Hello and welcome to the November 2007 Immigration Newsletter!
Thanksgiving Day marks the beginning of the traditional Christmas shopping season in the U.S. Employers looking to “shop” for illegal immigrants to fill their employee ranks have to beware. Former Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI), introduced a bill on November 1, 2007, that is intended to help eliminate the problem of illegal immigration. Among its provisions, Sensenbrenner’s bill includes proposals to secure the nation’s borders, crack down on employers who hire illegal immigrants, increase the penalties against people who smuggle in illegal immigrants, and double the number of H-1B visas issued each year. While the “experts” ponder the byproducts of illegal immigration, ranging from uninterrupted supply of unskilled workers to the danger of terrorism, let’s hope that any immigration reform that will be brought about will work in the best interest of America. Continue to watch this column in the future for more developments on this front.
On a different front, the USCIS provided answers to some key issues at a National Stakeholder Meeting held on October 30th, 2007. One such issue addressed the assignment of different A-numbers with the filing of an application for adjustment of status on Form I-485 to individuals that were already issued an A-number. The USCIS said that a temporary receipt process was implemented for Employment Based I-485 applications filed between July 2, 2007, and August 17, 2007. They also said that the temporary receipt process allowed them to issue receipts for the high volume of I-485 applications filed during the summer in a faster and more efficient manner. At a future date the newly assigned A-numbers will be reconciled with previous A-numbers that may exist for each applicant and the newly assigned A-number will be deleted. The temporary A-number will also appear on the EAD card. This temporary receipt process also facilitated the receipting of I-765 applications for employment authorization and I-131 applications for advance parole.
There was good news this month for H and L visa holders who have applied for adjustment of status. USCIS published a final rule in the Federal Register to streamline the readmission of certain “H” and “L” nonimmigrant who have applied for adjustment of status to become permanent residents. The rule removes the requirement that such persons present a receipt notice (Form I-797, Notice of Action) for their adjustment applications when returning to the United States from travel abroad.
“Red-tape” and “paper work” are some of the words which can cause a chill to run down any employer’s spine. Employers should be relieved then since the announcement from the USCIS that it has revised Form I-9; this move in the wake of its ongoing work toward reducing the number of documents used to confirm identity and work eligibility. As we all know, all employers are required to complete a Form I-9 for each employee hired in the United States. The current revision seeks to achieve full compliance with the document reduction requirements of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), which reduced the number of documents employers may accept from newly hired employees during the employment eligibility verification process.
The talk has been around for a long time now, but some Senators have understood the threat to America’s economic competitiveness caused by the shortage of skilled-worker visas. Senator Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) and 18 of his Senate colleagues called on Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff to expand an important work authorization program known as Optional Practical Training (OPT), with the expectation that it would ease pressures affecting employers nationwide, employers who are increasingly unable to fill high-skilled positions. Affirming their commitment “to promoting meaningful legislative remedies including increasing the number of H-1B and employment-based visas,” the Senators urged that, in the interim, Secretary Chertoff exercise his regulatory authority to extend the maximum OPT period from its current 12 months to a new 29 months. It’s good to see the Senators work together on a shared agenda and commit themselves to looking for new and innovative solutions, rather than merely identifying problems.
On to news from the State Department. Earlier this month the Department of State announced that it has issued a record number of visas to students to study in the United States, exceeding pre-9/11 levels. For Fiscal Year 2007, the State Department issued more than 651,000 student and exchange visitor visas – 10 percent more than last year and 90,000 more than were issued in Fiscal Year 2001. Education in the US continues to be a highly sought out commodity.
Now for the regulars — this month’s Immigration Article will focus on what needs to be done to “change your nonimmigrant status” while in the U.S. Don’t forget to look into our In Focus section which will educate you on all the latest developments taking place on the H-2B visa front. In last month’s poll question, we asked our readers if it was possible for Congress to enact a comprehensive immigration reform before the end of the current Bush administration. We have, as usual, received many responses. After results were tallied half of you agreed that it was possible, while the rest were divided between not agreeing and being neutral. This month we have yet another interesting question for you to express Your Opinion. So read the poll question and cast your vote!
For information and queries related to U.K. immigration, including Work Permits, Business and Investor visas, the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP), and Settlement Permits, you may visit the U.K. Immigration section of the VisaPro site. For some of you seeking visa options to U.K., VisaPro brings you Online and Telephonic Consultations with our immigration experts. The added advantage would be an online written opinion in less than 3 business days from a licensed immigration solicitor or adviser.
Carole Watt receives our congratulations for submitting the winning response for last month’s Immigration Quiz. We received a lot of responses for our question about the possible solutions for a green card holder who wants to invite his wife to live with him in the U.S. Looking at the large number of correct answers amongst them; we concluded that our readers were pretty knowledgeable when it comes to questions regarding family based green cards. We have a new question for you this month so put on your thinking cap, pull out your research tools and get ready to write. Give it a try; who knows, we may feature your name and answer in the next newsletter. All the Best!
See you next month with a lot more noise from the Immigration World!