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Newsletter 22: Presidential Announcement

Today, our country took a big step forward to improve our immigration system. President Obama announced that he will provide immediate relief for many employees and undocumented families, and offered Congress the opportunity to enact the permanent reforms that our country desperately needs. The most significant immigration developments include the following initiatives. See below for additional details. We’d be happy to discuss your circumstances in a consultation.

  • Green Card Applications for 410,000 Employees: Employees with an approved employment-based immigrant petition can submit an application for a green card while they wait for a visa number to become available.
  • Up to 4.4 Million Undocumented: Two initiatives will grant work authorization and a shield against deportation for an estimated 4.4 million undocumented immigrants.

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The President’s newly announced immigration initiatives include the following:

  • Relief for 410,000 Employees Awaiting a Green Card Visa Number: Employees with an approved employment-based immigrant petition can submit an application for a green card while they wait for a visa number to become available. Advantages: They can get Work Authorization Documents (EAD), travel documents (Advance Parole), and have more flexibility if their position with their current employer comes to an end. This will not become effective for many months because regulations must be written.
  • Undocumented: Protection from Deportation and Work Authorization:
    • Deferred Action for Parents (DAP): Parents with U.S. citizen or permanent resident children (of any age) who have been in the U.S. continuously since January 1, 2010 will be eligible to apply for a 3-year shield against deportation (“deferred action”). Applicants must pass background checks and pay taxes. Applications will be accepted in approximately 6 months.
    • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA): Some of the requirements include that the applicant entered the U.S. before age 16, is now over age 15, has been in the U.S. since January 1, 2010, has a high school degree, and has only an insignificant criminal record.
  • More Green Card Visa Numbers: To make sure every available visa number is used, government agencies will develop more precise systems. Hundreds of thousands of visa numbers have gone unused in the last few decades. Some of these unused visa numbers could be recaptured so that applicants can obtain green cards more quickly. Also, visa numbers for employees’ family members might not be counted against the quota, leaving more visa numbers available for other employees (and their families). It will likely take several months to optimize these systems.
  • Work Authorization for Spouses of H-1B Professionals: H-4 nonimmigrant spouses who meet the eligibility requirements can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Those qualified would include: (1) spouses of an H-1B employee with an approved immigrant visa petition; or (2) spouses of an H-1B employee with a labor certification pending for 1 year. Regulations to implement this change are expected in December or January.
  • Entrepreneurs: Certain entrepreneurs and investors will have a new immigration option. No further details are available yet. This new option will not be available for several months because the government will have to write regulations.
  • Researchers, Entrepreneurs, Inventors, and Founders: National Interest Waiver green card applications will be available for individuals in these categories. Applications will likely be accepted in the next few months because a policy letter (not regulations) will implement the change.
  • Intracompany Transferees: Specialized knowledge employees will more easily be able to obtain L-1B status because the government will clarify a more lenient interpretation of the law than has been used in recent years. This change will be implemented several months from now by regulations.
  • Student Work Authorization: Students studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at U.S. universities may be eligible for more than the usual 29 months of OPT Employment Authorization. Additional expansions of this program may occur. Changes will be implemented several months from now by regulations.
  • Provisional Waivers for Spouses and Children of Green Card Holders: The provisional waiver process benefits 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. Spouses and children of green card holders (not just US citizens) 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. This provision will also help many gay and lesbian couples whose marriages are now recognized by U.S. immigration laws and where the foreign-national needs a waiver to apply for a green card.
  • Labor certifications: The most popular way for employees to obtain a green card is through a labor certification showing that there are no qualified U.S. workers for a particular position. The government will make changes to the complex rules to modernize the process.

Tonight, President Obama said of immigrants, “their hopes, dreams, and patriotism are just like ours.” This is a victory for reform and a step in the right direction toward fixing our country’s broken immigration system. However, there is still more work to be done. Anti-reform members of Congress will stop at nothing to thwart the president’s action.

President Obama did not provide a permanent legal status to anyone – only Congress can do that. Many pieces of the President’s executive action are still unclear, and the details of many initiatives may not be known until the government provides more information. Some of the President’s reforms will require regulations (laws) before they are implemented, while others can be launched based on agency memoranda. The details of the initiatives will be unveiled piecemeal in the coming weeks and months. Stay tuned!

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 21: November 2014

This is an exciting time for immigrants!


