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Diversity Visa Lottery Update!

Dayzad Law previously provided information on how to enter the Diversity Visa green card lottery for DV-2019. The entry/registration window was initially open between Tuesday, October 3, 2017 and Tuesday, November 7, 2017. However, due to a technical issue, the DV-2019 entry period that began on October 3 has been closed. Entries submitted during October 3-10 are not valid and have been excluded from the system; they will not count as a duplicate entry.

The technical issue has been resolved and a new full entry period will begin at noon, U.S. Eastern Daylight Time on Wednesday October 18, 2017 and will run until noon Eastern Standard Time on Wednesday November 22, 2017. Only entries submitted during this period will be accepted and considered for selection in the lottery. Please throw away any confirmation number or other documentation that you have if you submitted an entry during October 3 and October 10, 2017.

Additional Information Emerges Regarding Employment-Based Interviews

On September 28, 2017 the Office of the CIS Ombudsman hosted a stakeholder call, featuring Associate Director of the USCIS Field Operations Directorate, Dan Renaud, to discuss the implementation of the new interview requirement for employment-based adjustment of status applicants.   The government has begun rolling out the interview requirement nationwide, with interviews starting on October 2, 2017. The goal with employment-based cases continues to be to ensure that the maximum number of visas are allotted each fiscal year.

With regards to those applicants who have cases currently pending, USCIS indicated that cases filed before March 6, 2017 will be adjudicated at USCIS Service Centers under prior procedures.  Approximately 5 to 10 percent of employment-based cases have been subject to interview previously, so the odds of an interview for applicants who applied prior to March 6 remain low.  However, all employment-based adjustment of status cases where the underlying petition is a Form I-140 filed on or after March 6, 2017, will be subject to an interview (this date coincides with Executive Order 13780 “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.”)

Generally every employment-based principal and derivative will be required to appear for an interview. USCIS will consider waiving the interview in cases where the applicant is under the age of 14.  USCIS will endeavor to schedule family groups together, as long as they file their applications at the same time.  Similar to the experience of Family-Based applicants, Employment-Based applicants can expect to be asked any question relating to the I-485. USCIS wants to be sure that it has accurate answers to questions regarding admissibility and eligibility. In addition, the applicant will be asked to explain where they work, what they will be doing, their educational background and experience.

Dayzad Law has years of experience preparing applicants for these types of interviews and questions. As we learn more information and details regarding the process for Employment-Based interviews, we will continue to share it with our clients. Meanwhile, we will continue to ensure that all of our clients are adequately prepared for these interviews and any new changes in Immigration law.

Feeling Lucky? Apply for the Green Card Lottery!

The Department of State has released details for the 2019 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV-2019), more commonly known as the “green card lottery.”  For fiscal year 2018, 50,000 diversity visas (DV) will be available. The electronic entry/registration window will be open between noon (EDT) on Tuesday, October 3, 2017 and noon (EST) on Tuesday, November 7, 2017. Do not wait until the last week of the registration period to enter, as heavy demand may result in website delays.

Eligibility to enter the lottery is based primarily on country of birth. People born in the following countries – which are deemed to be already well represented in the U.S. – are not eligible to enter: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam. Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR and Taiwan are eligible to enter. Even if an individual is born in one of the excluded countries, one may still be eligible to enter based on one’s spouse’s country of birth.  In some circumstances, one can also enter based on a parents’ country of birth.  In addition, there are minimum education/work experience requirements in order to register.

To enter the lottery, go to www.dvlottery.state.gov. Entering the lottery is free, but be very careful to read all the specific requirements, directions and guidelines — each year thousands of applicants are disqualified for failing to follow the correct registration procedures. Individuals with more than one entry will be disqualified. For detailed instructions, visit the Department of State website.

Beginning May 1, 2018 you will be able to check the status of your entry by returning to www.dvlottery.state.gov. Once there, click Entrant Status Check and enter your unique confirmation number and personal information to see if you have been selected for DV-2019.  The government will not notify you directly, rather, checking your status online is the only way to determine if you have been selected. From there, you will be given further instructions.

Please also be aware that “winning” the lottery does not guarantee a green card. If successful, all winners must then wait for their allotted number to become available and then submit a full green card application, including evidence of their background, qualifications and eligibility. We therefore strongly recommend that winners retain legal counsel to help navigate the complex process to apply for a green card.

Good luck to all who dare to take a shot at the American dream!

STEM Workers Continue to Play Important Role in American Economy

The American Immigration Council recently released Foreign-born STEM Workers in the United States, a fact sheet that describes the role that foreign-born workers play in the country’s STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) workforce. This fact sheet highlights who make up STEM workers and their contribution to the American economy.

STEM workers include a set of 46 occupations that are classified into four different categories: computer and mathematics; engineering and surveying; physical and life science; and managerial. A broader interpretation of STEM adds health and social sciences, classifying a set of 87 occupations divided into six categories: management; computer and mathematics; architecture and engineering; life, physical, and social sciences; education, training, and library; and sales and related.  

These occupations are extremely important in today’s economy, and the importance of foreign-born workers in STEM occupations cannot be overstated. STEM workers are essential to the U.S. economy in terms of productivity and innovation. As of 2015, the foreign-born comprised one-fifth to one-quarter of the STEM workforce, depending on what occupations are included within the definition of STEM. Notably, the total number of foreign-born STEM workers in the U.S. workforce has increased dramatically since 1990, both in absolute numbers and as a share of the total workforce. This is true at the national and state levels. Additionally, foreign-born workers make up an increasing share of STEM workers in all occupational categories. Dayzad Law continues to work with immigrants of all backgrounds, including many STEM workers to help facilitate their entry into and continued productivity in the American workforce.

USCIS Released Revised Form I-9

USCIS recently released a revised version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. Instructions for how to download Form I-9 are available on the Form I-9 page. Employers can use this revised version or continue using Form I-9 with a revision date of 11/14/16 N through September 17, 2017.  USCIS has removed the previous version from its website. Beginning September 18, 2017 employers must use the revised form with a revision date of 07/17/17 N. Employers must continue following existing storage and retention rules for any previously completed Form I-9.

Here are some revisions related to the List of Acceptable Documents on Form I-9:

  • The Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240) was added to List C. Employers completing Form I-9 on a computer will be able to select Form FS-240 from the drop-down menus available in List C of Sections 2 and 3. E-Verify users will also be able to select Form FS-240 when creating a case for an employee who has presented this document for Form I-9.
  • All the certifications of report of birth issued by the Department of State (Form FS-545, Form DS-1350, and Form FS-240) were combined into selection C #2 in List C.
  • All List C documents except the Social Security card were renumbered. For example, the employment authorization document issued by the Department of Homeland Security on List C changed from List C #8 to List C #7.

Here are some of the revisions to the Form I-9 instructions:

  • The name of the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices is now called Immigrant and Employee Rights Section.
  • The words “the end of” were removed from the phrase “the first day of employment.”

All of these changes can be found in the revised Handbook for Employers: Guidance for Completing Form I-9 (M-274).