Dear Friends of the Firm:
Happy New Year! I hope 2013 is off to a wonderful start. The following are some important immigration updates for you.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.