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The Florida Bar is the state organization of the legal profession for Florida attorneys. It is comprised principally of practicing lawyers, judges, court administrators, law teachers, public service attorneys and many non-practicing lawyers who are business executives, government officials, etc. The Florida bar represents practitioners in specialized areas of the law. It also represents affiliated, law-related organizations and groups with specialized interests or needs such as administrative law judges, lawyers in the armed forces, and minority and women's bar associations.

AILA is the immigration national bar association of over 4,000 attorneys who practice immigration law. AILA Member attorneys represent tens of thousands of U.S. families who have applied for permanent residence for their spouses, children, and other close relatives to lawfully enter and reside in the United States. AILA Members also represent thousands of U.S. businesses and industries which sponsor highly skilled foreign workers seeking to enter the United States on a temporary or permanent basis. AILA Members also represent foreign students, entertainers, athletes, and asylum seekers, often on a pro bono basis.

Pursuant to federal law, we may also also represent clients in all fifty U.S. states. We are pleased to offer legislative immigration and related news items for the following areas:

Licensed by The Supreme Court of Florida and Admitted to the Florida Bar - Offices in Jacksonville

January, 2005 Visa Bulletin Released by U.S. Department of State

The January, 2005 Visa Bulletin is now available on-line from the U.S. DOS. Click here to read the bulletin. This bulletin summarizes the availability of immigrant numbers for the month of January 2005. Note that the bulletin shows a retrogression to 1/1/02 in the Employment Based Third Preference category for China, India, and the Philippines.

New Foreign Labor Certification Processing Times as of December 10, 2004

The US Department of Labor revised the Foreign Labor Certification Processing Times and Dates as of December 10, 2004. The times for processing labor certification applications vary greatly between regional offices and State Workforce Agencies (SWAs) based upon their workload. Regional offices and SWAs located in high volume areas with high populations of immigrants take more time to complete labor certification applications. The volume of applications received is the main factor that influences the length of time required to review and make a decision on labor certification applications.

USCIS Discusses Impact of New Law on L-1s/$500 Fee to Take Effect March 8, 2005

USCIS press release discusses impact of the L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2004, from the Omnibus legislation, on the L-1 process, and notes that the $500 "fraud fee" takes effect March 8, 2005.

President Signs FY 2005 Omnibus Appropriations Bill (H.R. 4818)

President Bush, on 12/8/04, signed the $388.4 billion FY 2005 omnibus spending package comprising 9 appropriations bills (H.R. 4818). The new law contains several immigration-related measures, most notably, reforms to the L-1 and H-1B visa programs.

Legislative Text of L and H-1B provisions included in the Fiscal 2005 Omnibus Appropriations bill (H.R. 4818) (via AILA)

The House and Senate passed the Omnibus Bill (70K .PDF file), which included reforms to the L-1 and H-1B visa programs. The House must now pass a technical amendment before the bill will be sent to the President for signature. While the exact date of enactment is unknown, we are anticipating the bill will be signed into law in early December.

The new law makes several important changes to the J waiver program. First, it specifies that physicians who are sponsored for a waiver by either a federal or state agency will be exempt from the H-1B cap. In addition, the bill allows five of each state’s 30 waivers to go to doctors that practice medicine in areas not designated by the Secretary of HHS as having a shortage of health care professionals, if the doctors receiving the waivers practice in facilities that serve patients who reside in areas designated by the Secretary as having a shortage of health care professionals. Finally, the measure permits foreign doctors receiving a waiver to work in medically-underserved areas in either primary care or specialty medicine. Under current law, only state agencies and the Veteran's Administration are permitted to sponsor specialists. To request a waiver for a specialist, however, the interested agency would be required to demonstrate a shortage of doctors able to provide the appropriate medical specialty in the designated geographical area.

