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1. House Holds Oversight Hearings on USCIS, EOIR -

Leon Rodriguez, USCIS Director, testified at the USCIS hearing. Juan Osuna, EOIR Director, testified at the EOIR hearing.

2. Visa Bulletin Notes Statistics on Applicants in Limited Immigrant Categories for Consular Processing -

The Department of State's Visa Bulletin for February 2016 notes that the National Visa Center has provided totals of applicants registered in the various numerically limited immigrant categories for processing at consular posts as of November 1, 2015.

3. USCIS Issues Reminder About Immigration Relief Measures for Victims of Severe Weather -

USCIS issued a reminder about immigration relief measures "that may help people affected by unforeseen circumstances, such as the recent severe weather and flooding in areas of the Southern and Midwestern United States."

4. USCIS Updates Request for Premium Processing Service Form -

The new edition is dated 12/11/15. The 01/29/15 version will also still be accepted.

5. DHS Secretary Releases Statement on Southwest Border Security in Light of Removals -

As part of recent operations, DHS Secretary Johnson said, 121 individuals were taken into custody, primarily from Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina, and they are now in the process of being removed from the United States and repatriated.

6. New Publications and Items of Interest -

New Publications and Items of Interest

7. ABIL Member/Firm News -

ABIL Member/Firm News

 

 
 
1. House Holds Oversight Hearings on USCIS, EOIR
 

The U.S. House of Representatives' Judiciary Committee held oversight hearings in December 2015 on U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and on the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). Leon Rodriguez, USCIS Director, testified at the USCIS hearing. Juan Osuna, EOIR Director, testified at the EOIR hearing.

At the USCIS oversight hearing, Mr. Rodriguez noted that his agency's priorities include, in addition to safety and security issues, implementing the executive actions on immigration announced in November 2014. Those include reducing unauthorized immigration at the border; prioritizing removal of the most dangerous; improving the legal immigration system for families, employers, students, entrepreneurs and workers; and, on a case-by-case basis, considering for deferred action certain undocumented immigrants under two initiatives—Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), and expanding the population of individuals eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Mr. Rodriguez noted that while DAPA and expanded DACA are on hold pursuant to a court injunction, USCIS and its partners in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other departments have been working to implement the other parts of the executive actions. Mr. Rodriguez said that other top priorities were effective management of the Refugee Admissions Program, continuing modernization of USCIS business and applicant interaction processes and service, anti-fraud and national security screening, and other efforts.

At the EOIR oversight hearing, Mr. Osuna noted that previous budget cuts led to backlogs of more than 457,000 immigration cases across the United States as of the end of fiscal year (FY) 2015, which was exacerbated by the 2014 influx of border-crossers. Mr. Osuna said a number of new immigration judges are being hired to deal with the backlogs, as a result of new appropriations. Among other things, he also mentioned the installation of new video equipment that allows immigration judges to hear some cases remotely.

Mr. Osuna said that after taking into account attrition through the end of FY 2015, EOIR has increased the total number of immigration judges for the first time since FY 2011, and aggressive hiring efforts continue. He noted that a total of 23 new immigration judges have entered on duty since November 2014, and that as of November 15, 2015, the Attorney General had selected another 25 new judges, who are now going through the required background and security checks before they can start hearing cases. Another two dozen immigration judge candidates, he noted, are going through the final stages of the hiring process. Mr. Osuna said that all of these new judges "will greatly assist in reducing the pending caseload when they arrive in immigration courts over the coming months."

MR. RODRIGUEZ'S TESIMONY FROM THE USCIS HEARING

VIDEO OF FULL HEARING, including questions and answers

MR. OSUNA'S TESTIMONY

VIDEO OF FULL HEARING, including questions and answers

 
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2. Visa Bulletin Notes Statistics on Applicants in Limited Immigrant Categories for Consular Processing
 

The Department of State's Visa Bulletin for February 2016 notes that the National Visa Center (NVC) has provided totals of applicants registered in the various numerically limited immigrant categories for processing at consular posts as of November 1, 2015.

In October, the Department of State asked the NVC at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to report the totals of applicants on waiting lists in the various numerically limited immigrant categories. Applications for adjustment of status under INA § 245 pending at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offices are not included in the tabulation of this immigrant waiting list data. As such, these figures only reflect petitions the Department of State has received, and do not include the significant number of applications held at USCIS offices.

VISA BULLETIN FOR FEBRUARY 2016

REPORT

 
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3. USCIS Issues Reminder About Immigration Relief Measures for Victims of Severe Weather
 

USCIS issued a reminder on December 31, 2015, about immigration relief measures "that may help people affected by unforeseen circumstances, such as the recent severe weather and flooding in areas of the Southern and Midwestern United States."

USCIS said these measures may be available upon request:

  • Change or extension of nonimmigrant status for an individual currently in the United States, even if the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired
  • Re-parole of individuals previously granted parole by USCIS
  • Expedited processing of advance parole requests
  • Expedited adjudication of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship
  • Expedited adjudication of employment authorization applications, where appropriate
  • Consideration of fee waivers due to an inability to pay
  • Assistance for those who received a Request for Evidence or a Notice of Intent to Deny but were unable to appear for an interview, submit evidence, or respond in a timely manner
  • Replacement of lost or damaged immigration or travel documents issued by USCIS, such as a Permanent Resident Card (Green Card)
  • Rescheduling of a biometrics appointment

USCIS said that when making a request, the affected individual should explain how the severe weather created a need for the requested relief.

