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March Visa Bulletin Shows Modest Movement in EB-3


The  March Visa Bulletin has been released by the Department of State. Chinese nationals in the EB-2 category will experience a one month advancement from January 15, 2008 to February 15, 2008; while Indian nationals remain at September 1, 2004, which has not changed since the end of 2012. In the meantime, Mexican, Filipino, and nationals from all other areas of chargeability remain current through March 2013.

All of those in the EB-3 category will see advancements in their priority dates. China, Mexico, and all other chargeability areas will see a two month advancement, while India will advance only eight days. Filipino nationals will advance ten days.

As always, due to the fear of retrogression, its vitally important that I-485 applications be filed in the first month of visa availability. If your priority date is current or will become current based on the March 2013 visa bulletin, please contact our office.

For additional information regarding the Visa Bulletin, or any other immigration matters, please contact Valentine at 215-979-1840 or at vbrown@duanemorris.com.

 
 
 
 

Immigration Innovation Act: Beneficial Changes for EB Immigrants


On January 29, 2013, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced Senate Bill 169, The Immigration Innovation Act of 2012 (“I-Squared Act”). The I-Squared Act includes a number of proposals that if enacted will benefit U.S. businesses and highly-educated and skilled foreign workers by easing many of the most common juggernauts in the current system, including the H-1B cap and backlogs in the EB-2 and EB-3 preferences.

The most fundamental change the I-Squared Act proposes would be to the H-1B category, which is available to those seeking employment in professional positions. The I-Squared Act proposes to increase the H-1B cap from 65,000 to 115,000, with the further option of an increase to 300,000 visas annually. The I-Squared Act would also make individuals with a Master’s degree or higher from an U.S. university completely exempt from the H-1B cap. Additionally, dependents of H-1B workers, those currently holding H-4 status, would be eligible to apply for work authorization.

The I-Squared Act proposes changes to the employment based preference system which could reduce, if not eliminate persistent, unbearably long backlogs. The bill proposes exempting the following individuals from the 180,000 numerical cap on employment-based green cards:

  1. Dependents of employment-based immigrant visa recipients;
  2. Advanced degree holders (from US universities) in the sciences, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) fields;
  3. Persons with extraordinary ability;
  4. Outstanding professors and researchers

Removing these individuals from the quotas would reduce the waiting period for those still subject to limits. Lastly, the Act would abolish the annual per-country limits for employment-based green cards; thus creating an even playing field for all individuals despite their country of origin. This would be especially beneficial for natives of India, China, Mexico, and the Philippines, who must wait years for green cards due to the stong demand from their fellow nationals.

There is no indication yet on how these proposals will fit into the big picture for immigration reform. But whether it is a stand alone bill or included in a comprehensive bill, it will be good news for employers and immigrants who are stuck in our broken system.

For more information or any other immigration matters, please contact Valentine at 215-979-1840 or at vbrown@duanemorris.com.

 
 
 
 

December Visa Bulletin Shows Little Movement in EB Categories


The visa bulletin for December of 2012 has been released and shows small advancements for those in employment based second (EB-2) and third (EB-3) preferences.

In the EB-2 category, Chinese nationals will see an advancement from September 1, 2007 to October 22, 2007; while Indian nationals will remain at September 1, 2004.  Mexican, Filipino, and nationals from all other areas of chargeability remain current through December 2012.

 Those in the EB-3 category, all will see slight advancements in December. See the chart below:  

 EB-3

 All Other Countries

 China  India  Mexico  Philippines
 November 2012  11/22/06  04/15/06  10/22/02  11/22/06  08/08/06
 December 2012  12/22/06  07/01/06  11/01/02  12/22/06  08/15/06

Due to the possibility of retrogression, its vitally important that I-485 applications be filed in the first month of visa availability.  In addition Indian nationals who are in EB-3 may want to consider re-filing their PERM and I-140 petitions in order to qualify for EB-2, as the prospects for timely visa availability in the EB-3 category remain extremely dim. 

For additional information regarding the Visa Bulletin, or any other immigration matters, please contact Valentine at 215-979-1840 or at vbrown@duanemorris.com

 
 
 
 

House Bill Aims to Eliminate EB-2 and EB-3 Backlogs for Indian and Chinese Nationals


The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, H.R. 3012, was introduced by Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) on September 22, 2011. The bill aims to eliminate per-country visa limits, which are currently causing severe backlogs in green card availability for highly skilled Indian and Chinese Nationals. All workers in the EB-3 category may wait up to 9 years for a green card to become available, while those Indian and Chinese workers  in the EB-2 category may wait up to 6 years. These delays cause hardship to not only  the workers, but their employers as well, due to the continued need for H-1B renewals, constant monitoring of immigration law developments and lost productivity of affected workers due to anxiety over the long waiting period.

As of right now, the Immigration and Nationality Act allows for only 140,000 employment-based visas to be allocated each year.  At present, the percentage of visas that can be allocated to any one country is capped  at  7% percent of all of the employment-based visas available.  Under the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, , the per-country limit on employment-based visas would be eliminated by 2015 after a 3 year phase-in period.  During the 3 year transition, the vast majority of Employment Based visas would be allocated to Indian and Chinese nationals in order to eliminate the current backlogs. In FY 2012, Indian and Chinese nationals would receive 85% of the visa allocation. In FY 2013 and FY 2014  they would receive 90% of the visa allocations.

H.R. 3012 also  increases from 7% to  15%  percent the total number of available visas regarding per-country restrictions for family-based immigrants. This would greatly reduce long backlogs for nationals from Mexico and the Philippines who often wait more than 10 years for a green card to become available.

The bill is supported by the US Chamber of Commerce and a broad base of US business, including Microsoft and Google. It  has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement. Although it’s long term prospect for passage is slight, the bill is a ray of light from the Republican House  in an otherwise dark time for new immigration law, and its mere introduction shows that someone out there is listening and understands the current plight of US businesses and their highly skilled foreign workers.

We will continue to follow the bill and update our readers on any developments. For more information on this or any other immigration matter, please contact Valentine Brown vbrown@duanemorris.com; 215 979 1840.

 
 
 
 

EB-2 India Expected to Advance in May 2011


The cutoff date for EB-2, India, is expected to advance in May 2011. This advancement will occur in the U.S. Department of State (DOS) Visa Bulletin for May 2011. The Visa Bulletin for May 2011 will be published in early to mid April 2011.

Charlie Oppenheim, Chief, Immigrant Visa Control and Reporting Division, U.S. Department of State, informed the American Immigration lawyers Association of a dramatic reduction in the use of EB-1 numbers. He stated:

“[US]CIS says they have seen a decline in filings, and does not expect a change in the number use pattern. Therefore, this decline in EB-1 number use will allow me to begin having those ‘otherwise unused’ numbers drop down and be available for use in the EB-2 category. Based on current indications, that would mean that at least 12,000 additional numbers will be available to the EB-2 category. This situation will allow me to advance the India EB-2 cut-off date for May. The reason being that all ‘otherwise unused’ numbers are provided strictly in priority date order, and the India demand has the largest concentration of early dates.”

It is impossible to predict just how much advancement there will be, but we will know in mid April. If a priority date becomes current on May 1, 2011, the foreign national may submit his or her I-485 application any time after May 1, 2011 and will be immediately eligible for permanent residence as long as the priority date stays current.

We will keep you updated on any additional developments.

 
 
 
 
 

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.