December 2007

From the Editor's Desk

Hello and welcome to the December 2007 Immigration Newsletter!

Everyone at VisaPro wishes you Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!!

2007 has been a prolific year for VisaPro. We added immigration services to Canada and five more European countries: Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark and Spain. VisaPro’s global immigration is further expanded to Asian countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and into our first South American country, Brazil. VisaPro is also proud to inform our readers that its presentation about Online Marketing Strategies at the Online Marketing Summit ’07 was a huge hit. Learn more about “How to become successful online – Tips from“.

Getting back to the news for this month, the not-so-good news for non-immigrants this New Year is that all U.S. non-immigrant visas are going to cost them dearly considering the most recent Department of State fee increase. Effective January 1, 2008, the application fee for a U.S. non-immigrant visa will increase from $100 to $131. The reported purpose of this increase is to reduce the burden on the Department and help recover the costs of security and other enhancements to the non-immigrant visa application process. The increase applies both to non-immigrant visas issued on machine-readable foils in passports and to border crossing cards issued to certain applicants in Mexico.

Moving on to some of the interesting events that took place this month, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Department of State (DOS) have both issued reminders to the traveling public that as of January 31, 2008, all adult travelers will be required to present proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, and proof of identity, such as a valid driver’s license, when entering the United States through land and sea ports of entry. The DHS and DOS believe that this change is a required step to prepare travelers and relieve the transition to the future requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). What is the WHTI you ask? It’s not a new peace initiative or exchange program. WHTI establishes new documentation requirements for travelers entering the United States who were previously exempt, including citizens of the U.S., Canada, and Bermuda. As recommended by the 9/11 Commission, Congress enacted WHTI as part of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. Critics have noted that effect of WHTI on the scores of illegal people coming through the Southern borders will be about ‘as fine as frog’s hair.’

Talking about borders, the DHS is moving forward with several advancements in the construction of pedestrian and virtual fencing along the southwest border. They state that these advancements will add to more than 284 miles of fencing already in existence and will enable construction of roughly 670 miles of fencing by the end of December 2008.

The January 2008 Visa Bulletin has been released and most categories showed some forward movement. However, Indian nationals in the EB-2 category are having a tough time as the cutoff date retrogressed by two years, to January 1, 2000. Additionally, the EB-2 category for India could become “unavailable” for the rest of the 2008 fiscal year if the yearly limit is reached in the next few months as expected by the State Department.

Those traveling to the US through the Washington Dulles International Airport will need to keep their fingers open and not crossed as the DHS is now collecting additional fingerprints from international visitors arriving at Dulles. This step is being taken in order to enhance security and fingerprint matching accuracy. The change is part of DHS’s upgrade from two- to 10-fingerprint collection. DOS consular officers and DHS Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers collect biometrics—digital fingerprints and a photograph—from all non-U.S. citizens between the ages of 14 and 79, with some exceptions, when they apply for visas or arrive at U.S. ports of entry.

On the legislative front there is still a strong movement for changes to the H-2B program, Even as efforts are pouring in from all quarters to push for an increase the H-2B cap and make the H-2B Returning Worker Exemption permanent, the USCIS has provided the latest H-2B visa cap count. While the H-2B cap has not yet been reached for the second half of fiscal year 2008 the count is adding up rapidly. The number of beneficiaries approved plus beneficiaries pending stand at 34,432, as of December 17, 2007 (the date of last count).

The USCIS is revising the filing instructions for the Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130). As part of the continuing effort to streamline procedures and consolidate processing, effective Dec. 3, 2007, all applicants filing stand-alone Form I-130s are encouraged to file their petitions with the Chicago Lockbox instead of a USCIS Service Center. Petitions filed with the Chicago Lockbox will be routed to, and adjudicated at, the appropriate USCIS Service Center. As with previous filing this routing will be based on the petitioner’s place of residence in the United States.

USCIS gave some respite to I-551 holders when Press Secretary Mr. Christopher Bentley released a statement saying that ‘Green Cards’ (I-551) with no expiration dates are still valid.

The tragic California fires have left an indelible mark on all those who have lost their homes, employment and important documents. The USCIS is putting forth an incredible effort to assist and has directed its officials to give special consideration to fee waiver requests from applicants who have lost their residence and/or employment as a direct result of the October wildfires in Southern California and are now seeking to replace certain documents.

Now for the regulars — this month’s Immigration Article will focus on what needs to be done to extend your nonimmigrant status while in the U.S. Check out our In Focus section which will educate employers in the US about the changes to the Form I-9. We have again brought an interesting question for our opinion poll. We ask all our readers to cast their vote and we appreciate that people are taking interest in giving their opinion. Keep it up! Last month’s opinion was pretty equally divided. About half of the participants believed that giving legal status to illegal immigrants can help the government keep a closer track on them, whilst the remaining thought otherwise. Cast your vote to express Your Opinion.