President Signs Bill to Extend J Waiver Program for Physicians (via AILA)

On December 3, 2004, President Bush signed legislation that extends and modifies the “Conrad 30” J waiver program for foreign-born physicians (S. 2302, Pub. L. No. 108-441). Under the program, aliens who participate in medical residencies in the United States on exchange program (J) visas are exempted from the two-year foreign residence requirement of INA § 212(e) if they agree to practice medicine for three years in an area designated by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) as having a shortage of health care professionals. The program has been extended several times, most recently via the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act, which extended the program until June 1, 2004. S. 2302 extends it for another two years, until June 1, 2006.

New USCIS Service Center Processing Times

The California, Missouri/NBC, Nebraska, Texas and Vermont Service Centers have released their revised service center processing times. Current as of December 6, 2004:

Current Vermont SC Processing Dates

Current California SC Processing Dates

Current Missouri/NBC Processing Dates

Current Nebraska SC Processing Dates

Current Texas SC Processing Dates

Business Immigration News: CONNECT! Volume 5, Number 5, October/November, 2004 (via AILA)

In This Issue: New Fiscal Year Shuts Door on H-1B Visas, Signals Exhaustion of H-2B Visa Program; Bush Signs Law to Allow Electronic Completion and Storage of I-9s; DHS to Test US-VISIT at Land Ports; Changes to VWP Have Begun; Visa Appointment Wait Times Available on Web; Congress Vets Bill to Enact 9/11 Commission’s Recommendations and more...

(287K .PDF file) Connect!, Volume 5, Number 5, October/November 2004

Unanimous Supreme Court Rules DUI Is Not "Crime of Violence"

[November 8, 2004] Court rules, 9-0, that state DUI statutes that either do not have a mens rea component or require only a showing of negligence in the operation of a vehicle are not "crimes of violence" under 18 USC §16, which would have made the offense an aggravated felony.

DHS on Expansion of US-VISIT to VWP Travelers on September 30, 2004 (via AILA)

Washington Update, Volume 8, Number 13, October 28, 2004 (via AILA)

In this Issue: Lame Duck Session is a Certainty; Senate and House Meet to Conference Intelligence Reform Bills; New Fiscal Year Shuts Door on H-1B Visas, Signals Imminent Exhaustion of H-2B Visa Program; President Signs Homeland Security Bill with Prohibition on Outsourcing; House, Senate Each Pass Bills to Extend J Waiver Program; and more...

(291K .PDF file) Washington Update, Volume 8, Number 13, October 28, 2004

The Department of Homeland Security reminds travelers of the expansion of the US-VISIT program on 9/30/04 to include all foreign visitors at airports and seaports who are requesting admission to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

USCIS Reaches H-1B Cap for Fiscal Year 2005

USCIS announced, at approximately 8:00 pm on October 1, 2004, the first day of fiscal year 2005, that it has enough H-1Bs in the pipeline to meet the FY 2005 cap. All cap-subject cases received after the end of the business day October 1 will be returned.

Click here for additional information from the USCIS.

DV 2006 Diversity Lottery Information Posted

Foreign nationals interested in applying for the FY 2006 Diversity Lottery Program may file their applications between November 5, 2004 and January 7, 2005. For more information on filing details, please click on the hilighted link.

Fiscal 2005 H-1Bs Likely to Stay Open for “Several” More Weeks (via AILA)

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has been advised that it is likely to be “several weeks” before the filing of cap-subject H-1B petitions is cut off for fiscal 2005. The reason that it is not being cut off sooner, despite the upsurge in H-1B filings, is the recapture of unused Singapore/Chile free trade numbers

Update on PERM

The PERM regulation remains pending at OMB, and it is widely believed that, if it moves at all, it will not be published until after the election. It is believed that some key changes have been made from the proposed rule. (via AILA)

Fiscal 2004 and Fiscal 2005 H-1B Numbers

USCIS advises that, as of August 18, 2004, it had received 45,900 cap-subject H-1B filings subject to the fiscal 2005 cap. Of those, 21,000 have been approved; the rest are in the pipleline.

USCIS has recently provided figures for the H-1B filings currently in the pipeline for fiscal 2005, as well as the numbers adjudicated thus far for fiscal 2004.

