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Newsletter 15: April 2013

Spring has sprung! Flowers are blooming—and so are important immigration updates. You’ll find the latter below.

 


New Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification

Beginning May 7, 2013 all employers are required to use the most recent version of the Form I-9. Human Resources should feel free to contact our law firm if there are any questions regarding the new Form I-9.


Be Sure to Print Forms I-94 from the Internet

Form I-94 plays a central role in documenting proper admission and maintenance of status for foreign-nationals with temporary U.S. immigration status. Beginning April 30, those in temporary status will no longer receive their Form I-94 in hardcopy if entering the U.S. by air or some seaports.

CBP will continue to issue an admission stamp in nonimmigrant travelers’ passports, including a handwritten notation indicating the individual’s immigration status and its expiration. However, instead of issuing a paper I-94 card, the admission will be recorded in CBP’s electronic database. An image of the I-94 record will be available within 24 hours of entry to print from CBP’s new website: www.cbp.gov/I94. As usual, Clients should forward a copy of Form I-94 to our law firm after each entry for a second review or to include in subsequent applications. Foreign-nationals who do not receive Forms I-94 (for example, Canadian citizens) should continue to send to us a copy of their passport stamp after each entry.

Those in temporary status will also need a printed Form-I-94 to show HR during employment eligibility verification, to apply for a driver’s licenses, or to apply for a social security card. As with any new procedure, there will likely be bumps in the road during this transition. Clients can look to Dayzad Law Offices to advise them regarding the new Form I-94 procedure as we work on their specific immigration cases.


Immigration Reform Gets Closer

A bipartisan group of eight Senators developed a bill to overhaul the country’s immigration system. The Senate Judiciary Committee has since held several hearings featuring 42 witnesses. The Senate Judiciary committee will consider amendments to the legislation starting May 9. If the bill is able to secure a majority of the votes on the Judiciary Committee it will move to the entire Senate for a vote. No timeline has been established for the Senate’s vote, we hope it will be before the Senate’s August recess. As with most major issues before the Senate, the bill will almost certainly be filibustered, meaning that it will need 60 “yes” votes to end debate and move on to a final vote. If the bill passes with a Senate majority, it will move on to the House of Representatives for debate, amendment, and voting.

The following is a list of notable provisions of the proposed legislation. Of course, the current bill is expected to go through many amendments before it is finalized. Thus, none of the provisions listed below are guaranteed to become part of an enacted law.

  • Creates a “merit-based” immigrant visa which awards “points” to applicants for factors such as education, length of employment, type of employment, family members in the U.S., and length of residence in the U.S.
  • Provides a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the country. Importantly, reaching certain border security benchmarks is a precondition.
  • Significantly reduces the wait time for family-based and employment-based visa numbers for permanent residence.
  • Increases the number of H-1B visas available each year from 65,000 to 110,000 – 180,000. The drawback: Employers may have to pay higher wages to their H-1B employees and first advertise on one website before H-1B classification can be sought.
  • Creates a “startup visa” category for foreign-national entrepreneurs who seek to emigrate to the U.S. to start their own companies.
  • Amends the definition of “immediate relative” to include spouses and children of green card holders, thus extending some of the special advantages formerly offered only to spouses and children of U.S. citizens.
  • Creates a new “W-Visa” for lower-skilled workers.
  • Provides advantages for agricultural workers.
  • Repeals the diversity visa program (“Green Card Lottery”).
  • Makes E-verify mandatory for all employers.
  • Eliminates a path to permanent residence through a U.S. citizen brother or sister.

Dayzad Law Offices remains actively involved on this important reform. We will continue to keep you updated via our Newsflash.


Navid Dayzad Speaks at Conference Organized by Ambassador

Upon nomination, Navid Dayzad spoke at a conference organized by Ambassador Philip Lader. Renaissance Weekends is a nonpartisan organization fueled by CEOs, venture capitalists, social entrepreneurs, Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize-winners, and Olympians. Navid spoke on a panel with a federal district judge, a law professor, and a TV commentator about “Finding the Middle Ground on Immigration.”


