1. DHS Issues FAQ on Supreme Court’s DOMA Ruling – Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said she has “directed [USCIS] to review immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse.”
2. DOL Labor Certification Registry Goes Live – The registry is intended to provide the public with access to “appropriately redacted” copies of H-1B, H-1B1, E-3, H-2A, H-2B, and permanent labor certification documents issued by OFLC, as well as quarterly and annual case disclosure data.
3. ABIL Global: France – Under a new law, marriage will confer the same rights under French immigration procedures regardless of the sex of the spouses. Also, the deployment of biometrics has led to modifications in procedures for applying for a residence permit.
4. New Publications and Items of Interest – New Publications and Items of Interest
5. Member News – Member News
6. Government Agency Links – Government Agency Links
The Department of Homeland Security issued a FAQ on July 1, 2013, in response to the Supreme Court’s decision on June 26, 2013, United States v. Windsor, which struck down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional. That law had prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, regardless of whether they were legally valid in certain states or in other countries, and from conferring federal benefits on same-sex spouses that are enjoyed by heterosexual spouses.
The FAQ notes that Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said she has “directed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to review immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse.” The FAQ provides the following questions and answers:
Q1: I am a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident in a same-sex marriage to a foreign national. Can I now sponsor my spouse for a family-based immigrant visa?
A1: Yes, you can file the petition. You may file a Form I-130 (and any applicable accompanying application). Your eligibility to petition for your spouse, and your spouse’s admissibility as an immigrant at the immigration visa application or adjustment of status stage, will be determined according to applicable immigration law and will not be automatically denied as a result of the same-sex nature of your marriage.
Q2: My spouse and I were married in a U.S. state that recognizes same-sex marriage, but we live in a state that does not. Can I file an immigrant visa petition for my spouse?
A2: Yes, you can file the petition. In evaluating the petition, as a general matter, USCIS looks to the law of the place where the marriage took place when determining whether it is valid for immigration law purposes. That general rule is subject to some limited exceptions under which federal immigration agencies historically have considered the law of the state of residence in addition to the law of the state of celebration of the marriage. Whether those exceptions apply may depend on individual, fact-specific circumstances. If necessary, we may provide further guidance on this question going forward.
About 30,000 same-sex binational couples include spouses who may now be eligible for immigration benefits. The Supreme Court’s ruling applies only to same-sex couples in the 13 states that recognize gay marriage, not to the other states that don’t. Legal observers disagree whether a gay couple who gets married in one state and moves to another state that doesn’t recognize the marriage will still be entitled to federal benefits.
The Department of Labor (DOL) recently announced implementation of the Labor Certification Registry (LCR) on the Office of Foreign Labor Certification’s (OFLC) iCERT Visa Portal System website. The LCR is intended to provide the public with access to “appropriately redacted” copies of H-1B, H-1B1, E-3, H-2A, H-2B, and permanent labor certification documents issued by OFLC, as well as quarterly and annual case disclosure data.
The LCR displays all certified H-1B1 and E-3 Labor Condition Applications (LCA) and permanent labor certifications, dating back to April 15, 2009. However, the DOL said it is experiencing technical difficulties with the display of approved H-1B LCAs. In addition, due to the historical paper-based filings of H-2A and H-2B applications, the DOL said that it must manually redact and upload these labor certification documents to the LCR. Therefore, only a limited number of records covering fiscal year 2013 are currently available. The agency said it anticipates that H-1B LCAs will be available soon, and that staff will continue to upload historical H-2A and H-2B documents in the coming months.
Under a new law, marriage will confer the same rights under French immigration procedures regardless of the sex of the spouses. Also, the deployment of biometrics has led to modifications in procedures for applying for a residence permit.
Same-Sex Marriage Rights Conferred Under French Immigration Procedures
The Act of May 17, 2013, modifies section 143 of the Civil Code to read: “Marriage is contracted by two persons of opposite sex or the same sex.” France thus joins the countries that have legalized marriage between persons of the same sex. Those countries include Belgium, Spain, Canada, some states in the United States and Brazil, the Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand, South Africa, Mexico (Federal District), Argentina, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Iceland, and Uruguay. The new law means that in France, marriage will confer the same rights under French immigration procedures regardless of the sex of the spouses.