M. R. G. deserves Congratulations for winning last month’s Immigration Quiz. Answers to the quiz indicated that many of our readers were slightly confused as to whether or not a foreign national can return to the U.S. after his or her Advance Parole expires. However, Mr. Ganjei gave the right answer and won a free online consultation to discuss his Immigration issues. So get ready for this month’s quiz. 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!

Latest Immigration News

H-2B TRACKER: Cap Count as of December 17, 2007

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has provided the latest H-2B visa cap count. The H-2B cap has not yet been reached for the second half of fiscal year 2008.

Application Fees for Non-Immigrant Visas to Go Up on January 1, 2008

All U.S. non-immigrant visas are going to be dearer considering the fee increase. Effective January 1, 2008, the application fee for a U.S. non-immigrant visa will increase from $100 to $131. This increase allows the Department to recover the costs of security and other enhancements to the non-immigrant visa application process.

DHS Starts Collecting 10 Fingerprints from International Visitors at Washington Dulles International Airport

In order to enhance security and fingerprint matching accuracy, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is now collecting additional fingerprints from international visitors arriving at Washington Dulles International Airport (Dulles).

December's Featured Articles

Form I-9 Compliance - Follow Now or Pay Later

If you are a U.S. employer hiring new employees, it is essential you complete Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification Form, for each new employee. Employers who don’t adhere to the I-9 requirements can anticipate civil and or criminal penalties. On November 7, 2007, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that a revised Form I-9 is now available. Subsequently, the USCIS announced on November 26, 2007, that all employers must transition to the revised Form I-9 no later than December 26, 2007 and employers who fail to use the revised form will be penalized.

My Nonimmigrant Status is Expiring - Help!

We understand that you may wish to remain in the U.S. for a period longer than originally planned. Nonimmigrant visas are issued to foreign nationals who intend to remain in the U.S. for, depending on the particular nonimmigrant classification, a temporary or otherwise less than permanent period of time. You may be able to continue doing the same types of activities for which you were initially admitted by applying for an extension of your period of nonimmigrant stay in the U.S. Let us analyze the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) extension requirements and see how they may apply to your situation.

Questions and Answers


I am an Australian citizen and currently I am working with an organization in US on L-1 visa which is about to expire in one year. Now I would like to change my status from L-1 to an E-3 visa. What efforts are required to do so if it is possible?


The E-3 visa is available for nationals of the Commonwealth of Australia who wish to enter the US to work in a “specialty occupation.” The visa is issued for an initial validity period of 3-5 years but can be renewed indefinitely and the spouse of an E-3 visa holder can be authorized to work.

Since, you now hold L-1 status; you can apply to change to E-3 status. To do so, you’ll need an offer of employment and the employer must file a petition with USCIS. This petition must be accompanied with a certified Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the Secretary of Labor. The employer must also show ability to pay and attest to certain conditions found in the LCA. As for you, you’ll need documentation to prove your nationality, as well as credentials to show you are in possession of at least a US bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.


My current status is L-1B. How can I apply for a green card in such a scenario? If I want to change my status to H-1B, what would be the procedure? Is it possible for my spouse to work on dependent visa?


There are limited numbers of Green Cards available for people falling under three categories: First are world famous people. Second are people with Master’s degree or higher and Third are people who are skilled workers and have Bachelor’s degree. It generally takes about five years to get the Green Card in the Third category. If you can get into the EB-2 category which requires a Master’s degree, then you may get the Green Card in about a-year-and-a-half to two years. There are three steps to get a Green Card. They are 1) The Labor Certification process 2) I-140 petition by the company and 3) The Green Card application by you and your family.

Labor Certification requires the company to find a qualified American worker for your job. The company needs to prove that there is a shortage of qualified American workers. When the Green Card application is filed, you can get an EAD and the Travel Document.

You need to find another employer and change your status from L-1 to H-1B. Your wife will also have to change status from L-2 to H-4. You need to find a job which requires a master’s degree. There is an annual quota of 65,000 H-1B visas available every fiscal year. Filing against this quota starts on April 1st every year for the employment date starting from October 1st of that year.

Your spouse can get the EAD if she passes through the labor certification process and may even get the H-1B visa. She can work on the L-2 visa as long as you are on the L-1 visa. The moment you change to H-1B, she needs to change her status to H-4 visa. She can not get the EAD on H-4 status and will have to get an H-1B for herself. If you do find an employer who is ready to file H-1B petition on your behalf, in order to stay in the US you need to maintain your L-1B status and work for the L-1B employer till September 30th.

Got A Question?

Visa Eligibility Tool

VisaPro’s Online Visa Advisor is our proprietary tool built by immigration attorneys with 35+ years’ experience. Use this free tool to identify the most efficient visa to work in the U.S., start a business in the U.S., marry a U.S. citizen, or hire foreign nationals. It is 100% free and accurate.

Check Your U.S. Visa Eligibility For FREE Today!

Check Your Eligibility