Supreme Court May Bring Equality to Gay and Lesbian Immigrant Families

The Supreme Court recently heard arguments in a case that may decide whether federal benefits, including immigration benefits, should be available to same-sex couples. If the Court strikes down DOMA, U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents can sponsor their foreign-national life partners for green cards. Some families are choosing to get head-start on the Court’s decision by submitting Immigrant Visa Petitions now because the petition will likely be adjudicated after the Court’s decision. The best strategy will depend on each person’s specific case. Dayzad Law Offices is available if you would like to schedule a consultation to discuss a potential green card strategy.


Dayzad Law Offices Continues to Fight for LGBT Immigrant Families:

As Vice Chair of the national American Immigration Lawyers LGBT Committee, Navid and committee members drafted language to lobby congress on National Day of Action in Washington D.C. to reform immigration laws that impact LGBT families. While President Obama has shown support for this important cause, the Senate has not included the “Uniting American Families Act” in its recently-released immigration reform bill. Navid and committee members are dedicated to equal immigration benefits and will continue to fight for its inclusion in proposed immigration reform legislation


New Provisional Waiver Application Process Now Available

As a reminder, certain applicants may now begin filing an Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver. This groundbreaking new procedure will benefit individuals who are eligible to apply for a green card, but must also apply for a “waiver” because they have been in the United States unlawfully. The new law makes this procedure significantly less burdensome because eligible applicants will be able to apply for a provisional waiver from within the U.S. before departing for an interview at a U.S. consulate abroad.


With H-1B Visa Numbers Finished, Strategizing Becomes Even More Important

For the first time since 2008, H-1B visa numbers have run out within the first week of the filing period. USCIS received approximately 124,000 cap-subject H-1B petitions between April 1 and April 5. USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process to select a sufficient number of petitions needed to meet the caps of 65,000 for the general category and 20,000 under the advanced degree exemption limit.

Employers and professionals take heart! Our experienced attorneys may be able to craft strategies for alternative visa categories. Also, USCIS continues to accept and process petitions that are exempt from the H-1B cap. Such petitions include:

  • Petitions filed on behalf of professionals who already have H-1B status or have been in H-1B status sometime during the past six years and have not used up all their six years;
  • Petitions filed by institutions of higher learning or related affiliated nonprofit entities, government research organizations, or nonprofit research organizations.
  • Professionals who are citizens of Chile or Singapore.
  • Certain Physicians who have received J-1 waivers.

Immigration News in Brief

  • Reminder – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA): It’s not too late! DACA is still available for certain young people who came to the United States as children. USCIS has already approved over 245,000 DACA applications. Eligible applicants may request deferred action for a period of two years and will be eligible for work authorization and (in some states) driver’s licenses.
  • Priority Dates for Indian Nationals Expected to Advance Slowly: Unfortunately, long delays will continue for Indian nationals waiting for an EB-2 visa number to apply for a green card. This is due in part to increased use of a provision allowing individuals with approved EB-3 labor certification applications to upgrade to EB-2 while maintaining their earlier priority date. It is also possible that the visa numbers may retrogress by October. Fortunately, with the proper immigration strategy, at least these deserving employees can continue in H-1B status beyond the six year maximum until an EB-2 visa number does become available for them.
  • Surprising PERM Statistics: The Department of Labor has released some surprising statistics regarding the labor certification (PERM) program. The labor certification is the first step of the employment-based green card process, and can present significant hurdles to inexperienced employers who lack competent legal counsel to help them navigate the process. According to the Department’s estimates, only 75% of all labor certification applications submitted in the last 6 months have been approved! Dayzad Law Offices is proud to have maintained its 100% labor certification success rate in the face of tough Department of Labor scrutiny.
  • SEC Files Complaint Against Two EB-5 Companies: The Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a civil law enforcement action against two companies to protect foreign-national investors from potentially millions of dollars of losses. The complaint alleges that the defendants used the lure of U.S. permanent residence to collect over $150 million from more than 250 Chinese investors, who sought to obtain green cards through the EB-5 program. The EB-5 program is a pathway to permanent residence for individuals that invest money in domestic projects that create U.S. jobs. Investors interested in the EB-5 program are encouraged to seek the assistance of a qualified immigration attorney, rather than seek help from unlicensed individuals who may take advantage of applicants’ lack of knowledge about the program and make false promises.

Note: This publication serves only as general information and is not a substitute for consultation with an attorney who can assess the specifics of your case and inform you of the constant changes in law and policy. No attorney-client relationship is formed by the transmission of this information until a legal service contract has been signed by both of us.

