When Immigration Matters

5 Options to Get from F1 Student Visa to Green Card

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Tue, Oct 17, 2017 @ 11:30 AM

Businessman standing in front of opened doors and making decision-604915-edited.jpegF1 Student Visa to Green CardThe U.S. is not just home of the world’s largest and most robust economy, which attracts investors and entrepreneurs from across the globe. It is also an academic and research leader that, each year, attracts hundreds of thousands of students from around the world who wish to advance their knowledge.  

If you are a student currently living in the U.S. on an active F1 visa, then you may be eligible to apply for a Green Card (a.k.a. Permanent Resident Card). Obtaining this will allow you to legally live and work in the U.S.

Regular vs. Conditional Permanent Resident Green Card 

If you qualify as a regular permanent resident, your Green Card will be valid for 10 years. If you qualify as a conditional permanent resident, your Green Card will be valid for 2 years. Typically, conditional permanent resident status is available to petitioners who seek to obtain their Green Card through a marriage that is less than two years old (this is discussed further in this article).

A regular permanent resident Green Card can be renewed, but a conditional permanent resident Green Card cannot. However, those with the latter type of Green Card can petition to have their status changed from conditional to permanent, which if granted would extend the expiration date and be subject to possible renewal. Keep in mind that either a regular permanent resident or conditional permanent resident Green Card will can be revoked at any time if the visa program’s rules are broken.

Generally speaking, there are 6 options that could allow you to get from F1 student visa to Green Card:

F1 Student Visa to Green Card Option #1: Get an Employer Sponsorship

Provided that an employer meets certain eligibility requirements, you can petition for an EB2 or EB3 visa (a.k.a. Employment-Based Green Card).

F1 Student Visa to Green Card Option #2: Enter the Green Card Lottery 

Once each year, USCIS offers the Green Card Lottery (formally known as the Electronic Diversity Visa Lottery). Be aware that there are a limited number of Green Cards available, and petitioners from certain countries cannot enter the lottery because their country has sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. in the last five years. Check to ensure that your native country is not on the list before pursing this as a potential option.

F1 Student Visa to Green Card Option #3: Marry a U.S. Citizen

It may be possible to obtain a Green Card through marriage (as noted above, this would almost certainly be a conditional permanent resident Green Card if the marriage is less than two years old).

However, be advised that USCIS is highly skeptical of petitioners who pursue this option. They will conduct rigorous background checks, examine documents, and perform interviews to determine if, in their view, the marriage is legitimate, or if the union is for the purpose of helping one spouse obtain a Green Card.

With this being said, if you do indeed obtain a Green Card by way of marriage, you are not forced to stay married. Ideally you will have a happy matrimonial life. But if you ultimately separate or divorce, you will not necessarily lose your Green Card. However, you will need to convince USCIS that the marriage ended for legitimate reasons, and not because it was expedient to do so once you received your Green Card. 

Also note that if successfully petition to switch from a conditional permanent resident Green Card to permanent resident Green Card (usually after you have been married for at least two years), then a dissolution of your marriage will not be factored into your eligibility consideration.

F1 Student Visa to Green Card Option #4: Petition for Asylum

If there is a civil war currently happening in your native country, or if you are part of a persecuted population or group and returning would put your life in danger, then you may be able to obtain a Green Card by petitioning for asylum. USCIS assess each petition on a case-by-case basis, and the process is extremely detailed and complex.

F1 Student Visa to Green Card Option #5: Get Sponsored by a Relative 

If you have a relative who owns a business in the U.S., then you may be able to obtain sponsorship that would result in a Green Card. However, this is a difficult option and several criteria must be met. For example, you must be hired for your qualifications, and not because you are a relative. In addition, the employer (i.e. your relative) must demonstrate to the Department of Labor that they attempted in good faith, but ultimately failed, to fill the position by hiring a U.S. citizen.

An Important Note

If you wish to get from F1 student visa to Green Card, then regardless of which option you pursue, your application will need to take into consideration all of your unique details — especially since USCIS evaluates petitions on a case-by-case basis, and many are rejected for being incomplete, because of missed deadlines, or because the argument for the petitioner to remain the U.S. was not convincing enough. 

To learn more, and have your questions clearly and fully answered, contact the Pollak PLLC team today. We are here to help!  


Karen-Lee Pollak is the Managing Attorney at Pollak PLLC located in Dallas, Texas. She is a frequent speaker, author and blogger on immigration issues. She can be reached at [email protected] or under her twitter handle law_immigration.

What’s the Difference Between a Green Card and an Immigrant Visa?

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Thu, May 18, 2017 @ 11:30 AM

Portrait of a student peeking behind flag of USA-230779-edited.jpeggreen card vs immigrant visaWhile outside of the legal world and government sector the terms Green Card and non-immigrant visa are sometimes used interchangeably, they are categorically separate types of permits. Here are the key distinctions: 

  • Residence 

A Green Card – which is officially known as a “permanent residence card” – is permanent, and entitles the holder to remain in the U.S. for the unconditional amount of time. Non-immigrant visas (of which there are several types) are temporary, and allow the holder the right to enter and remain in the U.S. for a specified period of time (typically up to a maximum of 6 years in two 3-year terms). 

  • Legal Right to Work

Green Card holders are legally entitled to work in any industry, sector or field, anywhere in the U.S. or its territories. Non-immigrant visa holders may be allowed to work under certain conditions and for a specific employer, depending on the type of visa they hold. 

  • Mobility

Green Card holders may leave and return to the U.S. as often as they wish, provided that their card and passport are valid. Non-immigrant visa holders face restrictions and limitations on travel, such as travel dates, number of re-entries, and so on. Again, the type of non-immigrant visa determines these rules.

  • Citizenship

Provided they have no serious criminal convictions, Green card holders may apply for U.S. citizenship after 5 years (or 3 years if they are married to a U.S. citizen). Non-immigrant visa holders cannot apply for U.S. citizenship. They must first obtain a Green Card and apply accordingly. 

  • Criminal Behavior 

Generally, Green Card holders are granted somewhat more flexibility and tolerance for committing certain non-severe criminal acts. However, non-immigrant visa holders must ensure that they comply with all laws at all times. A transgression that many people (including the courts) might view as relatively minor or non-serious, such as a DUI that does not result in an injury or accident, can result in a non-immigrant visa being revoked by USCIS

  • Voting

This is not a distinction between the two types of permits, but it is worth noting because there is some confusion and misunderstanding around this aspect; especially in light of the prevailing political discourse. Here are the facts: neither Green Card holders nor non-immigrant visa holders have the right to vote. Only U.S. citizens have this right. While it’s true that Green Card holders enjoy many of the rights afforded to U.S. citizens, such as serving in the military, this does not extend to voting in any election (local, state or federal). 

