Articles Posted in Colleges & Universities

The process of priority date advancement in the visa bulletin, is a matter of mystery to the immigration community. Immigration lawyers wish they have a crystal ball with which they can advise clients when their I-485 applications can be filed. Immigrants are always apprehensive about their green card applications and they do not know when their priority dates might become current. For certain Indian and Chinese nationals, the wait can be daunting. The US Department of State has recently made predictions regarding priority date advancement for Indian and Chinese nationals. This article provides a summary of these predications.

Crystal Ball2.jpgIt is important for Chinese and Indian EB-2 petitioners to file their I-485 applications in the first month of visa availability. Moreover, it would be wise for Indian nationals in the EB-3 category to take the steps necessary to file an EB-2 petition due to the long wait in priority dates. Priority dates will be advanced significantly for category EB-2 nationals of India and China but EB-3 category dates will remain stationary, according to the Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division of the Department of State, Charles Oppenheim.
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dreamstime_xs_17719911.jpgUS Citizenship & Immigration Service announced this afternoon that it has received sufficient H-1B visa petitions to reach the annual numerical quota for this federal fiscal year. The announcement came one day before the Thanksgiving holiday while Immigration lawyers nationwide were scrambling to file last minute H-1B visa petitions. Our own law firm attorneys had planned to work through the holiday weekend to meet the demands of our clients when the news was released thereby bringing H-1B visa petition filing this year to a screeching halt.

Our law firm had performed a statistical and progression analysis and announced in our newsletter that the cap will be met by Thanksgiving this year. “We were right on the mark!!” said attorney Gus Shihab, founder and CEO of the Law Firm of Shihab & Associates. “our analysis were almost perfect in predicting when the H-1B visa cap will be reached this fiscal year.”
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US Immigration emblem.jpgThe Department of State has issued its Visa Bulletin for December 2011. The new bulletin shows a five month jump in the priority date cutoff in the EB-2 category for foreign nationals born in India and China. Persons in this category with a priority date of March 15, 2008 or earlier are now eligible for immigrant visas. Because of the five month jump, some people in the EB-2 category are now current who may not have been expecting it. Others may be unaware completely. Persons with pending or approved I-140s in the EB-2 category should double check their priority dates and contact the Law Firm of Shihab and Associates with any questions about their current eligibility for lawful permanent residency.

Unfortunately, the EB-3 category for China and India born foreign nationals only advanced one month from the current priority dates in the November 2011 Visa Bulletin. The EB-3 category remains stagnant, with the backlog for Indian born persons now over nine years. Some people with labor certifications qualifying them for EB-3 classification may now have the requisite years of experience or an advanced degree allowing them to now pursue an EB-2 classification. Persons interested a possible “EB-2 upgrade” should contact the Law Firm of Shihab and Associates for a consultation to see if they qualify.

Bad News.jpgOn May 26, 2011 the US Supreme Court ruled that Arizona’s mandatory E-Verify law is constitutional and can go forward thereby requiring all businesses operating in the State of Arizona to use this federally created voluntary pilot system, on a mandatory basis. A month later, the Ohio Legislature introduced Senate Bill 286 which is an Arizona E-Verify copycat bill, purporting to also mandate Ohio businesses to use the E-Verify employment eligibility verification online system. This article will explain that the proposed Ohio E-Verify law is bad for Ohio’s businesses and bad for Ohio’s economy. The current E-Verify system is riddled with inaccuracies and a mandatory compliance law will cost Ohio employers and citizens millions of dollars in administrative overhead and down time.

The Arizona Case
The US Chamber of Commerce had sued the State claiming that federal immigration laws may not be enforced by any State and that such enforcement is exclusively reserved for the federal government. They cited the sweeping 1986 immigration reform which stripped the States from any ability to undertake any such enforcement actions. In reality, however, Congress did leave a clause in such laws allowing the states to legislate regarding “all licenses necessary to operate the business.” It was from this narrow clause was that the State of Arizona able to successfully defeat the constitutional challenge to its E-Verify legislation.
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The H-1B visa cap experience in calendar year 2011 has been a remarkable copycat performance of last year and the year before that. Unlike prior years where all cap-subject 85,000 H-1B visas were consumed in one day (April 1 or shortly thereafter), the last three years have shown a screeching slow down for H-1B visa usage with visas available well into Christmas and New Year’s. This experience is shared by Columbus immigration lawyers alike. For instance, as of October 14, 2011, there remains more than 20,000 new H-1B visas available this federal fiscal year.