Newsletter 14: January 2013

Happy New Year! I hope 2013 is off to a wonderful start. The following are some important immigration updates for you.

 


H-1B Visa Numbers: Get Them While You Can!

Attention employers and professionals: H-1B visa numbers will become available again soon! The H-1B classification is the most popular temporary work status for professional positions. The application period opens April 1, 2013 for work authorization to begin October 1, 2013. These visa numbers run out quickly. Thus, it important to prepare these applications packages early.

This news is important for employers who plan on hiring foreign-national professionals. Likewise, H-1B status can be advantageous for foreign-nationals who have a U.S. job offer and a Bachelor’s degree. In order to have an H-1B application filed timely and avoid a rush service fee, we should start by January 25, 2013.


I-94 Mistakes Plague Travelers; Dayzad Law Offices Offers a Solution

Is an employee planning international travel? You may want an “I-94 Travel Letter” to proactively avoid problems upon re-entering the United States.

Recent reports from international travelers have revealed an unfortunate trend of mistakes made by immigration officers at airports. Specifically, they are writing incorrect information on the all-important Form I-94, including incorrect expiration dates, immigration status, and/or employer information. These mistakes can have serious effects on an individual’s immigration status and they can be costly to fix retroactively. To help minimize these mistakes, you can ask our office to prepare in advance an “I-94 Travel Letter” for employees to use each time they enter the Unites States. It explains to the officer what should be written on the specific individual’s Form I-94 and the legal basis for it.


March 4, 2013 Launches a New Green Card Procedure for Individuals in the U.S. Unlawfully
The Department of Homeland Security has finally announced a much-anticipated new procedure that will make it easier for certain people to apply for green cards and reduce the time U.S. citizens are separated from their families. This new procedure will benefit individuals who are eligible to apply for a green card, but must also apply for a “waiver” because they have been in the United States unlawfully. Under current procedures, these applicants must apply for the waiver at a U.S. consulate in their home country. This procedure requires the individual to wait outside the U.S. for a few months for a decision on the wavier application. Also, if the wavier is not approved, the individual cannot legally enter the U.S. for 3 or 10 years.

The new law makes this procedure significantly less burdensome because eligible applicants will be able to apply for a provisional waiver from within the U.S. before departing for an interview at a U.S. consulate abroad. If you would like more information or to analyze your immigration options under this new rule, feel free to contact us to schedule a consultation. We can begin preparing the waiver application packages now before the government’s backlog grows and submit the application package once the law becomes effective on March 4, 2013.


Nonimmigrant Visa Interview Waiver Program Expands to India

The U.S. consulates in India are streamlining the visa application process by allowing some applicants to avoid an in-person interview. Applicants must be renewing a visa that is still valid or expired within the past 48 months. This option is available for certain visas, including H-1B, H-4, L-1, L-2, and F-1. It has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on your specific circumstance. You are welcome to schedule a consultation to discuss your individual matter.

The Department of State has also issued standardized appointment scheduling and fee payment procedures to further streamline visa processing. In 2011, consular officers in India processed nearly 700,000 nonimmigrant visa applications, an increase of more than 11% over the previous year. Nonetheless, the Department of State suggests that its initiatives have successfully reduced the average wait time for a visa interview appointment to fewer than ten days, and that applicants typically spend less than one hour at the consulate when applying for a nonimmigrant visa.


Supreme Court Case May Bring Bi-national Same-Sex Couples One Step Closer to Equality

The Supreme Court has announced that it will hear arguments on March 27, 2013 in a case that may decide whether federal benefits, including immigration benefits, should be available to same-sex couples. Specifically, the court will consider whether the “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) is unconstitutional. Four federal district courts and two courts of appeals have already ruled Section 3 of DOMA (which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman) is unconstitutional based on the Equal Protection Clause. The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down DOMA as discriminatory and unconstitutional would bring bi-national same-sex couples one step closer to equality under our immigration laws by allowing U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to sponsor their foreign-national life partners for green cards. The Court’s final decision is expected this summer. Dayzad Law Offices is closely following this Supreme Court case, Windsor v. United States.

Note: This publication serves only as general information and is not a substitute for consultation with an attorney who can assess the specifics of your case and inform you of the constant changes in law and policy. No attorney-client relationship is formed by the transmission of this information until a legal service contract has been signed by both of us.