Learn More 

To learn more about the differences between a Green Card and non-immigrant visa, including specific details about various non-immigrant visa types such as (but not limited to): EB-1, EB2, EB-3, H-1B, F-1, R-1, L-1 and more, contact the team at Pollak PLLC today.

We are passionate about helping people realize the American Dream, reuniting families, and bringing the best and brightest minds to the U.S. so they can pursue their goals and make a positive, meaningful contribution to the community.


Karen-Lee Pollak is the Managing Attorney at Pollak PLLC located in Dallas, Texas. She is a frequent speaker, author and blogger on immigration issues. She can be reached at [email protected] or under her twitter handle law_immigration.

US Green Card: What You Need to Know About Permanent Residency

Posted by Karen Pollak on Wed, Jul 08, 2015 @ 9:30 AM


Applying for a Green Card or Immigrant visa is the first step in becoming a United States Permanent Resident.  As a Green Card holder, you and your immediate family can live and work in the United States permanently. Most people obtain Green Cards by being sponsored by their employers or their relatives. Others obtain permanent residence through the Green Card lottery, asylum and through various other means. The main ways of applying for a Green Card are through marriage, employment, family, the lottery and through investment.


Each year, over 160,000 citizens of the United States marry immigrants and petition for them to obtain permanent residency.  Spouses of U.S. citizens are considered "immediate relatives" under the immigration laws, and are exempt from all numerical quota limitations. In other words, marriage to a U.S. citizen is the fast lane to a Green Card.  There is no wait time for visas for spouses of U.S. citizens.


To be eligible for lawful permanent residence based on a family relationship you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must have a relative who is a United States citizen or a lawful permanent resident, who is willing to sponsor you for permanent residency.
  • Your relative must prove they can support you by providing documentation that their income is 125% above the mandated poverty line.
  • If your relative is a US Citizen you have to prove you share one of the following relationships:
    • Husband or wife
    • Unmarried son or daughter over 21
    • Child under 21 years old
    • Married son or daughter of any age
    • Brother or sister if you are at least 21 years old
    • Parents if you are at least 21 years old
  • If your relative is a lawful permanent resident you have to prove you share one of the following relationships:
    • Husband or wife
    • Unmarried son or daughter of any age

The wait time for a Green Card depends on your family relationship.  For example, the wait time for a parent of a U.S. citizen is approximately nine months to a year.  However, for the sibling of a U.S. citizen the wait time for a Green Card is about ten years.


A U.S. employer may also sponsor an immigrant employee for a Green Card.  The permanent residency process is a multi-step process and may take 2-5 years depending upon the category of Green Card and government processing speed.

The first step requires filing a labor certification application with the Department of Labor attesting that there are no U.S. workers available to fill the position.  This is achieved by advertising the job and interviewing any potentially qualified workers.  The second step requires the filing of an application with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Once the labor certification is approved, the Green Card application may be filed with the USCIS.  The length of time it takes for approval will depend on the category/preference of the worker.

A petition for a foreign professional holding an advanced degree may be filed when the job requires an advanced degree or where the employee has at least a Bachelor’s degree and five (5) years of experience.  This is called the EB2 or second preference category. 

Aliens with at least two years of experience as skilled workers, professionals with a baccalaureate degree, those with three-year degrees regardless of how many years of experience and others with less than two years experience, such as an unskilled worker who can perform labor for which qualified workers are not available in the United States will file in the EB3 or third preference category.

Once the application is approved and a visa becomes available to the beneficiary an adjustment of status application is filed with the USCIS if the employee is already in the United States or the employee applies for a visa at the U.S Consulate, if outside the U.S..  Presently the wait time for a Green Card in the EB-3 category is approximately five years and is approximately two years in the EB2 category.



This program makes available by random draw 55,000 Green Cards to people from around the world. The objective of the program is to issue Green Cards to individuals born in countries with historically low levels of immigration to the United States.  South Africans are eligible to apply for a Green Card through the DV Lottery.  Successful DV entrants must be eligible to receive a visa by qualifying based on education, work, and other requirements. The law and regulations require that every DV entrant must have at least:

  • A high school education or its equivalent; or
  • Two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years' training or experience.

The U.S. Department of State will begin accepting applications for the 2017 DV Lottery in October 2015.


the U.S. provides a means for high net worth individuals to obtain a green card through investment in the US. economy.  This is known as the employment Fifth Preference or EB-5 immigrant visa. Applicants for a U.S. green card based on investment must  $1million in a U.S. business and take an active role in that business (though they don’t need to control it).  The business must also create 10 jobs for US. Workers.  The amount of the investment is reduced to $500,000 if the business is located in a rural area or an area of high unemployment.  The amount of the investment is also reduced to $500 000 if the funds are invested in a Regional Center. 


Immigration Reform: What it means for Highly Skilled Foreign Workers

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Mon, Dec 01, 2014 @ 9:00 AM

immigration reform, executive actionAs part of President Obama’s executive action, he has ordered new policies and regulations to be implemented which will benefit highly-skilled foreign workers by enabling businesses to more easily hire and retain these workers and allow them to make natural career progressions with their employers or seek similar opportunities within the United States thereby creating increased career stability for those foreign workers waiting for green cards. 

The November 20, 2014 memorandum from DHS Secretary Jeh Charles Johnson to USCIS Director Leon Rodriguez (the Memorandum) outlines these new policies and regulations and includes the following: Modernizing the Employment-Based Immigrant Visa System and increasing Worker Portability. 

One of the biggest gripes with the current visa system is the long waits for Immigrant visas or green cards due to outdated numerical limits established almost a quarter of a century ago.  These numerical limits do not cater for the visa demands of today.  For example, a foreign worker with an advanced degree who is a citizen of India is currently waiting almost 10 years for an Immigrant visa to be available according to the November 2014 visa bulletin.  This numerical limit is juxtaposed against an immigration system which also has failed to issue all available immigrant visas for a fiscal year.

The resulting backlogs prevent US. employers from attracting and retaining some of the best and brightest highly-skilled workers who are often educated in the United States.  Often a highly-skilled foreign worker’s time in temporary non-immigrant status runs out before the backlog becomes current.  For example, a L1b intracompany employee with specialized knowledge only has 5 years in L1b status but it is currently taking at least a minimum of 11 years, according to November 2014 visa bulletin, to obtain a green card assuming that person is an citizen of india, has a Bachelor Degree and has four years of experience. 

This makes little sense especially where as part of the Green Card process, the employer has to test the labor market and show the unavailability of US. workers.  That process in itself is disingenuous as it requires the employer to spend substantial time and money advertising and recruiting for a job and making applicants waste time on interviewing for a job which has already been filled.  Only after that charade can an employer file a labor certification with the Department of Labor which is currently taking in the best case scenario 8 months to be adjudicated. 