Obama Announcement Imminent on Immigration Executive Action

We have just learned that President Obama plans to announce executive action on immigration reform as early as next week, opening many windows of opportunity.
A 10-point executive action to fix our immigration system could be announced as early as Friday November 21, or in the following weeks.

This move comes after the House of Representatives failed to pass the immigration bill approved by the Senate. President Obama’s executive order may bring much relief to those seeking stability on their immigration status in the U.S.

The President’s new immigration initiatives could significantly expand options for millions of employees, businesses, and families.

The most significant immigration initiatives may include:

  • Tech Workers: A new immigration option for 500,000 tech professionals and their spouses.
  • 5 Million Undocumented: Work authorization and a shield against deportation for up to five million undocumented immigrants.

The new policies still face challenges, including threats from some in Congress to thwart the president’s immigration plans. Nonetheless, President Obama and his top aides have said that the executive order will not be reversed unless Congress passes a comprehensive immigration reform bill that the president agrees to sign.

The proposed immigration reform is an exercise of executive powers by President Obama. If a different president is elected and takes office in 2017, s/he could end this policy. Thus, the window of opportunity to apply could be limited.

We are closely monitoring the President’s actions on this important reform and will keep you updated as new developments come to light.


CBP Designates Ports of Entry for First-Time Canadian TN and L-1 Applicants

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has designated 14 ports of entry for optimized processing of first-time Canadian TN and L-1 applications. Canadian professionals, managers, and executives can take advantage of more efficient processing at certain ports in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Quebec, New York, Vermont, Michigan, Washington, and Montana. First-time applicants are not required to use the designated ports, which boast a more streamlined application process and shorter processing times. Choosing the right port of entry is a crucial part of any immigration strategy. The experienced immigration attorneys at Dayzad Law Offices can help applicants select the best ports of entry for smooth and successful applications.


LGBT Applicants May Seek “Safe” Third Country Venue for Immigrant and Fiancé/e Visa Processing

The National Visa Center (NVC) has agreed to facilitate communication between consular posts and LGBT applicants seeking venues for immigrant and K-1 fiancé/e visa processing. In response to requests from the American Immigration Lawyers Association, NVC agreed that when an applicant fears disclosing his or her sexual orientation in the home country, it is appropriate for the applicant to request processing at a U.S. consulate in a “safe” third country. NVC warns that there is no guarantee that a particular post will accept a case for processing. Nonetheless, NVC’s willingness to help LGBT applicants is a positive step toward safe immigrant and fiancé/e visa processing for LGBT families.


Visa Predictions: Some Preference Categories to Stall, While Others May Expect Forward Movement

We all watch the Visa Bulletin closely to see when a visa number becomes available to apply for a green card. The dates in the Visa Bulletin are driven by supply and demand for visa numbers and are based on a number of variables. Predictions from the Department of State’s Visa Control and Reporting Division suggest no movement in the India EB-2 category for the foreseeable future. A one or two week movement per month is expected for EB-3 India. Visas are currently available for all EB-5 applicants from China, but the Department of State predicts that it will have to establish a cut-off date in the coming months. Meanwhile, the predictions suggest that we will see a cut-off for EB-2 China earlier than EB-3 China for a few months, until the increased demand for EB-3 China will trigger an adjustment to the cut-off date. EB-2 China is expected to progress by three to five weeks per month. Cut-off dates for EB-3 Mexico and EB-3 Philippines are expected to remain the same. Finally, modest forward movement in the family-based preference categories of a few weeks to two months per month is possible. We monitor closely when visa numbers become available for our clients so they can apply for green cards during their window of


Immigration News in Brief

  • Increased PERM Filings Affect Processing Times: The Department of Labor has released some new statistics regarding its labor certification (PERM) program. The labor certification is the first step of the employment-based green card process. Competing for top talent, employers have increased labor certification applications 3.5% since last year. Currently, the average processing time is 6 months for non-audited applications and 18 months for audited applications.
  • Improved Visa Validity for Chinese Nationals. Effective immediately, Chinese visitors, students, and cultural exchange participants have the benefit of 5 or 10 year visas, instead of a one year, single entry visa.
  • Dayzad Law Offices Celebrates Halloween. Dayzad Law Offices was full of tricks AND treats this Halloween as we held our first annual costume contest — and had a lot of laughs.

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 20: October 2014

We hope you all are settling in well as “Back-to-School” activities are in full-swing. Here at Dayzad Law Offices we are working hard to keep you informed on all the latest immigration news and changes in store for this fall and the upcoming year.