Newsletter 13: October 2012

I hope you are all enjoying the beautiful colors of the fall season. The following are some important immigration updates for you.


Election Day Is Coming: Republican and Democratic Proposals for Immigration

The Republican and Democratic Parties released their official 2012 Party Platforms. A nonpartisan organization,
AILA, has compiled this helpful list of the major points of each Party’s platform that relate to immigration proposals. We provide this list below for your information:

Democratic Party Platform on Immigration

  • Supports comprehensive immigration reform to create a system that meets the nation’s economic needs, keeps families together, and enforces the law.
  • Supports the DREAM Act and continuing to provide deferred action to undocumented people who came to the U.S. as children.
  • Plans to hold employers accountable for whom they hire.
  • Prioritizes enforcement against criminals who endanger communities instead of immigrants who do not pose a safety threat.
  • Supports family reunification as a priority. Supports the current administration’s streamlining of the process of legal immigration for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and the enhanced opportunities for English-language learning and immigrant integration.
  • Supports continued litigation to oppose state enforcement laws that interfere with federal immigration law.
  • Supports inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender relationships in the definition of family in immigration policy to protect bi-national families threatened with deportation.
  • Asserts that the southwest border is more secure than at any time in the past twenty years, unlawful crossings are at a 40-year low, and that the Border Patrol is better staffed than at any time in its history.

The Republican Party Platform on Immigration

  • Opposes any form of amnesty.
  • Opposes the current administration’s 2012 policy of granting deferred action to certain individuals who came to the U.S. as children.
  • Top priority is security at borders and ports of entry to prevent drug trafficking, illegal immigration, and terrorism. Calls for completion of the double-layered fencing on the southern border.
  • Supports “humane procedures to encourage illegal immigrants” to leave the U.S. Supports increased enforcement against overstays.
  • Supports the use of local police to enforce federal immigration laws.
  • Supports states in passing their own state-by-state immigration laws
  • Supports tougher penalties for ID theft, human trafficking and for those who deal in fraudulent documents.
  • Supports long-term detention of those who cannot be deported to their country of nationality.
  • Calls for denying federal funding to “sanctuary cities” and to universities that offer in-state tuition rates to illegal immigrants.
  • Supports making E-verify mandatory nationwide. Supports state immigration enforcement efforts in the workplace.
  • Supports making the SAVE program mandatory. SAVE verifies the lawful presence of applicants for State or federal government entitlements or IRS refunds.
  • Calls for English as the nation’s official language.
  • Supports granting more visas to holders of advanced degrees in science technology, engineering and math fields.
  • Willing to consider a guest worker program to meet labor needs.

I-94 Information for Travelers with Temporary Visas

The holidays are approaching and many of our clients are preparing to visit their families abroad. To protect you upon your return to the U.S., please review the following important reminders regarding international travel and Forms I-94:

  • Don’t be fooled by its unassuming appearance—the white card stapled in your passport, Form I-94, is an important immigration document that determines the length of a foreign national’s lawful immigration status in the United States. After presenting yourself for inspection and admission at a U.S. Port of Entry, check (and double check!) your Form I-94 to make sure all the information listed is correct, especially the expiration date. The expiration date should match the earlier date of either your passport expiration date or your I-797 Approval Notice expiration date. If you think your Form I-94 was issued incorrectly, tell the officer immediately or contact our office for assistance.
  • Immigration officers at the airport are paying more attention to the expiration date in your passport. Generally, an individual in nonimmigrant status must present a passport that is valid for the entire duration of their stay in the United States (and it must be valid for an extra 6 months for individuals from certain countries). Make sure passports are valid as described above to avoid the authorized period of stay being cut short by an earlier passport expiration date. (Some countries might not renew passports far enough in advance; in such case ask us for additional advice.)

A Little Protection for Long-Term, Same-Sex Partners

New guidance clarifies that “family relationships” includes long-term, same-sex partners for the purposes of prosecutorial discretion. This means that the government can consider the hardship to a foreign national’s U.S. Citizen same-sex partner and family when deciding whether to initiate deportation proceedings or other immigration enforcement action. This important guidance will help keep families together and bring relief to many bi-national same-sex couples whose relationships are not otherwise recognized under federal immigration laws. Significantly, this announcement does not change the prohibition against US citizens sponsoring their life partners for green cards.


