News from the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers Vol. 8, No. 10A • October 01, 2012
1. Details Released on DV-2014 Lottery Program; DV-2013 Entrants Should Keep Confirmation Numbers – Online registration for the DV-2014 Program begins on October 2, 2012, at noon EDT, and concludes on November 3, 2012, at noon EDT. The Department of State also said it may select more DV-2013 entries on October 1, 2012, so DV-2013 entrants should keep their confirmation numbers even if they have not been selected yet.
2. DOL Delays Effective Date of H-2B Wage Rule, Announces Electronic Filing for H-2A, H-2B Labor Cert Applications – The Department of Labor expects to publish a final rule extending the effective date of the 2011 H-2B wage rule to March 27, 2013. Also, the Department announced the implementation of electronic filing for nonimmigrant temporary labor certification applications under the H-2A and H-2B visa programs through the iCERT System.
3. STEM Bill Fails in House – The bill would have provided permanent residence to 55,000 foreign students each year who graduate with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) from U.S. universities and agree to work for at least five years in the United States in a STEM field.
4. DHS To Extend Haiti TPS – The Department of Homeland Security expects to publish a notice in the Federal Register shortly announcing this decision.
5. CBP Announces Delays in Processing I-94 Arrival/Departure Records – CBP is experiencing delays in processing foreign visitors’ travel information in the Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record database.
6. Older Versions of Greek Passport Are Invalid – The government of Greece recently announced that Greek passports are valid for travel only if issued on or after January 1, 2006, regardless of expiration date.
7. ABIL Global: United Kingdom – A Numbers Game – The United Kingdom has introduced various restrictive immigration policies.
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. Details Released on DV-2014 Lottery Program; DV-2013 Entrants Should Keep Confirmation Numbers
Online registration for the DV-2014 Program begins on Tuesday, October 2, 2012, at noon EDT, and concludes on Saturday, November 3, 2012, at noon EDT. Applicants must submit entries electronically during this registration period using the electronic DV entry form (E-DV). Paper entries will not be accepted. The Department of State strongly encourages applicants not to wait until the last week of the registration period to enter. Heavy demand may result in website delays.
Selectees for the DV program are chosen by a computer-generated, random drawing. The visas are distributed among six geographic regions, with a greater number of visas going to regions with lower rates of immigration to the United States, and with no visas going to nationals of countries sending more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States over the past five years. No single country may receive more than seven percent of the available diversity visas in any one year.
For DV-2014, natives of Guatemala are now eligible to enter the program.
Natives of the following countries are not eligible to apply because the countries sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the previous five years: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam. A “native” ordinarily means someone born within a particular country, regardless of the individual’s current country of residence or nationality. Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible.
For DV-2014, the Department of State once again will implement an online process to notify entrants of their selection and to provide information about the immigrant visa application and interview. Beginning May 1, 2013, DV-2014 entrants will be able to use their confirmation number provided at registration to check online through Entry Status Check. Successful entrants will receive instructions on how to apply for immigrant visas for themselves and their eligible family members. Confirmation of visa interview appointments will also be made through Entry Status Check.
For detailed information about DV-2014 entry requirements, along with frequently asked questions about the DV program, see the instructions for the DV-2014 Diversity Visa program. The related Federal Register notice was published on September 28, 2012.
The Department of State also noted that DV-2013 entrants should keep their confirmation numbers until at least September 2013, even if they were not selected on May 1, 2012. The Department said it may select more DV-2013 entries on October 1, 2012. Entrants in the DV-2013 program may check the status of their entries through Entrant Status Check through September 30, 2013.
2. DOL Delays Effective Date of H-2B Wage Rule, Announces Electronic Filing for H-2A, H-2B Labor Cert Applications
In anticipation of the enactment of H.J. Res 117, which prohibits the Department of Labor from expending funds to implement the 2011 H-2B wage rule for the duration of that continuing resolution, the Department expects to publish a final rule extending the effective date of the 2011 wage rule to March 27, 2013. It has not yet been published in the Federal Register but is available online.
Also, the Department announced the implementation of electronic filing for nonimmigrant temporary labor certification applications under the H-2A and H-2B visa programs through the iCERT Visa Portal System (iCERT System). Employers or their authorized representatives may submit H-2B applications electronically beginning on October 15, 2012, and H-2A applications beginning on December 10, 2012.
