mexican citizens. The TN is a non-immigrant visa category available only to citizens of the United States, Canada and Mexico. The primary aim of the immigration provisions of this Free Trade Agreement was to facilitate the temporary transfer of professionals from the United States, Canada and Mexico, and to support the entry of Canadian and Mexican Citizens to the United States to engage in professional activities on a temporary basis.
Every month we introduce a new and interesting question for our opinion poll. Last month’s poll results indicate that 73.91% of the respondents believe that an H-1B visa holder does not have to remain outside the U.S. for a year to become eligible for another H-1B visa. We appreciate that people take interest to cast their vote and give us the feedback. Keep it up! And continue to cast your vote to express Your Opinion.
This month we congratulate Joel Boshon for winning last month’s Immigration Quiz. Again, we have received a significant number of responses from our readers who talked about various solutions to the quiz, but Joel gave the correct answer and won a free online consultation to discuss his Immigration issues. So it’s time to get ready again for this month’s quiz, if you know the correct answer, your name might be featured in next month’s newsletter. All the Best!!!
See you next month with a lot more noise from the Immigration World!