Hello and welcome to the October 2007 Immigration Newsletter!
Much like the high tech industry, the healthcare field and many other sectors, American farmers are waiting for a comprehensive immigration reform which will make it easier for them to bring agricultural workers to the U.S. to help solve their labor shortage problems. Some farm owners are contemplating shutting down operations because of the severe shortage of farm workers. This would, in all probability, lead to soaring food prices in the U.S.A viable option, but with enormous red-tape for farmers, has been the H-2A temporary agricultural program. This program establishes a means for agricultural employers who anticipate a shortage of domestic workers to bring nonimmigrant foreign workers to the U.S. to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced a new “customer service” initiative to improve the H-2A (temporary/seasonal agricultural worker) petition process. (While we cannot say for sure what the reason is behind this move, it seems that the H-2A program has gotten so unwieldy that farmers simply have stopped using it.) The USCIS will institute a series of changes to provide agricultural employers with an orderly and timely flow of legal workers while protecting laborers’ rights. Among the first of those changes is the establishment of a special USCIS unit at the USCIS California Service Center (CSC) dedicated to processing H-2A petitions.
This is just another example of the need for comprehensive immigration reform. We will have to wait and see if Congress can devise an immigration overhaul which will work in the best interest of employers in the U.S.
We at VisaPro are beginning to sense the euphoria of our clients who are excited about the prospect of going back home to visit their family and loved ones, and to celebrate festivals with them. VisaPro will be busy preparing documents for enthusiastic travelers who are planning to travel outside the US in the month of December for what all of us believe will be a very busy festive season. The USCIS is anticipating an unusually high volume of requests for advance parole and other travel documents this winter, given the occurrence of three major religious observances- Christmas, Hanukkah, and Hajj during the month of December. USCIS is urging applicants needing a travel document (Reentry Permit, Refugee Travel Document or Advance Parole) to file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, before the end of October 2007.
In other immigration news, the USCIS has launched a new photo-screening tool that is intended to help employers detect identity fraud. This photo-screening tool will help employers comply with immigration law while also strengthening worksite enforcement. It is anticipated that this program will be the first step in giving employers the tools they need to help detect some forms of identity fraud in the employment eligibility process. Participating employer will be allowed to check photos on Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) or Permanent Resident Cards (green card) against images stored in USCIS databases. The goal of this photo tool is to help employers determine whether the document presented reasonably relates to the individual and contains a valid photo. The former program did not include this identity fraud component.
Once again, H-2B stories have been making the rounds. The H-2B returning worker exemption seems to have gained a lot of attention with Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) who has declared that she will not stop her fight to extend the crucial returning worker exemption from her Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act. The exemption protects small and seasonal businesses from a devastating cut to their workforce. Senator Mikulski joined Senator John Warner (R-Va.) in March 2007 to introduce a stand alone bill to extend the provision, and also included it as an amendment to the comprehensive immigration packages considered by the Senate this past spring. Unfortunately, no bill will receive a vote before the provision’s expiration.
In the meantime, the USCIS announced that it has already received a sufficient number of petitions to reach the congressionally mandated H-2B cap for the first half of Fiscal Year 2008 (FY2008). Petitions for workers who are currently in H-2B status do not count towards the congressionally mandated bi-annual H-2B cap. (This is another indicator of the need for comprehensive immigration reform.)
In keeping with tradition, in our In Focus section this month we educate you about PERM Labor Certification Process. Learn how PERM procedures can expedite the Labor Certification process.
In this second of a two-part Immigration Article series, we would like you to have a look at the Immigrant visa options for Professors and Researchers who would want to work in the U.S. Don’t miss out on the options for obtaining permanent residence with and without a U.S. employer.
This month VisaPro launched immigration services to Canada and Brazil as part of its Global Immigration Services. VisaPro is on its way to accomplish its goal of developing immigration services for 120 countries. Our readers can now take advantage of VisaPro’s fast, easy and convenient immigration services for Canada and Brazil. For information and queries related to Canada and Brazil immigration, including Work Visas, Residence Permits, Short Term Visas and Visitor Visas, you may now visit the Canada and Brazil sections of the VisaPro site.
We congratulate Syed Moosavi for winning last month’s Immigration Quiz. It’s nice to see our readers take their time to provide thoughtful answers for the Poll Question and Immigration Quiz. Answers to the quiz indicated that many of our readers were confused and the responses showed us that this area continues to be a bit challenging for our readers. More than half of the participants were not sure if they could change employers while others were positive that they could change employers. This month we have another interesting question for you, so be sure to express Your Opinion. Don’t miss this opportunity to weigh in with your vote.
See you next month with a lot more noise from the Immigration World! Till then CIAO!!