Thursday, August 29, 2013

Upcoming Changes to the Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration

On September 3, 2013, the Department of State will transition to an online immigrant visa application.

Immigrant visa applicants will apply online using Form DS-260 (Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration). Applicants will choose their agent online using Form DS-261 (Choice of Address and Agent). Applicants will access both forms on the web at These forms replace the paper DS-230 and DS-3032. The National Visa Center (NVC) may instruct some applicants who previously submitted Form DS-230 to submit Form DS-260. Only Diversity Visa and Cuban Family Reunification Parole applicants will continue to use the paper forms. 

The implementation of Forms DS-260 and DS-261 is the next step in the Department of State’s creation of a secure and efficient online immigrant visa application experience.

Please note this only impacts individuals outside the United States who will apply for an immigrant visa. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Job Opportunities on Campus

From iBuzz, 08/26/2013

Working on campus is a great opportunity for F-1 and J-1 students to integrate into the campus community and earn some extra money. The best way to find and learn about jobs on campus is to utilize Career Buzz and not necessarily to visit the office/department for which you’d like to apply.
Remember that F-1 students do not need prior approval from OIE to accept on-campus employment; F-1 students should refer to the F-1 Employment and Training website for more information. J-1 students DO require OIE approval for on-campus employment; please visit the Information for J-1 Students website for more information.
Check out the following websites to find opportunities:

Working on campus this semester? Tips for applying for a social security number (SSN)

From iBuzz, 08/26/2013

Remember, you don’t need a social security letter to BEGIN working on campus at Georgia Tech! The OIE must notify the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), F-1 students, or the Department of State, J-1 students and scholars, of your arrival to the U.S., check-in and registration in courses (for students) in order to the SSA to verify your eligibility for the SSN.
F-1 Students: The Social Security Administration requires F-1 students have a letter support from OIE before applying for a social security number. There is now an e-form in iStart entitled ‘SSN Letter Request’ to ensure students can request a social security letter and minimize waiting time to see an advisor during walk-in hours. Please use this e-form to request a support letter from OIE and be prepared to upload the letter from your on-campus employer in the e-form.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Recent Telephone Scam Alert

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) learned of a new telephone scam targeting USCIS applicants and petitioners. Scammers are using a technique called “Caller ID spoofing” to display a misleading or inaccurate phone number in a recipient’s Caller ID. The scammer poses as a USCIS official and requests personal information (such as Social Security number, passport number, or A-number), identifies supposed issues in the recipient’s immigration records, and asks for payment to correct these records.

If you receive a call like that, USCIS urges you to say “No, thank you” and hang up immediately.

USCIS never asks for any form of payment or personal information over the phone. Do not give payment or personal information over the phone to anyone who claims to be a USCIS official. In general, we encourage you to protect your personal information and not to provide details about your immigration application in any public area.

If you have been a victim of this telephone scam, please report it to the Federal Trade Commission at, or report it to an appropriate state authority. (Visit for information on where to report scams in your state.)


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

DHS Plans Changes for H-4 Spouses

SHRM, 07/22/2013

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s spring 2013 regulatory agenda, released July 3, 2013, contains 52 items from the department’s immigration-related agencies, including proposed rules clarifying Form I-9 violations, providing work authorization to H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders, renewing the H-1C nurse visa and amending regulations governing the calculation of prevailing wages under the H-2B guest worker program.

Final Rules
A few rules that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will be implementing in the coming months are relevant to HR professionals. These include:
·         By October 2013, CBP will set the eligibility requirements and the application procedures and fees for the U.S. Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Travel Card Program. The program will enable eligible travelers to use fast-track immigration lanes in cooperating Asia-Pacific nations.
·         The extension of U.S. immigration law to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands by December 2013.
·         A July 2014 final rule implementing the Legal Immigration Family Equity Act, which will allow the spouses and children of lawful permanent residents to live and work in the United States while waiting for a green card.
·         The finalization of interim regulations, by July 2014, precluding employers from filing duplicate petitions on behalf of the same foreign temporary worker subject to the annual H-1B numerical cap.
·         A final rule, planned for July 2014, implementing the Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas Act, which created the H-1C nonimmigrant nurse visa in 1999 in response to the shortage of qualified nurses in many regions of the United States. To qualify for the H-1C visa, 500 of which are granted annually, a nurse must be licensed or have obtained a nursing degree in the U.S. and must pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Nurses with an H-1C visa may work in the United States for up to three years. USCIS stopped accepting new H-1C petitions after Dec. 21, 2009, when Congress failed to reauthorize the program.

