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1. Senate Passes Comprehensive Immigration Reform; House Passage Uncertain - On June 27, 2013, the full Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform legislation, 68-32.
2. Supreme Court's DOMA Ruling Opens Door to Immigration Benefits for Same-Sex Spouses - About 30,000 same-sex binational couples may now be eligible for immigration benefits, thanks to the Supreme Court's striking down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.
3. Border Patrol Agents Get 30-Year Sentence for Smuggling Migrants Into United States - The agents left their border posts to transport hundreds of migrants in Border Patrol vehicles from Tijuana to California.
4. DOL Releases New Version of Application for Prevailing Wage Determination - Requests submitted before June 18 using the iCERT Visa Portal System based on the previous ETA Form 9141 will be completed and returned using that version of the form.
5. New Publications and Items of Interest - New Publications and Items of Interest
6. Member News - Member News
7. Government Agency Links - Government Agency Links

1. Senate Passes Comprehensive Immigration Reform; House Passage Uncertain

On June 27, 2013, the full Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform legislation, 68-32. All Democrats voted for the bill; 14 Republicans joined them. The bill includes a lengthy pathway to provisional legal status, permanent residence, and eventual U.S. citizenship for up to 11 million undocumented persons. It also includes enforcement and border control measures like finishing a 700-mile fence along the border with Mexico, deploying an additional 20,000 Border Patrol agents, and mandating E-Verify. Despite the potential costs, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that if the bill became law, it would reduce the United States' deficit by almost $900 billion over the next 10 years.

A celebratory atmosphere ensued after the vote. Despite admonishments from Vice President Joseph Biden, who presided over the vote, chants of "Yes we can" and "Si se puede" were heard from the public gallery after the bill passed. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) called it a "historic day."

Meanwhile, a bipartisan group in the House is working on its own version of comprehensive immigration reform, but observers expect that the House may pass immigration-related legislation piece by piece instead of voting for a comprehensive bill. House Speaker John Boehner said, "[T]he House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes. We're going to do our own bill." He said representatives would go home for recess and "listen to our constituents. And when we get back, we're going to…have a discussion about the way forward."


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2. Supreme Court's DOMA Ruling Opens Door to Immigration Benefits for Same-Sex Spouses

About 30,000 same-sex binational couples may now be eligible for immigration benefits, such as permanent residence based on marriage, thanks to the Supreme Court's decision on June 26, 2013, in 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.

Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security, said she applauded the decision. "Working with our federal partners, including the Department of Justice, we will implement today's decision so that all married couples will be treated equally and fairly in the administration of our immigration laws," she said. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas said that USCIS has a list of marriage-based green card petitions that were filed since February 2011 by same-sex binational couples but were denied. He hinted that the cases might be reopened once implementing instructions issue.

The Supreme Court's ruling doesn't apply to same-sex couples in states that don't recognize gay marriage, only to the 13 states that do. There is disagreement among legal observers about 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.




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3. Border Patrol Agents Get 30-Year Sentence for Smuggling Migrants Into United States

A U.S. District Court judge recently sentenced two Border Patrol agents, Raul Villareal and his brother Fidel, to 30 years in prison for smuggling hundreds of people from Mexico into the United States. Judge John Houston said he deemed their actions a threat to national security. He also ordered one of the brothers to pay a $250,000 fine. The brothers plan to appeal.

An informant notified U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement about the operation, which involved the agents leaving their border posts to transport the migrants in Border Patrol vehicles from Tijuana to California. The brothers charged the groups of immigrants, numbering 10, about $10,000 per group. The judge said the brothers made more than $700,000. When the brothers realized they were being investigated, they fled to Tijuana, where they were arrested two years later and extradited to the United States.

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4. DOL Releases New Version of Application for Prevailing Wage Determination

The Department of Labor (DOL) has released a new version of Form 9141, Application for Prevailing Wage Determination.

The revised version of Form 9141 was implemented on the iCERT Portal on June 18, 2013. The DOL made minor changes "to clarify information needed for more efficient application processing."

Requests submitted before June 18 using the iCERT Visa Portal System based on the previous ETA Form 9141 will be completed and returned using that version of the form, the DOL said. Any form initiated in a user's system but not yet submitted by that date, however, will not be accepted. In addition, requests on the previous version of Form 9141 can no longer be "reused" in iCERT to submit a new request for processing. Users can complete a new form by logging into their iCERT Portal account, clicking on "Begin New ETA Form 9141," and completing all the mandatory fields.



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5. New Publications and Items of Interest

USCIS Ombudsman's annual report. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' (USCIS) Ombudsman Maria M. Odom released the 2013 Annual Report on June 27, 2013. The report notes, among other things, that employers have continued to raise concerns about inappropriate or unduly burdensome requests for evidence (RFEs). The report notes that in the reporting period, USCIS reviewed and posted for public comment RFE templates for several nonimmigrant employment-based categories, excluding H-1B specialty occupations and L-1B intracompany transferees with specialized knowledge. "While the templates offer a valuable mechanism to standardize and improve employment-based case processing, persistent issues remain," the report notes. "These include USCIS not recognizing various modern business practices and managerial decisions."

The report also notes that from fiscal years 2010 to 2012, USCIS received nearly 300 percent more filings in the fifth employment-based (EB-5) preference category from immigrants seeking to invest capital and create jobs for U.S. workers. This year the Ombudsman received 441 requests for EB-5 case assistance, representing approximately 10 percent of the office's workload. The vast majority of these inquiries came from investors and regional center applicants whose cases had been pending beyond normal processing times, the report notes. Other difficulties included a perceived lack of responsiveness by USCIS, the issuance of duplicative RFEs, and needed guidance regarding processing protocols and requirements.

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.

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. 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.

For more information, e-mail Lauren Anderson at lauren@greencardstories.com. See also the Green Card Stories website.

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.

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6. Member News

Robert Loughran is serving on the American Immigration Lawyers Association's Business Committee.

Mr. Loughran spoke on June 20, 2013, on recent EB-5 Regional Center Revocations at the IIUSA (Invest In USA) Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Angelo Paparelli has posted several new blog entries. "Give Peace a Chance: End the U.S.-India Immigration and Trade War Now" "A Swimmingly Good Immigration Solution to Border Security"

Stephen Yale-Loehr was quoted 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 by PolitiFact on June 27, 2013. In "Sen. Jeff Sessions Says Immigration Bill Has Provision That Lets Janet Napolitano Skip Fence," Mr. Yale-Loehr noted that the provision in question "just gives DHS discretion not to build a fence at a particular location, not discretion to not build a fence at all." 

Mr. Yale-Loehr also was quoted by the News-Leader on comprehensive immigration reform legislation. He said Republicans must walk a fine line. "There are competing constituencies in reforming our broken immigration system. [Big businesses] may provide a lot of cash to fund a campaign, but it is the political base that often determines who wins a primary."

Mr. Yale-Loehr also was quoted on immigration reform legislation issues in the Newark Advocate. He noted that passing immigration reform could give Republicans a "fighting chance" to win support from newly legalized Hispanic voters.

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7. 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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