As we move closer to the beginning of fiscal year 2011, we mark the start of another U.S. Department of State’s Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery Program (DV lottery). U.S. Department of State (DOS) has announced the launch of DV lottery for the fiscal year 2012. Foreign nationals who want to enter the DV lottery for fiscal year 2012 can submit their applications from Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 12:00pm EDT (GMT -4) until 12:00pm EDT (GMT -4) on Wednesday, November 3, 2010.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on September 23, 2010, announced a final rule adjusting fees for immigration applications and petitions. The final rule will increase fees for many immigration filings, including premium processing cases, by a weighted average of about 10 percent but will not increase the fee for the Naturalization application. The new fee schedule will take effect from November 23, 2010. Petitions and applications postmarked on or after November 23 must include the new fees.
Employers will see higher fees for most employment-based filings, though some fees will be lowered. The following chart shows the revised fee structure for some of the applications:
|Form||Current Fee||New Fee|
|Form I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker||$320||$325|
|Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker||$475||$580|
|Form I-485 Application to Adjust Status||$930||$985|
|Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization||$340||$380|
|Form I-131 Application for Travel Document||$305||$360|
|Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status||$300||$290|
Here is another tough month for H-1B and L-1 employers after the previous month when the senate passed the U.S.-Mexico border security, which increased the H-1B and L-1 filing fee. In the first week of September, the U.S. employers with pending H-1B and L-1 petitions began to receive requests for evidence (RFEs) concerning the newly-implemented border security fee to employers who have pending H-1B and L-1 petitions for fifty or more employees. The RFEs require employers to submit the new fee or explain why they are not subject to it. The RFEs are likely to slow the adjudication of pending petitions, including those that were submitted with a request for premium processing. This has certainly become a cause of worry for employers filing H-1B or L-1 petitions especially when they are in an immediate need of the foreign national employee.
Employers and their immigration counsel have been experiencing technical slowdowns with the Department of Labor’s iCERT online portal. The technical problems have impeded some employers’ ability to file the Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) that are required for any petition or application for H-1B, H-1B1 and E-3 status. Department of Labor has informed that the E-Verify photo tool will soon be upgraded to allow participating employers to verify the photograph in an employee’s U.S. passport against government databases.
Other Developments in Immigration Law:
USCIS Final Rule On Adjusting Fees for Immigration Benefits
USCIS has announced a final rule adjusting fees for immigration applications and petitions. The final rule follows a period of public comment on a proposed version of the rule, which USCIS published in the Federal Register on June 11, 2010. The final rule will increase overall fees by a weighted average of about 10 percent but will not increase the fee for the naturalization application. The rule will also reduce fees for six individual applications and petitions and will expand the availability of fee waivers to new categories. The new fees will go into effect from November 23, 2010.
Effects of Invalid Puerto Rico Birth Certificates on the Form I-9 Process
On July 1, 2010, the Vital Statistics Office of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico began issuing new, more secure certified copies of birth certificates to U.S. citizens born in Puerto Rico because of a new Puerto Rico birth certificate law. After Sept. 30, 2010, all certified copies of birth certificates issued prior to July 1, 2010, will become invalid. This new law does not affect the U.S. citizenship status of individuals born in Puerto Rico. It only affects the validity of certified copies of Puerto Rico birth certificates.
CBP Reminder: New ESTA Fee to Begin from September 8 September 7, 2010
CBP reminds VWP travelers about the $14 fee for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization applications that will begin on Wednesday, Sept. 8. A fee of $4 will recover the costs incurred by CBP of providing and administering the ESTA system and is in addition to the mandatory $10 travel promotion fee established by the Travel Promotion Act of 2009. The total fee for a new or renewed ESTA will be $14.
Immigration Articles and Other Fun Stuff:
Now for the regulars – this month’s Immigration Article entitled ‘H1B Visa for Fashion Models: An Overview’aims to address the most common queries regarding H1B visa for fashion models and provide an overview of the eligibility requirements and the various steps involved in obtaining an H1B visa for fashion models. Also check out our In Focus section for this month, Marriage Based Green Card Interview Questions, where we have put together some common marriage based Green Card interview questions asked by USCIS officers and tips on how to better prepare for the interview.
Every month we introduce a new and interesting question for our opinion poll. Last month’s poll results indicate that 56.52% of the respondents believe that Senate’s approval to the Border Security Bill that increased the H-1B Visa and L-1 Visa fees by $2000 is not a favorable verdict. We appreciate that people take interest in the opinion question and cast their vote to give us their feedback. Keep it up! And continue to cast your vote to express Your Opinion.
We congratulate Neelam Kheer for winning last month’s Immigration Quiz. Again, we received a significant number of responses from our readers, who talked about various solutions to support their position, but Neelam Kheer gave the correct answer and won a free online consultation to discuss the concerned Immigration issues. So 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!