Articles Posted in PERM

India Flag.jpgIt is readily apparent that in the few weeks leading up the presidential election, neither President Obama, nor former Governor Romney are willing to commit themselves to any firm and unequivocal stance on employment based, legal, immigration. This reluctance to take a stand further frustrates the thousands of Indian nationals and their employers who have undertaken the emotional, financial and time investment of who have placed themselves at the mercy of the USCIS, US Department of Labor and US Department of State though use of the current employment based preference system. However, while explicit pledges will not be forthcoming from either the current or the potential future president until the elections have passed, their subordinates continue to make the true stance of the candidates known through their actions and interactions with foreign dignitaries. Recent comments from Timothy Geithner, secretary of the treasury (and fifth in the line of succession to the president) to his counterpart in the cabinet of India are indicative of this phenomenon.

Indications of Future Executive Policy toward PERM and H-1B Visas for Indian Nationals.
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Passport Clock and Key.jpgLast week, the man responsible for the advancement and retrogression of immigrant visa numbers in the Visa Bulletin made a stark announcement during an appearance he made at a conference held by the American Immigration Lawyers Association in Chicago about the eminent future of visa availability for the EB-2 category.

Charlie Oppenheim, Chief of Visa Control at the US Department of State (“DOS”), stated that he will retrogress the priority dates for the second preference Employment-Based Category (EB-2) for those individuals born in India and Mainland China. The retrogression is slated to appear in the May or June of 2012 issue of the Visa Bulletin, and it will cause the priority dates for India and Mainland China EB-2 category to slide all the way back to August 2007. Based on this announcement, our law firm has made the following analysis.
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Foreign Workers.jpgThe United States Department of Homeland Security announced it will make changes in the F-1 and H-1B visa categories, which will likely benefit professionals from countries such as India. Changes would include providing work authorization for spouses of H-1B visa holders, 17-month extension of optional practical training (OPT) for certain F-1 international students, allow for additional part-time study for spouses of F-1 students, and allow outstanding professors and researchers to present a broader scope of evidence of academic achievement.

Under current immigration law, H-4 visa spouses of H-1B work visas holders are not permitted to work themselves. One of the proposed DHS regulations would change this. The new regulation would allow some spouses of H-1B visa holders to work legally while the H-1B visa holder spouses wait for their adjustment of status applications to be adjudicated. H-4 dependent spouses would be granted employment authorization when the principal H-1B visa holders begin the process of seeking lawful permanent resident status through employment after meeting a minimum period of H-1B status in the United States.
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dreamstime_21176[1].JPGPresident Obama proposed to eliminate country-specific caps for certain immigrant visa categories to stimulate small-business growth. Country-specific immigrant caps are limits on the number of immigrant visa the United States will grant each year. According to a White House statement, the purpose is to attract more high skilled foreign workers, including entrepreneurs to the United States. Employers, especially those in the technology business, complain that these caps prevent them from hiring skilled workers and growing their companies in the United States.

Obama called for a comprehensive immigration reform bill, and if this is not politically possible, he will seek reforms in smaller steps. “If election-year politics keeps Congress from acting on a comprehensive plan, let’s at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses and defend this country,” Obama said.
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Jump.jpgThe Department of State Visa Bulletin took a giant leap today, advancing nine (9) months for the EB-2 preference category for persons from India and China. As it stands now, people from India and China who have a priority date of January 2009 or sooner will be able to file for their adjustment of status. This is great news for those who have been waiting with approved I-140 documents in the EB-2 preference category.

For all of the advancement in the EB-2 category, there was relatively little advancement in the EB-2 categories. If this trend continues, thousands of more EB-2 beneficiaries could be eligible to adjust in the coming months. Persons holding approved I-140 documents in the EB-3 categories may want to consider taking action to obtain a labor certification under the EB-2 preference category to take advantage of these developments.
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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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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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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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Hand on Keyboard.jpgIn these times of economic uncertainty, it seems that many in the American public target employment based immigration as one of the many causes of high unemployment rates in the United States. However, overwhelming evidence shows that the immigration of high skilled workers through the H-1B and PERM programs actually improves the economy. Much of the unemployment problems in the United States and specifically Columbus, Ohio stem from a mismatch of skilled persons available for high tech jobs.

In a recent interview, Alan Greenspan placed his support behind supporting the immigration of persons who hold higher degrees from American colleges and Universities. In this interview, Mr. Greenspan cautioned America against artificially creating more low skill jobs to try and reduce unemployment. In Mr. Greenspan’s opinion, the true path to raising the standard of living in America is to open the workforce to more skilled workers.
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