Thursday, December 20, 2012

USCIS Unveils E-Verify Employer Search Tool

From, 12/29/2012

USCIS today introduced a new web-based tool that allows the public to search the list of E-Verify participating employers by name, location, and/or status as a federal contractor. This information has been publicly available since this past spring, but the new tool makes the roster more easily searchable. It does not expand the scope of available data on E-Verify employers. 

The web tool and other USCIS sources list only those E-Verify employers who have reported a workforce of five employees or more. It is not a complete list of every E-Verify participant. Employers are listed by legal name (rather than the trade name), workforce size and location, though not every business location of an employer may appear. The list is updated on a quarterly basis. Employers who have terminated their participation in E-Verify are not listed.

If the employer is a federal contractor, USCIS discloses the scope of the employer’s verification practices. In addition to verifying the employment eligibility of all new hires, federal contractors must use the system to verify existing employees who are assigned to the federal contract. They have the option to verify all existing employees, including those who are not assigned to a federal contract. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Expanded e-Request and Case Status Services


USCIS has further expanded the services offered by our Case Status Online and e-Request systems as part of an ongoing effort to enhance these services for our customers. Case Status Online allows you to view the most current status of your application for all USCIS Forms. e-Request allows you to inquire electronically about applications and petitions submitted to USCIS. On Dec. 19, customers will see the following enhancements:
  • Within Case Status Online, you will be able to track the mailing and/or delivery of a card or document produced by USCIS through our Secure Mail Initiative.
  • Within e-Request, you will be able to create a Service Request if you do not receive documents related to Forms I-485, Application to Adjust Permanent Residence or Adjust Status; I-765, Application for Employment Authorization; and I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Frequent Travel Abroad and Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status

From AILA, 12/17/2012

There is a common misunderstanding that simply returning to the United States once every six months will preclude a finding that one has abandoned his or her lawful permanent residency. Whether an LPR has abandoned permanent residency, however, is not based solely upon the length of time spent outside of the U.S.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) representatives have confirmed that "CBP officers are less focused on the length of time abroad and more on where does the person actually live." According to the representatives, CBP officers will look at the totality of the circumstances, including "how many years the person has lived in the U.S.; whether the person is employed in the U.S. or abroad; where family members live; [and] whether U.S. taxes have been paid."

CBP representatives have also indicated that "[d]omicile is the major issue for WAS CBP inspectors, so the applicant should have evidence with him/her of where s/he lives."

The CBP Inspector’s Field Manual (“IFM”) similarly explains that the length of time spent abroad is not the sole indicator of abandonment. The IFM notes that other indicators of possible abandonment are “employment abroad, immediate family members who are not permanent residents, arrival on a charter flight where most passengers are non-residents with return passage, lack of a fixed address in the U.S., or frequent prolonged absences from the U.S.” In questionable cases, the IFM advises officers “to ask for other documentation to substantiate residence, such as a driver’s license and employer identification cards.”

Consular Officers Share Holiday Travel Tips

From DipNote, 12/15/2012

Are you traveling abroad this holiday season? Make sure you're prepared for your holiday travel by checking out before you go. is the State Department's primary location for information about travel to other countries. There is information about every country in the world on such practical topics as entry requirements, road conditions, and safety and security among others. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Proposal to Allow H-4 Nonimmigrants to Work

From, 12/14/2012

Regulation to Grant Work Authorization to Spouses of Certain H-1Bs Submitted Under Review

A proposed USCIS rule that could allow certain H-4 nonimmigrants to apply for work authorization is now under consideration at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Though the contents of the rule are confidential until published in the Federal Register, the regulation is expected to allow H-4 nonimmigrants whose H-1B spouses have started the employment-based permanent residence process to apply for work authorization, provided that the principal spouse has been in the United States as an H-1B for a minimum period of time. The rule is at the proposal stage only, and the OMB approval process may take several months or more. 

The proposed change may mean that H-4s could become eligible for work authorization after a labor certification or immigrant worker petition has been filed on behalf of the H-1B spouse. Currently, an H-4 spouse can apply for work authorization only if he or she is the beneficiary of a pending application for adjustment of status – the last stage of the permanent residence process.

Any updates on this proposal will be posted on The Global Buzz

Implementation of New USCIS Immigrant Fee

From USCIS, 12/13/2012

New fee allows USCIS to recover the costs of processing immigrant visas after individuals receive their visa packages from the Department of State abroad

WASHINGTON—On Feb. 1, 2013,U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin collecting a new USCIS Immigrant Fee of $165 from foreign nationals seeking permanent residence in the United States. This new fee was established in USCIS’s final rule adjusting fees for immigration applications and petitions announced on Sept. 24, 2010.

USCIS has worked closely with the Department of State (DOS) to implement the new fee which allows USCIS to recover the costs of processing immigrant visas in the United States after immigrant visa holders receive their visa packages from DOS. This includes staff time to handle, file and maintain the immigrant visa package, and the cost of producing and delivering the permanent resident card. The implementation of this new fee is further detailed in a Federal Register notice.

