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1. China, India Visa Number Priority Cut-Off Dates Move Forward - The China and India cut-off dates continue to move forward, in some cases at a rapid rate.
2. U.S. Consulate in Chennai Stops Processing Immigrant Visa Petitions - The U.S. embassy in New Delhi and U.S. consulate in Mumbai are now the only acceptance centers in India for immigrant visa applications.
3. Justice Dept. Settles with University of California San Diego Medical Center - The Department had alleged that the medical center subjected newly hired non-U.S. citizens to excessive demands for documents to verify their employment eligibility.
4. USCIS Considers Allowing Provisional Waivers for Immediate Relatives - USCIS is considering regulatory changes that will allow certain immediate relatives of U.S. citizens to request provisional waivers before departing the United States for consular processing of their immigrant visa applications.
5. USCIS Seeks Comments on Draft L-1 Templates - In addition to comments on the individual draft templates, USCIS also seeks stakeholder input on broader issues.
6. Pakistani Students Come to U.S. Under Global Undergraduate Exchange Program - Global UGRAD-Pakistan provides an international academic exchange experience at a U.S. college or university for 200 emerging student leaders from underserved demographic groups or geographic areas in Pakistan.
7. Brazil's 'Science Without Borders' Program Sends 650 Students to United States - Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's "Science Without Borders" program will support as many as 101,000 outstanding Brazilian students for international study in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in the next four years.
8. New Publications and Items of Interest - New Publications and Items of Interest
9. Member News - Member News
10. Government Agency Links - Government Agency Links
 

 
 
1. China, India Visa Number Priority Cut-Off Dates Move Forward
 

The Department of State's Visa Bulletin for February 2012 shows that the China and India cut-off dates continue to move forward, in some cases at a rapid rate.

For February, the China employment-based second preference cut-off date has advanced a year to January 1, 2010. Also for February, the China employment-based third preference cut-off date is December 1, 2004, advancing a month and a half from January's cut-off date, when it was October 15, 2004. The third preference "Other Workers" category remains unchanged at April 22, 2003.

For February, the India employment-based second preference cut-off date is January 1, 2010, also advancing a year. Also for February, the India employment-based third preference cut-off date is August 15, 2002, advancing a week from January's cut-off date. The third preference "Other Workers" category for India in February is August 15, 2002, a two-week advance from January. The Visa Office explained in the February bulletin:

China and India: Reports from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) indicate that the rate of new filings for adjustment of status in recent months has been extremely low. This fact has required the continued rapid forward movement of the cut-off date, in an attempt to generate demand and maximize number use under the annual limit.  Once the level of new filings or USCIS processing increases significantly, it will be necessary to slow or stop the movement of the cut-off.  Readers are once again advised that an eventual need to retrogress the cut-off date is also a distinct possibility.

Also, in the January bulletin, the Visa Office noted:

The China and India Employment Second preference cut-off date has been advanced at a rapid rate in recent months. As previously noted, this action was intended to generate significant levels of new filings for adjustment of status at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offices. USCIS has reported that the rate of new filings is currently far below that which they had anticipated, prompting an even more aggressive movement of the cut-off date for January and possibly beyond. While this action greatly increases the potential for an eventual retrogression of the cut-off at some point during the year, it also provides the best opportunity to utilize all numbers available under the annual limit.

The February 2012 bulletin notes that those categories with a "Current" projection will remain so for the foreseeable future. The Visa Office estimates that other employment-based categories not discussed above could also advance by up to one month per month in the near future, including the Worldwide, Mexico, and Philippines categories, depending on demand. The Visa Bulletin for February 2012 is available at http://www.travel.state.gov/visa/bulletin/bulletin_5640.html.

 
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2. U.S. Consulate in Chennai Stops Processing Immigrant Visa Petitions
 
As of January 1, 2012, the U.S. Consulate General in Chennai, India, is no longer processing immigrant visa petitions. The U.S. embassy in New Delhi and U.S. consulate in Mumbai are now the only acceptance centers in India for immigrant visa applications. Applicants currently in the process of petitioning for an immigrant visa may e-mail ChennaiIVU@state.gov for clarification of their status.
 
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3. Justice Dept. Settles with University of California San Diego Medical Center
 

The Department of Justice reached an agreement on January 4, 2012, with the University of California San Diego Medical Center, resolving a complaint filed on December 6, 2011, alleging that the medical center failed to comply with proper employment eligibility verification processes for noncitizens authorized to work in the United States.

Specifically, the Department's complaint alleged that the medical center subjected newly hired non-U.S. citizens to excessive demands for documents to verify their employment eligibility but did not require the same of U.S. citizens.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the medical center agreed to implement new employment eligibility verification policies and procedures that treat all employees equally regardless of citizenship status. In addition, the medical center agreed to pay a civil penalty of $115,000, conduct supplemental training of its human resources personnel on their responsibilities to avoid discrimination in the employment eligibility verification process, and work with the Department to ensure compliance with proper employment eligibility verification processes across all University of California campuses, medical centers, and facilities.