MORE INFORMATION

 
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4. USCIS Updates Request for Premium Processing Service Form
 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has posted an update to Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service. The new edition is dated 12/11/15. The 01/29/15 version will also still be accepted.

Employers may use the I-907 to request faster processing of certain employment-based petitions and applications. Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker and Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, have been designated for premium processing service, for example. Not all designated classifications within these forms are eligible, however, and the R-1 classification is only eligible after a successful onsite inspection at the place of employment.

I-907 FORM

USCIS's FORMS UPDATES PAGE

MORE INFORMATION on categories eligible for premium processing

 
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5. DHS Secretary Releases Statement on Southwest Border Security in Light of Removals
 

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson released a statement on January 4, 2016, on southwest border security, in light of stepped-up removal operations underway.

Secretary Johnson noted that in the spring and summer of 2014, a significant spike occurred in families and unaccompanied children from Central America attempting to cross the U.S. southern border without authorization. In response, he noted, DHS took a number of actions in collaboration with the governments of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, and the numbers declined dramatically. In FY 2015, he said, the number of apprehensions by U.S. Border Patrol of those attempting to cross the southern border without authorization decreased to 331,333. With the exception of one year, this was the lowest number of apprehensions on the southern border since 1972, he noted. In recent months, however, the rate of apprehensions on the southern border has begun to climb again, he said.

Secretary Johnson noted that the focus of the recent weekend's "operations" were adults and their children who (i) were apprehended after May 1, 2014, crossing the southern border illegally, (ii) have been issued final orders of removal by an immigration court, and (iii) have exhausted appropriate legal remedies, and have no outstanding appeal or claim for asylum or other humanitarian relief under U.S. laws. As part of these operations, he said, 121 individuals were taken into custody, primarily from Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina, and they are now in the process of being removed from the United States and repatriated. Most of these families are first being transported to one of ICE's family residential centers for temporary processing before being issued travel documents and boarding a return flight to their home countries.

He said a number of precautions were taken as part of these operations. Among other things, ICE "exercised prosecutorial discretion in a number of cases for health or other personal reasons," he noted.

Various individuals and groups have criticized the controversial removal operations, including the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Chairwoman Linda Sanchez (D-Cal.) said, "Our federal government should not be separating parents from their children. As the mother of a young son, it's easy for me to imagine how traumatizing having ICE agents storm someone's home and tearing families apart can be for a young child. Invading homes is inhumane and adds to the trauma of these families fleeing violence and oppression." And Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said, "We hear that children are not going to school and parents are not going to work out of fear. Not even a week into the New Year and 2016 has turned into one of fear and hiding. But let us be very clear. Deporting families will not resolve the violence and corruption that push people from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to risk assault, rape, and murder to seek refuge in the United States."

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said she "believes we should not be conducting large-scale raids and roundups that sow fear and division in our communities." On the Republican side, however, candidate Donald Trump took credit for the Obama administration's decision to conduct the raids.

On January 15, 2016, protesters came to the White House. A group of Central American organizations posted a statement against the "inhumane" raids. The Guatemalan Foreign Relations Ministry released a list of steps in Spanish for migrants in the United States who encounter U.S. immigration officials, and the Guatemalan and Salvadoran governments released statements against the raids. The Honduran government, however, reportedly did not join in the protests.

There have been business ramifications too, as people across the country stay inside due to fears and perceptions of random targeting. According to news reports, for example, shop owners in Wheaton, Maryland, have complained that it has become difficult to cover rent and other bills because many fewer Latinos are out shopping. One owner of a popular Mexican-Salvadoran restaurant said that normally she sees around 300 customers per day but now she is only getting about 20. "Customers were telling me that the rumor was, 'Don't come to Wheaton. ICE is in the neighborhood," she said. Another shop owner said that his business income has dropped by 50 to 60 percent since the beginning of 2016.

Montgomery County, Maryland, which includes Wheaton, said that local police will not cooperate with the raids. Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett called the raids "ill-founded and counter-productive." County leaders expressed concerns that people are staying home from work and school, and are afraid to call the police when a crime is committed. On the other side, Corey Stewart, the board chair of Prince William County, Virginia, who is the leader of Mr. Trump's campaign in Virginia, said, "I'm going to do the very best that I can to encourage illegal aliens who want to commit crimes to leave Prince William County, in fact to leave Virginia all together, [and] go up to Maryland, because you're welcome up there."

SECRETARY JOHNSON'S STATEMENT

 
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6. New Publications and Items of Interest
 

The January E-Verify webinar schedule from USCIS is available HERE.

The 2015 edition of the Global Business Immigration Practice Guide has been released by LexisNexis. Dozens of members of the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers (ABIL) co-authored and edited the guide, which is a one-stop resource for dealing with questions related to business immigration issues in immigration hotspots around the world.