The permanent labor certification process delays the filing of the Green Card application with USCIS.  This delay is further exacerbated by the unavailability of immigrant visas for workers from certain countries.  Not only are wait times an inconvenience for these workers but these wait times are an impediment to their natural career progression.  Workers can only change jobs if the job “is in the same or similar occupation”.  The uncertainty of what this phrase really means often prevents workers from accepting promotions or accepting better job opportunities.  

Secretary Jeh Jonson proposes the following solutions in his Memorandum:

 USCIS should continue to work with the Department of State to ensure that all immigrant visas authorized by Congress are issued when there is a sufficient demand.

  • Improve the current system to determine when visas are available to applicants during a current fiscal year. 
  • USCIS must issue policy and regulatory changes to provide stability to beneficiaries of employment-based immigrant petitions.
  • Specifically, USCIS must clarify and amend its regulations to ensure that approved long-standing visa petitions remain valid in certain circumstances where the employee has changed jobs or has obtained a promotion to a supervisory position.

 In addition to these proposals, it is expected that regulations will be enacted that will allow workers with approved immigrant petitions who are unable to file adjustment of status applications due to visa quota backlogs to obtain the benefits of adjustment of status applications such as employment authorization and advanced parole.  This will help foreign workers evade the capricious adjudication of renewal of non-immigrant when they travel abroad and allow employees to switch employers.

Reforming Optical training for Foreign Students and Graduates of US. Universities.

Under current regulations, foreign students on F-1 visas may request 12 months of additional F-1 visa status for optional practical training (OPT).  OPT allows a student to obtain temporary work in their field of study to gain practical experience.  It must be approved by the educational institution and may occur before or after graduation. Students in the science, technology, education or mathematical (STEM) fields can obtain an additional 17 months of OPT for a total of 29 months. This extension has helped the United States in retaining some of its most talented STEM graduates from departing the United States and taking their skills overseas.  

The November 20, 2014 Memorandum recommends that USCIS develop regulations for notice and comment that expands the degree programs eligible for OPT and extends the time period and use of OPT for foreign STEM students and graduates including extending post-Masters OPT where only the first degree is in a STEM field.

Promoting Start-Ups, Research and Development in the US.

President Obama has underscored the importance of enhancing employment opportunities for foreign inventors, researchers and founders of start-ups wishing to create jobs and conduct research and development in the United States.  The November 20, 2014 Memorandum recommends two administrative improvements to our employment-based immigrant system for this purpose:

The National Interest Waiver which provides aliens with advanced degrees or exceptional ability to apply for green cards without employer sponsorship if their job is in the national interest, is one of the most underutilized visas.  USCIS is directed to issue guidance or regulations to clarify the standard by which a National Interest Waiver can be granted for the purpose of promoting its greater use in benefitting the US. Economy.

  1. USCIS is directed under its “significant public benefit” parole authority to propose a program that will permit DHS to grant parole status on a case-by-case basis to researchers, inventors and founders of start-up businesses who have obtained significant US. funding or otherwise hold the promise of job creation and innovation through the development of new technologies or cutting-edge research. Parole in these instances would help entrepreneurs start businesses in the United States instead of abroad. 

Bringing Greater Consistency to the L1B Program. Many multinational companies bring employees to the United States who have specialized knowledge in the company’s products or processes.  This visa is known as the L1B visa.  Inconsistent adjudications of these visas has created uncertainty for many companies relying on bringing foreign employees with specialized knowledge to the United States.  USCIS is directed to issue a policy memorandum that clarifies exactly what is meant by “specialized knowledge” to provide greater consistency in the adjudication of L1B petitions and to enhance companies’ confidence in the program.

These provisions, once implemented, will help alleviate some of the problems produced by our broken immigration system but it is really the duty of Congress to finish the job.  The only provision that has a projected timeline is the plan to give employment authorization to certain spouses of long time H-1B visa holders who have been approved for permanent residency (issued in May of this year). We anticipate the final rule to be published this month or in early January 2015. Regulations which have a limited impact can be issued as interim rules and take effect immediately. However, most regulations require the publication of a proposed rule with a 30 to 60-day comment period. Afterwards, the government agency must cull though public comments and decide if revisions to the proposed regulation are in order.

Of particular note is the Department of Labor’s (DOL) announcement, separate and apart from the November 20 Memorandum, that it will modernize the PERM regulations.  DOL has announced it will initiate a review of the decade old PERM program and relevant regulations. As part of this review, the Department will seek input on the current regulation, including how it could be modernized to be more responsive to changes in the national workforce.

Specifically, the Department will seek input on the following:

Options for identifying labor force occupational shortages and surpluses and methods for aligning domestic worker recruitment requirements with demonstrated shortages and surpluses;

  • Methods and practices designed to modernize U.S. worker recruitment requirements;   
  • Processes to clarify employer obligations to insure PERM positions are fully open to U.S. workers;
  • Ranges of case processing timeframes and possibilities for premium processing; and
  • Application submission and review process and feasibility for efficiently addressing nonmaterial errors.

While we are excited about these proposed changes, we can only be cautiously optimistic.  Historically, promised policy guidelines often take years to be issued or have never materialized. USCIS specifically states on its website that “USCIS and other agencies and offices are responsible for implementing these initiatives as soon as possible.  Some of these initiatives will be implemented over the next several months and some will take longer.”  The challenge for the business community, foreign workers and all stakeholders is to make sure that these measures are initiated, drafted, and implemented in a timely fashion.

Visa Bulletin Predictions + further EB2 Retrogression for India

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Mon, Sep 15, 2014 @ 3:23 PM
 EB-2 Visa, EB-2 Visa Retrogression, Green CardCharles ("Charlie") Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control
and Reporting Division, U.S. Department of State sat down with American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) to provide his insight into his visa predictions for October 2014 and beyond. 

The new fiscal year begins on October 1, and with it comes a new infusion of
visa numbers! Below are highlights from the October 2014 Visa
and Charlie's predictions for future movement based on information
available as of September 9, 2014.

EB-2 India: Retrogression Imminent

As articulated in Section D of the Visa Bulletin, retrogression of EB-2 India
appears to be imminent, and could happen as early as November. The October 2014
priority date for EB-2 India is May 1, 2009. Given current demand, the priority
date will retrogress, possibly to a date in early 2005. Members should plan to
file adjustment of status applications by the end of October for any eligible
EB-2 India clients, as the window of opportunity may be closing.

A major factor in this anticipated retrogression is the large volume of EB-3
to EB-2 upgrades for Indian-born applicants. Based on filings at USCIS, Charlie
anticipates a huge volume of India EB-2 demand in the coming months.

