Jun
28

Lost in the H-1B Lottery - What Are My Options Now?

This year, USCIS received over 233,000 H-1B petitions for this fiscal year 2016, which exceeds last year’s count (172,500) by over 60,000 petitions.  As you likely know, there is a general statutory cap of 65,000 for H-1B petitions in a given fiscal year, with an additional 20,000 available under the advanced degree exception known as the masters cap.  Through its computer-generated lottery system, USCIS first selects petitions for the masters cap.  Any unselected petitions in this category then become part of the 65,000 general cap selection.  On April 7, 2015, USCIS announced that...

Jun
28

Lessons Learned from the Department of State Hardware Failure

In the past two weeks, hardware computer problems halted the issuance of thousands of visas and passports at US consulates and embassies throughout the world.  As of yesterday, two thirds of consular posts are up and running again, sending visas and passports to anxious applicants.  For some, this presented a small inconvenience or had no effect at all.  Other families faced hardship, missing births of children and experiencing financial hardship with extended hotel stays. Thankfully, the Department of State was able to proceed with humanitarian or emergency requests on a case-by-case...

Mar
10

Certain H-4 Dependents Now Eligible for Work Permits as of 05/26/2015

One of President Obama’s executive actions announced in November 2014 was to amend its regulations to extend work authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses in an effort to improve the U.S. immigration system and provide greater economic stability to affected families.  USCIS announced last month that it will begin accepting employment authorization applications for eligible H-4 spouses on Tuesday, May 26, 2015

It is important to note that the eligible H-4 derivative applicants are limited to the following individuals who are:

dependent H-4 spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who are the...
Mar
10

Florida Court Stops DOL From Applying H-2B Regulations, Which Means DOL Cannot Process Prevailing Wage Determinations for H-2B Requests

In a decision dated March 4, 2015, a federal district court in Florida found that the Department of Labor did not have authority to issue its regulations in 2008, which direct the agency how to process prevailing wage requests and labor certifications, among other things.  The result of the court’s decision is that the DOL can no longer process requests for prevailing wage determinations or applications for foreign labor certification in the H-2B program pursuant the regulations.  The DOL has indicated that it is considering its options in light of the court‘s decision.

Mar
10

H-2B Cap Reached for 1st Half of Fiscal Year 2015

H-2B visas are temporary, non-agricultural visas that are issued to workers in a variety of fields, including construction, landscaping, and tourism.  There is a numerical limit (cap) of 66,000 on the total number of H-2B visas that may be issued during a fiscal year, which is from October 1 to September 30.  The fiscal numbers are divided in half for H-2B visas, with 33,000 being allocated for employment beginning the first half of the fiscal year (October 1 to March 31) and the remaining amount (33,000) allocated for work beginning the second half of the fiscal year from April 1 to...

Jan
20

Important TPS Updates Affecting Syrian and El Salvadoran Nationals

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) made two important announcements regarding temporary protected status (TPS) for individuals from Syria and El Salvador. TPS is a benefit available to eligible individuals from specific countries that have been designated as in need of temporary protection due to conditions such as armed conflict, natural disasters, or other extraordinary circumstances.

On January 5, 2015, DHS announced that it is redesigning Syria for TPS and extending the current designation through September 30, 2016. If you are a Syrian national and have never applied...

Dec
16

DHS Prioritizes Removal of Individuals with DUI Convictions

There are many reasons not to drink and drive, but now we’ll give you one more. As part of President Obama’s executive action on immigration reform, the Department of Homeland Security has a new set of civil immigration enforcement priorities. The new priorities are divided into Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 priorities from highest to lowest. Tier 1 includes suspected terrorists, gang members, aggravated felons, and other top priorities for removal. Tier 2 includes individuals convicted of three or more misdemeanors, excluding minor traffic-related crimes, as well as individuals convicted...

Nov
26

Special Announcement for Undocumented Fathers of U.S. Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident Children: Establish Your Parental Rights!

There are many benefits to being legally recognized as the parent of a child.   In Minnesota, an unmarried father can voluntary sign a Recognition of Parentage (ROP) with his child’s mother, or establish paternity through family court.  Upon recognition or adjudication of legal parentage, a father has the right to seek custody and parenting time through family court, and be legally obligated to pay child support to the child’s mother. 

Some parents who do not have lawful immigration status may hesitate to complete paperwork or navigate the court system out of fear of contact with...

Nov
25

Announcing Deferred Action for Parents of U.S. Citizens and Legal Permanent Residents!

On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced the new Deferred Action for Parents (DAP) program.  DAP allows foreign national parents of U.S. citizen and legal permanent resident children to obtain deferred action for a period of three (3) years. 

DAP is not technically “lawful status” in the United States, nor is it permanent residency.  There are, however, very important benefits to the program:

Benefits of DAP:

Permission to stay in the US for a three-year period; Employment authorization; Through the employment authorization, an individual may generally apply for a social security...
Nov
25

Changes to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (a/k/a you may now be eligible!)

On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced several important changes to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.  These changes mean more people will now be eligible for DACA.

No More Age Limit:

Those who entered the U.S. before their 16th birthday can now apply for DACA no matter how old they currently are.  Previously, applicants needed to be under the age of 31 on June 14, 2012 to be eligible, but this requirement has been eliminated.  This means that if you were born prior to June 15, 1981, you may now be eligible for DACA.

Note: This change will take effect no...

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