When Immigration Matters

MAKING THE H-1B VISA QUOTA | PART II

Posted by Karen Pollak on Wed, Apr 06, 2011 @ 8:54 PM

WHAT OTHER VISA OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE?

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GAO Recommendations on E-Verify | Immigration Law

Posted by Karen Pollak on Sat, Jan 22, 2011 @ 10:15 AM

About the Study

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Visa Bulletin for February 2011 | Immigration

Posted by Karen Pollak on Fri, Jan 21, 2011 @ 9:00 AM

A. STATUTORY NUMBERS

1.  This bulletin summarizes the availability of immigrant numbers during February. Consular officers are required to report to the Department of State documentarily qualified applicants for numerically limited visas; the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security reports applicants for adjustment of status.  Allocations were made, to the extent possible under the numerical limitations, for the demand received by January 11th in the chronological order of the reported priority dates. If the demand could not be satisfied within the statutory or regulatory limits, the category or foreign state in which demand was excessive was deemed oversubscribed.  The cut-off date for an oversubscribed category is the priority date of the first applicant who could not be reached within the numerical limits.

Only applicants who have a priority date earlier than the cut-off date may be allotted a number. Immediately that it becomes necessary during the monthly allocation process to retrogress a cut-off date, supplemental requests for numbers will be honored only if the priority date falls within the new cut-off date which has been announced in this bulletin.

2. Section 201 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) sets an annual minimum family-sponsored preference limit of 226,000.  The worldwide level for annual employment-based preference immigrants is at least 140,000. Section 202 prescribes that the per-country limit for preference immigrants is set at 7% of the total annual family-sponsored and employment-based preference limits, i.e., 25,620.  The dependent area limit is set at 2%, or 7,320.

3.  Section 203 of the INA prescribes preference classes for allotment of immigrant visas as follows:

FAMILY-SPONSORED PREFERENCES

First:  Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Citizens:  23,400 plus any numbers not required for fourth preference.

Second:  Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents:  114,200, plus the number (if any) by which the worldwide family preference level exceeds 226,000, and any unused first preference numbers:

A.  Spouses and Children:  77% of the overall second preference limitation, of which 75% are exempt from the per-country limit;

B.  Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older):  23% of the overall second preference limitation.

Third:  Married Sons and Daughters of Citizens:  23,400, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences.

Fourth:  Brothers and Sisters of Adult Citizens:  65,000, plus any numbers not required by first three preferences.

EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCES

First:    Priority Workers:  28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required for fourth and fifth preferences.

Second:  Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability:  28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required by first preference.

Third:  Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers:  28.6% of the worldwide level, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences, not more than 10,000 of which to "Other Workers".  

Fourth:  Certain Special Immigrants:  7.1% of the worldwide level.

Fifth:  Employment Creation:  7.1% of the worldwide level, not less than 3,000 of which reserved for investors in a targeted rural or high-unemployment area, and 3,000 set aside for investors in regional centers by Sec. 610 of P.L. 102-395.

4.  INA Section 203(e) provides that family-sponsored and employment-based preference visas be issued to eligible immigrants in the order in which a petition in behalf of each has been filed.  Section 203(d) provides that spouses and children of preference immigrants are entitled to the same status, and the same order of consideration, if accompanying or following to join the principal.  The visa prorating provisions of Section 202(e) apply to allocations for a foreign state or dependent area when visa demand exceeds the per-country limit.  These provisions apply at present to the following oversubscribed chargeability areas:  CHINA-mainland born, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, INDIA, MEXICO, and PHILIPPINES.

5.  On the chart below, the listing of a date for any class indicates that the class is oversubscribed (see paragraph 1); "C" means current, i.e., numbers are available for all qualified applicants; and "U" means unavailable, i.e., no numbers are available.  (NOTE:  Numbers are available only for applicants whose priority date is earlier than the cut-off date listed below.)

Family All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed CHINA-mainland born DOMINICAN REPUBLIC INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
1st 01JAN05 01JAN05 01JAN05 01JAN05 22JAN93 01AUG94
2A 01JAN08 01JAN08 01JAN08 01JAN08 01APR05 01JAN08
2B 15APR03 15APR03 01JAN97 15APR03 01JUL92 01JUN99
3rd 01JAN01 01JAN01 01JAN01 01JAN01 22NOV92 22OCT91
4th 01JAN00 01JAN00 01JAN00 01JAN00 01JAN96 15JAN88

*NOTE:  For February, 2A numbers EXEMPT from per-country limit are available to applicants from all countries with priority dates earlier than 01APR05.  2A numbers SUBJECT to per-country limit are available to applicants chargeable to all countries EXCEPT MEXICO with priority dates beginning 01APR05 and earlier than 01JAN08.  (All 2A numbers provided for MEXICO are exempt from the per-country limit; there are no 2A numbers for MEXICO subject to per-country limit.)