NOTE: In addition, the maximum number of EB-2 immigrant
visas which are available for India for Fiscal Year 2014 has been reached.
Therefore, EB-2 India visas are "unavailable" until October 1, 2014.
USCIS offices may continue to accept and process EB-2 India cases with
priority dates earlier than May 1, 2009 during the month of September.

However, instead of being acted upon immediately, those cases will be held in
the Visa Office's "Pending Demand" file until October 1, 2014, at which time
they will be authorized.

EB-5 China

Following our last report, Charlie announced that EB-5 China numbers were
depleted through the end of the fiscal year (September 30, 2014). Though EB-5
China remains current for the start of the new fiscal year in October, Charlie
continues to predict that a cut-off date will be imposed at some point during
the second half of the fiscal year, possibly as early as May. This prediction is
based on the assumption that USCIS will continue to issue approvals of EB-5
petitions at the current rate, as well as an assumption that a significant
portion of the more than 5,000 applicants with approved EB-5 petitions at the
National Visa Center (NVC) will come forward to be processed. It is also likely
that more applicants will come forward to finalize action on their cases as we
enter the final year of the three-year regional center pilot program. It is
hoped that sufficient demand data will be available in January which will help
in predicting future movement in this category.


Demand for both employment-based and family-based visas for the Philippines
continues to decrease which accounts for the advancing priority dates in these
categories. The cut-off date for the EB-3 and "Other Worker" categories for the
Philippines is the same as it is worldwide, October 1, 2011. The NVC has been
sending "Choice of Address and Agent" (DS-3032) forms to beneficiaries
in an effort to spur demand but so far it is not materializing. Though demand is
low and dates will remain favorable for the foreseeable future, this may change
if many more applicants come forward to claim immigrant visas.

A Glimpse Into the Preference-Based Visa Process

Have you ever wondered exactly how DOS and USCIS coordinate to ensure
preference-based visas are processed efficiently? This month, Charlie provides
some insight into the process.

In spring 2007, DOS implemented a new system to address USCIS processing
problems that resulted when cut-off dates retrogressed prior to final action on
a case. Prior to that time, USCIS would request a visa number from DOS through
an automated system upon completion of processing an adjustment of status
application. DOS would either grant authorization and allocate a visa number, or
deny authorization if the applicant's priority date was not current. If
authorization was denied, USCIS would place the file on the shelf and the
adjudicating officer was required to monitor the Visa Bulletin and pull the case
when the priority date became current. As a result of the spring 2007 upgrade,
cases that are denied authorization due to a non-current priority date are now
accepted by DOS and maintained in a "Pending Demand" file. When the priority
date becomes current, DOS automatically authorizes the case and notifies the
appropriate USCIS office.

This system enables greater efficiency for USCIS and is a safeguard against
cases "slipping through the cracks." It also provides DOS with greater
visibility of the pre-adjudicated demand, thus enabling Charlie to better
predict priority date movement

Green Card DV Lottery-2015 Entrants? Check If You have Won!

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Fri, May 09, 2014 @ 9:00 AM

 Diversity Visa Lottery Scams, Diversity Visa Program, Diversity Visa Lottery, Green Card Lottery, green card, Green CardThe Kentucky Consular Center in Kentucky has registered and notified the winners of the DV-2015 diversity lottery.  The diversity lottery makes available *50,000 permanent resident visas annually to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.  Approximately 125,514 applicants have been registered and notified and may now make an application for an immigrant visa. Since it is likely that some of the first *50,000 persons registered will not pursue their cases to visa issuance, this larger figure should insure that all DV-2015 numbers will be used during fiscal year 2015 (October 1, 2014 until September 30, 2015).

Applicants registered for the DV-2015 program were selected at random from 9,388,986 qualified entries (14,397,781 with derivatives) received during the 30-day application period that ran from noon, Eastern Daylight Time on Tuesday, October 1, 2013, until noon, Eastern Daylight Time on Saturday, November 2, 2013.  The visas have been apportioned among six geographic regions with a maximum of seven percent available to persons born in any single country. 

For July, immigrant numbers in the DV category are available to qualified DV-2014 applicants chargeable to all regions/eligible countries as follows. When an allocation cut-off number is shown, visas are available only for applicants with DV regional lottery rank numbers BELOW the specified allocation cut-off number:

RegionAll DV Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed Separately 
AFRICA 56,300 Except:
Egypt:      30,900
Nigeria:     17,400
ASIA 8,900  
EUROPE 36,300  
OCEANIA 1,300  

During the visa interview, principal applicants must provide proof of a high school education or its equivalent, or show two years of work experience in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience within the past five years.  Those selected will need to act on their immigrant visa applications quickly.  Applicants should follow the instructions in their notification letter and must fully complete the information requested.

Registrants living legally in the United States may apply for adjustment of their status through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service.  Once the total *50,000 visa numbers have been used, the program for fiscal year 2015 will end.  Selected applicants who do not receive visas by September 30, 2015 will derive no further benefit from their DV-2015 registration.  Similarly, spouses and children accompanying or following to join DV-2015 principal applicants are only entitled to derivative diversity visa status until September 30, 2015.

Dates for the DV-2016 program registration period will be widely publicized in the coming months.  Those interested in entering the DV-2016 program should check the Department of State’s Visa web page in the coming months. To read a great article on winning the Diversity Visa Lottery go to http://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2014/03/18/what-is-it-like-to-win-the-diversity-visa-lottery/

2015 DV Lottery Opens October 1, 2013

Posted by Michael Pollak on Mon, Sep 30, 2013 @ 3:00 PM

dv lottery

The U.S. diversity (DV)
immigrant visa lottery
 for fiscal year 2015 opens on Tuesday, October
1, 2013 and will remain open for entries until November 2, 2013.  This
year, the U.S. government has 50,000 immigrant visas available through the DV
lottery and subsequent DV visa application process.

As in previous years, the Department of State
(DOS) will select about 100,000 entries as “winners” and then through a process
of elimination, 50,000 DV immigrant visas will actually be issued.  At
least half of the “winners” will be eliminated either due to technical errors,
the applicant’s failure to meet the minimum education or experience
requirements, or because the application was not approved before the
September 30th cut-off date.

Incorrectly Submitted Lottery Entries

The DV program has a deceptive appearance of
simplicity, but has numerous pitfalls.  These include rigid and technical
qualification requirements, such as being born in (as opposed to being a
citizen of) a country from among those listed as
qualifying countries by the Department of State
 docs/DV_2015_Instructions.pdf as well as specific
minimum educational (a G.E.D. is not accepted as the equivalent of a
high-school degree) or work experience requirements.  These rigid pitfalls
end up disqualifying thousands of distraught lottery winners every year.

