Category: Department of Homeland Security


Applicants Under Age 14 or Over Age 79 Do Not Need to Appear for Biometrics for Reentry Permit (or Refugee Travel Document)

October 19th, 2012 — 5:43pm

When a lawful permanent resident plans to depart the U.S. temporarily and does not expect to return to the United States for a year, often he or she is advised to obtain (before departing the U.S.) a Reentry Permit. A Reentry Permit is a travel document that helps to protect an individual from inadvertently abandoning permanent resident status. To obtain the Reentry Permit travel document, the individual must apply while in the U.S. and obtain biometrics (fingerprints and a digital photograph) prior to departing the U.S. Once the biometrics have been taken, the individual can leave the U.S. and the travel document can be mailed to him or her abroad.  The rules regarding fingerprints and photographs have been confusing for those under age 14 or over 79 because these individuals are not required to pay a biometrics fee or have their fingerprints taken. They are, however, being notified by USCIS that they are to appear at application support centers for biometrics. Just recently, however, USCIS has advised that such individuals are not required to attend a biometrics appointment. Instead, applicants under the age of 14 or over 79 can submit two passport-style photographs when applying for the Reentry Permit (in addition to all other required documentation), and USCIS will issue the travel document without requiring the applicant to attend an appointment.

Comment » | Department of Homeland Security, Lawful permanent resident

Relief for DREAMers

July 16th, 2012 — 11:08am
On June 15, 2012, President Obama announced that certain undocumented individuals who were brought to the U.S. as young children and who meet several eligibility criteria may receive “deferred action” and work authorization for a period of two years.  Deferred action means that the government will not seek to remove these individuals. 

In order to be considered for deferred action, the individual:

  • Must have been under the age of 31 and present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012;
  • Must have been under the age of 16 when brought to this country;
  • Must have continuously resided in the U.S, for at least five years before June 15, 2012;
  • Must be currently in school or have graduated from high school (or have received a GED), or have been honorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces;
  • Must have not been convicted of a felony, a “significant misdemeanor,” or multiple misdemeanors, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;
  • Must be at least 15 years of age at the time of application;
  • Must complete a background check.

Applications are not yet being accepted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, but  guidance on the process is expected no later than August 15, 2012.

Comment » | Department of Homeland Security, Immigration reform

Further Guidance on Failure to Register for NSEERS

June 22nd, 2012 — 10:20am

Although DHS finally ended the NSEERS registration program last year, it recently issued guidance on the limited circumstances under which negative immigration consequences, such as a denial of a benefit, finding of inadmissibility, or commencement of removal proceedings, will result from a foreign national’s prior failure to comply with NSEERS requirements. NSEERS, or the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, was a special registration process for male foreign nationals from certain countries who were over the age of 16 and who entered the U.S. as nonimmigrants prior to September 10, 2001. Implemented in 2002 in the wake of the September 11 attacks, it sought to record the arrival and departure of individuals mostly from Middle Eastern countries. The program failed as a counterterrorism policy and was discriminatory and relied on racial profiling.  While in its latest memo DHS clarifies that only noncompliance, in and of itself, is not a sufficient basis for such consequences to adhere, DHS has not completely eliminated the lingering consequences of NSEERS: a determination of a willful NSEERS violations may still apply and have negative immigration consequences.  We think this is wrong.  DHS should, once and for all, remove the residual penalties associated with NSEERS.

 

Comment » | Department of Homeland Security

H-1B Cap Reached

June 22nd, 2012 — 10:13am

On June 11, 2012, USCIS received a sufficient number of petitions to reach the statutory H-1B cap for FY 2013. On June 7, 2012, it received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions on behalf of persons exempt from the cap under the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will now reject petitions subject to the cap for H-1B specialty occupation workers seeking an employment start date in FY 2013. Employers wishing to hire first-time, cap subject H-1B workers will have to wait until April 1, 2013 to file their cases for work that will begin no earlier than October 1, 2013, the first day of FY 2014. USCIS continues to accept petitions exempted from the cap and DOD cooperative research worker H-1B petitions as well as Chile/Singapore H-1B1 petitions requesting an employment start date in FY 2013.

Comment » | Department of Homeland Security, H-1B

New Study Finds Dramatically Increased Rates of Denials and Requests for Evidence for H-1B Professionals, L-1 Intracompany Transferees, and O-1 Extraordinary Ability Nonimmigrants

February 24th, 2012 — 6:00pm

With its analysis of new data from the government, the nonprofit, nonpartisan National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) makes crystal clear:  Over the past four years, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has dramatically increased its denials of L-1 and H-1B petitions and much of the increase in denials involves Indian-born professionals and researchers. NFAP also reports a dramatic increase in denials of O-1 “extraordinary ability” petitions, and an across-the-board increase in requests for additional evidence (RFEs) for all of these categories. The data suggests that USCIS has changed the standards for these petitions, beginning in 2008–09, despite no change in the law or relevant regulations and, as a result, has demonstrated its capacity to keep skilled foreign nationals out of the United States. Here are some of the statistics from the report:

  • Denial rates for L-1B “specialized knowledge” petitions rose from 7 percent in FY07 to 27 percent in FY11. In FY11, 63 percent of L-1B petitions were delayed due to RFEs; in FY04, only 2 percent received RFEs.
  • Denial rates for L-1A executives and managers petitions increased from 8 percent in FY07 to 14 percent in FY11. RFEs increased from 4 percent in FY04 to 51 percent in FY11.
  • Denial rates for H-1B petitions increased from 11 percent in FY07 to 17 percent in FY11. (In FY09, the denial rate was 29 percent.) RFEs rose from 4 percent in FY04 to 26 percent by FY11.  (In FY09, the RFE rate was 35 percent.)
  • Denial rates for O-1A extraordinary ability petitions rose from 4 percent in FY08 to 8 percent in FY11. For O-1As, RFEs increased from 1 percent in FY04 to 27 percent in FY11,
  • Country-specific data on new (initial) L-1B petitions indicate USCIS is more likely to deny a petition from an Indian-born professional than from a national of another country. The denial rate for Indian-born applicants for new L-1B petitions rose from 2.8 percent FY08 to 13.4 percent in FY11. (In FY09, the rate was 22.5 percent.)  The drop in FY11 Indian denials can be attributed to a 40 percent decline in the number of receipts for new L-1B petitions for Indian professionals between FY10 and FY11.

Employers already are selective about who they sponsor and thus petition for those who they believe meet the standard for approval. They complain, rightly so, that the time lost due to the increase in denials and RFEs are costing them millions of dollars in project delays and contract penalties, while aiding competitors that operate exclusively outside the United States. Denying these businesses the ability to transfer these key personnel harms innovation and job creation in the U.S. and encourages employers to keep more resources outside the country to ensure predictability.

As noted by NFAP, the dramatic increase in denial and RFE rates for employment petitions raises serious questions about the training, supervision, and procedures of adjudicators and of the government’s commitment to maintaining a stable business climate for companies competing in the global economy.

Comment » | Department of Homeland Security, H-1B, L-1

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