Updated List of Countries with Limited or No Visa Services

April 28th, 2012

U.S. embassies and consulates are sometimes forced to limit or, at times, suspend visa services because of natural disasters, civil unrest, war, and/or security concerns, among other reasons. The Department of State recently released an updated list of those countries with limited or no visa services. The list also provides information on where affected applicants can go to obtain visa services. See http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/info/info_1302.html.

Zulkie Partners is nationally recognized for its command of immigration law. We offer services that cover all aspects of corporate immigration law, including nonimmigrant work visas, permanent residence sponsorship and more.

Connect with us today to learn how we can help you further your hiring goals.

Comment » | Department of State

Expansion of Nonimmigrant Visa Interview Waiver Program

April 28th, 2012

Early this year, DOS announced a pilot program, being implemented on an embassy-by-embassy basis, to waive the nonimmigrant visa interview requirement for certain visa renewals. Recently, the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest, Romania, announced the expansion of the visa interview waiver program to certain applicants seeking to renew a B1/B2, C1/D, or F/J/M visa that expired within the last 48 months. The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India announced the expansion of the program to certain applicants seeking to renew a B1/B2 visa (also expired within the last 48 months). And, the U.S. Embassy in Russia also announced the expansion of the program to applicants seeking to renew a B1/B2 or C1/D visa that expired within the last 47 months. Earlier, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, launched its visa interview waiver pilot program for certain B, C, D, F, J, M and O visa holders, and special rules went into effect for certain Brazilian citizens waiving their consular interviews.  See http://bit.ly/beijing-waiver and http://bit.ly/brazil-waiver.

Comment » | Department of State, Visa waiver program

Visa Processing Fees Change April 13, 2012

April 28th, 2012

The Department of State (DOS) has adjusted the visa processing fees, effective April 13.  While most nonimmigrant visa fees increase, all immigrant visa fees decrease. The following are the new fees for some of the most common visas:  H, L, O, P, Q and R, $190; E, $270; K fiancé(e)s, $240; immediate relative and family preference application, $230; and employment-based applications, $405. Border crossing cards for those over 14 increase to $160. See http://1.usa.gov/fees_4-13-12.

Zulkie Partners is nationally recognized for its command of immigration law. We offer services that cover all aspects of corporate immigration law, including nonimmigrant work visas, permanent residence sponsorship and more.

Connect with us today to learn how we can help you further your hiring goals.

Comment » | Department of State

Alabama Enacts Immigration Law

April 26th, 2012

The new Alabama law targeting undocumented immigrants has come under attack by advocate groups and federal judges, who have found key provisions of the law to be unconstitutional. In addition to being ruled as unconstitutional, agricultural interest groups have claimed the law has created labor shortages in the fields and business groups fear it is fostering a hostile economic climate throughout the state.

Recently, flaws of the immigration law were exposed when a Mercedes-Benz executive, visiting from Germany, was detained for hours by the local police, after failing to prove his legal status when his only identification was his German I.D. State lawmakers are undeterred and instead of repealing the law, they are tweaking it in hopes of avoiding future embarrassment. Unfortunately, throughout the process, they have made things much worse.

The modifications not only leave intact much of the law’s original features, but make some aspects even harsher. For example, a revision concerning the checking of legal status of detained individuals was changed to require police officers to conduct such checks only when issuing a traffic citation. The trouble is that police officers can almost always find reasons to issue traffic citations, if they are so inclined. Another provision of the law states that the legal status of passengers can be checked if the driver is believed to be an illegal immigrant. This invites racial profiling, and in some instances, even makes profiling okay.

Religious groups worry that the new laws will make it illegal for them to offer aid to struggling, undocumented immigrants. The existing law states it is illegal to offer aid to ten or more illegal immigrants, but the revision would lower this number to five. Virtually anything can be considered “offering aid,” even simply giving them a ride to work. Similarly, the revised law seems to favor large corporations over small or family-owned business when the law would allow firms’ licenses to be revoked if the revocation “serves the public’s interest.”

Although relatively few undocumented immigrants inhabit the state of Alabama, the thousands that did have since fled the state. Zulkie Partners, LLC, a business immigration law firm, boasts a team of attorneys, who are experts in corporate immigration law. If you feel you need assistance in navigating the complicated and convoluted immigration laws of the United States, Zulkie Partners, LLC, can help. The attorneys of Zulkie Partners understand that clients are looking for value beyond simple legal expertise and are dedicated to helping you every step of the way.

Comment » | Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Immigration reform, Worksite enforcement policies

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

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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