News from the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers Vol. 15, No. 6D • June 23, 2019
1. USCIS Aims to Decrease Processing Times Based on Location for Applications for Naturalization and to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status -USCIS said this may mean scheduling applicants to appear for an interview at a field office outside of their normal jurisdictions.
2. Green Card Backlogs Are Long, Growing, and Inequitable, CATO Institute Says -“It will take decades and—in some categories—a half century or more to process everyone else waiting now,” the report notes.
3. IIUSA Expresses Concerns to USCIS About ‘Surge’ in Immigrant Entrepreneur Petition Adjudication Delays -The estimated processing time for completion of immigrant petitions for alien entrepreneurs is 29 to 45.5 months as of May 2019.
4. New Publications and Items of Interest -New Publications and Items of Interest
5. ABIL Member / Firm News -ABIL Member / Firm News
6. Government Agency Links -Government Agency Links
1. USCIS Aims to Decrease Processing Times Based on Location for Applications for Naturalization and to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said it will implement a “national strategy” to decrease differences in processing times based on location for the N-400 Application for Naturalization and I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
USCIS said this may mean scheduling applicants to appear for an interview at a field office outside of their normal jurisdictions. Applicants may receive an interview appointment notice or other types of notices (such as a Request for Evidence) from a field office outside of their normal jurisdiction. However, the agency will still direct applicants to the “nearest application support center” to complete their biometrics appointments. “Applicants should follow the instructions on any notices they receive from USCIS,” the agency said.
Details: USCIS announcement
2. Green Card Backlogs Are Long, Growing, and Inequitable, CATO Institute Says
A new CATO Institute report says that immigration wait times have doubled since 1991 for applicants immigrating through both employment-based and family-sponsored “quota” categories, from an average of 2 years and 10 months to 5 years and 8 months. In 2018, more than 100,000 legal immigrants waited a decade or more to apply for permanent residence (green card) in 2018. Almost 5 million immigrants are waiting for their green cards now, the report says.
The report concludes that “Congress should eliminate the country quotas, exempt spouses and minor children from the overall quotas, and instead link quotas to population and economic growth.”
The report also notes that the quotas (numerical limits) on green cards for individual nationalities are causing longer waits from countries with the highest demand. Indians averaged the longest wait because of such limits—more than 8 years and 6 months. “It will take decades and—in some categories—a half century or more to process everyone else waiting now,” the report notes.
Details: “Immigration Wait Times from Quotas Have Doubled: Green Card Backlogs Are Long, Growing, and Inequitable,” by David J. Bier
3. IIUSA Expresses Concerns to USCIS About ‘Surge’ in Immigrant Entrepreneur Petition Adjudication Delays
In a letter dated June 11, 2019, Invest in the USA (IIUSA) expressed concerns to Ken Cuccinelli, Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), about a “surge” in delays in processing immigrant petitions for alien entrepreneurs (Form I-526). IIUSA is an industry trade organization representing nearly 370 EB-5 stakeholder organizations.
The letter notes that based on the latest data on the USCIS website, the estimated processing time for I-526 completion is 29 to 45.5 months (as of May 2019). IIUSA’s analysis further found that:
- The processing time for adjudicating I-526 petitions in the Immigrant Investor Program Office recently experienced a significant 32 percent to 60 percent surge within one month.
- In a year-over-year comparison, the estimated I-526 processing time in May 2019 almost doubled from May 2018.
“The ever-lengthening delays in adjudicating investor petitions will further delay the deployment of the EB-5 funding to the project developers, many of which depend on the investment from the investors to complete the economic development projects in their local communities, creating jobs for American workers,” the group warned. The letter includes questions about causes, processing times, petition statistics, and personnel.
Details: IIUSA letter
4. New Publications and Items of Interest
Resources on refugees’ employment rights. The Department of Justice’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section has released information for workers and employers, including materials that discuss refugees’ and asylees’ employment rights: Information for Refugees and Asylees About the Form I-9; Employment Rights and Resources for Refugees and Asylees; and Refugees and Asylees Have the Right to Work: Information for Employers.
Immigrant and Employee Rights webinars. The Department of Justice’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section is offering free webinars to the public in April. The webinars are for workers, employers, and advocates. More information or to register
Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers:
- ABIL is available on Twitter: @ABILImmigration.
- Recent ABIL member blogs are at http://www.abilblog.com/.
Organizations seeking non-lawyer and lawyer volunteers. Cornell Law School has compiled a list of organizations seeking non-lawyer and lawyer volunteers to help migrants in U.S. detention and deportation proceedings. The list, which is updated on an ongoing basis
Nation of immigrants. Podcasts on U.S. immigration history and what it means to be an immigrant in America:
- Statutes of Liberty: (new episodes: A Prescription for Success: EB-1 for Physicians; The Best, Brightest, and Backlogged, discusses the backlog, who it affects, how to read the Visa Bulletin, and strategies for EB-1 visas)
- Code Switch Podcast: What Does It Mean To Be A ‘Nation of Immigrants‘?
- Hidden Brain: The Huddled Masses and the Myth of America
- American Pendulum I
Advisories and tips:
- Community Advisory: Social Media, Criminalization, and Immigration has been published by the National Lawyers Guild’s National Immigration Project. This advisory summarizes ways in which immigration agents may use social media against those in removal proceedings or involved in criminal cases. The advisory is here.
- How to safeguard your data from searches at the border is the topic of several recent articles and blogs. See, for example, NYTimes and ACLU.
- Listings and links to cases challenging executive orders, and related available pleadings, are available at lawfareblog.com.
5. ABIL Member / Firm News
Elise A. Fialkowski, partner at Klasko Immigration Law Partners, LLP, led a panel at the 2019 NAFSA Annual Conference. She provided updates on the latest immigration issues, providing context from her 25 years as an employment-based immigration lawyer. Ms. Fialkowski and her fellow panelists provided guidelines for applying the recent changes to preparing immigration petitions, and specifically how these changes affect hiring and sponsorship at universities. More information
Stephen Yale-Loehr was quoted by the Times of India in “U.S. Firms Will Be the Losers Due to Policy, Says Nasscom.” He said that if the Trump administration carries through on reported plans to limit H-1B visas for citizens of India, it would be both bad law and bad policy: “Bad law because only Congress can change U.S. immigration laws, which prohibit discrimination based on national origin; the President can’t change that unilaterally. Bad policy because the United States is in a global competition for talent. We would be shooting ourselves in the foot by limiting work visas for talented Indians. Any restrictions would particularly hurt Indian IT companies, which many U.S. companies rely on.” The article
6. Government Agency Links
Follow these links to access current processing times of the USCIS Service Centers and the Department of Labor, and 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 State Visa Bulletin
Visa application wait times for any post