The Department will hold four webinar training sessions (two for filing in the H-2B program and two for filing in the H-2A program) to orient program users to electronic filing through the iCERT System. These sessions will be announced on the OFLC’s Web site once dates are finalized. Employers or their authorized representatives choosing not to use this new filing option must continue to file their H-2A and H-2B applications with the Department using the traditional paper-based filing method.
3. STEM Bill Fails in House
On September 20, 2012, the U.S. House of Representatives rejected the STEM Jobs Act (H.R. 6429), sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) by a vote of 257-158. (288 votes were required to pass under suspension of the rules.) The bill would have provided permanent residence to 55,000 foreign students each year who graduate with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) from U.S. universities and agree to work for at least five years in the United States in a STEM field. The bill included requirements for an employer to petition on the student’s behalf and a labor certification process.
Democrats who voted against the measure signaled that they were in favor of similar legislation but objected to a provision that would have eliminated the diversity visa program. Congress may take up this and similar bills in November, after the presidential election.
4. DHS To Extend Haiti TPS
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano is extending Haiti’s temporary protected status (TPS). The Department of Homeland Security expects to publish a notice in the Federal Register shortly announcing this decision.
The Federal Register notice will provide additional guidance on:
- Who is eligible for TPS;
- How to re-register if you have TPS;
- When to begin filing TPS applications;
- How to request an employment authorization document (EAD);
- Six-month automatic extension of current EADs;
- TPS fees and fee waiver procedures; and
- Other TPS-related information.
The 60-day re-registration period for current Haiti TPS beneficiaries will begin on the day the Federal Register notice is published. Individuals who have not continuously resided in the United States since January 12, 2011, will not be eligible.
5. CBP Announces Delays in Processing I-94 Arrival/Departure Records
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced on September 17, 2012, that it is experiencing delays in processing foreign visitors’ travel information in the Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record database. CBP said this does not affect the majority of foreign travelers visiting for business or leisure and will not affect any visitor’s record of departure.
CBP is exploring automating the I-94 to allow for the collection of arrival/departure information electronically to streamline the arrival and inspection process for travelers. CBP is coordinating with other agency stakeholders and is considering rulemaking.
6. Older Versions of Greek Passport Are Invalid
The government of Greece recently announced that Greek passports are valid for travel only if issued on or after January 1, 2006, regardless of expiration date. Greece also announced:
- Greek passports issued before January 1, 2006, are invalid for admission into the United States.
- All versions of Greek official and diplomatic passports are valid for admission until the document expiration date.
- All versions of the Greek passport are valid for return to Greece for Greek nationals.
As of February 1, 2007, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) began imposing penalties on transportation carriers for bringing anyone who is applying for admission to the United States with a noncompliant Greek passport into the United States.
7. ABIL Global: United Kingdom – A Numbers Game
The United Kingdom has introduced various restrictive immigration policies.
Since coming to power, the Conservative-led coalition government of the United Kingdom has introduced a number of changes to work, study, and family migration routes in an effort to reduce net migration. In crafting this barrier of restrictive policy, the government has trumpeted each new reform as a building block toward saving the UK’s economy and protecting its people. However, in restricting the routes that permitted many productive and talented migrants to enter and remain, the government is frustrating the country’s fiscal health and playing to a culture of alarmism.
Among those adversely affected by this approach have been Non-European Economic Area (non-EEA) migrant employees and the businesses who would seek to hire them. By constructing a wall of red tape in the form of confusing application forms, voluminous guidance, and unreasonable requirements, the UK government has given the distinct impression that the UK is closed for business.
Universities, too, have been hard-hit by the reforms and are faced with potentially losing billions of pounds due to the crackdown on overseas students. These changes limit the time non-EEA students can study in the UK, cut the number of hours they may work, reduce the options for post-graduation employment, and stem the ability of migrants to bring their spouses and children. The changes have caused significant reductions in enrollment.
Most recently, the UK government set its sights on family migration. Among the most criticized of these reforms, which came into force on July 9, 2012, has been the introduction of a minimum income of £18,600 for British citizens and settled persons who wish to sponsor a non-EEA migrant as their partner. Even higher income thresholds are in place for those seeking to sponsor a child or children. Additionally, the government now imposes an unreasonably long probationary period of five years (raised from two years) before non-EEA migrant partners may apply for settlement.