Proposed Rules

USCIS proposes to extend employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of principal H-1B visa holders who have begun the process of seeking lawful permanent-resident status through employment. “Allowing the eligible class of H-4 dependent spouses to work encourages professionals with high-demand skills to remain in the country and help spur the innovation and growth of U.S. companies,” USCIS said.

A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is scheduled for October 2013 proposing to amend regulations that clarify certain Form I-9 paperwork failures and violations. According to the agenda, this proposed rule would define a substantive violation and a technical or procedural failure and delineate the circumstances in which an employer may be subject to penalties or not, due to a good-faith attempt to comply when completing the form.

Another rule planned for October 2013 would allow students on F-1 visas with degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics to take advantage of a 17-month optional practical training extension to gain experience in those fields.
And USCIS proposes to amend its regulations affecting high-skilled workers from Chile and Singapore (H-1B1), Australia (E-3), the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CW-1), and outstanding professors and researchers (EB-1) by November 2013.

The rule would reconcile the regulations for these classifications with existing regulations for other similarly situated classifications “by removing unnecessary hurdles that place such workers at a disadvantage when compared to similarly situated workers in other visa classifications,” according to DHS.

September 2013 Visa Bulletin

September 2013 Visa Bulletin: Significant Priority Date Advancements for Most Backlogged EB Categories; F-2A Will Remain Current

According to the State Department’s September Visa Bulletin, priority date cut-offs will advance dramatically for most backlogged employment-based immigrant visa categories next month. The family-based F-2A for spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents will remain current. 

EB-2 India will advance five and one-half months, to June 15, 2008. EB-2 China will remain at August 8, 2008. 

The EB-3 subcategory for professional and skilled workers will advance eight months for India, to September 22, 2003, and 18 months for China and most other countries, to July 1, 2010. EB-3 Philippines will advance just under six weeks, to December 1, 2006. 

September 2013 Visa Bulletin, Employment Based Categories

September 2013 Priority Date Cut-Offs 

In September 2013, EB immigrant visa priority date cut-offs will be: 

Current for all countries. 

China: August 8, 2008 
India: June 15, 2008 
All other countries: Current 

EB-3 Professionals and Skilled Workers 
China: July 1, 2010 
India: September 22, 2003 
Philippines: December 1, 2006 
All other countries: July 1, 2010 

EB-3 Other Workers 
China: June 15, 2004 
India: September 22, 2003 
Philippines: December 1, 2006 
All other countries: July 1, 2010 

Current for all countries and subcategories. 

Impact of the EB-2 and EB-3 Advancements 

The State Department is advancing EB-2 and EB-3 cut-off dates substantially next month to maximize usage of EB green card numbers before the end of the fiscal year. 

The EB-2 India cut-off date will advance much more than previously expected because unused immigrant visas in the EB-1 and EB-2 worldwide categories will be applied. The State Department anticipates that there will be high demand for the newly available India numbers. 

EB-3 cut-off dates will move forward more than anticipated because previous advancements have not generated the demand expected by the State Department. 

According to the State Department, there is unlikely to be any further advancement in the EB categories in the next few months. If there is high demand, priority dates could be retrogressed in FY 2014. 

Sources: and Department of State

Friday, August 9, 2013

Global Entry Expands to Certain Citizens of Germany, Korea, Qatar and the UK

From, 08/09/2013

Beginning today, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will accept applications for membership in the Global Entry trusted traveler program from qualified citizens of Korea, and a limited number of citizens from Germany, Qatar and the UK. 

Global Entry is a screening program that allows pre-approved, low-risk participants expedited entry into the United States using automated kiosks located at designated airports. Until now, program membership was limited to U.S. citizens, nationals and lawful permanent residents; Mexican nationals; and Dutch citizens who are members of Privium, the Netherlands trusted traveler program. 

Application Procedures for Korean Citizens 

Global Entry is now open to Korean citizens 17 and older who are members of the Smart Entry System (SES), Korea’s trusted traveler program. Eligible individuals apply online through a website maintained by the Korea Immigration Service (KIS). They then set up an account in CBP’s Global Online Enrollment System (GOES) and pay a $100 non-refundable fee. Applicants undergo a background check. Once an application is conditionally approved, the applicant will be invited to set up an interview at a Global Entry enrollment center to complete the process. 

Application Procedures for German, Qatari and UK Citizens 

Qualifying citizens of Qatar and the UK, as well as German citizens who are members of that country’s ABG Plus trusted traveler system, may apply for Global Entry through an invitation-only pilot program. Eligible travelers will be contacted by their government or, in the case of UK citizens, by a British airline, the U.S. Embassy or CBP itself. Invitees will be given a promotional code and information on how to apply. Codes issued to UK citizens must be used within a specific timeframe. 

