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Immigrant Visa Number News

We all watch the Visa Bulletin closely to see when an immigrant visa number becomes available to apply for a green card. We compare a client’s priority date with the priority date in the Visa Bulletin. The priority date in the Visa Bulletin reflects the priority of the latest case that has a visa number available. The priority dates in the Visa Bulletin are driven by supply and demand for visa numbers. There are many variables involved.

Why do EB-3 India priority dates advance so slowly? There are thousands of applicants waiting for visa numbers. However there is an annual limit in this category of approximately 2,875 visa numbers in 2015.

Will EB-3 Worldwide priority dates become current anytime soon? If so, what would that mean for EB-3 India priority dates? The State Dept. does not anticipate that EB-3 Worldwide priority dates will become current anytime soon. In fact, priority dates may stop advancing in 2015. If the priority dates in the Worldwide EB-3 category ever do become current then any extra visa numbers will help alleviate the wait for India EB-3 applicants.

Has President Obama’s Executive Actions helped with visa number availability? Yes, one example is that priority dates have advanced at a more rapid pace and much earlier in the year, as compared to prior years.

What news does the April 2015 Visa Bulletin bring?

EB-2 India: After the priority date advanced 16 months in March, the priority date advanced another eight months in April, to September 1, 2007. The State Dept. predicts the priority date will continue to advance at a steady pace for another couple of months. Toward September 2015, the priority date will not advance any more.

EB-3 Worldwide, Mexico, and Philippines: The priority date advanced another four months to October 1, 2014. Predictions are that there may be another big advance in the priority date in these categories in May.

EB-3 China: There is a retrogression of more than nine months to January 1, 2011. Thus, the priority date has moved back in time and makes the wait longer for a visa number.

Stay tuned for more updates on the crazy world of immigrant visa numbers!

Breaking News: Employment Authorization Available for Certain H-4 Spouses Beginning May 26, 2015

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will publish regulations tomorrow that will extend eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 spouses of H-1B workers who are seeking employment-based green cards.  This initiative is an important element of President Obama’s Immigration Executive Action.  The government will begin accepting applications from eligible H-4 spouses on May 26, 2015.

Eligible individuals include H-4 spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who:

  • Are the beneficiaries of an approved Immigrant Visa Petition (Form I-140); or
  • Have H-1B status beyond the six-year limit based on a labor certification application (or Immigrant Visa Petition) pending for more than 365 days.

This landmark change will bring U.S. immigration policies more in line with those laws of other countries that compete to attract similar highly skilled workers.

USCIS estimates the number of individuals eligible to apply for employment authorization under this regulation could be as high as 179,600 in the first year and 55,000 annually thereafter.   Once the H-4 spouse receives an Employment Authorization Document, he or she may begin working in the United States.   Our office will contact eligible, current clients in advance of the effective date to begin the application process.

DHS “Known Employer” Pilot Program May Aid U.S. – Canada Business Travel

The Department of Homeland Security may test a “Known Employer” pilot program to streamline processing of certain types of employment-based immigration applications submitted by eligible U.S. employers.  Expected to launch by late 2015, the program is designed to:

  • Make adjudications more efficient and less costly.
  • Reduce paperwork and delays for U.S. employers who seek to employ foreign workers.
  • Facilitate cross-border business travel along the northern border Ports of Entry.

More information about the pilot program is expected in the coming months.  Stay tuned!

Visa Number Availability for Green Cards

 

  • EB-2 India: Priority dates for visa numbers for Indians in the EB-2 category are expected to advance by 4 to 6 months in the coming months, with even more significant advances expected through May. However, as demand builds toward October, the government may limit the availability of these visa numbers, resulting in the priority date remaining stagnant or even moving backward in time (“retrogression”).
  • EB-3: Priority dates for visa numbers are expected to advance rapidly over the next 1-6 months for citizens of all countries except India, Mexico, and the Philippines.

Advancement of 2-4 weeks is expected in the family-sponsored categories.

Undocumented Immigrants Can Apply for Driver’s Licenses in California—But Should They?

On January 1, California enacted Assembly Bill 60, allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses California. While having an AB 60 driver’s license is an important benefit for some individuals, we recommend that undocumented individuals consult with a licensed and trusted attorney before applying for an AB 60 driver’s license to avoid potential pitfalls.

The benefits of obtaining an AB 60 driver’s license:

  • Being trained, tested, licensed and insured will help protect you, your family and the community by increasing highway safety.
  • Having a license will ensure that you are not ticketed or arrested for driving without a driver’s license.
  • A driver’s license can be used for identification, even when you are not driving.
  • State and local law enforcement cannot use your AB 60 license to make assumptions about your immigration or citizenship status.
  • Your immigration history, including any prior deportations or deportation orders, is not a factor for eligibility for an AB 60 license.

The risks of obtaining an AB 60 driver’s license:

  • The U.S. federal law enforcement agencies may have access to some of the information you provide on your license application. Thus, if the government is already looking for a specific person, getting an AB 60 license may increase that person’s risk of being arrested.
  • Undocumented immigrants who meet any of the following criteria should be particularly cautious about applying for an AB 60 license:
  • Persons who have been convicted of a felony, gang-related activity, three or more misdemeanor offenses, or a “serious” misdemeanor.
  • A complete list of immigration enforcement priorities is available here.