DV Visa Application Cut-off Date

The DV immigrant visa is a “Cinderella visa.”
If not completed prior to midnight on September 30, the end of the government’s
fiscal year, it disappears.  This means once notified of selection,
numerous qualification steps must be completed prior to September 30 of the
relevant year.  The 2015 DV lottery opens October 1, 2013, and
those selected will have until September 30, 2015 to complete the
entire process and receive the DV visa.

Presently entrants will have to check their
lottery results online as no notifications of winning will be issued by
the government.  Starting on May 1, 2014, and continuing for the 16-month
period through at least September 2015, DV lottery entrants will have to
periodically check to see if DOS has updated their online lottery status. 
If so, the clock starts ticking for that lottery winner to prepare and submit
their DV visa application right away.  Historically (and again
anecdotally), this has resulted in tens of thousands of DV lottery winners
finding themselves unable to reach the finish line by the deadline.

Feb 13 2013 Live Updates on Senate's hearing on immigration Reform

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Wed, Feb 13, 2013 @ 12:07 PM

immigration reformCourtesy of Ammerican Immigration Lawyers Association (Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 13020747 (posted Feb. 13, 2013))

On 2/13/13 at 9:30am ET the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold their first hearing on immigration reform of the 113th Congress that will feature Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.

9:33am: Sen. Leahy (D-VT) starts the Senate Hearing: Few topics are more fundamental to who and what we are as a nation. We’ve effectively done enforcement first and enforcement only. The president is right, the time is now…The fundamental civil rights of U.S. citizens are more than a social issue. Any legislation that comes before this committee should acknowledge the rights of all citizens...The window on this issue will not stay open very long. This committee will start marking up immigration legislation soon.

Sen. Grassley’s (R-IA) opening statement: I’m going to start with a quote from then chairman, Sen. Simpson of WY made on 1981 as we started down a 6yr road of 1986 bill. Just as congress is about to undertake an overhaul of the immigration reform system, his words are relevant today. Since I was elected to the Senate, I have served on this committee. I voted for the 1986 amnesty bill because I believed it was a one-time solution to the problem. I was wrong. I applaud the movement by members to work towards an agreement. I have read the Senate bi-partisan framework. One line that struck me: “we will ensure that this is a successful permanent reform that will not need to be revisited” that sentence is the most important part of that document. We must learn from our previous mistakes so we don’t have to revisit the problem…The questions I have asked of this president and the secretary have gone unanswered. Why agents in NH were ordered not to arrest an individual convicted with sexual assault of a child. So the secretary must answer in the delay in arresting this sexual predator… I also plan to ask the secretary about the delay in transparency about the DACA program. About 5 letters about DACA have gone ignored…Finally, we have yet to see answers from the last hearing in this committee…Immigration must be settled, we must find answers. But getting answers to the basic questions of legislating seems impossible. I fear what will become of the President’s promise of transparency once we pass the bill. If we don’t have faith in the administration now, how can we trust in the implementation of an important bill we will pass later this year.

10:00am Sec. Napolitano praises the President’s plan and expanding on the need for Comprehensive reform in order to ensure America’s safety by driving down unauthorized crossings, bringing millions of people out of the shadows, and by prioritizing federal enforcement activities on narcotics smugglers, human traffickers and others.

10:08am: Sen. Leahy how is this plan different than the 1986 relief?
A: Immigration enforcement is light years away from what it was in 1986 and it’s seen in the numbers. There are 7 times more border patrol agents, we have 655 miles of fence infrastructure now as opposed to some chainlink fence, 409,000 deportation now as opposed to 25,000 deportation in 1986. The enforcement of removals has created tension what we saw expressed earlier today. Efforts must be sustained and multiplied and we must deal with the demand for illegal and legal migration.

Q:If we expand our legal immigration system does that make your job of removing criminal undocumented immigrants more or less difficult? A: It makes it less difficult because we can stop focusing on those that have long standing ties to their community, etc… and focus on priority cases

Q: Any longstanding prosecutor knows that you can’t prosecute everyone who commits a crime, you must show prosecutorial discretion. You’ve demonstrated this with DACA—that you can’t visit sins of parents against their children. Critics of DACA say that you’re breaking the law, how would you respond to that?
A: I would say that DACA is consistent with our values and the guidance we have given to ICE agents is to focus on those who have committed crimes, our repeat offenders and taking those who are low priority out of the system helps us meet those goals.

Q: Sen Collins (R-ME) and I are introducing the Uniting Families Act (that I have introduced every year for the last ten years). Some say that expanding spousal green cards to same-sex bi-national couples increases the potential for fraud, do you agree?
A: No, our adjudicators are experienced.

Sen Leahy: EB-5 is great! H-2A has had problems.

10:16am Sen. Sessions (R-AL) begins questioning Sec. Napolitano

Q: You’re afraid that enforcement first means enforcement only, but the American people are afraid that you mean amnesty only (without enforcement). I believe that if this Administration had done a better job of enforcement you’d be in a better place to ask for a more broad solution to the problem. I respect the lawmakers that are working to try to reach legislation, but it feels like what happened before with special interests controlling the process without ICE representatives, border patrol or real American people interests. I have my doubts that it will deliver on its promises. It might be better to deal with problems in a discrete level.

I fought for the fencing that’s on the border and it only got done when the last bill was going forward that called for 700 miles of double fencing, which has not been met. The additional border patrol agents that have been added were added over the objection of people who were fighting for amnesty last time. Last time you were here (October 2011) I raised concerns about the morale of ICE officers.

A: CBP and ICE were involved in discussions with the White House as the President formed his proposal. Operational issues on how the system works were part of the dialogue. On the fence, all but one mile is complete! With respect to ICE morale, ICE agents have the most difficult law enforcement job in America: they get criticized for deporting too many people and for not deporting everyone that is here without papers. It’s our responsibility as leadership of a prosecution agency to set priorities (as is done with state Attorney General’s office and the Justice Department)—the field officers don’t set the priorities, they get guidance from ICE leadership.

10:24am Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) begins asking questions.

Q: I want to ask about the visa waiver program, the importance of biometrics, and the entry-exit system. I was told by June 2012 that the Department would have a fully operational exit-entry system so that U.S. could calculate visa overstays. Can you give a quick update on when we’ll have this capability?

A: Biometrics is extremely difficult, and our airports are not designed to monitor exits, only entrants. We will have country by country visa over stay reports by the end of 2013.

Q: I am putting together the AgJobs part of the bill, E-Verify as currently constructed is not workable in agricultural settings. I asked Dir. Mayorkas how E-Verify could be modified for agricultural settings, but he did not provide any strategies to meet these difficulties.
A: I believe national implementation of a worker verification system is essential to immigration reform, but the problem with agricultural workers is they’re out on the fields so we’re testing mobile sites and other technology to put e-verify where the workers are.

