Hello and welcome to the March 2008 Immigration Newsletter!
March is a crucial month in immigration. With April 1 just around the corner and everyone gearing up to file H-1B cases there is a lot of excitement in the air. April 1 marks the first and only day of H-1B filing and with only 65,000 H-1B visas available H-1B petitioners are getting anxious. Some high-powered H-1B petitioners such as Bill Gates have been lobbying the U.S. Congress for more H-1B visa availability and more investment in technical education. He has accurately portrayed the current situation as one that will have dire consequences for U.S. economic and technical leadership in the future. In addition to Gates, other voices have also spoken up, for example Intel Chairman Craig Barrett stated that unless more H-1B visa numbers are allotted Intel will have to send more jobs outside the U.S. Keep an eye on any immigration news developments on our website and stay informed about any changes in the U.S. immigration laws that may result from these recent lobbying efforts. Sadly, due to the current political climate any significant changes are unlikely, but we can all hope that Congress will realize the importance of this issue and look past the politics.
VisaPro Launches a New Exciting Service
VisaPro always takes pride for staying at the cutting edge of the technology and the offerings that it makes to its clients and the immigration public in general. This month, VisaPro is proud to announce a launch of its brand new VisaPro Mobile service. Starting this month you can use your mobile to not only make calls to VisaPro but you can use your phone browser to also:
- View the current status of your case(s).
- Read latest immigration news.
- Learn about important issues through our immigration articles library.
- Subscribe to VisaPro Immigration News Alerts & Newsletters.
- Start a consultation.
- Complete a visa assessment.
- Contact VisaPro for your immigration needs.
We hope you will take advantage of this option and stay connected with your immigration case and any new developments while on the run.
Developments in Immigration Law:
DHS Signs VISA Waiver Program Agreements with Estonia and Latvia
U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff signed Visa Waiver Program (VWP) Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with Estonian Minister of Internal Affairs Juri Pihl in Tallinn, Estonia, and with Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs Maris Riekstins in Riga, Latvia. The agreements outline security enhancements that put both countries on the path toward visa-free travel to the U.S., and possible designation as VWP members later this year. VWP membership is also in the works for the Czech Republic.
DOL ETA Announces Planned Changes in Non-Electronic Filing Locations
The DOL’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) recently announced administrative changes in the locations where future non-electronic applications must be filed under the permanent foreign labor certification program and temporary foreign labor certification programs administered by the ETA’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC). The Atlanta National Processing Center (NPC) will receive all applications for permanent labor certification under the Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) System, and the Chicago NPC will receive all applications for temporary labor certification under the programs as identified below. These new addresses will be effective June 1, 2008 and starting June 16, 2008 applications filed at a wrong location will be returned to the applicant.
I-864 Affidavit of Support: New Poverty Guidelines for 2008
USCIS has released the 2008 poverty guidelines on Form I-864P to be used in calculating the required income for Affidavits of Support (I-864). These poverty guidelines will remain in effect until spring 2009, when the new guidelines are released. The 2008 guidelines reflect changes in the amount of income that is now required under the new guidelines and generally with each increase in household size, the amount of income has increased.
Biometric Changes for Re-entry Permits and Refugee Travel Documents
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued revised instructions for USCIS Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. The instructions include changes, which will become effective March 5, 2008, that require applicants for re-entry permits and refugee travel documents to provide biometrics (e.g., fingerprints and photographs) at a USCIS Application Support Centers (ASC) for background and security checks and requirements for secure travel and entry documents containing biometric identifiers. As indicated in the instructions, when the biometrics requirement becomes effective, USCIS will notify applicants of their appointment at the designated ASC after submission of the I-131 application.
USCIS Extends Validity of Expiring Medical Certifications I-693
In a recent memorandum, USCIS has once again renewed their policy to extend the validity of the civil surgeon’s endorsement on Form I-693 for cases that have been pending for longer than a year. Generally, the endorsement on Form I-693 is valid for one year and this form is concurrently filed with Adjustment of Status applications. However due to various backlog issues, some of these applications remain pending for longer than the one year period. If USCIS did not provide this extension then petitioners would be forced to undergo another examination and submit a new Form I-693 to USCIS after the already submitted medical examination form expires after one year.
Immigration Articles and Other Fun Stuff:
This month’s Immigration Article will discuss some of the logistics issues faced by companies looking to open an office in the U.S. using an L-1 New Office petition. Check out our In Focus section to complete reading our attorneys’ travelogue during this year’s successful seminar and training workshop tour of India. In addition to the article we also posted photos and videos from the immigration events and we invite you to take some time peruse the photos, watch the videos and have fun learning more about U.S. immigration law.
Finally, please make sure to also participate in our monthly poll. Last month 84% of the respondents felt that the proposed interim final regulation prohibiting employers from filing more than one H-1B petition on behalf of a single foreign national would have an effect on the number of petitions filed under the H-1B cap. This month’s poll question deals with the effectiveness of lobbying efforts by the tech industry on U.S. immigration policy. Cast your vote to express Your Opinion.
Traci Kingery won last month’s Immigration Quiz. We received a handful of answers, but Ms. Kingery’s was the most complete and as a result she wins a free online consultation to discuss her Immigration issues with one of our attorneys. So get ready for this month’s quiz. Your name might be featured in next month’s newsletter. Good luck!!!
See you next month with a lot more noise from the Immigration World!