Priority Dates for Indian Nationals Expected to Advance Slowly Next Year

Unfortunately, long delays will continue for Indian nationals waiting for an EB-2 visa number to apply for a green card. This is due in part to increased EB-1 visa number usage which results in fewer EB-1 visa numbers being left over for the EB-2 category. Fortunately, with the proper immigration strategy, at least these deserving employees can continue in H-1B status beyond the six year maximum until an EB-2 visa number does become available for them.


Immigration Law in Brief

  • Time May Be Running Out for Childhood Arrivals: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is still available for certain young people who came to the United States as children. Eligible applicants may request deferred action for a period of two years and will be eligible for work authorization and (in some states) driver’s licenses. DACA was created by executive order of President Obama, who has promised to continue the program and allow Deferred Action recipients to renew their applications every 2 years if he is re-elected in November. Governor Romney has stated that he will honor deferred action approvals issued by the Obama administration, but would not accept new applications after taking office if he is elected President. We encourage any interested potential applicants should take advantage of this window of opportunity and file their DACA applications as soon as possible!
  • Green Card Lottery: As a reminder, the U.S. Government is once again accepting entries for the annual Diversity Visa Lottery. Lottery winners can apply for a green cards or immigrant visas if they meet certain other criteria. Unless an individual is undocumented, I generally recommend entering the lottery (after all, there’s no filing fee!). To enter the lottery, visit www.dvlottery.state.gov. Entries are accepted until November 3, 2012. Good luck to you or your employees!
  • Taiwanese Visitors: Taiwan is to join 36 other countries as a participant in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)—which permits visa-free travel to the United States for eligible individuals visiting the United States for short business trips or tourism. Eligible Taiwanese citizens will apply for advanced travel authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), a web-based system. In 2011, 243,186 visitors from Taiwan traveled to the United States.
  • Driver’s Licenses and Social Security Cards: Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has reported continued delays of 60 days or more in the current processing time for entering foreign visitors’ travel information into the government database after an entry into the United States. Foreign nationals may continue to experience delays when applying for driver’s licenses/social security cards and demonstrating work authorization to their employers.

Note: This publication serves only as general information and is not a substitute for consultation with an attorney who can assess the specifics of your case and inform you of the constant changes in law and policy. No attorney-client relationship is formed by the transmission of this information until a legal service contract has been signed by both of us.

Newsletter 12; August 2012

It’s hard to believe that September has arrived! Whether you’re looking forward to cooler temperatures or sneaking in one last trip to the beach, here are some important immigration updates to keep you informed.


Green Card Lottery Opens October 2, 2012

The U.S. Government is once again accepting entries for the annual Diversity Visa Lottery beginning Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at 12:00 noon, EDT. This program makes available thousands of immigrant visas each year to foreign-nationals from countries deemed to have low rates of immigration to the United States. Citizens of some countries are ineligible for the lottery, though in some circumstances, an individual may be eligible instead based on his/her spouse’s or parents’ country of birth.

Unless an individual is undocumented, I generally recommend entering the lottery (after all, there’s no filing fee!). Registration instructions will be available soon on the government’s website: http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/types/types_1318.html . Carefully read all directions and follow the rigid guidelines when applying—each year thousands of applicants are disqualified for failure to follow the directions exactly.

Lottery winners can apply for green cards or immigrant visas if they meet certain criteria. Even if an individual does win the lottery, s/he may still not be eligible for a green card. We recommend that you hire a lawyer only after you are chosen as a lucky winner to help navigate the complex application process. Nevertheless, we are available if you would like to schedule a consultation regarding the lottery application process.

The government will accept lottery entries until November 3, 2010 at 12:00 noon, EDT. Good luck to you or your employees!


Good News for Intracompany Transferees with L-1 Visas

L-1 visas for international travel are now being issued from U.S. consulates in 5-year increments. An L-1 employee is still only authorized to live and work in the U.S. for 3 year increments. However, once L-1 status is renewed from within the U.S., the employee can continue to use the same, valid visa to reenter the U.S. without having to renew it at the U.S. consulate. This should save L-1 visa holders (and their employers) considerable time and expense.