The Department's announcement is available at http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/January/12-crt-006.html.

 
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4. USCIS Considers Allowing Provisional Waivers for Immediate Relatives
 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on January 9, 2012, that it intends to change its current process for filing and adjudicating certain applications for waivers of inadmissibility filed in connection with an immediate relative immigrant visa application.

Specifically, USCIS is considering regulatory changes that will allow certain immediate relatives of U.S. citizens to request provisional waivers before departing the United States for consular processing of their immigrant visa applications. A person would be able to obtain such a waiver only if a Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130, is filed by a U.S. citizen on his or her behalf and that petition has been approved, thereby classifying the person as an "immediate relative" for purposes of the immigration laws, and he or she demonstrates that the denial of the waiver would result in extreme hardship to the U.S. citizen spouse or parent "qualifying relative." The qualifying relative for purposes of the waiver is not necessarily the immediate relative who filed the immigrant visa petition on the relative’s behalf.

USCIS's notice of intent, published in 77 Fed. Reg. 1040 (Jan. 9, 2012), is available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-01-09/pdf/2012-140.pdf. A related USCIS blog is available at http://blog.dhs.gov/2012/01/uscis-proposes-regulatory-change-to.html.

 
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5. USCIS Seeks Comments on Draft L-1 Templates
 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) seeks comments on draft request for evidence (RFE) templates for Forms I-129: L-1 intracompany transferee (blanket petition, L-1A manager or executive, L-1A new office (first year), and qualifying relationship/ownership and control/doing business.

In addition to comments on the individual draft templates, USCIS also seeks stakeholder input on broader issues:

  1. What are the top five issues you have with RFEs in the classifications that are currently under review?
  2. What improvements can be made to the current RFE process in these classifications?
  3. What types of evidence are frequently unavailable for these classifications when requested, and why? What evidence could be submitted as an alternative?

USCIS said it is also reviewing RFE templates for these categories:

  • E-12 Outstanding Professor and Researcher immigrants
  • E-13 Multinational Executive and Manager immigrants
  • F Student nonimmigrants
  • M Vocational Student nonimmigrants
  • J Exchange Visitor nonimmigrants
  • L Intracompany Transferee nonimmigrants
  • O Extraordinary Ability or Achievement nonimmigrants
Information and instructions are available at http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.eb1d4c2a3e5b9ac89243c6a7543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=95e92d40ee989210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=95e92d40ee989210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD. The draft templates are available at http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.eb1d4c2a3e5b9ac89243c6a7543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=a6aafa4b01b38210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=a6aafa4b01b38210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD.
 
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6. Pakistani Students Come to U.S. Under Global Undergraduate Exchange Program
 

The Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announced that 100 students from Pakistan have arrived in the United States and participated in the Global Undergraduate Exchange Program's (Global UGRAD-Pakistan) orientation in Washington, DC, from January 3-7, 2012.

Launched in 2010, Global UGRAD-Pakistan provides an international academic exchange experience at a U.S. college or university for 200 emerging student leaders from underserved demographic groups or geographic areas in Pakistan. The undergraduate students participate in one semester of non-degree study in the United States. Half of the 200 participants arrived in August 2011 for the fall semester. While in the United States, participants take part in local community service projects, engage in cultural enrichment activities, and complete a U.S. studies course.

The spring 2012 Global UGRAD-Pakistan Fellows will be placed at 71 accredited two- and four-year higher education institutions in 34 states. The Department said that through their programs of study and integration into U.S. communities, Global UGRAD-Pakistan students gain a broader, more nuanced knowledge of the United States, which will help them to increase mutual understanding between the United States and Pakistan in the future.

The Global UGRAD-Pakistan program is a part of the Department's Global Undergraduate Exchange Program, a scholarship program enabling students worldwide to study for one semester or academic year at colleges and universities across the United States. The program is administered by the cooperating agency, the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX).

The announcement is available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2012/01/180144.htm. Additional information about the Global Undergraduate Exchange Program is available at http://exchanges.state.gov/ugrad.html. Information about the Pakistan program is available at http://www.irex.org/project/global-undergraduate-exchange-program-pakistan-global-ugrad-pakistan.

 
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7. Brazil's 'Science Without Borders' Program Sends 650 Students to United States
 

The Department of State announced on January 5, 2012, that 650 Brazilian students arrived in the United States in the first week in January to study in over 100 U.S. universities in 42 states. These students are the first wave of participants in Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's "Science Without Borders" scholarship program to come to U.S. classrooms.

Last year, President Barack Obama announced the "100,000 Strong for the Americas" initiative to increase international study with a target of 100,000 students from Latin America and the Caribbean studying in the United States, and a reciprocal 100,000 students from the United States studying in the Latin American and Caribbean regions.

Additionally, President Rousseff's "Science Without Borders" program will support as many as 101,000 outstanding Brazilian students for international study in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in the next four years. Up to half of them will study in the United States. The Department said, "Our partnership with Brazil continues to grow and this investment through educational exchanges will continue to benefit our societies for generations to come."

