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1. OFLC, USCIS Issue Guidance on Hurricane Sandy Relief; USCIS Extends RFE Deadlines - The Department of Labor's Office of Foreign Labor Certification issued a FAQ on Hurricane Sandy-related extensions and accommodations. Also, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issued a reminder on immigration benefits or relief that may be available to those affected.
2. State Dept. Projects Visa Numbers; Cut-Off Date Likely for China Employment Fifth Preference Later in FY 2013 - If it happens, this would be the first time a cut-off date has been established in the China employment fifth preference category.
3. New Publications and Items of Interest - New Publications and Items of Interest
4. Member News - Member News
5. Government Agency Links - Government Agency Links
 

 
 
1. OFLC, USCIS Issue Guidance on Hurricane Sandy Relief; USCIS Extends RFE Deadlines
 

The Department of Labor's Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) issued a FAQ on extensions and reasonable-case accommodations in light of the damage done to certain East Coast areas in the United States as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Also, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a reminder on immigration benefits or relief that may be available to those affected.

OFLC

The OFLC FAQ notes that the agency recognizes that some employers may not be able to respond in a timely manner to requests for information or documentation. Accordingly, OFLC said it will review storm-related requests for extensions individually.

OFLC provided the following contact information:

For questions or requests for extensions in replying to audits from the OFLC Chicago National Processing Center related to the programs listed below, e-mail TLC.chicago@dol.gov; Subject: Hurricane Sandy; or telephone the Center at (312) 886-8000.

  • H-2A Temporary Agricultural Program
  • H-2B Temporary Nonagricultural Program
  • H-1B Specialty Occupations Program

For questions or requests for extensions related to the issuance of a prevailing wage determination from OFLC’s National Prevailing Wage Center, e-mail FLC.PWD@dol.gov, Subject: Hurricane Sandy; or telephone the Center at (202) 693-8200.

For permanent labor certification (PERM) program-related questions or requests for extensions related to responding to audits or supervised recruitment instructions, including draft advertisements, e-mail PermSandy@dol.gov; Subject: Hurricane Sandy; or telephone the Center at (404) 893-0101.

OFLC FAQ

USCIS

USCIS reminded those affected by Hurricane Sandy of certain U.S. immigration benefits or relief that may be available to them.

USCIS said it understands that a natural disaster can affect an individual's ability to maintain lawful immigration status or obtain certain other immigration benefits. Eligible individuals may request or apply for temporary relief measures, including:

  • a change or extension of nonimmigrant status for an individual currently in the United States, even when the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired;
  • extension or re-parole of individuals previously granted parole by USCIS;
  • expedited adjudication of off-campus employment authorization applications for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship;
  • expedited adjudication of employment authorization applications; and
  • assistance to legal permanent residents (LPR) stranded overseas without immigration or travel documents, such as permanent resident cards (green cards). USCIS said it and and the Department of State will coordinate on these matters when LPRs are stranded in places that do not have a local USCIS office.

Where appropriate, USCIS said it may exercise its discretion to allow for delays in filing resulting from the hurricane. This may include, for example:

  • assistance to those who have not appeared for an interview or submitted required forms of evidence. The affected person may show how the disrupting event affected his or her connection to USCIS and the ability to appear or submit documents as required; and
  • assistance to those who have not been able to respond to Requests For Evidence (RFEs) or Notices of Intent to Deny (NOID). USCIS said it "will extend the deadline for individuals to respond to RFEs or NOIDs by 30 days. This will apply to all RFEs and NOIDs with a deadline of October 26 through November 26, 2012. During this time, USCIS will not issue denials based on abandonment of an application or petition."

Visitors traveling under the Visa Waiver Program may visit a local USCIS office for assistance. USCIS asks that affected visitors check whether their local USCIS office is open before going. Individuals affected by the hurricane who are at a U.S. airport may contact the nearest U.S. Customs and Border Protection office for assistance.

Lists of Local USCIS Offices

Updated Office Closures

USCIS Announcement

 
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2. State Dept. Projects Visa Numbers; Cut-Off Date Likely for China Employment Fifth Preference Later in FY 2013
 

The Department of State's Visa Office released projections for the next several months in its Visa Bulletin for December 2012.

Among other things, it appears likely that a cut-off date will need to be established for the China employment fifth preference category during the second half of fiscal year 2013, the Visa Office said, noting that "[s]uch action would be delayed as long as possible, since while number use may be excessive over a 1 to 5 month period, it could average out to an acceptable level over a longer (e.g., 4 to 9 month) period." This would be the first time a cut-off date has been established in this category, the Visa Office noted, explaining that this is why "readers are being provided with the maximum amount of advance notice regarding the possibility." The Visa Office noted that this advisory is based strictly on the current demand situation, and that demand patterns can change over time. Therefore, "this should be considered a worst case scenario at this point," the Visa Office said.

The Visa Office said that categories with a "Current" projection "will remain so for the foreseeable future," with the possible exception of the China employment fifth preference category mentioned above.

The following is the projected monthly forward progress for the employment-based categories (monthly):

Employment First: Current

Employment Second:

Worldwide: Current
China: five to eight weeks/month
India: no movement

Employment Third:

Worldwide: three to five weeks/month
China: one to two months/month
India: up to two weeks/month
Mexico: three to five weeks/month
Philippines: one to three weeks/month

Employment Fourth: Current

Employment Fifth: Current

December 2012 Visa Bulletin

 

 
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3. New Publications and Items of Interest
 

Several ABIL members co-authored and edited the new publication, Global Business Immigration Practice Guide, recently 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.

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 issue.

ORDER HERE. International customers who do not want to order through the bookstore can order through Nicole Hahn at (518) 487-3004 or Nicole.hahn@lexisnexis.com.

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. Green Card Stories is also featured on National Public Radio's photo blog.

A bulk order discounted rate of $35 per copy for orders of 10 or more books is available for the Special Edition through December 15. A percentage of the sale proceeds of the Special Edition goes to a nonprofit organization promoting immigration awareness and support. For more information, e-mail Lauren Anderson at lauren@greencardstories.com.

For more information or to order, visit Green Card Stories.

ABIL on Twitter. The Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers is now available on Twitter: @ABILImmigration. Recent ABIL member blogs are available HERE.

 
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4. Member News
 

In addition to being listed in US News' Best Lawyers 2013 (National), FosterQuan was listed as a Tier 1 firm (Regional) for Austin and Houston, Texas.

Charles Kuck has published a new blog entry. "What Does Immigration Reform Look Like in 2013?"

Sharon Mehlman spoke at the American Immigration Lawyers Association's California Conference on November 9, 2012. The panel was "Worksite Enforcement – Keeping Your Client Compliant."

Cyrus Mehta has co-authored several new blog entries. "Obama Wins And So Does Immigration Reform" "Issues Ripe for Rulemaking: Some Modest Proposals"

Angelo Paparelli has published several new blog entries. "Barack Be Nimble: Go BIG and BOLD on Comprehensive Immigration Reform" "Immigration and the Elections: Attention and Imagination Required"

Stephen Yale-Loehr was quoted recently in an article published in various Gannett newspapers about the possibility of immigration reform in the next few years. Mr. Yale-Loehr noted that "[i]mmigration will be high on President Obama's agenda. Pro-immigration advocates worked hard to re-elect the President. They expect the President to push for immigration reform in return."

 
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5. 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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