May 2006

From the Editor's Desk

Hello and welcome to the May 2006 Immigration Newsletter!

The immigration activity resumed this month with the Senate continuing the debate on the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 (S. 2611) popularly known as the “Hagel-Martinez compromise”. The Senate voted on the various amendments to the proposed legislation and finally passed the bill by a 62-36 vote. During the first week, the Senate struck down amendments that would have eliminated guest worker program and legalization provisions. Now the real fight begins when the bill is presented before the Senate-House Conference Committee.

While the immigration debate continues, the H-1B numbers for FY 2007 seem to be dwindling fast. You may be tracking the latest cap update through our Immigration News section. While everyone is still guessing when the cap will be reached, over 44% of our readers who participated in last month’s Opinion Poll are of the view that H-1Bs for FY 2007 will be over by June. As of May 25, 2006 USCIS has over 49,000 cap-subject H-1B petitions approved or pending. This means there are less than 12,000 H-1Bs remaining before the USCIS decides that it has received enough petitions to count towards the cap. We again remind and urge the last-minute decision makers to act fast and contact us immediately, if you intend to file an H-1B petition for an alien worker.

Would you mind paying a little extra to get a quick decision on your petition from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS)? USCIS is planning to expand the Premium Processing service to Form I-140 – Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; Form I-539 – Application to Extend/Change Status; and Form I-765 – Application for Employment Authorization. A notice to this effect was posted in the Federal Register by the USCIS. However, the notice indicates that premium processing for those categories will not begin until notification is posted on the USCIS website.

Our In Focus article explores the benefits of premium processing of a petition to get a speedy decision. Should the USCIS also consider expanding the benefit of premium processing to family visa petitions such as K-1 or K-3? Don’t forget to express Your Opinion in this month’s poll.

Martina Powell is the winner of last month’s Immigration Quiz. Unlike the past few months, there was little competition for Martina this time. Although a few participants answered correctly, their responses lacked proper explanation. Ms. Powell wins a FREE online consultation with a VisaPro attorney. Congratulations!

We often receive queries from various users of our website on how to obtain a U.S. work permit. VisaPro readers are aware that there are various visas available for working in the U.S., depending upon the nature of work, the employing organization and the employee’s background. I have already informed you all that we have various exciting projects in the pipeline, one of which will allow you to determine your visa options for working in the U.S. at the click of a few buttons. While we continue to work towards adding that feature on our website, I have a wonderful article for you in this month’s Immigration Article section. The article discusses the various options available to people of different professions to obtain a work authorization for U.S. I wish you the best of luck for your American Dream!

As always, I am looking forward to your wonderful feedback on your Immigration Monitor. Did you check the new version of VisaPro Message Boards? It is really great fun posting your queries and responding to others’ queries. I am learning a lot about U.S. Immigration through the message boards. Are you?

See you next month with more news from the world of immigration.

Latest Immigration News

Senate approves Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill

The Senate yesterday approved, by a vote of 62-36, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 (S. 2611). The bill sets the stage for a Senate-House showdown as the bill will now have to be harmonized with the bill (H.R. 4437) passed by the House in December.

View More

H-1B TRACKER: Cap Count as of May 25, 2006

As of May 25, 2006 USCIS has approved 7,718 petitions that are subject to H-1B cap and 41,316 petitions are pending.

I-140 and EAD may become eligible for Premium Processing

USCIS recently published a notice in the Federal Register identifying Forms I-140, I-539 and I-765 for addition to an expanded Premium Processing Service.

Jeff Conklin is Chief Information Officer at USCIS

Director Emilio T. Gonzalez announced the appointment of Jeff Conklin as the Chief Information Officer of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

May's Featured Articles

When to use Premium Processing

On June 1, 2001, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (now U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) put into place a Premium Processing Service, promising to speed up the agency’s applications decision process on selected work visas.

How do I get a US Work Permit?

There are many types of work visas, each with specific requirements as to type of position, type of employer, duration, etc. One of the most important steps in the visa application process is to determine what category/ies may be the most suitable, considering the nature of the position, your background and goals, and other factors.

Questions and Answers


My friend submitted his I-140 and I-485 last year and they were filed in Vermont Service Center. The receipt number starts with EAC. A few days ago when I checked the case status online, it said that his case had been transferred to Lincoln NE Center. Will the new center use the filing date as the date when they got the application or the date when Vermont Service Center received?


The USCIS recently instituted new policies regarding where cases will be filed and where they will be adjudicated. They are in the process of establishing greater specialization with the Nebraska and Texas Service Centers handling the employment based permanent residence cases (Forms I-140 and accompanying adjustment of status applications) and the Vermont and California Service Centers handling the nonimmigrant employment based cases (Form I-129 and accompanying forms). It is our understanding that with this change the service centers will be exchanging cases for processing.

It is also our understanding that the case should retain its original date for processing and should be processed in order; it should not “go to back of the line” as if it was just received. As with any major change in procedures there may be some initial delays in the process, and some cases may end up out of order for processing. These bugs should be worked out fairly quickly and the overall processing times should decrease.


I with my husband and two sons got our green card in December 2003. We went to the US in May 2004 and applied for a reentry permit as my second son had to complete his studies here in India. We (my husband, my second son and I) have been given permission to return to the US by November, 2006. My first son is in the US pursuing his MS. Do we (the three of us) need to again apply for a re-entry permit when we go to the US now or is it possible to visit the US henceforth once in a year without applying for a reentry permit?


It all depends on your intent to make the US your permanent home. Maintaining your permanent residence status is dependent on your intending to make the US your permanent home and living here. If you plan to make the US your permanent home but spend a significant period of time outside the US you should continue to get a re-entry permit for those extended periods outside the US.

Any time you are outside the US for longer than six months there is a presumption that you have abandoned your permanent residence status. The USCIS looks at several factors in determining abandonment: whether you have kept a home in the US that you have unrestricted access to, whether you maintained US bank accounts and filed your US tax returns as a US resident, whether you kept a US driver’s license current, whether you are working for a US employer overseas or for a foreign employer, and whether you have obtained a re-entry permit. Each case is based on the facts involved. However, as a rule of thumb, the longer you remain outside the US the more difficult it will be to show that you intend to make the US your permanent home.

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