Employment- Based

All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed

CHINA- mainland born DOMINICAN REPUBLIC INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
1st C C C C C C
2nd C 01JUL06 C 08MAY06 C C
3rd 01APR05 01JAN04 01APR05 22FEB02 08JUL03 01APR05
Other Workers 01MAY03 22APR03 01MAY03 22FEB02 01MAY03 01MAY03
4th C C C C C C
Certain Religious Workers C C C C C C
5th C C C C C C
Targeted Employment Areas/ Regional Centers C C C C C C
5th Pilot Programs C C C C C C

The Department of State has available a recorded message with visa availability information which can be heard at:  (area code 202) 663-1541.  This recording will be updated in the middle of each month with information on cut-off dates for the following month.

Employment Third Preference Other Workers Category:  Section 203(e) of the NACARA, as amended by Section 1(e) of Pub. L. 105-139, provides that once the Employment Third Preference Other Worker (EW) cut-off date has reached the priority date of the latest EW petition approved prior to November 19, 1997, the 10,000 EW numbers available for a fiscal year are to be reduced by up to 5,000 annually beginning in the following fiscal year.  This reduction is to be made for as long as necessary to offset adjustments under the NACARA program.  Since the EW cut-off date reached November 19, 1997 during Fiscal Year 2001, the reduction in the EW annual limit to 5,000 began in Fiscal Year 2002.

B. DIVERSITY IMMIGRANT (DV) CATEGORY

Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act provides a maximum of up to 55,000 immigrant visas each fiscal year to permit immigration opportunities for persons from countries other than the principal sources of current immigration to the United States.  The Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) passed by Congress in November 1997 stipulates that beginning with DV-99, and for as long as necessary, up to 5,000 of the 55,000 annually-allocated diversity visas will be made available for use under the NACARA program.  This reduction has resulted in the DV-2011 annual limit being reduced to 50,000.  DV visas are divided among six geographic regions.  No one country can receive more than seven percent of the available diversity visas in any one year.

For February, immigrant numbers in the DV category are available to qualified DV-2011 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:

Region All DV Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed Separately  
AFRICA 26,100 Except: Egypt 20,200
Ethiopia 15,000
Nigeria 12,100
ASIA 14,850  
EUROPE 17,600  
NORTH AMERICA (BAHAMAS) 7  
OCEANIA 810  
SOUTH AMERICA, and the CARIBBEAN 900  

Entitlement to immigrant status in the DV category lasts only through the end of the fiscal (visa) year for which the applicant is selected in the lottery.  The year of entitlement for all applicants registered for the DV-2011 program ends as of September 30, 2011.  DV visas may not be issued to DV-2011 applicants after that date.  Similarly, spouses and children accompanying or following to join DV-2011 principals are only entitled to derivative DV status until September 30, 2011.  DV visa availability through the very end of FY-2011 cannot be taken for granted.  Numbers could be exhausted prior to September 30.

C. ADVANCE NOTIFICATION OF THE DIVERSITY (DV) IMMIGRANT CATEGORY RANK CUT-OFFS WHICH WILL APPLY IN MARCH

For March, immigrant numbers in the DV category are available to qualified DV-2011 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:

Region All DV Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed Separately  
AFRICA 31,950 Except: Egypt 24,275
Ethiopia 18,650
Nigeria 13,100
ASIA 17,200  
EUROPE 20,450  
NORTH AMERICA (BAHAMAS) 7  
OCEANIA 900  
SOUTH AMERICA, and the CARIBBEAN 1,025  

D. RETROGRESSION OF FAMILY CUT-OFF DATES

Continued heavy applicant demand for numbers in the Family Fourth preference category has required the retrogression of the Worldwide, China-mainland born, Dominican Republic, and India cut-off date for the month of February.

It has also been necessary to retrogress the Dominican Republic F2B category for the month of February.

Further retrogressions cannot be ruled out should demand continue at the current levels for some categories and countries. 

Please Note:   Applicants entitled to immigrant status become documentarily qualified at their own initiative and convenience. By no means has every applicant with a priority date earlier than a prevailing cut-off date been processed for final visa action.  On the contrary, visa allotments are made only on the basis of the total applicants reported documentarily qualified each month, compared with the amount of available numbers.  For example, during the past month, over 17,300 of the applicants who have become documentarily qualified in the Family preference categories have priority dates earlier than the cut-off dates established for January.  Demand for visa numbers can fluctuate from one month to another, with the inevitable impact on cut-off dates.  

Following are examples of possible cut-off date actions based on demand:

Numbers
Available 
Demand with Priority Dates
Prior to the Current Cut-off
Next Month’s
Cut-off Date Will

3,000
3,000
3,000

1,000
3,000
5,000
Advance
Remain the same
Retrogress

 

Immigration questions?  We have answers.  Free consultation available | 800-969-5529

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GAO Recommendations on H-1B Visa Program

Posted by Karen Pollak on Fri, Jan 21, 2011 @ 8:00 AM

About The Study

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New Countries Eligible to Participate in 2011 H-2A and H-2B Programs

Posted by Karen Pollak on Thu, Jan 20, 2011 @ 9:00 AM

WASHINGTON— U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in consultation with the Department of State, has identified 53 countries whose nationals are eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B programs for the coming year.

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USCIS Releases 2011 Handbook for Employers M-274 | Immigration

Posted by Karen Pollak on Wed, Jan 19, 2011 @ 8:44 AM

New M-274 Handbook For Employers Fills Gaps In Form I-9 Guidance

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New Pitch for StartUp Visa Act

Posted by Karen Pollak on Fri, Dec 17, 2010 @ 11:29 AM
December 16, 2010

By ANGUS LOTEN

San Francisco entrepreneur Brian Wong has already hired two employees and secured $300,000 in funding for his start-up, and hopes to have a staff of 40 or more full-time workers by this time next year.

But there's at least one red flag in his business plan: Mr. Wong isn't American; he's Canadian. As such, his long-term immigration status is up in the air. That kind of uncertainty can spook investors and clients alike, says Mr. Wong, whose start-up, called Kiip, aims to develop a new mobile game advertising platform.

"It's already hard enough to raise funds and this is an added risk," Mr. Wong says of his temporary visa status.

With prospects for the latest immigration reform efforts fading in the Senate—and new Republican lawmakers calling for tougher border security—Mr. Wong and other immigrant entrepreneurs are holding out hope for a separate bipartisan bill that seeks to spur job growth by easing visa restrictions on foreign-owned start-ups.

The StartUp Visa Act, introduced by Sens. John Kerry (D., Mass.) and Richard Lugar (R., Ind.) in February, would grant permanent residency—that is, a green card—to any foreign-born entrepreneur whose new business attracts at least $100,000 in venture capital or angel backing out of a total $250,000 in equity financing, while creating five new jobs within two years. The bill is expected to be reintroduced in the Senate as early as January.

Last week, Senate Democrats blocked a vote on the Dream Act, a bill that provides a path to citizenship for younger undocumented immigrants, in the face of strong Republican opposition.

By contrast, the start-up visa bill has won broad support among both parties. It's also backed by some big names in venture capital and angel investing, including Y Combinator's Paul Graham and Foundry Group's Brad Feld, who have faced a dearth of homegrown start-up activity since the economic downturn.

While the recession has forced many Americans to go into business for themselves, fewer are taking on employees, according to recent Labor Department data. That's left policymakers targeting small-business job-creation programs at existing firms, through a mix of grants and tax credits. Yet data show start-ups are strong vehicles for job growth. In a typical year, an average of 800,000 jobs are created by firms in their first full year of business, compared with just 335,000 by firms launched six to ten years earlier, according to a study by the Kauffman Foundation, an entrepreneurship advocacy group in Kansas City, Mo.

And foreign entrepreneurs have long played an outsized role in the U.S. start-up sector, especially in the tech industry. Immigrants are nearly 30% more likely to start a business than nonimmigrants, the Small Business Administration says. University of California researchers estimate about a third of Silicon Valley technology firms were started by Indian or Chinese entrepreneurs, while a joint study with Duke University found at least one immigrant founder in over a quarter of all engineering and technology firms launched in the U.S. since the mid 1990s, together generating nearly 450,000 jobs by 2005. Google Inc., Intel Corp., Yahoo Inc. and eBay Inc. all had at least one immigrant founder.

Yet many of these companies were also started on a shoestring, leading some tech industry insiders to say the bill's capital requirements are far too high.

"What I've seen is people raising maybe $50,000 or $100,000 at the most," says Edith Yeung, a 33-year-old Silicon Valley technology consultant who hosts monthly tech entrepreneur meetings.

Before getting her green card three years ago, Ms. Yeung had been on a string of temporary visas since leaving Hong Kong in the early 1990s. Her last was a six-year H-1B visa tied to her employer.

"It was frustrating. I wanted to start something on my own, but I was stuck," she says. "If I left my job, I would have to leave the country."

As it is, the bill is a more accessible version of the current EB-5 visa, which offers a green card to foreign entrepreneurs whose businesses have an upfront investment of $1 million and employ at least 10 workers. Last year, less than half of the allotted 10,000 EB-5 visas were issued, largely reflecting a dearth of qualified candidates. The start-up visa bill proposes filling these unused slots, rather than creating new spots and raising immigration quotas.

Though restrictive, the start-up visa's high capital requirement is certain to filter out sole-proprietorships, while ensuring it attracts innovative, mostly tech-savvy entrepreneurs, says Bob Litan, a researcher at the Kauffman Foundation. The downside, he says, is that only a handful of immigrant entrepreneurs will qualify.

"Hardly any businesses get venture capital in a given year," Mr. Litan says. "This isn't going to have much of an impact on the U.S. economy and I suspect that's why so few people are opposed to it."

Still, like all recent immigration reform efforts the bill's future is far from certain. A companion bill sponsored by Rep. Jared Polis (D., Colo.), which is a similar reworking of the EB-5 visa, was rolled into a comprehensive immigration reform package that's currently stalled in the House.

Without a visa, Mr. Wong says he'll be forced to launch his start-up back in Canada, taking the new jobs with him.

"I've been back and forth to Toronto and Vancouver so many times it's ridiculous," he says. "It's something I think about every night. It would be so much easier to just stay there."

Write to Angus Loten at angus.loten@wsj.com

Sign in to http://startupvisa.2gov.org/ and show Congress your support for this visa!

Immigration questions?  We have answers.  Free consultation available | 800-969-5529

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IMMIGRATION MYTH: Arizonans Need SB 1070 to Fight Crime & Kidnappings

Posted by Karen Pollak on Thu, Dec 16, 2010 @ 12:25 PM

Supporters of Arizona's anti-immigrant SB 1070 claim that the residents of the Grand Canyon State need to be protected from crime and kidnapping perpetrated by illegal immigrants. But, the truth is, rising immigration is responsible for crime reduction and in Arizona the people most likely to be kidnapped are undocumented immigrants themselves! Before throwing your hands up in frustration and defeat when you hear this myth about the need to have SB 10170, and laws like it, for the sake of public safety, consider responding with these quick mythbusting facts!

FACT:Statistical models suggest that cities with the largest increases in immigration between 1990 and 2000 experienced the largest decreases in homicide and robbery during the same time period. According to sociologist Tim Wadsworth, the findings offer insights into the complex relationship between immigration and crime and suggest that growth in immigration may have been responsible for part of the precipitous crime drop of the 1990s.

FACT:Some police chiefs believe that crime will actually go up if SB 1070 becomes law in Arizona or in any other state. They believe that diverting resources away from the fight against violent crime and breaking down the hard-won trust between cops and the communities where they work will make it harder to keep people safe. Police chiefs have argued that, “This is not a law that increases public safety. This is a bill that makes it much harder for us to do our jobs,” said Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck.

FACT: Most of the kidnappings that do occur in Phoenix are of undocumented immigrants. As Terry Greene Sterling describes in her book Illegal: Life and Death in Arizona’s Immigration War Zone, most of the kidnapping victims in Phoenix are unauthorized immigrants held for ransom by the smugglers (coyotes) they hire to bring them to the United States. These are “drop house” kidnappings in which “incoming migrants at the border are baited with low smuggling fares. Those low fares are ramped up by thousands of dollars once the migrants are held at gunpoint in a drop house.”

More mythbusting facts on this issue can be found in Separating Fact from Fiction: The Truth about Kidnapping in Arizona, a report from the Immigration Policy Center.

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Senate to Vote on Dream Act | Immigration

Posted by Karen Pollak on Thu, Dec 16, 2010 @ 10:17 AM

The Senate will be voting in the next few days (if not today) on the DREAM Act.   Please call and urge YOUR SENATORS to SUPPORT the DREAM Act!

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Solutions That Work: A Policy Manual for Immigration Reform

Posted by Karen Pollak on Wed, Dec 15, 2010 @ 12:10 PM

Solutions That Work: A Policy Manual for Immigration Reform was crafted by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) to show that a solution to our nation's immigration problem does exist and can be achieved. Each section of this policy manual summarizes a key component of the existing immigration system, identifies its deficiencies and offers workable solutions that when applied together, will fix the totality of the broken, outdated, and inadequate system. AILA believes that for lasting and meaningful reform to take hold, these various components must be addressed in a comprehensive immigration reform package.

The Policy Manual explains how any effective, long-term solution to the immigration problem must: 1) require the unauthorized population to come out of the shadows, register their presence with the government, and give them the opportunity to earn legal status; 2) provide fair and lawful ways for American businesses to hire much-needed immigrant workers who help grow our economy while protecting U.S. workers from unfair competition and all workers from exploitation; 3) reduce the unreasonable and counterproductive backlogs in family-based and employment-based immigration; 4) ensure the permanent immigration system provides adequate visas to meet the needs of American families, businesses, and communities; and 5) preserve and restore the fundamental principles of due process and equal protection while protecting our national security.

Review and download AILA's newest advocacy resource, Solutions That Work: A Policy Manual for Immigration Reform.

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