Wednesday, May 29, 2013


In May, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) began implementing its plan to automate the Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record.  CBP is substituting paper Forms I-94 with a passport stamp and an electronic record for some nonimmigrants arriving at air and sea ports.    Nonimmigrants arriving via a land border will continue to receive a paper Form I-94 from CBP.

The electronic record of admission may be accessed and printed at  Nonimmigrants are encouraged to print out their I-94 arrival record immediately after entry in order to insure that the information has been correctly inputted into the CBP electronic system.  If the information is incorrect, please contact us immediately.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Last week the Senate Judiciary Committee passed S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, or what is generally called Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR).  While this was a significant step, we are still a long way from actually having CIR as law.

S.744 does many things.  This post will not talk discuss the specifics of the law but will focus on the next procedural steps that must happen if CIR is to become law.

From here, the bill moves to the full Senate.  The conventional wisdom is that in June the full Senate will pass the bill.   After the Senate acts is where it gets interesting.

What the House will do is a wide-open question.   Some think that if the Senate passes the bill with a healthy majority, then the House will fall in line.  While the House will have its own bill, it may look a lot like S.744, if S.744 passes the full Senate with wide support.  For example, a 70/30 pass rate means that a lot of Republicans and Democrats have voted for it, which means strong bipartisan support. 

If this happens we would expect to see House action before their recess in early August.  Pres. Obama will certainly sign the bill; there is zero chance that he will veto it.  So the next key date is mid/late June to see what the full Senate will do.

On the other hand if the Senate cannot get to the “magic 70 number” then the House may craft a dramatically different bill, and predictions become muddy.  If the House starts from scratch with its own bill this could drag on for a while. 

At this point the odds are 50/50 that we get CIR in 2013, and the odds improved significantly with the Senate Judiciary Committee’s actions.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


On February 1, 2013, the USCIS instituted an additional $165 Immigrant Fee for immigrants who received their visas at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad.  The fee allows USCIS to recover the cost of processing the immigrant visa package and other information as well as producing and delivering the permanent resident card after immigrant visa holders are admitted to the United States.  This fee is in addition to the Department of State NVC immigrant visa fee.

Immigrants who receive their visas at must pay the fee online.   USCIS has moved the online payment of the USCIS Immigrant Fee to its Electronic Immigration System.  Customers must now pay the $165 USCIS Immigrant Fee using USCIS ELIS after they receive their immigrant visa package from the Department of State and before they depart for the United States. 

Monday, May 20, 2013


The USCIS has confirmed through AILA that all 2013 H-1B cap-subject cases have been receipted in this past week.  This is a little quicker than we had expected.  If you have not received an H-1B receipt notice the chances are that your case did not win the H-1B lottery.

USCIS received approximately 124,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. On April 7, 2013, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process (commonly known as a “lottery”) to select a sufficient number of petitions needed to meet the caps of 65,000 for the general category and 20,000 under the advanced degree exemption limit. For cap-subject petitions not randomly selected, USCIS will reject is returning the petition along with the USCIS filing fees.
F-1 students who did not win the lottery must exit the US at the conclusion of their F-1/OPT period.

Many H-1B petitions are not subject to the H-1B cap, including:
* H-1B extension petitions
* H-1B transfer petitions
* Certain H-1B petitioners for University employers
* Certain H-1B petitions for Non-Profit Research organizations

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


The Department of State has just released the June 2013 Visa Bulletin.  

This Visa Bulletin showed incredible progress in the EB-3 numbers for All Other and China, each of which moved ahead by more than one year.  China's EB-2 numbers also improved, moving forward by two months.

India's EB-3 finally progressed into 2003, but it looking like a ten year Indian EB-3 retrogression shortly will be with us unless there is Comprehensive Immigration Reform.  India EB-2 remained frozen.

As MU Law mentioned earlier, we expect the Philippine EB-2 number to remain Current or near Current until Spring/Summer 2013, when it should become unavailable as it does most Summers.

June 2013 Visa Bulletin
All Other CountriesChina IndiaPhilippines

Thursday, May 9, 2013


The Senate Judiciary Committee has begun the arduous amendment process. More than 300 amendments have been filed by the Senate Judiciary Committee membership, many by Republicans looking to stop CIR.  The SJC is composed of far less than half of the Senate membership as a whole.  The SJC deliberations are expected to last for about two weeks.  After which, the SJC will take a vote.  

Although some members of the SJC are trying to torpedo the CIR bill, it is still expected to pass the SJC.  From there the Senate as a whole will act on the bill, where it is also expected to pass.  It remains to be seen by how much the bill passes the full Senate.   The greater the margin of passage, the better the likelihood of House action.  A lot hinges on the next several weeks.

MU Law will be in Washington DC next week meeting with Senate and House members' staffs educating them further on employment-based immigration issues, especially for the healthcare community.  We received a lot of positive feedback from our last trip in March.

Monday, May 6, 2013


Comprehensive Immigration Reform is heating up.  The Gang of Eight published a bill in April that is the first significant step in immigration legislation. MU Law has been to Washington to discuss the bill with Congressional staff. 

The bill is 850+ pages and will be amended many times before it ever come up for a vote.  While the final version is still a work in progress and it is still an open question as to whether CIR will ever pass, several things are becoming clear.  If CIR becomes law it will have these characteristics.

Greater H-1B visa numbers.  Current law allows 65,000 new “regular” H-1B visa approvals every fiscal year and an additional 20,000 for graduates of American Master’s degree programs.  American businesses have regularly asked Congress to raise this H-1B quota.  Congress is hearing the call.  Most potential legislation calls for increased H-1B numbers.

Increased H-1B Enforcement.  The trade-off for the greater H-1B numbers is greater enforcement regulation.  All versions of CIR step up funding for H-1B enforcement.

Special Third Party Placement Rules for H-1B Employers.  Since January 2012, USCIS has held staffing companies to a higher level of scrutiny.  Congress is now going further.  Placing employees at third-party worksites is outright prohibited for some employers and highly regulated in others.  

Abundant Green Card Numbers.  By increasing green card numbers, Congress hopes to incentive future employers and workers to adhere to immigration regulation.  For the industry this should mean faster green cards and less worrying about quotas.

E-Verify is here to stay.  E-verify is a federal program whereby voluntary employers can check a prospective employee’s work authorization.  Government contractors and some states have made E-verify mandatory.  Congress appears ready to require E-verify for all employers, likely phasing it in over a few years.

Shifting from Family Based Visa Numbers to Merit Based Immigrants.  One part of the CIR plan is that Congress appears to have settled on a merit-based green card.  A merit-based system would allow the Department of Homeland Security to weigh a number of factors, such as education, job prospects, US ties, and English fluency to prioritize an applicant’s visa.  The merit based system will come at the expense of the family categories and will eliminate the visa lottery program.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


The US Embassy - Manila Immigrant Visa Unit will be temporarily closed on Monday, May 13, 2013.  Applicants with appointments scheduled for May 13 will be contacted to reschedule their appointments.  Alternatively, applicants with appointments scheduled for May 13 may contact the Embassy’s call center at (632) 982-5555 or (632) 902-8930 from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Monday through Friday) to reschedule their appointments.

Also, the American Citizens Services unit in Manila will be closed on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 for a regular training day.  Regular services will resume on May 9.