In February 2004, USCIS announced that it was cutting off the ability to file cap-subject H-1Bs for fiscal 2004 because it had enough cases on file to meet the quota for that fiscal year, which ends on September 30, 2004. Since that time, it has continued to adjudicate fiscal year 2004 cases. The 56,100 number posted on August 23, 2004 is what has actually been adjudicated so far that are chargeable to fiscal 2004. USCIS has indicated that there are still other cases in the pipeline chargeable to fiscal 2004.

Because one cannot file an H-1B petition more than 6 months in advance of the work start date, we were not allowed to file fiscal year 2005 cases until April 1, 2004, six months before the start of the 2005 fiscal year on October 1, 2004. Thus, even while it was still adjudicating fiscal 2004 cases, USCIS has been receiving-and adjudicating-fiscal 2005 cases. The figures of 40,000 cases received and 21,000 approved that were posted on August 20, 2004, represent these H-1B filings that will not take effect until after the 2005 fiscal year starts on October 1, 2005.

The overall quota for H-1Bs is 65,000 for each of fiscal years 2004 and 2005. However, because the legislation enacting the Chile and Singapore Free Trade Agreements sets aside a total of 6,800 H-1Bs per year for use under those agreements, the quota is effectively decreased to 58,200. Any numbers unused under those FTAs at fiscal year's end are added back into the quota, but can only be used for adjudications during the first 45 days of the new fiscal year. It is generally believed that very few numbers have been used under the FTAs.

DHS Publishes Notice on Status for F/J Students Affected by the H-1B Cap - Deadline for Filing COS is 7/30/04

On February 25, 2004, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) published a notice in the Federal Register informing the public of the procedures DHS would follow as the fiscal year 2004 (FY 2004) numerical cap for the H-1B nonimmigrant category would be reached. This notice supplements that information and informs the public that as part of those H-1B cap procedures the Secretary of Homeland Security will exercise his authority to extend the status of certain F and J nonimmigrant students if DHS has received from their prospective employer a timely filed request for change of nonimmigrant status to that of an H-1B nonimmigrant no later than July 30, 2004 and the employment start date on the petition is no later than October 1, 2004.

The extension allows Fs and Js to legally stay in the United States until October 1, but they cannot work for their H-1B employer before that date unless they have some other sort of work authorization that allows them to do so. If the H-1B petition is still pending as of October 1, they will no longer be in valid nonimmigrant status, but they will not be accumulating unlawful presence. If the CIS denies the H-1B petition after October 1, two things may happen. If the student still has time remaining on his or her 60-day (F-1) or 30-day (J-1) grace period, they can complete that grace period. If, however, their grace period has already expired when the CIS denies the H-1B petition, the F or J student's status will terminate as of the date of the denial and they will be expected to leave the country immediately.

The notice does not address what the CIS will do about change of status requests that have already been denied. AILA is seeking further guidance from the CIS on that point.

The notice is fairly limited. For example, the H-1B petition must be received by the CIS (not filed) by July 30. Since it can take a CIS service center several days to receipt in a case, this means that there is only a short window of time to file an H-1B petition if one has not been filed already. For that reason the notice really only benefits H-1B petitions that have already been filed and are currently pending.

DOS to End Revalidations in U.S., Except for Certain Diplomatic and Official Visas

The U.S. DOS issued a public notice concerning the discontinuation of the domestic visa reissuance service for certain nonimmigrant visas in the United States. Nonimmigrant visas issued under section 101(a)(15) C, E, H, I, L, O and P of the Immigration and Nationality Act will be affected by this suspension. DOS will will not accept new applications from applicants seeking to renew C, E, H, I, L, O or P visas after July 16, 2004. To be processed, applications must be received by our application acceptance facility in St. Louis by July 16, 2004. Any application received after this date will be returned, using the sender's required self-addressed, stamped envelope or pre-paid courier airbill. Please note that we ceased processing applications for reissuance of A-3, G-5 and NATO-7 visas in the United States in September 2002. DOS will continue to receive applications for reissuance of qualifying diplomatic and official visas in Washington, DC in (classifications A-1, A-2, G-1, G- 2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1, NATO-2, NATO-3, NATO-4, NATO-5 and NATO-6).