Proposed Employment Authorization for Spouses of H-1B Professionals

A new law is in the works to provide employment authorization to certain spouses of H-1B professionals in H-4 nonimmigrant status. Those qualified would include: (1) spouses of an H-1B employee with an approved immigrant visa petition (Form I-140); or (2) spouses of an H-1B employee with a labor certification pending for 1 year. H-4 nonimmigrant spouses who meet the eligibility requirements would apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). However, it will be a while for the government to analyze the comments received and issue a final rule.


New Immigration Laws Likely: Obama Set to Issue Executive Immigration Reform

It seems like the time for a bit of immigration reform is finally imminent. We know you have been hearing this for the past year and longer. Despite the delays, comments in Washington suggest that an Executive Order for Immigration Reform is in the making and likely to be announced after the November elections.

The following is a list of possible provisions the President may be considering. We caution that there are no definitive new laws yet. We are monitoring these developments closely and will keep clients informed.

  • An expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to provide protection for parents of U.S. citizens, parents of DACA-eligible individuals, and individuals who have resided in the U.S. for three years or more. Hundreds of thousands of individuals would have the opportunity to receive temporary legal status and work authorization.
  • Reduced wait times for an immigrant visa number for those applying for a green card through an employer or family member. Specifically, a new method for determining overall visa quotas would not count derivative spouse and children toward the quotas. Instead, the principal immigrant and the family members would be treated as a single family unit for purposes of the worldwide cap, which would reduce the current immigrant visa backlogs in both the employment and family-based preference categories.
  • An expansion of Parole-in-Place to allow a foreign-national with a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, child, or parent to remain in the United States while s/he applies for a green card.
  • Permission for individuals who are eligible for adjustment of status to “pre-register” when an immigrant visa petition is approved—even before a visa number is available. Pre-registration would allow an individual to receive interim work authorization and travel documents while waiting for a visa number to become available.
  • Making it easier for persons with certain technical immigration violations to become eligible to apply for a green card. Specifically, it increases the chance of succeeding in a waiver application by broadening the interpretation of “extreme hardship” or presuming extreme hardship for certain groups or individuals.
  • New pathways for entrepreneurs to seek non-immigrant visas. It would include relaxing the interpretation of “employer-employee relationship” for H-1B purposes, and formally recognizing entrepreneurship as a valid basis for O-1 “extraordinary ability” temporary status and EB-1 extraordinary ability permanent residence.

Dayzad Law Offices remains actively involved on this important reform. We will continue to keep you updated via our Newsflash. Also follow us on Twitter @DayzadLaw. We will continuously tweet the latest news with links to White House Briefs and much more.


Our New Webpages Give You Easy Access to Smart Immigration Tips & the Latest News

New pages of our website provide you tips for some of the most frequently asked questions, as well as the latest news on immigration. Whether you are wondering what steps to take when you change your address or are looking to see if any new immigration changes will affect you, we hope to be your one-stop shop for all your immigration inquiries

Don’t forget to visit our website at www.dayzadlaw.com and check out our Immigration Tips with topics including: Top Immigration Pointers to Remember, International Travel Tips, Your Immigration Portal, Overview of Obtaining a Green Card through a Labor Certification, Green Card Tips, Taxes & Driver’s Licenses, and Change of Address. You can also find under our News tab all our latest News Flashes to stay-up-to-date with immigration developments.

Check back frequently to find out just what is happening with immigration today! Soon we will also be unveiling our completely re-designed website to make it mobile-optimized and easier to navigate.


Green Card Lottery is Open

The U.S. government is once again accepting entries for the annual Diversity Visa Lottery. Lottery winners can then apply for a green card or immigrant visa if they meet certain other criteria.

Many people are eligible to enter this lottery. However, people born in the following countries which are already well-represented in the U.S. are not eligible for the lottery: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam. Even if the individual is born in one of these countries, s/he may still be eligible to apply based on his/her spouse’s country of birth. In some circumstances, s/he can also apply based on his/her parents’ country of birth.

Unless the individual is in the U.S. and undocumented, I generally recommend entering the lottery which is inexpensive (no filing fee!). Be very careful in reading all the directions and following the rigid guidelines — each year thousands of applicants are disqualified for failure to follow the exact directions. To enter the lottery, visit www.dvlottery.state.gov. Entries are accepted until noon (EST) November 3, 2014.