Q: One of the principles of our system is family unification, what do you believe is the appropriate place for immediate family?
A:this President strongly believes in family unification, we will work with you on how big the chain is.

Q: Do you have any studies on the average number of people LPRs bring in?
A: No.

10:36am Sen. Durbin (D-IL) begins questioning Sec. Napolitano

Q: I want to commend you for DACA, over 400,000 DREAMers have applied. These students represent a great opportunity for America to be a better nation. We have drawn rules around DREAM Act and DACA that are the right rules. The individual brought up by Sen. Grassley was denied DACA and is now in deportation hearings. Some critics are suggesting that deportations are splitting up families and targeting families that are not threats to American safety. What is your response?
A: One factor that is considered in PD is whether the individual is a parent of a U.S. citizen children.

Q: I suppose what I am asking you to clarify is when there is no criminal record and you’re breaking up a family, what are the standards that are applied?
A:It should be a low priority case.


Q: There is a genuine good faith bi-partisan effort and we are doing our best to fix the broken immigration system and it is a threat to America’s future if we don’t deal with it comprehensively. There are elements in the negotiation that go beyond my personal feelings, buts an effort to reach a deal. We are encouraged by the President, but he has made it clear that he is anxious to mover this along. I thank you for accepting the most difficult job in this administration.


10:43am: Sen. Cornyn (R-TX) begins questions.

Q: this is like déjà vu for a lot of us. I believe the reason immigration reform failed in 2007 is because the American people don’t believe that Congress actually intends to follow through on enforcement measures. Did you say that “the border is secure.”
A: I did, but the context is that the border is more secure now that ever before and the numbers are better than they have been in decades. But we have to build and sustain that.

Q: Refers to a GAO Report that says that the Texas border is nowhere near operationally secure. I do not believe that the border is secure and we have a long way to go. A recent report signaled that you failed to apprehend 39% of border crossers, is that a good record?
A: We know that border security is important and that we’ve done more in the last four years to deter traffic over the border. The main driver of unauthorized crossings is the ability to work—all of these things go together, we need employment enforcement to drive down crossers. Other students have shown that net migration is negative.

Q: Would you agree that terrorist border crossings are a national security risk?
A: By improving the legal migration system will enable us to better focus on those who are nefarious and trying to do us harm.

10:51am Sen. Schumer (D-NY) begins questions.

Q: I want to thank the President for his remarks on immigration last night, he asked us to act now without making it a wedge issue. He gave us the space to come up with a bi-partisan proposal which is our only hope to pass something. We're looking to get this done in a short period of time and Chairman Leahy has said he'll make time for us. Both sides know they have to give and they are. It will be much easier to accomplish enforcement once we account for all of those people here without legal status-this way our law enforcement resources can focus on a smaller universe of criminals, future border stays, employers who hire unauthorized workers, etc… A: Fewer people are trying to cross the border than in four decades.

Q: In 2010 we gave you 1500 increased personnel, 4 drones and more DEA agents at the request of Sen. McCain.

10:57am: Sen. Lee (R-UT) begins questions.

Q: Our immigration system includes many different distinct parts and we should not assume that we must do this comprehensively. The good news is that Democrats and Republicans are not that far apart: we all agree to secure the border, reform visa system, streamline legal immigration and implement worksite verification. We should do the enforcement measures we agree on, as well as the legal immigrant system. I will be introducing the Fairness for Highskilled Workers Act, which will remove the per country cap on high skilled visas. Which specific component components of immigration reform do you think enjoy the most bi-partisan support that can be implemented quickly in your department.
A: I think the bi-partisan framework is a good place to start and we want to work with you to flesh that out with you.

Q: In 2011 ICE Director John Morton outlined two memos regarding PD. I don't agree with them.

11:04am Sen. Whitehouse (D-RI) begins questions.

Q: I want to talk to you about cyber security at a later time. I've been a supporter of the high skilled worker legislation with Sen. Kloubachar (D-MN). Can you make the case why encouraging high skilled workers is good for American jobs and the economy, rather than competing or displacing American jobs.
A: The case for STEM and high skilled workers is very strong, they complement American workers and become job creators.

11:06am Sen. Klobuchar (D-MN) begins questions.

Q: We are the world's talent and we need to attract the world's talent. Immigrant scientists and engineers are a third of what they were in 2001. 30% of U.S. Nobel Laureates were born somewhere else and 90 of the fortune 500 companies were started by immigrants. A problem with the system is that it treats drug smugglers the same as aspiring students.
A: With PD we take circumstances into account, but that is no replacement for statutory changes.

Q: Can you touch on how having so many people living in the shadows is difficult for law enforcement? A: What happens is, particularly in areas with large concentrations, is that people are afraid to interact with law enforcement when they've been victims of crime or have been witnesses. That is a cloud on those communities and when I speak with police chiefs (like SF and LA) it makes it very difficult for them to effectively ensure community safety.

Q: We did include U visas in VAWA for this reason, but were unable to include more in this go around. A: We need more U visas!

11:13am Sen. Flake (R-AZ) begins questions.

Q: Border security is a difficult term to define. The GAO has been quite complimentary of what’s happening in the Yuma sector of Arizona, but there are issues that the border patrol doesn’t have performance measures and goals to define border security.
A: The problem is how you define border security. One way to look at it if we have more money for enforcement, is it better to invest in employment verification system or to hire more border patrol agents. I think you can begin with the things listed in 2007 bill: apprehensions, crime rates along the border, drug and contraband seizures. The notion of a trigger implies that you don’t get to these other things until X is met, but we have to look at the simultaneously.

Q: I agree—we need people to have a legal way to come and go, only the path to citizenship would be tied to that. GAO reported in 2009 that in some sectors increased apprehensions as success, and in some decreased apprehensions as success. If directed by Congress can we go back to what we were doing prior to 2010 to “Operational Control?”
A: I would suggest that we should not go back. We cannot have a one or two line description of border security. We want a safe and secure border with efforts that can be sustained.