In order to simplify and centralize the payment process, applicants will pay online through the USCIS website after they receive their visa package from DOS and before they depart for the United States. DOS will provide applicants with specific information on how to submit payment when they attend their consular interview. The new fee is in addition to fees charged by DOS associated with an individual’s immigrant visa application.
USCIS processes approximately 36,000 immigrant visa packages each month. Prospective adoptive parents whose child will enter the United States under the Orphan or Hague processes are exempt from the new fee.
For more information visit our USCIS Immigrant Fee webpage.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

January 2013 Visa Bulletin

The Visa Bulletin for January 2013 has been published. Immigrant visas for all nationalities in the EB-1 category are current. Immigrant visas in the EB-2 category are current for all nationalities except China and India. EB-2 petitions for mainland born Chinese have progressed 2 months. EB-2 petitions for Indians remain the same.

January 2013 Visa Bulletin, Employment-Based Immigrant Visas

See the entire bulletin here: 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Government Holiday Closures May Cause Delays

From, 12/07/2012

During the holiday season, many government offices worldwide will close or have reduced staff and hours of operation, which is likely to result in delays in the processing of work permits, residence permits and visas over the coming weeks and into the New Year.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of immigration office and consular post closings for the holiday season. Employers and foreign nationals with travel or relocation plans between now and early 2013 should contact their immigration service provider to discuss the impact of holiday closures on their specific circumstances.

North America

Canada: Government offices in Canada and consular posts abroad will be closed December 25-26 and January 1.


Government offices in most Sub-Saharan African countries work at half capacity or close entirely from December 15 through January 15, resulting in application processing delays well into the New Year.

Asia / Pacific

Australia: The Department of Immigration and Citizenship will be closed December 25-27 and January 1.

Hong Kong: The Hong Kong Immigration Department will be closed December 25-26 and January 1. Application processing is expected to be delayed by a few days.

India: Government offices will be closed December 25 and January 1. Consular posts may close for longer periods depending on the national practice for their location.

Japan: Japanese immigration offices will be closed from December 31 through January 3.

Malaysia: Government offices will be closed on December 25 and January 1, 24 and 28.

New Zealand: Immigration New Zealand offices will be closed from December 24 through January 2. The closures, along with heavy demand for work visas with January start dates, are expected to delay application processing between now and mid-January.

Singapore: Government offices will be closed on December 25 and January 1. Application processing delays are expected through the start of 2013 as many government workers take vacations for the entire week between December 25 and January 1.

Thailand: Government offices will be closed on December 31 and January 1.

Europe / Middle East 

Immigration offices in most countries in the region will officially close December 24 - 26 and January 1. However, many government offices in the region work at limited capacity during the last week of December into the first week of January. Countries with expected closures of longer duration are listed below.

Austria: Government offices will be closed December 25-26 and January 1. The closures are expected to temporarily delay application processing by one week.

Azerbaijan: Government offices will be closed December 29 through January 3.

Denmark: Government offices will be closed from December 24 to January 1, resulting in one-week processing delays.

Finland: Government offices in Finland and all consular posts abroad will close December 24-26 and January 1.

Hungary: Government offices will be closed December 24 through January 2.

Ireland: There have been no official announcements of closures, but government offices are expected to operate at limited capacity from December 21 through January 2.

Italy: Government offices will be closed December 24-25 and January 1, but are not expected to operate at full capacity until January 7.

Kazakhstan: Government offices are expected to be closed December 16-18 and January 1-4, though there has been no official announcement to date.

Norway: Government offices will be closed December 22 through January 3.

Russia: Government offices will be closed December 29 through January 9.

Sweden: The Swedish Migration Board will operate at reduced capacity, and may close entirely, from December 22 through January 7.

Ukraine: Government offices are expected to be closed December 28 through January 8.

Latin America

Most countries’ immigration offices will be officially closed on December 24, 25 and 31, and January 1 and 7. Unofficially, many Latin American government offices slow down or work at half capacity during the month of December and into the second week of January. Processing delays for applications submitted at the end of November and in December should therefore be expected. The two countries with closures of longer duration are:

Costa Rica: There have been no official announcements of office closures, but the Immigration Office is expected to follow the practice of previous years and close from December 14 through January 8.

Mexico: The National Immigration Institute is tentatively scheduled to be closed from December 14 through January 7. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

STEM Bill Passes House of Representatives

From, 12/06/2012

Smith STEM Bill Passes House of Representatives but is Blocked in Senate

Senate Democrats have blocked the STEM Jobs Act, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith’s (R-TX) bill to make 50,000 immigrant visas available to foreign nationals with U.S. advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields who have received a job offer from a U.S. employer. The bill passed the House of Representatives last week, but was not expected to overcome Democratic opposition to a provision in the bill that would eliminate the Diversity Visa green card lottery and reallocate its 50,000 immigrant visa numbers to the proposed STEM program. The White House also voiced its opposition to the bill, issuing a statement of administration policy favoring comprehensive immigration reform over the more narrowly-tailored STEM proposal.

An earlier version of the STEM Jobs Act was taken up by the House in September and received majority bipartisan support, but was defeated because it was considered under a procedure that required a two-thirds vote. The latest bill differed in two key respects from the earlier version. It contained a provision to allow unused STEM immigrant visa numbers to be carried forward between Fiscal Years 2013 and 2017. It would also have expanded the V visa program, which allows the spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents to enter and remain in the United States while awaiting availability of an immigrant visa number after their permanent residence case has been pending for one year.