Hello and welcome to the July 2007 Immigration Newsletter!
July is National ice cream month, and it just got a bit hotter with wide ranging discussions and apprehensions over immigration and the Green Card issue. Many discontented legal and highly-skilled workers sent hundreds of flowers to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in an effort to vent their frustration over the long wait that they have to undergo to get their immigrant visas. The flower campaign was due to the recent policy flip-flop which may hurt their pursuit for permanent residency.
Moving on to other news this month: the flip-flop that led to the flower campaign came from the Department of State which issued its July Visa Bulletin initially to show that all employment based categories were current, then revised it to reflect that all available employment-based immigrant visas have been allocated for fiscal year 2007. In response to the move by the Department of State, on July 2nd, the USCIS started rejecting applications to adjust status (Form I-485) filed by aliens whose priority dates are not current under the revised July Visa Bulletin. Then on July 17th, the USCIS retracted and announced that it will start accepting employment-based applications to adjust status (Form I-485) filed by aliens whose priority dates are current under the original July Visa Bulletin, No. 107. The USCIS will now accept applications filed until August 17, 2007.
The hue and cry over the H-1B program seems to have caught up with the L-1 program as Senators Grassley (R-IA) and Durbin (D-IL) have now expressed fresh concerns over the use of L-1 visa by companies who also use large numbers of H-1B visas. The Senators were worried about the screening of individuals for blanket L petition that allows companies to bring in a limitless amount of workers. They were of the view that employers can use the L visa program to avoid restrictions on the H-1B program because it does not include the same protections for American workers and have advocated for additional checks on the L visa program.
Amidst the huge outcry over the significant increase in the filing fees, the USCIS has readied the stage to implement the new fee structure beginning July 30, 2007. Under the new schedule, application and petition fees will increase, on average, about 66 percent. The USCIS states it is increasing the fees to ensure appropriate funding to meet national security requirements and customer service needs, and modernize its outdated business infrastructure.
Speaking of customer service, USCIS, adhering to its commitment to provide the Premium Process Service in accordance to the Premium Process Service program guidelines, the USCIS announced on 24th of this month, that it would extend the temporary suspension of Premium Processing Service for Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, which was previously announced on June 27, 2007 and became effective on July 2, 2007. USCIS anticipated that the volume of Form I-140 petitions filed that request Premium Process Service will be continuing to exceed USCIS’ capacity. USCIS was thinking ahead!
Apart from providing you with top stories, we will enlighten you with exciting topics in the immigration world through a series of articles. In this month’s In Focus section, we try to educate and remove some of the popular misconceptions about the J-1 visa being relegated to studying and researching, and not available for working.
The Immigration Article in this issue throws some light on Dependant Spouses: Working in US a Distant Dream?
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Last month’s poll question seems to have garnered the interest of our readers. The opinion was, as expected, again divided. Some of the participants believed that the USCIS should not have increased the filing fee and some of them opined that it was fair enough to increase the fee. Few of the participants were happy to take a neutral stance. This month we have an interesting question for you to express Your Opinion. So don’t forget to cast your vote.
Congratulations to Oliva Cowan for winning last month’s Immigration Quiz. A significant number of participants were confused whether a person can apply for US Citizenship if he was a permanent resident of the US for three and a half years and visited his home country thrice. Gear up and research well for this month’s question. Give it a try; your name might featured in the next newsletter. All the Best!
See you next month with a lot more information from the Immigration World!