To apply, applicants must set up a GOES account, complete an online application and, pay a $100 non-refundable fee. Applicants are subject to a background check and an in-person interview with CBP. UK citizens must present a police certificate at the time of interview. 

CBP plans to expand Global Entry eligibility to all citizens of Germany, Qatar and the UK at a later date. 

Reciprocal Benefits for U.S. Citizens 

U.S. citizens who are Global Entry, NEXUS or SENTRI trusted travelers will have the option to apply for membership in Germany’s ABG Plus and Korea’s SES trusted traveler programs. Once Qatar and UK have established trusted traveler programs, U.S. trusted travelers will be eligible to apply. 

Using Global Entry 

Global Entry members arriving in the United States use automated airport kiosks to clear customs and immigration inspection. Members scan their passports, are fingerprinted and photographed and complete an onscreen customs declaration. If a traveler clears this inspection, the kiosk issues a transaction receipt and directs the traveler to baggage claim. Nonimmigrants also receive an I-94 arrival record from the kiosk. 

It should be noted that Global Entry membership does not guarantee expedited screening and any violation of the program could result in revocation of membership privileges. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

UPDATE: State Department Reopens 18 Diplomatic Posts in the Middle East and North Africa

From, 08/12/2013

The State Department has reopened the following U.S. embassies and consulates, which were temporarily closed last week due to threat of terrorist activity in the region: 

        Manama, Bahrain 
        Bujumbura, Burundi 
        Cairo, Egypt, 
        Amman, Jordan 
        Kuwait City, Kuwait 
        Antananarivo, Madagascar 
        Port Louis, Mauritius 
        Tripoli, Libya 
        Muscat, Oman 
        Doha, Qatar, 
        Kigali, Rwanda 
        Dhahran, Saudi Arabia 
        Jeddah, Saudi Arabia 
        Riyadh, Saudi Arabia 
        Khartoum, Sudan 
        Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates 
        Dubai, United Arab Emirates 

The embassy in Sana’a, Yemen will remain closed due to ongoing concerns about terrorist threats in the Arabian Peninsula. 

The consulate in Lahore, Pakistan, which was closed on August 8 due to a separate threat, will remain closed until further notice. 

From, 08/05/2013

The State Department has temporarily closed 19 U.S. consulates and embassies in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa because of the threat of imminent terrorist activity in the region. The posts are to remain closed until Saturday, August 10, though the closures could be extended beyond this date and to other posts.

The following U.S. embassies and consulates are affected:
        Manama, Bahrain
        Bujumbura, Burundi
        Cairo, Egypt
        Amman, Jordan
        Kuwait City, Kuwait
        Antananarivo, Madagascar
        Port Louis, Mauritius
        Tripoli, Libya
        Muscat, Oman
        Doha, Qatar
        Kigali, Rwanda
        Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
        Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
        Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
        Khartoum, Sudan
        Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
        Dubai, United Arab Emirates
        Sana’a, Yemen
The State Department is also alerting U.S. citizens to take precautions when abroad. Travelers are urged to register their travel plans with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which can facilitate communication in the event of an emergency.

Monday, August 5, 2013

U.S. Consulates Begin Accepting Visa Applications for Same-Sex Spouses

From, 08/02/2013

U.S. embassies and consulates will immediately begin to adjudicate visa applications based on same-sex marriages, the State Department has announced. Visa applications based on same-sex marriages will be adjudicated in the same way that opposite-sex spousal applications are treated. 

The State Department makes clear that only same-sex marriages valid in the jurisdiction where they took place will be considered. Same-sex domestic partnerships and civil unions will not qualify. However, both same-sex and opposite-sex unmarried partners continue to be eligible for B-2 domestic partner visas to accompany or join a principal nonimmigrant visa holder. 

Step-children acquired through a same-sex marriage qualify for dependent benefits as long as the marriage took place before the child turned 18. 

The State Department announcement ends several weeks of speculation on the processing of same-sex nonimmigrant and immigrant visa applications. Since the Supreme Court decision striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, consulates and embassies had refrained from processing same-sex applications pending further guidance from agency headquarters. 

Fraud Scheme Targets Foreign Nationals

From, 08/01/2013

Foreign nationals should be on their guard against a fraud scheme currently being perpetrated in the United States. 

Individuals posing as officers of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services are reportedly telephoning foreign nationals, falsely claiming a discrepancy or problem in immigration records, and pressuring victims to pay a "penalty" to have the issue rectified. Victims are told to wire funds to an address the caller provides. 

The perpetrators may possess personal information about the victim and may ask victims to provide or confirm immigration information such as an I-94 number, an alien registration number or a visa control number. 

Foreign nationals who receive such calls should not forward any funds or disclose personal information. Those targeted by the scheme should contact law enforcement and the Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Consumer Protection