11:20am Sen. Hirono (D-HI) begins questioning Sec. Napolitano

Q: I am encouraged by the bi-partisan support around enforcement and visa reform, but unless we agree on how to address the 11 million people living in the shadows. The term Operational Control has been tossed out, and to some people that means zero illegal border crossings. How much money do we spend on border control?
A:Billions upon billions. Some studies suggest that you can add up the other expenditures of all federal enforcement agencies and it wouldn't reach immigration enforcement costs./p>

Q: So how much more would we need to spend to reduce border crossings to zero, because this about a cost-benefit anaylsis.
A:That's right, we are living in an austere world. I would advise that those efforts would be better spent on interior enforcement./p>

Q: I think immigration reform should be guided by principles that reflect our values. There has been a lot of emphasis on high skilled workers, specifically STEM, but another guiding principle should be the 50 year tradition of keeping families together. We should not get tunnel vision and forget the human element of immigration, I think we need to expand the opportunities for families to be united and kep together. Family immigration is essential to continue the vitality of the American economy. The success of immigrants in this country is closely tied to the success of the immigrants families. I want to ask about family unification backlogs, many immigrants have to wait in line for 20 years with Asian countries representing the largest backlogs. I'm pleased that the President included increasing the cap for family based visas to 15%, if that happens, what would you expect to see in terms of the reduction in the backlong, and how long would it take to eliminate the family based backlog.
A:I'd have to go back and get a firm number for you, but it would result in a reduction in the cap./p>

Q: In my community there are Filipino veterans who fought in WW II who have been waiting decades to be reunited with their children. I hope they will be prioritized. I've been told about 40% of the undocumented people in our country are visa over stayers, we have been attempting to address this for over a decade. What is it going to cost for us to put such a system in place to track these over stayers.
A:We have now linked databases and look at visa overstays and prioritize them as well. We will be doing enhanced biographic exit systems./p>

11:28am Sen. Graham (R-SC) begins questioning Sec. Napolitano

Q: We're not being overrun by Canadians are we? I would suggest that they return home because Canada has a stable government and economy and that most people who come are from worse situations. I think border security is the starting point. There are nine sectors that we've laid out, I want an inventory of what we can do that we haven't already done in each sector. Controlling employment is a virtual fence all of its own. I would bet that this could run into a roadblock on temporary worker program. I want American employers to be able to find the workforce they need without leaving the country. We are going to need a more robust legal immigration system in order to ensure the vitality of Social Security. We 're going to need more STEM workers.

11:35am Sen. Franken (D-MN) begins questioning Sec. Napolitano

Q: I want to talk about dairy. Cows aren't seasonal they have to be milked all the time. How will you help Minnesota workers?
A: We support reforms to the H2-A visa that would fix that issue.

Q: Approximately 205,000 parents were deported in two years from 2010-2012, we've seen firsthand in Minnesota how devastating these deportations can be on families. I know ICE has two sets of guidelines: parental directives and asking parents where they want children to go before placing them into custody. What is the status of these guidelines and what is DHS doing to protects children in enforcement actions?
A: These guidelines will be issues. This is the current hardship of the current immigration system-where parents need to be deported. We look at a number of factors: can one of the parents stay, are there other family members that can take the children?

Q: When an action is being taken, the children must have some contact with the parent, and the parents have some rights to be in contact with the children. We've seen this in Minnesota where it's been very traumatizing for children and parents and I'm introducing legislation to ensure that these families have right during those actions.

11:42am Sen. Coons (D-DE) begins questions of Sec. Napolitano.

Q: we're not living up to our Constitutional values of treating families and providing due process for all individuals. We're left with w system that's very expensive for all involved. One of the pillars of immigration reform is path to citizenship, what is the current path? Is there a line?
A: There is no line. We look at prior removals as a barrier.

Q: if someone is able to apply through a USC relative what is the process?
A:They are lengthy and complex. That's why we must create a path.

Q: In the context of reform there has been discussion about same-sex couples being a divisive issue, can we get a commitment of ceasing deportations of same-sex couples.
A: We can't because of DOMA.

Q: I want to talk about the process of deporting families along different parts of the border. How does the system ensure that refugees, asylum seekers or vulnerable women and children are protected and do agents have discretion?
A: We have found that one deterrent of repeat crossers of the border is consequences including lateral removal along the border.

Q: We want to focus on removing those who pose a threat to our community, under DACA DREAMers now don't live under the threat of an removal, has this policy resulted in the department's ability to focus on higher level priorities?
A: Yes it does and DACA is consistent with our values as a country.

11:55am: Second panel begins.

11:56am: Jose Antonio Vargas tells his life story to humanize the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

12:02pm: Jessica Vaughan speaks on limiting the flows of immigration and the problems with comprehensive immigration reform.

12:10pm: Steve Case speaks on the importance of immigrant entrepreneurs.

12:17pm: Chris Crane speaks on his disappointment that DHS does not enforce the country's immigration laws.

12:24pm: Janet Murguia speaks on the critical need for immigration reform that includes a roadmap to citizenship, smart enforcement and a better legal immigration system.


Witness List:

The Honorable Janet Napolitano Secretary
United States Department of Homeland Security

Panel II

Jose Antonio Vargas
Founder, Define American

Jessica Vaughan
Director of Policy Studies, Center for Immigration Studies

Steve Case
Chairman and CEO, Revolution

Chris Crane
President, National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council 118
American Federation of Government Employees

Janet Murguía
President and CEO, National Council of La Raza

Chairman Leahy (D-VT) Statement


AILA Testimony

Analysis of February 2013 Visa Bulletin

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Fri, Feb 01, 2013 @ 10:24 AM

visa retrogression; green cardAnalysis of February 2013 Visa Bulletin

The February 2013 Visa Bulletin does not provide predictions for cutoff date movement later in the year.  Let’s hope that the highly anticipated Immigration Reform which President Obama says must happen this year---will bring current the wait times for visas in both the employment and family based categories.   

 Family-based categories:

- First (F1): This preference is for unmarried sons and daughters of US citizens (21 years of age and older).

- The priority dates for China, India and "Other Countries" have progressed approximately 1 month.

- There is slight movement in this category for Mexico.

- The priority date for Philippines has progressed approximately 2 months.

- Second:

- A. (F2A) This preference is for spouses and children (under 21 years of age) of legal permanent residents.

- The priority dates for all countries have progressed approximately 1 month.

- B. (F2B) This preference is for unmarried sons and daughters (21 years of age or older) of legal permanent residents.

- The priority dates for all countries have progressed approximately 1 month.

- Third (F3): This preference is for married sons and daughters of US citizens.

- The priority dates for China, India, The Philippines and “Other Countries” have progressed approximately 2 weeks.

- The priority date for Mexico remains the same.

- Fourth (F4): This preference is for brothers and sisters of adult US citizens.

- There is slight movement in this category for China, India, Mexico and “Other Countries”.

- The priority date for Philippines has progressed approximately 2 weeks.

Employment-based categories (EB-1, EB-2, EB-3 & "Other Workers"):

- EB-1: This preference is reserved for persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics; outstanding professors or researchers; and multinational executives and managers.

- This category remains current for all countries.

- EB-2: This preference is reserved for persons who are members of the professions holding advanced degrees or for persons with exceptional ability in the arts, sciences, or business.