While undocumented immigration and abuses of the system are clearly legitimate concerns for any nation, the present UK government has adopted an exclusionary stance that acts as a barrier to many of the very people the UK should seek to attract. Bright students, productive employees with jobs and sponsors, and the spouses and partners of British citizens are all among those who have been prevented or discouraged from a life in the UK. Sadly, this appears to be a numbers game that we will all lose.
8. New Publications and Items of Interest
DV-2014 lottery. The Wolfsdorf Immigration Law Group has published “The ‘Cinderella’ DV-2014 Lottery: ‘Winners’ To Get Another Dance at the Ball.” The blog entry notes that Of the more than 100,000 DV registrants, slightly more than half will end up disappointed when they discover they are unable to obtain a green card. The DV program is a “Cinderella visa,” which expires at midnight on September 30, the end of the federal fiscal year. Tens of thousands of entrants find themselves unsuccessful in their quest for a green card every year, unable to reach the finish line by the deadline to complete immigrant visa processing.
Updated fact sheets on FY 2012 statistics. The Department of Labor has posted updated program fact sheets on FY 2012 selected statistics:
- Permanent Labor Certification
- Prevailing Wage Determinations
- H-1B Temporary Visas
- H-2A Temporary Agricultural Visas
- H-2B Temporary Nonagricultural Visas
DACA data. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services released new data on September 14, 2012, showing that the agency has accepted 82,361 requests for deferred action for childhood arrivals so far, scheduled 63,717 biometric appointments (this number may include rescheduling), readied 1,600 requests for review, and completed processing of 29 requests. Christopher Bentley, a USCIS spokesperson, reportedly said that USCIS does not plan to release information on the number of approvals and denials.
DOL proposal on H-1B visas. The National Foundation for American Policy has published “DOL Threatens Personal and Commercial Privacy in Proposal Directed Against Skilled Foreign Nationals.” The report argues that a Department of Labor (DOL) proposal aimed at the employment of skilled foreign nationals on H-1B visas will threaten personal and commercial privacy, make it harder for employers to serve customers, and discourage hiring skilled personnel to perform work in the United States. The report notes that the DOL proposal to change the labor condition application (LCA) significantly would require employers to divulge information in a public access file, available to anyone upon request, that would include sensitive information about clients and revenue, as well as personal information on sponsored employees that would leave skilled foreign nationals vulnerable to identity thieves and disgruntled individuals who may seek to do them harm, in addition to adding new bureaucratic steps.
Various organizations oppose the proposal, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Information Technology Industry Council, American Council on International Personnel, Society for Human Resource Management, American Immigration Lawyers Association, and NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
Visa processing and foreign visitor processing. The Departments of State and Homeland Security issued a joint report, “Executive Order 13597: Improvements to Visa Processing and Foreign Visitor Processing 180-Day Progress Report.” The report, released on September 19, 2012, notes that a foreign visitor’s first and primary encounters with the U.S. government shape opinions about the United States. Executive Order (EO) 13597 (Jan. 19, 2012) initiated a policy to ensure that these first impressions are the best impressions. The report states that over the past six months, the Departments have “made significant progress in three key areas: increasing productivity and efficiency; improving the traveler’s experience; and enhancing partnerships, both within the U.S. government and with the travel and tourism industry.”
Increased staffing has been key to lower visa interview wait times, the report says. By the end of 2012, the State Department will have created more than 50 new visa adjudicator positions in China and 60 in Brazil, including 43 hired under the Limited Non-Career Appointment program. Between October 2011 and July 2012, the Department deployed, on temporary duty, 220 consular officers to Brazil (a 253 percent increase over the number of temporary officers sent the previous fiscal year) and 48 officers to China (a 60 percent increase). The additional staff enabled the Department to meet the 40 percent capacity increase target goal outlined in EO 13597 in Brazil in June 2012, and will enable the Department to meet that goal in China by December 2012, the report notes.
Visa processing capacity in high-demand countries, particularly Brazil and China, has grown to meet sharply rising demand, the report states. Consular managers in China have expanded their work hours to maximize interview window use. Managers throughout Brazil’s four consular sections have responded to a nearly 50 percent year-on-year increase in demand by expanding operating hours, including occasional Saturdays and holidays.
