Articles Posted in Immigration Reform

The Startup Visa Act

The Startup Visa Act of 2011 was introduced in Congress in 2011 but did not pass. The goal of this visa was to provide a visa to entrepreneurs who have generated outside funding from investors to start a business in the United States. The proposed visa would have been an amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act and carried two requirements. First, the entrepreneur must demonstrate a certain amount of financial backing and show that their commercial activities will generate certain levels of employment, capital or investment. While the startup visa could have been a good option for entrepreneurs looking to start a business in the US, the bill was never enacted. The Startup Visa was introduced in Congress again in 2013 and the bill is still currently under review.

business-people-1237604Many have been advocating for immigration reform and many are in support of a startup visa. Some hope appeared to be on the horizon with Obama’s executive action on immigration reform. While the executive action proposed significant changes to immigration reform and specifically to entrepreneurs, a startup visa could further benefit the US economy. A startup visa would encourage entrepreneurs to build companies on US soil and promote growth of the economy. Continue Reading

Department of States Alters Recently Modified Visa Bulletin

On September 9th the Department of Homeland Security released new updated changes to the visa bulletin. These changes modernized the visa system and moved up priority dates for those applying for adjustment of status. The revisions to the visa bulletin were part of President Obama’s plans to modernize the US immigration system. Obama’s proposed changes to modernize and streamline the immigration system were detailed in a White House report released back in July.

dessert-kids-1435079Just two weeks after the updated September 9th visa bulletin was released, the visa bulletin changed again on September 25th pushing back priority dates significantly. Those affected will have to wait years longer to file for adjustment of status than previous indicated by the visa bulletin released on September 9th.

Changes to Visa Bulletin Announced September 25, 2015

The Department of State pushed back the priority dates for those waiting to apply for a green card. Those affected will have to wait several years longer in some cases.

Those affected can be summarized as:

  • EB-2 China- Old priority date was May 1, 2014. New priority date January 1, 2013. This is a 1 year, 5 months difference.
  • EB-2 India- Old priority date was July 1, 2011. New priority date July 1, 2009. This is a 2 years difference.
  • EB-3 Philippines- Old priority date was January 1, 2015. New priority date January 1, 2010. This is a 5 years difference.
  • FB-1 Mexico- Old priority date was July 1, 1995. New priority date is April 1, 1995. This is a 3 months difference.
  • FB-3 Mexico- Old priority date was October 1, 1996. New priority date is May 1, 1995. This is a 1 year, 5 months difference.

What Does This Mean?

Those eligible to apply for green cards will now have to wait longer than previously projected just 2 weeks ago. Originally the changes to the visa bulletin would have allowed many immigrants to apply for green cards several years earlier. Now in some cases, those eligible will have to wait 5 years longer. Foreign nationals from China and India will face significantly longer waits, 1 years 5 months and 2 years longer respectively.This change will impact thousands of families living in the US, who planned to receive a green card much earlier.

Additionally these actions reflect an unfortunate step backwards for the US immigration system. For several years the visa bulletin needed updating to decrease the backlog of immigrants waiting to file for adjustment of status. Unfortunately when a change finally occurred that would have dramatically decreased the wait time and positively affected many immigrants and their families, the visa bulletin was quickly reverted back to the old system of long wait times.

Contact Us

To navigate the visa bulletin, determine correct filing dates or receive assistance filing for adjustment of status contact the Law Office of Sweta Khandelwal. Attorney Khandelwal can assist with employment-based or family-based visa applications. The Law Office of Sweta Khandelwal is located conveniently in the Silicon Valley.

 

Cited Sources:

DOS Publishes Updated Visa Bulletin for October 2015, September 25, 2015, USCIS

 

 

Every month the Bureau of Consular Affairs publishes a Visa Bulletin that provides important information about filing dates for immigrants seeking Adjustment of Status. Published bulletins list the amount of visas available during the month of publication. The Bulletin also lists priority dates for filing Adjustment of Status.

smile-1436273Priority dates indicate how long the immigrant will have to wait before applying for a visa. If the priority date is before the date listed on the Visa Bulletin then the applicant can apply for a visa. The priority date is usually the date the employer or relative filed the immigrant’s visa or when the Department of Labor accepts a labor certification for processing.

The USCIS has recently implemented changes to the Visa
Bulletin publications in order to streamline the immigration process for those applying for Legal Permanent Residence. As the system stands now those waiting for Adjustment of Status may face barriers in changing jobs or receiving promotion. Released in July of this year is a full report called Modernizing and Streamlining Our Legal Immigration System for the 21st Century which describes the changes to the Visa Bulletin, first announced by Obama’s executive action last year.

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A few weeks ago we blogged about a new regulation allowing H-4 visa holders (dependents of H-1B visa holders) to work in the United States. However, a case has just been filed in Washington D.C. federal court challenging this regulation. The lawsuit, Save Jobs USA v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, was filed last Thursday by Save Jobs USA, a group representing former California computer workers, claiming that the regulation violates the Immigration and Nationality Act and asking the court to vacate the H-4 rule allowing spouses to work in the United States.

courthouse-1330873-mSave Jobs USA backs up its claims by stating there is no statute that authorizes H-4 visa holders to work in the United States and that in promulgating this rule, the Department of Homeland Security has exceeded its authority. The effect of this, as much of the complaint is focused on, is the increase in foreign competition, which in turn burdens U.S. citizens by increase the difficulty of finding a job. Specifically it states the new rule will increase the foreign workforce by 179,000 in the first year and 55,000 following years. Save Jobs USA goes on to list three instances of Save Jobs USA members who have been replaced by H-1B visa holders.