- The priority date for China has progressed approximately 1 month to January 15, 2008.

- The priority date for India, established in the October 2012 bulletin remains the same.

- The priority dates for Mexico, Philippines and “Other Countries” remain current.

- EB-3: This preference is reserved for professionals, skilled workers, and other workers.

- The priority dates for China, Mexico, and “Other Countries”   - There is slight movement in this category for India and The Philippines.

- "Other workers".

- The priority date for China remains the same at July 1, 2003.

- There is slight movement in this category for India and The Philippines.

- The priority dates for Mexico and “Other Countries” have progressed 1 month.

Cut-off Dates for Employment-Based Immigrant Visas

Employment-Based All Chargeability
Areas Except
Those Listed
China-Mainland Born India Mexico Philippines
1st Current Current Current Current Current
2nd Current 01/15/08 09/01/04 Current Current
3rd 03/15/07 11/15/06 11/15/02 03/15/07 08/22/06
Other Workers 03/15/07 07/01/03 11/15/02 03/15/07 08/22/06
4th Current Current Current Current Current
Certain Religious Workers Current Current Current Current Current

Regional Centers

Current Current Current Current Current

5th Pilot Programs

Current Current Current Current Current
"1st" refers to the First Preference in Employment-Based Immigration category (EB-1), i.e., persons of "extraordinary ability" in the sciences, arts, education, business, and athletics, outstanding professors and researchers and certain executives and managers;
"2nd" refers to the Second Preference in Employment-Based Immigration category (EB-2), i.e., professionals holding advanced degrees, or persons of exceptional ability in the arts, sciences, or business (NIW applicants);
"3rd" refers to the Third Preference in Employment-Based Immigration category (EB-3), i.e., skilled workers and professionals holding baccalaureate degrees;
"Other Workers" refers to the unskilled worker under the Third Preference in Employment-Based Immigration category;
"4th" refers to the Fourth Preference in Employment-Based Immigration category (EB-4), i.e., religious workers, certain overseas employees of the U.S. Government, former employees of the Panama Canal Company, retired employees of international organizations, certain dependents of international organization employees and certain members of the U.S. Armed Forces; and
"5th" refers to the Fifth Preference in Employment-Based Immigration category (EB-5), i.e., employment creation investors.

Cut-off Dates for Family-Based Immigrant Visas


Family-Based All Chargeability
Areas Except
Those Listed
China-Mainland Born India Mexico Philippines
1st 01/15/06 01/15/06 01/15/06 07/15/93 09/08/98
2A* 10/22/10 10/22/10 10/22/10 10/08/10 10/22/10
2B 01/15/05 01/15/05 01/15/05 12/15/92 05/15/02
3rd 07/08/02 07/08/02 07/08/02 03/08/93 08/22/92
4th 04/15/01 04/15/01 04/15/01 08/01/96 06/01/89

*NOTE: For February, F2A numbers EXEMPT from per-country limit are available to applicants from all countries with priority dates earlier than 08OCT10.  F2A numbers SUBJECT to per-country limit are available to applicants chargeable to all countries EXCEPT MEXICO with priority dates beginning 08OCT10 and earlier than 22OCT10.  (All F2A numbers provided for MEXICO are exempt from the per-country limit; there are no F2A numbers for MEXICO subject to per-country limit.)


"1st" refers to the First Preference in Family-Based Immigration category, i.e., unmarried children of U.S. citizens over age of 21;

"2A" refers to the first subcategory of the Second Preference in Family-Based Immigration category, i.e., spouses or unmarried children under age 21 of permanent residents;

"2B" refers to the second subcategory of the Second Preference in Family-Based Immigration category, i.e., unmarried children of 21 years of age or older of permanent residents;

"3rd" refers to the Third Preference in Family-Based Immigration category, i.e., married children of U.S. citizens; and

"4th" refers to the Fourth Preference in Family-Based Immigration category, i.e., brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens.

Immediate family members of U.S. citizens, i.e., spouses, parents and unmarried children under age of 21, are not subject to the numerical restriction of visa quotas

Immigration Innovation Act - Increases to H-1B Cap and Other Changes

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 @ 3:19 PM



The Immigration Innovation (I2) Act of 2013 was introduced on January 29, 2013 by Sens. Hatch (R-UT), Klobuchar (D-MN), Rubio (R-FL), and Coons (D-DE). Among other things, the bill proposes increasing the H-1B cap, authorizing employment for spouses of H-1B visa holders, recapturing green card numbers, allowing dual intent for student visa holders, and reforming fees on H-1B visas and employment-based green cards.

What this Act Proposes?

Employment-Based Nonimmigrant H-1B Visas

  • Increase H-1B cap from 65,000 to 115,000
  • Establish a market-based H-1B escalator, so that the cap can adjust – up or down – to the demands of the economy (includes a 300,000 ceiling on the ability of the escalator to move)
    • If the cap is hit in the first 45 days when petitions may be filed, an additional 20,000 H-1B visas will be made available immediately.  
    • If the cap is hit in the first 60 days when petitions may be filed, an additional 15,000 H-1B visas will be made available immediately.  
    • If the cap is hit in the first 90 days when petitions may be filed, an additional 10,000 H-1B visas will be made available immediately.  
    • If the cap is hit during the 185-day period ending on the 275th day on which petitions may be filed, and additional 5,000 H-1B will be made available immediately. 
  • Uncap the existing U.S. advanced degree exemption (currently limited to 20,000 per year)
  • Authorize employment for dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders
  • Increase portability of high skilled foreign workers by:
    • Removing impediments and costs of changing employers;
    • Establishing a clear transition period for foreign workers as they change jobs; and,
    • Restoring visa revalidation for E, H, L, O, and P nonimmigrant visa categories

 Student Visas

  • Allow dual intent for foreign students at U.S. colleges and universities to provide the certainty they need to ensure their future in the United States

 Immigrant Visas and Green Cards

  • Enable the recapture of green card numbers that were approved by Congress in previous years but were not used
  • Exempt certain categories of persons from the employment-based green card cap:
    • Dependents of employment-based immigrant visa recipients
    • U.S. STEM advance degree holders
    • Persons with extraordinary ability
    • Outstanding professors and researchers
  • Provide for the roll-over of unused employment-based immigrant visa numbers to the following fiscal year so future visas are not lost due to bureaucratic delays
  • Eliminate annual per-country limits for employment based visa petitioners and adjust per-country caps for family-based immigrant visas

 U.S. STEM Education & Worker Retraining Initiative

  • Reform fees on H-1B visas and employment-based green cards; use money from these fees to fund a grant program to promote STEM education and worker retraining to be administered by the states

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