Update on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Information about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has flooded the internet, with sources ranging from informed and helpful to dangerously inaccurate. An experienced immigration attorney can evaluate the details of your case and determine a strategy that works for your specific immigration situation. Other tips to keep in mind:

  • DACA does not allow applicants to appeal the government’s decision to deny a petition—make sure that your one and only chance to file a DACA application is a strong one.
  • Misrepresentations or failure to disclose information on a DACA application can have serious consequences. According to the Department of Homeland Security, applicants who make these mistakes “will be treated as an immigration enforcement priority to the fullest extent permitted by law, and be subject to criminal prosecution and/or removal from the United States.” Make sure your DACA application is squeaky clean!
  • There are both the short- and long-term consequences of filing a DACA application. Fortunately, information regarding a DACA applicant’s family members is kept confidential and in most cases will not be used to deport the family member.
  • The strategy for when to submit a DACA application can be important. For example, under existing immigration laws, qualified individuals could avoid future legal problems by submitting their requests prior to their 18th birthday and receiving approval no later than 180 days after their 18th birthday.
  • During the processing of your application, the government will contact you directly about any problems with the application. However, if you are represented by a licensed attorney, the government will contact your attorney instead of you.
  • Be smart and think about your comprehensive immigration strategy for the future—not just one DACA application.

I-94 Data Entry Delays Interrupt Work Authorization, Driver’s Licenses, and Social Security Cards

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has reported delays of 30 days or more in the current processing time for entering foreign visitors’ travel information into the I-94 database after an entry into the country. USCIS’s E-Verify program uses this information to confirm work authorization. Government agencies such as the Social Security Administration and the Department of Motor Vehicles also use this information to determine eligibility for government benefits.

As a result of the delays, employers may notice an increase in Tentative Nonconfirmations (TNC) when confirming a Foreign National’s employment authorization through E-Verify. Foreign Nationals may experience difficulties when applying for driver’s licenses, social security cards, and other benefits.
The good news: CBP has explained that the delays are the result of their ongoing initiative to automate Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Records. This means that speedier data entry could be on the horizon.


On the Campaign Trail: LGBT Immigration Benefits Now Part of the Democratic Party’s Platform

This morning, the Democratic National Committee unveiled an historic party platform that, for the first time, includes immigration benefits for same-sex couples. The platform would aid foreign-national families threatened with deportation and allow individuals to seek immigration benefits for their same-sex life partners.


Change in Government Processing Could Inconvenience Students

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is no longer stamping Forms I-20 for foreign-national students when they enter the United States. This change could cause problems in the short-term for students applying for certain government benefits because many government agencies look to the I-20 stamp to determine eligibility. USCIS is reaching out to agencies to inform them of the new “no-stamping” policy and ensure that driver’s licenses, social security cards, and other benefits will be issued to students without delay. In the meantime, if a government agency rejects your I-20 we recommend that you or your designated school official email USCIS at: Public.Engagement@uscis.dhs.gov.


Certain Iranian Students Face New Immigration Hurdles

The United States has enacted the Iran Nuclear Threat Reduction Bill, which directs Immigration Officers to deny petitions and exclude from the United States any Iranian citizens seeking higher education to prepare for a career in Iran’s energy, nuclear science and nuclear engineering sectors, as well as related fields. Beginning August 10, 2012, immigration offices and consular posts will deny student visa applications from Iranian applicants wishing to pursue post-secondary studies in the proscribed fields. It is unclear how the government will interpret the phrase “related fields,” and how this policy will impact Iranian students applying for extensions of status to continue their current studies or for post-graduation employment. We will be watching carefully for updates!


Scam Alert: Fraudulent Callers Target Immigrants

Reports have surfaced regarding a new scam potentially victimizing immigrants. According to one report, immigrants may receive calls purporting to be from a USCIS officer, who will have certain correct information including the individual’s name and address. The caller will claim that there is a discrepancy in USCIS records, and ask for confirmation of personal data such as I-94 number, “A” number, or visa control number. The caller may then demand a sum of money to be sent via Western Union as a “penalty for not clearing up the discrepancy.”

If you receive a suspicious call from an individual claiming to be an Immigration Officer, contact your attorney immediately to verify the source of the call. Fraudulent calls should be reported to appropriate law enforcement authorities, including the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. Together we can shut down these fraudsters!