Please be aware that even if an individual does win the lottery, s/he may still not be eligible for a green card. It is most cost-effective to apply for the lottery and then if s/he is a lucky winner, retain legal counsel to help navigate the complex process to apply for a green card. Nevertheless, we are available if anyone would like to schedule a consultation regarding the lottery application process; our office consultation fee applies. Good luck to you or your employees!


Visa Predictions

  • How the Visa Bulletin WorksWe all watch the Visa Bulletin closely to see when a visa number becomes available to apply for a green card. The dates in the Visa Bulletin are driven by supply and demand for visa numbers and are based on a number of variables such as historical demand patterns, expected future demand patterns, expected return rates of unused numbers, information received from USCIS on expected processing, and National Visa Center petition processing trends.
  • EB-2 India Visa Numbers Will Retrogress in Fall Of 2014Current USCIS filings based on forward movement of the India EB-2 cut-off may not result in a significant increase in requests for visa numbers until Fall of 2014. When that occurs, we can expect to see retrogression of the priority date based on the need to hold visa number use within the annual limit. Visa availability for EB-2 Indians advanced rapidly towards the end of last fall and is expected to do the same this year, with continuing advancement expected. The increase demand for visa numbers by Indians is partly attributable to Indians upgrading petitions from EB-3 to EB-2 and higher EB-2 usage by other countries, resulting in fewer “otherwise unused” numbers available for EB-2 Indians. Given current demand, the priority date may retrogress, possibly to a date in early 2005. The current priority date for EB-2 India is May 1, 2009. We monitor closely when visa numbers become available for our clients so they can apply for green cards during their window of opportunity.
  • Philippines Demand Continues To Fall, Pushing Visa Priority Dates ForwardDemand for both employment-based and family-based visas for the Philippines continues to decrease, which accounts for the advancing priority dates in these categories. The cut-off date for the EB-3 and “Other Worker” categories for the Philippines is the same as it is worldwide, October 1, 2011. The National Visa Center has been sending reminders to applicants eligible to receive upcoming available visas in an effort to spur demand. Despite this notification, demand remains low. Though demand is low and dates will remain favorable for the foreseeable future, this availability may change if many more applicants come forward to claim immigrant visas.

Renewal of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) grants temporary relief from deportation and work authorization to certain individuals who entered the United States as children and meet specific eligibility requirements. DACA approval is issued in two year increments. If you were previously approved for DACA, we can help you renew your deferred action for an additional two years. Do not delay renewal to ensure continued work authorization and (in some states) driver’s licenses.


Attention All Army Families: You May Qualify for a Green Card

Are you are an undocumented spouse, child or parent of an active duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces, an individual in the selected reserve of the ready reserve, or an individual who previously served in the U.S. Armed Forces or the selected reserve of the ready reserve? If so, you may be eligible to apply for a green card. If you would like further analysis of your eligibility, contact us to schedule a consultation.


Immigration News in Brief

  • Looking for an Executive Suite? We have a beautiful windowed office and secretarial bay for lease. Ask us for details or see the ad on Craigslist.
  • Customs Declaration Now LGBT Friendly Each time you enter the U.S., you must complete a customs declaration—one per family. Now, a more inclusive definition states that family members are “members of a family residing in the same household who are related by blood, marriage, domestic relationship, or adoption.” Thus, many more people are considered part of a family unit and do not need to needlessly complete custom declarations individually.
  • Internet Security a Priority: As many are aware, Dayzad Law Offices uses state of the art software to provide a modern and effective way of managing your cases. With the recent string of internet security flaws affecting more than 420,000 websites, we are happy to report our database remains protected and unharmed by these security breaches.

I hope you find the immigration law update helpful to you. If you know someone who would like to receive our Immigration News Flash, simply reply with a request and we will happily add them to the distribution list.

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 19: June 2014

Happy summer! I hope you are all gearing up to enjoy a splash in the pool or a summer trip. For some “pleasure reading” poolside or on the airplane, we have important immigration updates for you.

 


Work Visas Being Denied at a Higher Rate Nationwide, But We Are Still 100% Successful

A recent study reports that denials of work visas to transfer employees with specialized knowledge (L-1B visas) have increased from 7% in 2007 to a staggering 34% in 2013. However, Dayzad Law Offices has maintained a 100% success rate through creative strategies to ensure that you obtain the best visa available for your particular case. If you are considering transferring an employee to the United States from a foreign branch or affiliate, please contact our office.