The latest edition adds chapters on Ghana and Peru. Other chapters cover Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, the European Union, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Latchi Delchev, a global mobility and immigration specialist for Boeing, called the guide "first-rate" and said the key strong point of the book is its "outstanding usability." She said she highly recommends the book and notes that it "is helpful even to seasoned professionals, as it provides a level of detail which is not easily gained from daily case management."

Mireya Serra-Janer, head of European immigration for a multinational IT company, says she particularly likes "the fact that the [guide] focuses not just on each country's immigration law itself but also addresses related matters such as tax and social security issues." She noted that the India chapter "is particularly good. The immigration regulations in India have always been hard to understand. Having a clear explanation of the rules there helps us sort out many mobility challenges."

Charles Gould, Director-General of the International Co-operative Alliance, said the guide is "an invaluable resource for both legal practitioners and business professionals. The country-specific chapters are comprehensive and answer the vast majority of questions that arise in immigration practice. Its clear and easy-to-follow structure and format make it the one volume to keep close at hand."

This comprehensive guide is designed to be used by:

  • Human resources professionals and in-house attorneys who need to instruct, understand, and liaise with immigration lawyers licensed in other countries;
  • Business immigration attorneys who regularly work with multinational corporations and their employees and HR professionals; and
  • Attorneys interested in expanding their practice to include global business immigration services.

This publication provides:

  • An overview of the immigration law requirements and procedures for over 20 countries;
  • Practical information and tips for obtaining visas, work permits, resident status, naturalization, and other nonimmigrant and immigrant pathways to conducting business, investing, and working in those countries;
  • A general overview of the appropriate options for a particular employee; and
  • Information on how an employee can obtain and maintain authorization to work in a target country.

Each chapter follows a similar format, making it easy to compare practices and procedures from country to country. Useful links to additional resources and forms are included. Collected in this Practice Guide, the expertise of ABIL's attorney members across the globe will serve as an ideal starting point in your research into global business immigration issues.

The list price is $359, but a 15% discount is available by visiting LexisNexis and entering discount code "ABIL15". Contact your Lexis/Nexis sales representative; call 1-800-833-9844 (United States), 1-518-487-3385 (international); fax 1-518-487-3584

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

 
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7. ABIL Member/Firm News
 

Several ABIL members will speak at the 2016 EB-5 Seminar, sponsored by the Los Angeles County Bar Association. The panel will speak on "EB-5 Securities Law Hot Topics," including recent SEC enforcement developments against attorneys, regional centers, and project principals; best securities law practices; and forecasting securities law provisions of future EB-5 integrity legislation. Speakers will include:

Mr. Klasko has authored several new blog entries. "Winning the Numbers Game" "EB-5 Legislation: Retrospective and Prospective" "Does December 11 Matter?"

Mr. Klasko was recently interviewed on the expiration of the present regional center program and changes that are likely to occur in the EB-5 program, published in "It may get harder for rich Chinese to buy green cards," CNNMoney.

Charles Kuck was quoted in "ICE Arrests 121 in Crackdown on Central Americans," published on January 4, 2016, in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Mr. Kuck noted, "It just doesn’t seem right to send back women and children who were truly fleeing for their lives, especially since the Obama administration rigged the system against these people. You are enforcing the law, but you are doing it at the consequence of human rights."

Mr. Kuck was quoted in "U.S. Begins Immigration Crackdown on Central Americans" published in the Wall Street Journal on January 3, 2016.

Robert Loughran was quoted in the Dallas Morning News on Texas' efforts to halt placement of Syrian refugees. Mr. Loughran offered his expertise on the merits of the case and reasons why the state withdrew its request for a temporary restraining order.

Mr. Loughran's article, "How Companies Can Staff Projects In Iraq," was published in the Texas Lawyer on November 14, 2015.

Cyrus Mehta has published a new blog entry. "Including Early Adjustment Filing in Proposed DHS Rule Impacting High-Skilled Workers Would Give Big Boost To Delayed Green Card Applicants"

Cyrus D. Mehta & Partners, PLLC, announced that David A. Isaacson and Cora-Ann V. Pestaina have become partners in the firm. Mr. Isaacson’s practice includes family- and employment-based applications for nonimmigrant visas and permanent residence, as well as waivers, naturalization and citizenship matters, asylum cases, other removal proceedings such as those stemming from criminal convictions or denied applications for adjustment of status, and federal appellate litigation. Ms. Pestaina represents large global corporate clients, emerging growth companies, and individuals in a wide range of industries including information technology, finance, management consulting, pharmaceuticals, health care, and design. She also represents individuals in family-based applications and naturalization. Ms. Pestaina has extensive experience in representing employers in PERM labor certification matters and regularly counsels clients regarding temporary employment-based nonimmigrant visas and permanent residence sponsorship for their foreign national employees. She also represents artists and investors, including EB-5 investors.

Bernard Wolfsdorf of Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP presented two workshops at Stanford University on January 12, 2016, on "Visa Options for Students (in Lieu of the Elusive H-1B)."

 
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