 
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8. New Publications and Items of Interest
 

Stakeholder teleconference on consular notification of immigrant/nonimmigrant approvals. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' Operations Directorate invites interested stakeholders to participate in a teleconference, "Consular Notification Process on Immigrant and Non-immigrant Approvals as Related to Visa Issuance," on Wednesday, February 1, 2012, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. eastern time. The notice is available at http://content.govdelivery.com/bulletins/gd/USDHSCIS-2467d3. For more information or to register by January 23, e-mail Donna Kane, USCIS Vermont Service Center Community Engagement Officer, donna.kane@dhs.gov, with your full name and the organization you represent.

Effects of USCIS adjudication procedures on fraud detection. The Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General (OIG) has released "The Effects of USCIS Adjudication Procedures and Policies on Fraud Detection by Immigration Services Officers." The OIG interviewed 147 managers and staff, and received 256 responses to an online survey. The OIG identified a range of possible improvements to practices in areas such as performance measurement, training, and collaboration between adjudications and fraud detection staff. The report notes that USCIS has taken important steps to improve security and fraud detection, and makes 11 recommendations for improvement. It is available at http://www.oig.dhs.gov/assets/Mgmt/OIG_12-24_Jan11.pdf.

Foreign students' contribution to U.S. economy. Foreign students and their families spent more than $20 billion in the United States during the 2010-2011 academic year, according to a new NAFSA: Association of International Educators report. California, New York, and Texas welcomed the largest numbers of foreign students, and those states and others across the country benefited from spending by these students and their families on living expenses, tuition, and fees. For more information, see http://www.nafsa.org/PressRoom/PressRelease.aspx?id=29459. The report is available at http://www.nafsa.org/publicpolicy/default.aspx?id=29416.

Green Card Stories. The immigration debate is boiling over. Americans are losing the ability to understand and talk to one another about immigration. We must find a way to connect on a human level. Green Card Stories does just that. The book depicts 50 recent immigrants with permanent residence or citizenship in dramatic narratives, accompanied by artistic photos. If the book's profilees share a common trait, it's a mixture of talent and steely determination. Each of them overcame great challenges to come and stay in America. Green Card Stories reminds Americans of who we are: a nation of immigrants, from all walks of life and all corners of the earth, who have fueled America's success. It tells the true story of our nation: E pluribus unum--out of many, one.

For more information or to order, visit http://www.greencardstories.com/. A related website has been launched at http://www.greencardstories.com.

ABIL on Twitter. The Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers is now available on Twitter: @ABILImmigration.

 
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9. Member News
 

Cyrus Mehta has published a new blog entry. "What the Proposed Provisional Waiver Rule Means for Those Facing 3- or 10-Year Bars" is available at http://cyrusmehta.blogspot.com/2012/01/what-proposed-provisional-waiver-rule.html.

Angelo Paparelli has published a new blog entry. "Power-Mad Career Immigration Bureaucrats Cry Wolf, Spook DHS Leaders" is available at http://www.nationofimmigrators.com/uscis/power-mad-career-immigration-bureaucrats-cry-wolf-spook-dhs-leaders/index.html.

Stephen Yale-Loehr was quoted in an article by the Associated Press (AP) that was picked up by a number of other media outlets, including the CBS and Fox websites. In an article about the U.S. citizen teen from Texas who was recently "deported" to Colombia by mistake, he noted that hundreds of U.S. citizens are wrongfully deported or detained every year. "There are a variety of legitimate reasons why somebody might not appear to be a U.S. citizen at first glance," he said. "It's the duty of the U.S. federal immigration agency to make sure that we do not detain and deport U.S. citizens erroneously. And this, unfortunately, happened in this case." The AP article is available at http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hH1xagZjjL6pSarfTF7G8coc44vg?docId=98357e780b644bdeb7371380be9d1fb9. CBS's pick-up of the AP story is at http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57354271/texas-teen-mistakenly-deported-reunites-with-mom/ and Fox's is available at http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2012/01/07/texas-teen-mistakenly-deported-to-colombia-is-back-in-us/.

Mr. Yale-Loehr also was quoted in Crain's New York Business online on January 8, 2012, and in the print edition on January 9. Mr. Yale-Loehr noted that potential EB-5 investors are getting skittish because the EB-5 program's reauthorization depends on a dysfunctional Congress. "It behooves Congress to reauthorize this program. Whether they can do it in a timely manner, that's a political crapshoot." The article is available at http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20120108/ECONOMY/301089981/1009.

 
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10. Government Agency Links
 

Follow these links to access current processing times of the USCIS Service Centers and the Department of Labor, or the Department of State's latest Visa Bulletin with the most recent cut-off dates for visa numbers:

USCIS Service Center processing times online

Department of Labor processing times and information on backlogs

Department of State Visa Bulletin

Visa application wait times for any post

 
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