On January 20, 2012, the two Departments initiated a two-year Interview Waiver Pilot Program (IWPP) to streamline processing for low-risk visa applicants. Many consular sections have implemented the IWPP during the past six months, the report notes. As of August 2012, 52 visa processing posts in 28 countries participate in the pilot program, waiving interviews for more than 63,000 low-risk visa applicants.
The Department of Homeland Security is also focusing on a risk-based approach to security to create efficiencies for travelers, as exemplified through its Trusted Traveler Programs.
2011 immigration statistics. The Department of Homeland Security has released its 2011 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics. The yearbook consists of a compendium of tables organized by subject, including legal permanent residents, refugees and asylees, naturalizations, nonimmigrant admissions, and enforcement actions.
Impact of the Arizona immigration law. The Congressional Research Service has published “Arizona v. United States: A Limited Role for States in Immigration Enforcement.” The report notes that the Arizona measure enacted in 2010 (S.B. 1070) “arguably represents the vanguard of recent attempts to test the legal limits of greater state involvement in immigration enforcement.” The report discusses the Supreme Court’s ruling in Arizona v. United Statesand implications the decision may have for immigration enforcement activity by states and localities.
Green Card Stories events.
- Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Houston, Texas: Book Signing and Panel Discussion at Brazos Bookstore
Join Green Card Stories collaborator Stephen Yale-Loehr and other guests for a discussion and book signing at Brazos Bookstore in Houston.
- Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Washington, DC: Book Signing and Panel Discussion with KIND
Join Green Card Stories collaborator Stephen Yale-Loehr and other guests for a discussion focused on the contributions of young immigrants to the United States and a book signing with Kids in Need of Defense.
- Thursday, October 18, 201
Detroit, Michigan: Book Signing and Panel Discussion
Join Green Card Stories collaborators Laura Danielson and Stephen Yale-Loehr, along with other guests at this panel discussion in Detroit. Fakhoury Law Group and Global Detroit will host this special reception featuring the new award-winning book, Green Card Stories, on Thursday, October 18, 2012, at the Westin Book Cadillac in Detroit. The event, “Green Card Stories: The Human Face of the Immigration Debate,” will feature distinguished speakers and a panel discussion on the state of U.S. immigration policy. The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. and will offer guests a unique opportunity to gain insights on today’s immigration issues. All proceeds of the sale of the book at the event will go to Global Detroit, an effort to revitalize southeast Michigan’s economy by pursuing strategies that strengthen Detroit’s connections to the world and make the region more attractive and welcoming to immigrants, internationals, and foreign trade and investment as a means to produce jobs and regional economic growth. To RSVP, contact Natalia Hanna at Natalia@employmentimmigration.com or 248-643-4900.
USCIS national engagement. On October 16, 2012, USCIS will hold a public engagement (in-person in Washington, DC, and via teleconference) for EB-5 immigrant investor stakeholders.
Notes from Previous Engagements by Topic
9. Member News
The following ABIL members are listed in Best Lawyers in America, 19th Edition (2013):
H. Ronald Klasko
Rami Fakhoury, Robert Loughran, and Julie Pearl spoke at the Forum for Expatriate Management National Conference in Las Vegas on Thursday, September 13, 2012, on global immigration issues. Mr. Fakhoury spoke on India, Mr. Loughran spoke on Latin America with a focus on Brazil and Mexico, and Ms. Pearl spoke on the United Kingdom and the new European Union “Blue Card.”
Cyrus Mehta has published a new blog entry. “STEM Green Card v. Green Card Lottery”
Angelo Paparelli has published several new blog entries. “The Immigration Week That Was” “Immigration Buffets and Buffeting in Congress”
Stephen Yale-Loehr co-authored the immigration chapter in a book published by the American Bar Association, HIV & AIDS Benchbook. The chapter discusses the history and current state of inadmissibility grounds related to HIV and the relevance of HIV status in claims for asylum, withholding of removal, relief under the Convention Against Torture, and discretionary relief for lawful permanent residents with HIV or AIDS in removal proceedings.
Stephen Yale-Loehr will speak on EB-5 immigrant investor issues at the International Economic Development Council’s annual conference in Houston, Texas, on October 3, 2012, at 11 a.m. central time. At 6:30 p.m. that evening he will participate in a book discussion and signing about Green Card Storiesat Brazos Bookstore in Houston.
On October 10, 2012, Stephen Yale-Loehr will discuss immigration policy reform as part of a book signing and discussion about Green Card Stories at the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center in Washington, DC.
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