Newsletter 15: April 2013

Newsletter 15: April 2013

Dear Friends of the Firm:

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.