22 CFR 41.111(b) authorizes the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services or any other person he or she designates to reissue nonimmigrant visas, in their discretion. The original purpose of this authority was to provide nonimmigrant services to foreign government officials and to international organization employees. Over time, the authority was extended to include reissuances in the C, E, H, I, L, O and P visa classifications. DOS states that it recognizes that the domestic reissuance of business-related visas to applicants in the United States has been a convenience to the international business community. However, DOS is discontinuing the reissuance of visas in these categories because of increased interview requirements and the requirement of Section 303 of the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act (Pub. L. 107- 173, 116 Stat. 543) that U.S. visas issued after October 26, 2004, include biometric identifiers. According to the Department, it is not feasible to collect the biometric identifiers in the United States.

In order to mitigate the inconvenience to applicants, DOS will direct all visa adjudicating posts to accommodate on a priority basis applicants who would have benefited from their visa reissuance services. Visa interview appointments may be made for some posts through Internet sites or by telephone.

DOS encourages all applicants to apply in their home countries. Their visa adjudicating posts in Mexico and Canada have some capacity to accept nonimmigrant visa applications from stateside applicants. In all cases, applicants should obtain an interview appointment before traveling.

CRS Reports on Foreign Physicians and the J Visa Waiver Program (via AILA)

The Congressional Research Service reviews the current state of the J visa Interested Government Agency (IGA) waiver program for foreign physicians. Included are summaries of various IGA waiver programs, legislative history, and proposed legislation for extension of the Conrad 30 program.

Text of "Save American Jobs Through L Visa Reform Act of 2004" (via AILA)

Text of H.R. 4415, "Save American Jobs Through L Visa Reform Act of 2004" introduced by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL). The bill would eliminate the L-1B program, impose a cap on L-1A visas, remove the dual intent provision for L visas and would include a sense of Congress that employers should pay L-1s the higher of the prevailing or the actual wage.

DHS Announces US-VISIT Prime Contractor Award to Accenture LLP

DHS announces the US-VISIT Prime Contractor award to Accenture LLP for services including strategic support, design and integration activities, technical solutions, deployment activities, training, and organizational change management. The value of the award is for a minimum of $10 million and a maximum of $10 billion.

Text of Safe, Orderly Legal Visas and Enforcement (SOLVE) Act of 2004

Text of the Safe, Orderly Legal Visas Enhancement (SOLVE) Act (190K .PDF file) of 2004 introduced by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Representatives Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Luis Gutierrez (D-IL). The Senate bill is S. 2381 and the House bill is H.R. 4262.

New CIS Filing Fee Schedule as of April 30, 2004

A final regulation increases USCIS filing fees as proposed, and will take effect with respect to applications and petitions filed on or after April 30, 2004.

Click here (71 K .PDF File) for an overview of the new USCIS fee schedule.

This rule adjusts the fee schedule of the Immigration Examinations Fee Account (IEFA) for immigration benefit applications and petitions, as well as the fee for capturing biometric information of applicants or petitioners who apply for certain immigration benefits. Fees collected from persons filing immigration benefit applications are deposited into the IEFA and used to fund the full cost of providing immigration benefits; the full cost of providing similar benefits to asylum and refugee applicants; and the full cost of similar benefits provided to other immigrants, as specified in the regulation, at no charge. This rule adjusts the immigration benefit application fees by approximately $55 per application, and increases the biometric fee by $20, in order to ensure sufficient funding to process incoming applications. In addition, on January 24, 2003, and February 27, 2003, the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) published two interim rules that first adjusted fees lower based on section 457 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, and then readjusted the fees to preexisting levels, based upon the repeal of section 457. Accordingly, this final rule will adopt the two interim rules as final without change, and will adopt the fee structure that was proposed on February 3, 2004.

DATES: This final rule is effective April 30, 2004. Applications or petitions mailed, postmarked, or otherwise filed, on or after this date require the new fee.