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Reforms are expected to be in place for undocumented foreign nationals  applying for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), and parents of United States Citizens or Legal Permanent Residences applying for DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents).  As with all immigration changes, it’s important to educate yourself and be aware of timelines, requirements for applying,  and the potential scams that often happen when such relief measures are announced

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DACA is an immigration policy available to certain people who came to the United States before the age of 16 and lived in the United States continuously for a certain period of time.  DACA stops removal proceedings against the individual and allows work authorization for those who qualify.

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woman-1134419-m (1)Currently dependent spouses on H-4 visas cannot lawfully seek employment in the United States, but that will be changing soon! The USCIS has officially announced that certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders may seek employment in the United States starting May 26, 2015.

Those eligible are H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B holders who are the principal beneficiary on an approved I-140 or the H-4 dependent spouses who have been granted H-1B status under section 106(a) and (b) of the American Competiveness in the Twenty-fist Century Act of 2000 (amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorizations Act).

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As H-1B season approaches, it’s time to begin your application process for a spot in the lottery. Currently, the USCIS allots 65,000 H-1B visas each year. Vying for a spot in the lottery are an estimated  195,000 applicants.   With three times the amount of applicants than visas available,  many applicants will be unable to get H-1B status due to sheer lack of numbers.

The Obama administration has attempted to combat  immigration reform but these attempts have not survived in Congress. One bill called the Immigration Innovation Act proposes to increase the amount of H-1B issued from 65,000 to 115,000.  The bill also proposes a removal of the 20,000 Cap on applicants with U.S. Master’s degree.

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Scam artists have always targeted immigrants but with the Obama Administration’s issuance of the new Executive Order scams could be on the rise. The immigration reform has caused much confusion among immigrant populations causing some families to dish out extra money to alleged immigration attorneys scamming them into believing their immigration status is at risk.brotherhood-at-sunset-2-1361206-m

Immigration problems are very serious and can provide significant stress on immigrant families. Scam artists understand how stressful immigration problems can be and prey on the weaknesses of vulnerable immigrants. Scam artists are also aware that immigrants are not likely to report scams out of fear of being deported, making immigrants even more vulnerable.

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President Obama’s “Immigration Accountability Executive Action” proposes several changes to the immigration system many of which could affect employment-based visas. The proposed changes could be good news for employees and employers by decreasing wait times for certain classifications, allowing spouses of H-1B visa holders to work and in some cases increasing the amount of time a employee can remain on his visa.

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The employment-based changes will affect green cards, H-4, L-1B, OPT and PERM classifications.

Ex
ecutive Action re Pre-Registration for Adjustment Cases
Main proposals:

  • Decrease wait time to file adjustment of status
  • Pre-register for green card and receive green card benefits while waiting for approval
  • Allow the temporary non-immigrant visa holder to change jobs while before green card is approved

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Although it may seem like Comprehensive Immigration Reform (“CIR”) has lost some steam, the push for CIR has continued its momentum and, if anything, has picked up more. Silicon Valley’s tech companies have recently renewed is support for CIR in the wake of the government shutdown.

Well known tech figures like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Steve Balmer of Microsoft, Rupert Murdoch of News Corp, Drew Houson of Dropbox, Andrew Mason of Groupon, and Reid Hoffman of Linkedin have formed a political advocacy group called “FWD.us” to use the power of technology in order to persuade Congress to get behind CIR. Part of their campaign includes trips to Washington, social media campaigns and a hackathon headlined by industry leaders. FWD.us has also partnered with a diverse array of other groups to rally support for CIR, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Bibles Badges and Businesses, and the Partnership for a New American Economy.

The Hackathon in particular is of interest. Dubbed the DREAMer Hackathon and hosted at Linkedin’s Mountain View, California headquarters, it is specifically aimed at bringing together undocumented youth to work on tech projects under the advisements of Zuckerberg, Hoffman, and other tech executives.

On a separate front, the Consumer Electronics Association (“CEA”), one of America’s leading tech trade groups, is also planning a lobbying campaign for immigration reform.

There have been mixed signals coming from Congress about where the CIR bill is headed. In a speech on Thursday, October 17, President Obama said that CIR should be addressed by the end of his year. However, some tech figures believe that the fight for CIR may spill into 2014, and President Obama did admit that immigration reform may take a backseat to some of the ongoing fighting in Congress. The following Friday, President Obama announced his nomination for former Pentagon lawyer Jeh Johnson as the head for the Department of Homeland Security, which houses USCIS and other immigration-related agencies. We hope that Johnson, as a known Democrat, will be a positive addition to the push for CIR.

As of now, the House Judiciary Committee has already approved a set of four immigration bills that dealt with issues ranging from E-Verify improvements to the SKILLS Visa Act to the agricultural guest-worker program. These isolated bills do more harm than good to address the problems of our immigration system.

Our office hopes that CIR will pass and will be a substantial step towards reforming America’s broken immigration system. As a nation of immigrants, it is only fair to reward those who have come to this country and have worked hard to work for America’s benefit. If you have any questions about CIR or if you have any other immigration issues, contact our office so that we may assist you.