USCIS Publishes Filing Guidance for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouse
On May 20, 2015 USCIS has finally issued on filing Form I-765 on May 26, 2015, the date H-4 rule becomes effective. For more information, please click here.
F2A Family-Based Visa Category Becomes Current for August 2013
Automation of Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) is in effect as of April 30, 2013
U.S. Custom and Border Protection (CBP) launched a new automated system that would electronically gather foreign national’s arrival/departure information automatically from their travel recordsupon their arrival to the United States by air or sea. Foreign travelers are no longer required to fill out a paper Form I-94/ Arrival/Departure Record. However, CBP will continue to issue a paper Form I-94 at land border ports of entry.
For more information on automation of Form I-94, please click here.
Immigration Reform Bill Introduced
The bipartisan group of senators released the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013” on Wednesday, April 17, 2013. The proposed legislation contains various provisions including guest worker program, merit based employment visa for foreign-born talent, a new visa program for lower skilled workers, mandatory e-verify for all employers and proposal to increase the annual cap of H-1B visas to 110,000 along with strengthening border security. Under the proposal, undocumented immigrants who were in the United States before December 31, 2011, would be eligible to apply for Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status provided they do not have significant criminal conviction and have not voted illegally. They will have to pay a fine of $500 and back taxes.
The U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has started collecting a new immigrant fee of $165.00 from individuals who receive their immigrant visa from a U.S. Consulate/Embassy on or after February 1, 2013. This new immigrant fee is implemented to cover the USCIS' cost to handle and process the immigrant visa package and the cost of producing the Lawful Permanent Resident Card.The USCIS immigrant fee can be paid online through USCIS ELIS
Senate Deal Reached on Immigration Reform, Supported by President Obama
On Jan. 28, a bipartisan group of eight senators announced their agreement on a comprehensive measure to overhaul the immigration system. President Obama supports this measure, but also has his own proposal that he will submit to Congress if the Senator’s plan does not pass. Both plans agree on several key issues - increased border security, a faster path to citizenship for undocumented youths, mandatory employment verification, reducing the backlog for family and employment-based visas, and a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the U.S.
Both the Senate and President Obama want to give green cards to immigrants who have earned advanced degrees (Masters, PhD) in science, technology, engineering or math from American universities. They also want to require all employers to use the USCIS’ E-Verify system to prove employees are legally allowed to work in the U.S. Not using E-Verify will result in increased fines for the employer. Both plans also have different measures for eliminating the backlog of family and employment visas. These disagreements include how to allow more visas to be issued and to whom.
With regards to a path to citizenship for the illegal immigrants already in the U.S., both plans agree that all immigrants can earn ‘provisional legal status’ by registering, passing background checks, and paying fees. Once ‘provisional legal status’ is obtained, those immigrants would be allowed to work in the U.S. and could eventually apply for permanent residency. Differences between the Senate’s plan and President Obama’s proposal concern the timing of when these measures take place and some details about what else is required to earn ‘provisional legal status’. President Obama is expecting Congress to pass an immigration law in the first half of this year. The first hearing of the House Judiciary Committee on immigration reform is set for February 5, 2013.
The key issues the President wants to include in the immigration reform can be accessed at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/01/29/fact-sheet-fixing-our-broken-immigration-system-so-everyone-plays-rules
Study Shows U.S. Government Spends More on Immigration Enforcement in 2012, Way More Than Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Combined
The Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research group in Washington, D.C., has released a well documented study confirming that the U.S. government spends more on federal immigration enforcement than on all other federal enforcement agencies combined, with nearly $18 billion spent in fiscal 2012.
The full report can be downloaded at: www.migrationpolicy.org/pubs/enforcementpillars.pdf
Check Your Immigrant and Non-Immigrant Visa Status Online
The Department of State has recently developed a web tool to check the status of the immigrant and non immigrant visa online. The Department of State website can be accessed at: https://ceac.state.gov/CEACStatTracker/Status.aspx
USCIS will start accepting I-601A Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver starting March 4, 2013
This process allows certain immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen to apply and receive Provisional Unlawful Presence waivers within the United States. This new rule is implemented to avoid the uncertainty and lengthy waiting period in consular processing for these individuals who need an unlawful presence waiver of inadmissibility. It should be noted that the provisional waiver will cover the unlawful presence inadmissibility grounds only. For more information about the Provisional Unlawful Presence waiver, USCIS’ informational flyer can be accessed at: http://www.uscis.gov/USCIS/Resources/How%20Do%20I%20Guides/Static%20Files/601.pdf
The final rule promulgated by the Department of Homeland Security and published in the Federal Register about Provisional Unlawful Presence waiver of inadmissibility for certain immediate relatives can be accessed at: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/01/03/2012-31268/provisional-unlawful-presence-waivers-of-inadmissibility-for-certain-immediate-relatives
New Visa Processing System in India
The U.S. Embassy in Delhi and the U.S. Consulates General in Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai, and Hyderabad have started using a new visa processing system that would allow visa application fee payment and booking an appointment through a new website at http://www.ustraveldocs.com/in/
The most important change in the new system, is that applicants will have to make two appointments. Applicants will have to visit an Offsite Facilitation Center (OFC) to submit their fingerprints and a photo before their visa interviews. These OFC’s are not located at the consular facilities.