Hello and welcome to the October 2012 Immigration Newsletter!
As we approach November, all eyes are on the 2012 U.S. presidential election. Election Day is November 6th which means that we will know who the next President will be before our next newsletter is released. We wish all the candidates the very best of luck!
The sometimes all-consuming focus on the 2012 presidential elections did not mean that October lacked its share of action in the field of U.S. Immigration. In welcome news for Taiwanese passport holders, Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, has announced the designation of Taiwan into the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) as of November 1, 2012. This, of course, will permit eligible Taiwanese passport holders to travel to the U.S. without visas under VWP for up to 90 days for business or tourism. However, like other VWP travelers, they will be required to apply for advanced authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).
First-time visa applicants in India are continuing to familiarize themselves with the new two-step process of obtaining a visa. Effective September 26, 2012, all first-time visa applicants in India must 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 has also introduced a new website, available in English and Hindi, for scheduling and coordinating visa interviews new website. The website will also accept visa fee payment and allow for appointment rescheduling. It is important to note that while these changes are intended to streamline the visa issuance process and free-up consular resources, there are no changes in the adjudication standards. Applicants must still meet the requirements for the visa class that they are applying for, and the visa application fees remain the same.
In other consular news, a recently issued Department of State (DOS) cable has reaffirmed that those obtaining a “B-1 in lieu of H” visa should have the same annotated in their passport by the consular officer. The cable also states that that the same is under review in an interagency process. The cable, which provides guidance and advice to consular officers, mentions that to qualify for the visa, the employee shall customarily be employed by a foreign firm, the employing entity must pay the employee’s salary and the source of employee’s salary must be abroad. The remuneration for services performed in the U.S. must continue to be provided by the business entity located abroad. The “B-1 in lieu of H” classification has often been the subject of heightened scrutiny and much confusion and it is hoped that DOS’s recent affirmation of the classification’s usefulness would help suitable applicants in securing the visa.
The November 2012 U.S. Department of State Visa Bulletin indicates that the EB-2 priority date for all countries except mainland China and India will return to being “Current” next month. While the EB-2 priority date advanced marginally from 07/15/07 to 09/01/07 for mainland China, it remained at 09/01/04 for India. The EB-3 priority dates advanced marginally for all counties while EB-1, EB-4 and EB-5 continued to remain current for all countries.
Other Developments in Immigration Law:
President Obama signs Law to Extend EB-5 Regional Center Program and other Immigration Programs
As anticipated, on September 28, 2012 President Obama signed legislation (S. 3245 Act) 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. The Act was introduced by Sen. Leahy, and was passed by the Senate on August 2, 2012, and by the House of Representatives on September 13, 2012. The Law provides for the extension of the above programs until September 30, 2015.
USCIS Announces New Filing Option for Canadian TN Nonimmigrants
USCIS has announced that starting October 1, 2012, it will begin accepting the Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, filed on behalf of Canadian Citizens who are outside the United States and seeking classification as a TN nonimmigrant. Canadian Citizens will continue to have the option of applying directly to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for TN classification in conjunction with an application for TN admission to the United States.
Immigration Articles and Other Fun Stuff:
Our ‘Featured Video’ for this month titled, “How Do I Get a U.S. Work Visa” showcases the most appropriate work visas for some common positions in the U.S. to help you ascertain the most suitable U.S. work visa for you. 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 “The P-1B Visa for Internationally Recognized Entertainment Groups: An Overview” in which we present an overview of the P-1B visa requirements and the P-1B visa process for entertainment groups, along with a few important features of the P-1 visa generally.
Every month we introduce a new and interesting question for our opinion poll. Last month’s poll results indicate that a majority of respondents (75%) welcome the new visa processing system introduced by Mission India. 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 Manya for winning last month’s Immigration Quiz. While we received more than one correct response to the quiz question, Manya 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!