Immigration reform is sure to be an important issue again in 2014, but what must happen to avoid the disappointments of 2013? I believe there are 3 keys to immigration reform.
1. Legalization is good enough. The holy grail of immigration reform is a pathway to citizenship, but over and over again, clients have indicated citizenship is not their primary desire. Rather, legalization and the removal of the fear of deportation is more important. Being such, those resistant to offering citizenship to illegals may be more willing to support legalization as a compromise.
2. Republican support is necessary. In a recent poll, 70% of Latinos are dissatisfied with the job Republicans are doing on immigration reform. In practical terms, that means votes. With this reality, Republican candidates must become more aware of the significance of immigration reform for the party.
3. Leadership. Leaders from both parties must come forward to assure reform in 2014. President Obama has made it clear his support for comprehensive immigration reform, although House Speaker John Boehner previously stated he had “no intention” of negotiating with the Senate on their comprehensive immigration bill. Just this past week, Speaker Boehner said that he is “hopeful we can make progress” on immigration reform. To back up his words, Boehner hired top aide Rebecca Tallent to work on immigration reform.
With bipartisan leadership dedicated and focused on immigration reform and members on both sides of the political spectrum realizing the political importance of the issue, immigration reform can become a reality in 2014.
With the close of 2013, President Barack Obama is setting his sights on unfinished tasks and the 2014 midterm elections.
High on his list is a renewed push for immigration reform. Bipartisan consensus about the need for action on immigration reform in the wake of the 2012 presidential election gave way to opposition and gridlock.
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has offering subtle signs he’ll put more weight behind the issue while a bipartisan budget deal with broad bipartisan support, constituted a small step away from gridlock.
Let’s hope this spirit of cooperation will continue into 2014 and bring for the country true and just immigration reform.
As you are probably aware, the U.S. federal government shutdown today amid a budget deadlock. How does that affect you and USCIS?
Immigration related services can be broken down into three categories: security, non-fee and fee paying services. We can expect continued service for vital security services, a slow down in fee services and a stoppage in non-fee services.
Security and enforcement services such as border patrol and ICE, considered essential for national security, will continue operations at near normal capacity.
However, non-fee services, such as labor certification applications, labor condition applications, and requests for prevailing wage determinations will be affected. We expect a backlog to develop due to the closure which will affect present applications as well as those applications filed once the federal government re-opens.
USCIS will continue to accept fee-base applications and will continue to process those applications an petitions. However, expect delays as support staff may be furloughed.
E-Verify will be shut down per Department of Homeland Security.
Finally, consular offices will continue to process cases as long as there are sufficient fees to support operations. However, this is only expected to last a few days, at which time, Consular posts will focus their resources solely on diplomatic and emergency services for Americans.
The sweeping immigration reform bill proposed by the Senate Judiciary Committee cleared its first hurdle after being passed Tuesday night.
So what’s next?
The bill may be introduced to the full Senate as early as June 3rd where additional amendments may be proposed. In the meantime, the House of Representative may begin working on their own version of immigration reform.
There’s a long way to go before immigration reform becomes a reality, but it is encouraging that the bill was passed on a 13-5 bipartisan vote with most major provisions intact.
Now that USCIS has completed the H-1B lottery, many F-1 students who filed H-1B petitions and were accepted as part of the lottery are eligible for cap-gap extension coverage. The cap-gap provision automatically extends until October 1, F-1 status and employment authorization for F-1 students who have a pending or approved H-1B petition.
Many F-1 clients may be wondering if they can travel during the cap-gap period. Though USCIS guidance is fuzzy, it appears that F-1 students will lose cap-gap benefits if they travel internationally during the cap-gap period. This means that if an F-1 student travels outside the United States during the cap-gap extension period, he or she will not be able to return to the United States in valid F-1 status.
Confusion about the ability to travel stems from the April 23, 2010 ICE policy guidance 1004-03, “Update to Optional Practical Training,” (AILA Document No. 10042761). This guidance explains that a student should not travel outside the United States during the cap-gap extension because USCIS considers an application to change status to be abandoned if the applicant leaves the country while the change of status is pending. However, the guidance does not address whether travel is permitted during the cap-gap period if the H-1B is approved. While this question remains unresolved, the best practice is to advise clients to remain in the United States during the cap-gap period.
Travel Tip: An H-1B beneficiary may enter the United States up to 10 days prior to the start date, i.e. September 20. F-1s who wish to travel over the summer should plan to travel in September so that they can apply for the H-1B visa at a U.S. consular post abroad and return to the United States on or after September 20. However, it should be noted that the H-1B alien cannot start H-1B employment until October 1.
AILA Liaison, through its USCIS and Interagency Committees, and with other stakeholders, including NAFSA, intend to raise this issue for further discussion and clarification with USCIS headquarters.
The DOS Visa Bulletin for June 2013 is now available. The employment-based second preference cut-off date for China has advanced to July 15, 2008, but the cut-off date for India still remains at September 1, 2004. Please visit my Useful Links tab for the complete Visa Bulletin.
As you all know, the season of immigration reform is here. Although many are encouraged by the new immigration provisions of the U.S. Senate, most are unaware of what benefits are being taken away.
A goal for our immigration laws is to promote family unity. Under these new reform provisions, family unity takes a back seat. The Senate proposal would eliminate immigrant visas for brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens as well as adult married children over age 30. These immigrant visas would be cut and you will be unable to file relative petitions on their behalf. If you are considering filing an application for your siblings or an adult child, you may wish to consider filing before any new law goes into effect.
Feel free to contact me by phone (414) 774-4700 or email (LSSIYLAW@yahoo.com) if you wish to discuss this or any other immigration matter further.
According to the Department of State, beginning May 8, 2013, the Immigrant Visa Unit at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines will no longer accept walk-in applicants without visa appointments, but applicants with emergency needs will be allowed on a case-by-case basis.