Hello and welcome to the August 2007 Immigration Newsletter!
We are at it again! Another month has gone by and as usual we have seen more changes in the immigration laws and procedures.
It was just a few years ago that the filing fee for an H-1B petition was $130. The most recent change in the filing fee, effective July 30th, 2007, has increased the H-1B filing fees to a whopping $2320, making it a very costly affair for employers who need foreign workers. It is definitely a high price to pay to hire foreign specialty workers and keep them in the U.S. The USCIS’s stated goal was to modernize its existing infrastructure and procedures through the fee increase. I don’t think any of us can say the “better” service from the USCIS has kept pace with the increasing filing fees. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) has opined that the USCIS has consistently failed to explain or justify the amounts and distributions of this new fee increase, and has introduced a bill to void the recent increases in immigration fees. The bill would void the new fee structure that took effect from July 30, 2007, and would reinstate the previous fee structure. The bill also notes that USCIS has consistently failed to reduce application backlogs and has suffered from a lack of transparency and effective management.
The USCIS reminded the public that all filings submitted on or after July 30, 2007 via the electronic filing system must be submitted with payment of the new fees. The exception to this rule, as previously announced, are all Forms I-765 and I-131 applications based on employment-based adjustment of status applications filed pursuant to Visa Bulletin No. 107, and that are submitted on or before August 17, 2007, are filed under the fee structure in place prior to July 30, 2007.
Small and seasonal businesses all over the U.S are calling September 30th, 2007 H-2B disaster day. The long wait for the employers will be over as the suspense and uncertainty over whether Congress will extend the H-2B “returning worker” provisions will be cleared shortly. In the meanwhile, the USCIS is reminding employers that use the H-2B nonimmigrant visa program to fill their temporary workforce needs that the “returning worker” provisions enacted in the “Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act of 2005” (“SOS Act”) are set to expire on September 30, 2007. The “returning worker” provisions exempt from the annual H-2B fiscal year cap those aliens who were counted toward the H-2B numerical limit during any one of the 3 fiscal years preceding the fiscal year of the requested employment start date.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on August 3rd that it has experienced great increase in the number of applications filed, which has resulted in a front log of cases awaiting data-entry. It said that it was making every effort to address the delay and will prioritize data entry for specific form-types. It has guaranteed that the delay in data entry and fee receipting will not affect Change of Status or Extension of Stay eligibility, assuming all other eligibility requirements are satisfied and Premium Processing Service will continue to be processed within 15 days, consistent with existing policies and procedures.
This next item looks like a plot stolen directly from a Steven Spielberg thriller. The positives drawn from years of research and development in the field of DNA matching is helping the USCIS curb the concerns over the unregulated adoption process in Guatemala. The USCIS announced that the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala will now require results of a second DNA test from the biological parent before they will issue an immigrant visa for the adopted child. The USCIS has taken this decision in an effort to support the highest standards of practice in inter-country adoption. The results must verify that the adopted child is the same child matched at the beginning of the adoption process with the biological parent. USCIS already requires one DNA match between a relinquishing parent and a prospective adoptive child as part of the adjudication of the Petition to Classify an Orphan as an Immediate Relative (Form I-600).
Reading through the various adoption stories of the journeys that people undertake to adopt foreign national children will bring a tear to every eye. The trials and tribulations on the road of international adoption has gotten easier with the USCIS’s implementation of several changes benefiting prospective adoptive parents, many of whom have experienced long delays finalizing their adoptions. The USCIS is now allowing prospective adoptive parents to receive one, no-charge extension of the approved Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition (Form I-600A) if they have not already submitted a petition to classify an orphan as an immediate relative (Form I-600).
Considering that many H-1B hopefuls are gearing up to attend their visa interviews, which is often a nerve wracking experience, this month’s In Focus section provides valuable information on the common questions Consular Officers ask during an interview. The Immigration Article in this issue delves into the P-1, O-1 and other visa options available for Athletes and Athletic teams.
Again, we have brought an interesting question for our readers to cast their vote on and we appreciate that people are taking interest in giving their opinion. Keep it up! The opinion was equally divided for the last month’s poll question. More than half of the participants believed that Congress will fail to pass the bill to increase the schedule of green cards for nurses, thus having an adverse effect. Others, however, were just neutral reacting to the issue. This month we have another interesting question for you to express Your Opinion. So don’t miss casting your vote.
Maria Mendoza deserves all the Congratulations for winning last month’s Immigration Quiz. Answers to the quiz indicated that many of our readers were confused about applying for travel documents. However, the winner gave
right answer and she won a free online consultation to discuss her Immigration issues. So be ready for this month’s quiz. Your name might feature in the next newsletter. All the Best!!!
See you next month with a lot more noise from the Immigration World! Till then CIAO!!