Priority Date for EB-2 Visas for India Jumps Forward Almost Four Years

According to the State Department’s July 2014 Visa Bulletin, the priority date for the employment-based, second preference (EB-2) category for India jumped forward from November 15, 2004, to September 1, 2008. This means that Indians with an EB-2 priority date of September 1, 2008 or earlier can now apply for green cards. Our law firm’s database tracks in real-time priority date changes that affect each client’s case. We will take action for you as needed.


Dayzad Law Offices Is Growing!

  • Joining our team recently are Attorney Christopher Schettini and Project Director Nazila Sina. Check out their biographies on our website.
  • As you saw in our recent e-mail, we continue to seek talented professionals and have open positions for an experienced immigration attorney and an experienced immigration paralegal. Please send us recommendations!
  • One of our new legal assistants—an immigrant and DACA recipient—shares her story:It has always been my dream to work in the immigration field. Being part of such an amazing team is a real dream come true. I came to the U.S with my family when I was 3 years old. When we arrived in the U.S., my family and I were undocumented and we did not have many opportunities. Last July, I became a DACA beneficiary. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a law that allowed thousands of people just like me to attain lawful immigration status in the United States. There are millions of unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. today. Through DACA many of us gained more than just an Employment Authorization Document; we received an opportunity. I no longer live in fear of being torn away from my family. All the dreams and aspirations I grew up with are now very possible. DACA changed my life.

Immigrant Visa Petitions for LGBT Couples When Safety is an Issue

The privacy, safety, and security of LGBT visa applicants are very important—especially when applicants fear returning to their home country because of laws that criminalize homosexuality or other persecution. The Department of State has recently announced that to protect the safety of LGBT visa applicants, it will consider requests to move the adjudication of immigrant visa petitions to a safe third country. As laws and procedures constantly change for LGBT immigrants, we develop strategies to protect our clients’ privacy and safety.


Immigration News in Brief

  • USCIS Blog with Warning of New Telephone Scam
    USCIS has warned customers of a new telephone scam, in which the scammer causes a misleading phone number to be displayed on the recipient’s caller ID and poses as a USCIS official. These scammers have requested personal information such as social security numbers and passport numbers, demanded payment, and threatened to deport victims who do not cooperate. If you receive this type of call, hang up immediately. USCIS never asks for payment or personal information over the phone.
  • Attorney Navid Dayzad – Now a Seven-Time Recipient of Super Lawyers Rising Star Award
    Navid is one of 11 immigration attorneys in Southern California recognized as a Super Lawyers Rising Star. For the 7th time, this honor was recognized in Los Angeles magazine and Thomson Reuters Super Lawyers magazine.
  • DHS Announces Designation of Chile to the Visa Waiver Program
    The Department of Homeland Security has recently announced the addition of Chile to the Visa Waiver Program. Otherwise eligible Chilean passport holders approved by the Electronic System for Travel Authorization will be able to visit the United States for up to 90 days without obtaining a visitor visa.

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 18: January 2014

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


Opportunity for H-1B Work Visas

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. This news is important for both employers who plan on hiring foreign-national professionals and foreign-nationals who have a U.S. job offer and a Bachelor’s degree. The application should be submitted April 1, 2014 (the government will reject applications submitted earlier.) If approved, work authorization will begin October 1, 2014. It is important to prepare these applications packages thoroughly. To ensure timely filing of an H-1B application and avoid a rush service fee, we should start by February 5, 2014.

The government will hold a lottery to determine which applications will be adjudicated for one of the coveted H-1B visa numbers. Last year, 30% of applications were rejected after losing this lottery. As the economy improves and demand for H-1B visas increases, the odds of obtaining an H-1B visa number will decrease. If your employee is in a temporary work status that will end in the next few years, it may be advisable to apply for an H-1B visa this year.

We recommend that you request premium processing. For an additional fee, the application is more likely to be adjudicated by a more senior officer, and a decision will be made in approximately 1 month. (Last year, approximately 4,000 H-1B applications were not adjudicated by the October 1 start date. Many of these applicants ended up requesting premium processing anyway.) Anecdotal evidence suggests that premium processing results in a higher chance of winning the H-1B visa number lottery—though officially premium processing should not affect the lottery.


Visitors Beware: Productive Work in U.S. Becoming More Risky

One of the most common questions we receive is, “I need to work in the U.S. for a short period. The Visa Waiver Program or B-1 visa is an easy way to do that, right?” Wrong.