Immigration Law in Brief

  • I-9: USCIS is currently in the process of updating Form I-9. Until the update is available, employers should continue to use the current version of Form I-9, even though it expired on August 31, 2012.
  • Managers and Executives: USCIS has confirmed that Premium Processing for Immigrant Visa petitions filed on behalf of executives and managers will become available by October 1, 2012. Premium Processing guarantees that USCIS will respond to an Immigrant Visa petition within 15 calendar days. Executives and managers interested in upgrading their pending Immigrant Visa applications to Premium Processing should contact our office.
  • Israeli Investors: President Obama has signed legislation that would add Israel to the list of countries eligible for investor visas (E-2) in the United States. Visas will become available once the terms and conditions of the final agreement are determined between the two countries. So far, no timeline for the implementation of this visa category has been promised.
  • Russian Visitors: The U.S. Embassy in Moscow has announced that, effective September 9, 2012, an agreement to facilitate travel and establish stronger ties between Russia and the United States will benefit applicants for business and visitor visas. The benefits of the agreement include:
    • Russian and American travelers will be eligible to receive visas valid for multiple entries during a period of 36 months.
    • Travelers from both countries will enjoy simplified visa processing and accelerated processing times.
    • The United States will reduce the visa reciprocity fee charged to Russians from $100 to $20.
    • Russia will lift the previous restriction limiting Americans’ stays in Russia to 90 days within any given 180-day period.

Note: This publication serves only as general information and is not a substitute for consultation with an attorney who can assess the specifics of your case and inform you of the constant changes in law and policy. No attorney-client relationship is formed by the transmission of this information until a legal service contract has been signed by both of us.

Newsletter 11: July 2012

It’s only a few weeks into the summer and we’ve already seen some major happenings in immigration law! For the DREAMers, Arizonans, and everyone in between, here is some important information to keep you up-to-date.

 


New Policy: Work Permits and Driver’s Licenses for Some Undocumented Youth

Since Congress did not pass the DREAM Act, the Obama Administration has instead used its executive powers to help deserving undocumented youth. Immigration Services recently announced that certain young people brought to the United States as children are eligible to request “deferred action.” Deferred action is a temporary shield against deportation, allowing qualified individuals to live lawfully in the U.S. for two years and it is renewable. Importantly, applicants who are granted deferred action will also be able to apply for U.S. work authorization and likely driver’s licenses.

Human Resources: This policy may be a good opportunity to obtain work authorization for any undocumented individuals in your work force to minimize the company’s exposure for I-9 violations.

Individuals may apply for deferred action if they:

  • Came to the U.S. before age 16;
  • Are currently between ages 15 to 31;
  • Have resided in the U.S. for five consecutive years and have been physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012;
  • Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a GED, or have been honorably discharged from the armed forces;
  • Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor, or more than three misdemeanors; and
  • Can demonstrate economic necessity for work authorization.

Deferred action is an exercise of executive powers by President Obama. If a different president is elected in the fall, he could end this policy. Thus, the window of opportunity to apply could be limited. Also, there is a risk that if a different president is elected, he would put the self-identified undocumented individuals in deportation proceedings (though unlikely).

Because deferred action is new, many notarios and unlicensed attorneys may take advantage of applicants’ lack of knowledge about the program and make false promises. Also, filing applications for undocumented individuals who are not eligible will only land them in deportation proceedings. The wrong help can hurt. By contrast, a licensed immigration attorney can analyze your eligibility for deferred action, serve as your attorney of record if you encounter problems with the government, and devise a long-term immigration strategy to protect you for the future. If interested in this program, please contact our office for a consultation to analyze your eligibility for deferred action and work authorization.


Attorney Navid Dayzad – Now a Five-Time Recipient of California’s Rising Star Award

For the 5th time, Navid Dayzad has been selected as a “Rising Star”—among the top 2.5% of the outstanding, emerging lawyers in Southern California. This honor was recognized in Los Angeles magazine and Thomson Reuters Super Lawyers magazine.


Supreme Court Stands Up for Immigrants

The Supreme Court recently took the side of immigrants while reviewing Arizona’s controversial immigration law, SB 1070. In support of immigrants, the Court struck down the state’s attempt to punish undocumented immigrants with new laws and penalties. However, the Court did uphold the provision that requires state law enforcement officials to check a detained person’s immigration status if the officer reasonably suspects that the person is undocumented.

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