Hello and welcome to the December 2012 Immigration Newsletter!
VisaPro wishes all its readers Happy Holidays and a very prosperous New Year! We are very happy to have spent the last year with you and look forward to continue to help you accomplish your immigration goals in 2013 as well!!
As we usher in 2013, let’s take a look back at some of the more interesting and key developments that took place in the world of immigration in 2012:
The FY 2013 H-1B cap was reached in just 10 weeks—almost five months sooner than the FY 2012 cap the year before. June 11, 2012 was the final receipt date for new H-1B petitions requesting an employment start date in FY 2013, while the Master’s Cap was reached even earlier on June 7, 2012. The relatively rapid use of the H-1B quota numbers, in combination with other indicators suggest that the economy is definitely on a path to recovery. It is expected that employers have slowly begun to increase their hiring again, leading many immigration experts to believe that H-1Bs for FY 2014 will be gone within an even shorter time frame than this year. Therefore, it is strongly advisable that employers prepare and file most or all of their H-1B petitions as early as possible- on or as close as possible to April 1, 2013—to ensure that their petitions have the greatest chance to be included in the quota for FY 2014. If you are an employer intending to employ foreign workers on H-1B, make sure to contact VisaPro at the earliest to discuss all options and not leave things to the last minute.
Among the most significant developments in immigration this year was President Obama’s introduction of the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) program. The President announced that, through the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, certain eligible young people who are currently undocumented, were brought to the U.S. as young children and do not pose a national security or public safety risk would be eligible to receive “deferred action” for two years. Under DACA, certain young people who came to the U.S. as children (commonly referred to as “DREAMERS”) and meet other key requirements, may request consideration for deferred action. The deferred action will offer relief from removal from the U.S. or from entering removal proceedings for a period of two years and will be subject to renewal. Those approved under the program will also be eligible to apply for a work permit (EAD), thus making them eligible to apply for a social security number and apply for work. USCIS began accepting requests for consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals on August 15, 2012.
In 2012, President Obama also signed a law that added Israel to the E-2 list of countries whose citizens are allowed to apply for an E-2 visa as an investor or employee. President Obama also signed legislation providing for the extension and re-authorization of the EB-5 Regional Center Program, the E-Verify Program, the Special Immigrant Non-minister Religious Worker Program, and the Conrad State 30 J-1 Visa Waiver Program for three years until September 30, 2015.
Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, announced the designation of Taiwan into the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), permitting eligible Taiwanese passport holders to travel to the U.S. without visas under VWP for up to 90 days for business or tourism. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also announced an expansion of the list of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) designated-degree programs that qualify eligible graduates on student visas for an optional practical training (OPT) extension [OPT STEM extension].
U.S. Immigration Strategies – How to avoid costly mistakes and receive more approvals
The VisaPro Team is presenting an inspiring full-day workshop- “U.S. Immigration Strategies – How to avoid costly mistakes and receive more approvals”- as a part of “Doing Business In The US” Conference series taking place in 6 major cities in India [New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai] during January 2013.
To successfully do business in the U.S., you must have a solid understanding of U.S. immigration policy and law. Our experts and attorneys from the U.S. will define the major areas of immigration law and recommend specific best practices.
Attendees will walk away with an enhanced understanding of:
- Forms of Business Entities: Corporation, LLC, LLP
- Global Mobility and Staffing Challenges
- Successfully Preparing & Filing B-1, H-1B, L-1, O-1 and Green Card Applications
- How to Avoid Costly Mistakes and Receive More Immigration Approvals
- Visas for Artists, Producers, and Musicians
- The Consular Visa Process, Visa Denials and Port-of-Entry Issues
- Employment and Immigration Compliance Requirements
- Developing a Corporate Employment and Immigration Policy
Reserve your place in this popular Workshop today. Seating at this highly interactive Workshop is limited.
The U.S. Embassy in India introduced a new visa processing system this year for all consular posts in India under which all first-time visa applicants in India are required to make two separate appointments – one for fingerprinting and submitting photos at an Offsite Facilitation Center (OFC) and the second at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy for the actual visa interview. U.S. Mission India introduced a new website, available in English and Hindi, for scheduling and coordinating visa interviews and for making the visa fee payment. Towards the end of the year, U.S. Mission in India also announced the expansion of the Interview Waiver Program enabling certain eligible visa applicants who have had an H-1B visa, an individual L-1A or L-1B visa, and students returning to the attend the same school and program to have the visa interview requirement waived.
On the legislative front, a divided Supreme Court of the U.S. delivered its Opinion on the constitutional validity of 4 contentious provisions of the Arizona Immigration Law- SB1070 (Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act), striking down 3 provisions of the controversial law as being unconstitutional. However, the Supreme Court has declined, at this time, to block the most infamous provision of the law providing that officers who conduct a stop, detention, or arrest must, in some circumstances, make efforts to verify the person’s immigration status with the Federal Government – the “papers please” law. The Supreme Court said it was too early to rule on the constitutionality of the law without seeing the effects of the law.
Overall, 2012 was not a particularly bad year in immigration. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any progress towards Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Based on statements from the President, Congress and momentum gained after the 2012 election results, we hope and expect that 2013 will bring us further good news and developments in that area!!
Other Developments in Immigration Law:
New USCIS Immigrant Fee to be implemented on February 1, 2013
USCIS has announced that on February 1, 2013, it will begin collecting a new USCIS Immigrant Fee of $165 from foreign nationals seeking permanent residence in the United States, to recover the costs of processing immigrant visas in the United States after immigrant visa holders receive their visa packages from DOS. The new fee is in addition to fees charged by DOS associated with an individual’s immigrant visa application and DOS will provide applicants with specific information on how to submit payment when they attend their consular interview. The fee must be paid before entering the U.S. presenting the sealed consular package at the Port of Entry to Customs and Border Protection.
January 2013 Visa Bulletin: EB-2 priority date for India remains at 09/01/04
In the recently published U.S. Department of State Visa Bulletin for January 2013, the EB-2 priority dates remained current in respect to all countries other than India and mainland China. The EB-2 priority date for India remained at 09/01/04, even as it advanced from 10/22/07 to 12/08/07 in respect to mainland China. Meanwhile, the EB-1, EB-4 and EB-5 numbers continue to remain current for all countries, even as marginal advancement was seen in EB-3 priority dates.
Immigration Articles and Other Fun Stuff:
Our ‘Featured Video’ for this month titled “Financial Affidavit of Support: I-134 or I-864?” explains how a Financial Affidavit of Support is required when you sponsor a foreign relative to live permanently in the United States and talks about which Affidavit of Support (Form I-134 or I-864) you need to submit in your situation. Please check out and subscribe to our YouTube channel to take advantage of another great service provided to you by VisaPro.
Also check out our ‘In Focus’ article for this month titled “When to Use USCIS Premium Processing Service” in which we present an overview on how to use the USCIS Premium Processing Service.
Every month we introduce a new and interesting question for our opinion poll. Last month’s poll results indicate that a majority of respondents (66.67%) welcome U.S. Mission in India’s decision to expand the Interview Waiver Program to certain qualified H-1B and L-1 visa applicants. 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 Sukumar for winning last month’s Immigration Quiz. While we received more than one correct response to the quiz question, Sukumar 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!!!
See you next month with a lot more noise from the Immigration World!