General Provisions; Conflict of Laws In Other Countries; Consular Marriage
Article 202-1 of the Civil Code provides that the conditions for marriage are governed by family law, but article 202-2 provides that two persons of the same sex can marry when the family law or the law of the state of residence of one spouse permits. This arrangement allows avoidance of the application of the family law of one spouse prohibiting marriage between persons of the same sex when the marriage took place on the territory of a state recognizing marriage between persons of the same sex.
The above implies that two foreigners of the same sex can marry when one of them resides or is domiciled in France. However, this rule does not apply to nationals of countries with which France is bound by bilateral agreements (Poland, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, republics of the former Yugoslavia, Cambodia and Laos), which provide that the law governing conditions for marriage is the personal law. The marriage, however, may take place in a non-prohibitive state having no bilateral agreement with the country of the spouses.
Foreign nationals may find themselves in situations where their marriages in France are not recognized by their countries of origin.
A consular marriage (registered at the French consulate) between same-sex French nationals would not raise an issue. However, a consular marriage between a French national and a foreign national may be more complex in consular posts in countries that prohibit same-sex marriage. In such case, the Civil Code provides that marriage may take place in France.
The law of May 17, 2013, also provides that marriages between same-sex couples, validly celebrated abroad at a time when the French law forbade it, may be recognized retroactively.
Impact on French Immigration Rights of Foreign Nationals Moving to France
Derivative residence and worker rights known as “accompanying family rights” will be applicable to married foreign workers under Intra-Company Transfer, EU Blue Card, and Skills and Talents status, regardless of the sexual identity of the spouses when the marriage is celebrated in France or recognized by France (marriage between two foreigners) on the basis of the new provisions of the Civil Code and Article L313-11-3 CESEDA (code de l’entrée et du séjour des étrangers et du droit d’asile).
A same-sex marriage between a foreign national and a French national will allow the issuance of a visa and a residence permit to the foreign national as the spouse of a French national, on the basis of the Civil Code and Article L313-11-4 CESEDA.
The marriage between a third-country national in the European Union with a European citizen is expected to allow the issuance of a residence permit as a European spouse under Articles L121-3 to L121-5 CESEDA.
Recognition of marriage for same-sex couples could also give rise to new legal actions when a decision refusing stay may be considered as disproportionate interference with the rights to private and family life, under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The deployment of biometrics in all French departments (département, or administrative area) has led to modifications in procedures for applying for a residence permit and requires an additional appearance at the Prefecture for fingerprinting. This change also will affect the beneficiaries of one-stop Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration (OFII) processing (e.g., Intra-Company Transferees, EU Blue Cards, Skills and Talents) by the end of the year.
Gradual Deployment of Biometrics and Modifications in Residence Permit Application Process
A regulation of the Council of the European Union (EC), No. 380/2008 of April 18, 2008, mandates a new format for biometric residence permits comprising an electronic component into which are inserted a photograph and two fingerprint images. Under this regulation, the Ministry of Interior issued two circulars in April 2011 and June 2012, describing the details on implementing the new residence permit requirement and the progressive deployment of biometrics, which is now effective in several departments.
After a first stage completed in 2011 with the release of the new uniform format for residence permits, the second step will be to collect and insert fingerprints of foreign nationals collected by the Prefecture into the integrated residence electronic component of the permit.
The fingerprinting will require modifications of the procedures for applying for a residence permit. Any person requesting a residence permit (first application or renewal) will be required to go in person to the Prefecture for fingerprinting, as noted above. A deposit at City Hall will no longer be possible and procedures by mail will be affected.
Fingerprints will be valid for five years.