2012 H-1B Visa Usage Update1.jpg

This graph illustrates visa usage for federal fiscal year (FFY) 2012 which began on October 1, 2011. The US Citizenship & Immigration Services began accepting applications for FFY 2012 on April 1, 2011.

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A federal court of appeals blocked some parts of Alabama’s controversial new immigration law last week, but much of the law remains in effect. While this law only applies in the state of Alabama, it has influenced lawmakers and immigration reformers all over the country. Alabama’s law pits the federal government, which has authority over immigration matters under the U.S. Constitution, against a state government seeking its own reform. The outcome of this dispute, and the enactment and enforcement of the Alabama law, will have nationwide impact on immigration matters.

PIC108936143258_10142011.jpgThe law affects many aspects of government operations, including law enforcement, education, and the civil court system. It also saddles Alabama law enforcement with a duty to check people’s immigration statuses, and at times to determine whether a person is present in the United States legally. As any immigration attorney knows, this is a difficult determination to make, and law enforcement without specialized training in immigration laws may not be in the best position to do so. The Obama administration took Alabama to court to challenge its legal ability to legislate immigration matters, arguing that the Constitution grants that power exclusively to the federal government. A ruling from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta last week gave partial victories to each side of the dispute.
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Breaking pencil.jpgThe US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that it will be altering decades’ worth of a well established procedure which has Columbus Ohio immigration lawyers and their clients confused and angry.

For as far back as I can remember in the 18 plus years I have been practicing immigration law, the USCIS’s established procedure called for mailing approval notices relative to employment based non-immigrant visas (such as H-1B visas) directly to the attorney who had filed a signed Notice of Entry as an Attorney of Record along with the petition. That procedure allowed the attorney to carefully monitor the progress of the case during the USCIS adjudication process as well as post the approval of the case itself. Simply put, the prior procedure worked well.
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A new film, “Like Crazy,” is making the rounds of film festivals, winning a top award at Sundance this year. It tells the story of two college students in Los Angeles who meet and fall in love. Jacob is an American, and Anna is a British exchange student. Anna overstays her student visa and then returns home to London. When she tries to fly back to Los Angeles, she finds herself barred by officials at the airport. This sets up the main action of the film, in which the two must find a way to continue their relationship despite the trans-North America, trans-Atlantic distance between them.

london3_10242011.jpgWhile the film primarily acts as a love story, it offers a glimpse of the issues faced by spouses, fiancees, and lovers who find themselves separated by immigration laws. An immigration lawyer certainly knows that these situations present complicated and emotional issues. Anna certainly made a mistake by overstaying her student visa. If she came to the United State on a J-1 student visa, for example, she may have been subject to a requirement that she return to her home country for at least two years, even if she did not overstay her visa period. J-1 visas typically allow a visitor to stay in the U.S. up to 30 days after their educational program ends, but they must then depart. Overstaying a student visa could lead to ineligibility to return to the U.S. for years.
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dreamstime_11032411[1].JPGJust about when the pre PERM filing prevailing wage determination processing times improved, we began noticing significant delays recently. As a way of background, employers wishing to sponsor a foreign national for an employment based permanent residence application in either the EB-2 or EB-3 categories regulations require such employers to make a formal prevailing wage determination request. Based on the news coming out of the US Department of Labor, such employers must now wait.


Prior to January of 2010, all prevailing wage requests were determined by the State Workforce Agency (“SWA”). In some cases, SAWs were completely unreasonable in their computation methodologies and were quite arbitrary. Ohio for instance was one of the worst states in their computation methodologies. The Ohio Department of Jobs & Family Services located in Columbus, Ohio was the agency historically commissioned with the task of determining prevailing wages for all pre PERM filing application processes.
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H-1B Visa Cap FY2011A.jpgIf anything can be learned from the market’s absorption of new highly skilled foreign labor in Specialty Occupation (H-1B) visas last year, is that these foreign nationals do not compete with US workers over the same jobs. Since numerous prestegeous studies corrolated innovation in America with the population of H-1B visa workers, the H-1B visa worker market absorption data is an indicator of how well the overall country is doing economically.

Even though the federal government made 85,000 new such visas available for the picking on April 1, 2010 (as it does every year), employers were slow to apply. For the first time in over a decade, all new specialty occupation, H-1B visas were finally consumed by January 21, 2011.
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