Visitor status permits only very limited work-related activities like attending seminars or negotiating contracts; nearly all productive work is prohibited. Immigration inspectors are becoming savvier, examining password-protected smart phones and luggage for any sign of intent to work in the U.S. If an officer is suspicious, they can detain individuals, question them, and deny entry to the U.S.

Employers face serious risks too. Recently, a tech company, Infosys, was accused of having workers perform impermissible work using B-1 visas. The company agreed to pay $34 million, the largest settlement ever paid in an immigration case. This episode highlights the importance of obtaining a proper work visa.


New California Laws Affect Employers and Undocumented Immigrants

California recently enacted a series of laws related to undocumented immigrants. The following is a list of notable provisions of these new laws:

  • Undocumented immigrants will be able to obtain driver’s licenses as long as they meet the other requirements for a driver’s license, including proving their identity and residency in California. The licenses are expected to become available sometime in late 2014 or early 2015. These licenses will be marked differently, but it will be unlawful to discriminate against individuals because they hold such licenses.
  • For minor crimes only, local law enforcement will be prohibited from detaining immigrants to transfer them to federal authorities for deportation proceedings.
  • Employers are prohibited from using the threat of reporting an employee’s undocumented status to stop workers from complaining about workplace abuses, unsafe working conditions, or wage theft. Such threats could result in the suspension or revocation of a business license or criminal penalties.

We will continue to keep you informed about the constantly changing immigration laws.


Visa Number Availability for Green Cards

  • Demand for EB-2 visa numbers for Indian nationals has increased, especially because of requests for “upgrades” where the employee had established a priority date in the EB-3 category and now qualifies for the EB-2 category.
  • EB-3 visa numbers are increasingly available for nationals of all countries, except India, China, Mexico, and the Philippines. However, as demand builds over the fiscal year, the government may limit the availability of these visa numbers, resulting in the priority date moving backward in time (“retrogression”).

Post-DOMA Update for LBGT Bi-National Couples

  • I am happy to report that our green card applications and fiancé/e petitions for gay and lesbian couples have been running smoothly and successfully. Last year, we celebrated the green card approval—in less than 3 months after submission—for the first of many of our gay and lesbian couples.
  • As Vice Chair for the LGBT Committee of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Navid Dayzad and committee members have identified and are working to resolve a significant issue for LGBT immigrants. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which inspects and admits immigrants into the U.S., is one of the only agencies that has not yet issued updated guidance for officers in light of the Supreme Court decision that overturned DOMA. In the absence of formal policy, strong advocacy by your attorney is critical.
  • In addition, the committee is drafting recommendations for USCIS, urging not only sensitivity training but also educating officers that certain fraud indicators, such as the lack of joint tax returns, is not probative for gay and lesbian couples.
  • The privacy, safety, and security of LGBT visa applicants are very important—especially in countries which criminalize homosexuality. When our clients have such a concern, through our advocacy, we can request that an applicant have an interview through a different consulate than their home country. Fortunately, the State Department is also training officers on the sensitive issues involved in LGBT immigration cases.
  • While officers have acted appropriately in our experience, beware that there are reports of officers asking inappropriate questions. In addition, some officers have incorrectly issued green cards with an early expiration date. Having an immigration attorney present can avoid these harsh consequences.

Travel Tips

  • CBP Expands Filing of Joint Customs Declarations:
    U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that they have expanded the definition of “family” to allow more households to file family declarations when entering or returning to the U.S. The new rule allows persons in domestic relationships (including two adults who are in a committed relationship and are financially interdependent) to file family declarations. The rule means less paperwork for families and the government: a real win-win!
  • Preventing Mistakes on the New Automated Form I-94:
    Form I-94 plays a central role in documenting proper admission and maintenance of status for foreign-nationals with temporary U.S. immigration status. Since April, the government has replaced the former I-94 cards with electronic I-94s on the government website. Despite the new automated I-94, mistakes continue to plague travelers. Is there anything that a nonimmigrant alien can do to maximize the probability of accurate or consistent data entry?Yes. The traveler can confirm that the information provided to the airline carrier at the time of admission is correct, including the passport number. Travelers should make sure that the information they have stored in their frequent flyer programs is up to date.To be proactive, our law firm also offers to prepare in advance an “I-94 Travel Letter” for individuals 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.

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.