Impact on Categories of Foreigners Benefiting From the One-Stop OFII Process
To date, the three categories of foreigners benefiting from the one-stop OFII process (Intra-Company Transferees, EU Blue Cards, Skills and Talents), as well as family members of holders of these permits, have been exempted temporarily from biometric compliance in the departments using the one-stop OFII process. This exemption is valid until completion of the deployment of biometrics. France had aimed at full deployment by the end of the first half of 2013, but only a few departments have implemented biometrics to date: Loire-Atlantique, Alpes-Maritimes, Hauts-de-Seine, SaÔne-et-Loire, Essonne, Seine-et-Marne, and Puy-de-DÔme. However, the deployment will affect all French departments by the end of the year.
Several ABIL members co-authored and edited the Global Business Immigration Practice Guide, released by LexisNexis. The Practice Guide is a one-stop resource for dealing with questions related to business immigration issues in immigration hotspots around the world.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.”
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.
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.
Green Card Stories has won five national awards. It was named a Nautilus book award silver medal winner, and won a silver medal in the Independent Book Publishers Association’s Benjamin Franklin Award in the multicultural category. The book also won a Bronze Medal in the Independent Publisher’s “IPPY” Awards and an honorable mention for the 2012 Eric Hoffer Book Award. Ariana Lindquist, the photographer, won a first-place award in the National Press Photographers Association’s Best of Photojournalism 2012. The writer, Saundra Amrhein, was nominated as a finalist on the short list for the 2011 Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Awards. Green Card Stories is also featured on National Public Radio’s photo blog.
ABIL on Twitter. The Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers is now available on Twitter: @ABILImmigration. Recent ABIL member blogs are available on the ABIL Blog.
Charles Kuck has authored a new blog entry. “Immigration Reform – What Words Mean Makes All the Difference”
Cyrus Mehta has authored a new blog entry. ” How Extraordinary Does One Need To Be To Qualify As A Person of Extraordinary Ability?” He also co-authored a blog entry. “How Cyrus’ View of Religious Toleration May Have Inspired the U.S. Constitution”
Angelo Paparelli has authored a new blog entry. “USCIS, America’s Immigration Cutcherry, Adopts New Procedures as the Boss Readies for a Move Upstairs”
Stephen Yale-Loehr wrote an op-ed about the Senate immigration bill that was published in El Norte, a Mexican newspaper, on July 4, 2013. He summarized what the Senate bill would do. He said, among other things, that the bill would both benefit and hurt Mexicans: “The Senate bill contains a legalization program, but it requires a long wait and many requirements, so many people may not end up being able to legalize their status. Also, the border security provisions in the Senate bill are too tough. They unnecessarily militarize the border and would harm U.S.-Mexican relations.” SPANISH VERSION
Mr. Yale-Loehr was quoted:
- In the Wall Street Journal on July 2, 2013, in “Snowden’s Asylum Effort Hits Roadblocks.” He said Mr. Snowden could ask Russia to issue him a refugee travel document under the United Nations convention on refugees.
- In Time.com on July 2, 2013, in “Snowden’s Worst-Case Scenario: What If No Countries Take Him?” He said he thought Mr. Snowden could be in Moscow for a long time, but that he could be helped by Article 28 of the United Nations convention on refugees, which asks member states to give “sympathetic consideration” to those who can’t obtain the necessary documents from their home countries.
- In the Gannett newspaper chain, in articles about the Senate immigration bill. Commenting on the estimated 11 million people who entered the United States without authorization or overstayed their legal visits before December 31, 2011, who would be offered a 13-year path to citizenship beginning with their application for registered provisional immigrant status, Mr. Yale-Loehr noted that requirements under the Senate bill would exclude some.
- In TribLIVE/USWorld on June 27, 2013. In “Immigration Bill Unlikely To Pass House,” he noted, “The Senate’s passage of a major immigration reform bill is a milestone, but it is only half the battle. A tougher battle lies ahead in the House.”
Mr. Yale-Loehr also was quoted in an article about the prospects for immigration reform in the House of Representatives. A version of the story was published on July 9, 2013, in the Arizona Republic.
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: