Written by: Ashik Jahan, Esq. On December 18, 2015, President Obama signed a $1.8 trillion tax and spending bill into law. The Omnibus Appropriations Bill (at 2000+ pages) will fund the U.S. government through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, 2016. Included within those pages are specific provisions related to immigration law. H-1B and L-1B Specifically, the bill includes increases for L-1 (intercompany transfers) and H-1B (specialty occupation workers) supplemental fees for companies with either 50 employees or more, or for those companies where more than 50% of all employees hold L-1 or H-1B status. The supplemental fees for L-1 Petitions will increase to $4,500 and the fees for H-1B Petitions will increase to $4,000. Unfortunately, the bill was silent on increasing the present quotas for H-1B visas, which has been a major issue in the campaign cycle. U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign…       Read More

Compiled by: Ashik Jahan, Esq. Understanding the legal challenges to President Obama’s executive action for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/just-facts/understanding-legal-challenges-executive-action President Obama won a procedural victory for his executive action on DAPA as the Supreme Court rejected an extension request from Texas and other states, who have challenged the President’s actions.  This means that if the Supreme Court decides to take the case, a decision would probably come by late June 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/supreme-court-denies-states-requests-for-filing-extension-in-immigration-suit/2015/12/01/34f5e116-987c-11e5-b499-76cbec161973_story.html Due to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, the Obama administration has announced some changes to the visa waiver program, which allows travelers from some 38 countries including France, Belgium and other European countries, to come to the U.S. without a visa. http://www.npr.org/2015/11/30/457889016/post-paris-obama-administration-changes-visa-waiver-program Nearly 35,000 comments were received on the U.S. plan to extend Optional Practical Training program for STEM students (Science, Technology,…       Read More

The Completion of the Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) is used by employers to verify a new hire’s identity and to establish that the worker is authorized to accept employment in the United States. A section of the Form I-9 asks the new employee to attest to his or her immigration status in the U.S. One of the possible answers is a “U.S. Citizen.” If a foreign national makes a false claim to U.S. citizenship on this form, it could render that person permanently ineligible for permanent residence, citizenship and other immigration benefits. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) has determined in Matter of Bett, 26 I&N Dec. 437 (BIA 2014), that the Form I-9 can be used to prove a false claim to U.S. citizenship. In that case, the foreign national was an applicant for adjustment of status while in removal proceedings, based on an approved petition by a…       Read More

The National Visa Center (NVC), the U.S. Department of State agency responsible for pre-processing approved immigrant visas, has changed its policy on collecting originals of certain supporting documents. As of Nov. 12, 2014, the NVC will cease collecting original civil documents in support of immigrant visa (IV) applications. Most applicants will be required to submit photocopies of supporting documents (such as birth, marriage, and police certificates) and will be instructed to take their original documents to their interviews, once scheduled, for review. This does not include Affidavit of Support forms, which petitioners will still submit to NVC for initial evaluation. The NVC anticipates this change will maintain the integrity of the IV process, reduce customer wait times, and improve the customer experience overall. Most importantly, the originals of sensitive and important documents will remain in the possession of the applicant Articles of Interest: Executive Immigration Action Imminent? GOP Debates Immigration…       Read More

Employers are encouraged to begin planning now for future H-1B hires, as cap-subject H-1B petitions will be accepted by USCIS as of Wednesday, April 1, 2015 for an employment start date of October 1, 2015, or later. Typically, individuals who are currently working in OPT status as F-1 students or J-1 trainees, or individuals seeking to change to H-1B status from another visa status, and individuals outside of the United States, commonly require a cap-subject H-1B petition be filed on their behalf. The H-1B visa allows employers to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require the theoretical or practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, and is typically used to sponsor a wide range of professional occupations such as engineers, pharmacists, physicians, scientists, computer programmers, and architects, among many other professions. Federal law limits the number of new H-1B visas that are available each fiscal year to…       Read More

Diversity Lottery– click here to read more. Visa Bulletin Nov 2014– click here to read more. Harvard student who took dying mom to Mexico gets humanitarian visa– click here to read more. Obama’s Immigration Executive Order Would Follow Predecessors’ Lead– click here to read more.

The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, also known as diversity lottery, is a program that offers a limited number of immigrant visas (50,000) every year to immigrants from countries that have historically proven to have a low immigration rate to the United States. It was established with the Immigration Act in 1990 and was first set into practice in 1995. The Diversity Visas (“DVs”) are distributed among six geographic regions and no single country may receive more than seven percent of the available DVs in any one year. However, some countries that have a high number of people immigrating to the United States are excluded from the program. The applicants have to be natives from one of the eligible countries and have to fulfill the educational requirement of either a two year work experience or an education similar to the American high school. If selected the applicant and their spouse and…       Read More

The Global Entry Program is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection system similar to NEXUS and SENTRI. Global Entry provides an opportunity for low-risk, frequent traveling US citizens to  move rapidly through customs clearance upon return to the United States. A Global Entry pass allows a pre-approved US Citizen, lawful permanent resident, Dutch citizen, South Korean citizen, or Mexican national to skip the lengthy passport check wait, immigration interrogation, and customs declarations forms. Requisites for obtaining a Global Entry Pass include an application with supporting identification documents, an application fee,  intensive background checks, and an interview with US border officials. Once approved, a pass holder simply checks in at a Global Entry kiosk upon arrival instead of waiting in processing lines. A pass holder also enjoys the benefit of answering declaration of goods questions at the kiosk instead of preparing a paper declarations form. Global Entry is a viable option…       Read More

Under the Preference System of the Immigration Act of 1990, a prospective immigrant’s preference category can downgrade as a result of marriage. The family-sponsored preference categories include: 1) Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens; 2) Spouses, children, and unmarried sons and daughters of permanent resident aliens; 3) Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and 4) Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens. For example, an unmarried son or daughter of a U.S. citizen enjoys first preference under these categories. If the unmarried son or daughter gets married while his or her petition is still pending, he or she will automatically lower to the third preference category. On the other hand, a divorce can raise the preference category. Under the same scenario as above, if the married son or daughter of a U.S. citizen subsequently divorces, the now unmarried son or daughter converts to first preference. Generally, a prospective immigrant’s…       Read More