Members of Congress Ask for H-2B Processing to Resume for FY2004

An April 6 letter (132 K .PDF file) from 15 members of Congress asks the President to direct USCIS to resume H-2B visa processing for FY2004 while Congress works to enact a legislative solution. Although the H-2B bills are currently in flux in the Senate, the letter underscores the need for haste by both Congress and the Administration in order to Save Summer.

New Service Center Processing Times

DOS Cable Encourages Issuance of H-1B and H-2B Visas with Deferred Validity Dates (via AILA)

The Department of State cable encourages posts to issue visas with deferred validity dates in order to manage a “possible flood of applicants” for H-1B and H-2B visas for approved FY 2005 employment. Those posts which anticipate a rush of H-1B or H-2B applicants in the lead-up to FY 2005 may issue visas to I-129H beneficiaries prior to September 20, 2004 provided they are annotated as “not valid until ten days prior to petition validity date.” Posts are encouraged to stress to applicants and airline representatives that Department of Homeland Security still prohibits the entry of an alien on an H-1B or H-2B visa more than 10 days prior to employment start-date. The cable also provides a reminder that posts may continue to issue H-1B and H-2B visas for FY 2004 employment against approved I-129 petitions.

USCIS Experiments with Two Pilot Programs for Concurrent Adjudication and Expedited I-551 Production (via AILA)

CSC Director Don Neufeld announced at a March 31, 2004 AILA liaison meeting that the USCIS will be embarking on two new pilot programs to experiment with different approaches to processing.

Starting shortly, CSC will attempt to adjuducate all new concurrently filed EB-2, non- National Interest Waiver, I-140s and I-485s on a truly concurrent basis. Instead of a prima facie review, the I-140 will be adjudicated within 90 days, together with the I-485, provided fingerprints and name checks are cleared in time. The CSC also will be targeting previously-filed, non-NIW EB-2s, in order to bring their processing times down to match the pilot program processing. Additionally, the CSC will concurrently adjudicate pending adjustment/I-140 applications in all categories, in order to bring processing times to below one year; however, AILA was told to expect little movement on lone-filed I-140s during this push. This pilot project will be at only the CSC at this time.

The second pilot program, which already has started, involves I-90s filed electronically for the Los Angeles district only. When the applicant goes to the ASC for biometrics, the ASC will "push the button" to cause the I-551 card to be manufactured and mailed immediately. The cards will not be made at the ASCs, but the ASCs will be linked to the card facility. Again, this is for only electronically filed I-90s, and only for the Los Angeles district. Note that I-90s for children turning 14 cannot be filed electronically.

Senators Urge DHS to Delay Implementation of Visa Screen Regulations

A March 25, 2004 letter (538K .PDF file) from leading members of the Senate Judiciary Committee urges the Secretary of Homeland Security to delay implementation of regulations under INA Section 343 to allow time for foreign nurses to complete the certification process and to give Congress and opportunity to address the issue.

Dallas District to Launch I-485 Filing Pilot Program (via AILA)

The Dallas District of USCIS will launch, on May 3, 2004, a (254K .PDF file) pilot project whereby adjustment of status applications can be filed with an immediate interview and adjudication planned to be completed within 90 days. The appointment system that will underlie this project is expected to be implemented approximately April 13, 2004.

USCIS ANNOUNCES H-2B PROCEDURES - REACHES CAP

Washington, D.C.- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it has received enough H-2B petitions to meet this year's congressionally mandated cap of 66,000 new workers. After March 9, 2004, USCIS will not accept any new H-2B petitions subject to the FY 2004 annual cap.

USCIS will use the following procedure for the remainder of FY 2004:

- USCIS will process all petitions received by the end of business on March 9, 2004.
- USCIS will return all petitions subject to the annual cap (along with the filing fee and, if applicable, the premium processing fee) that are filed after the end of business on March 9, 2004.
- Petitioners may re-submit or file new petitions when they have received labor certification approval for work to start on or after October 1, 2004.
- Petitions for current H-2B workers do not count towards the congressionally mandated H-2B cap. Accordingly, USCIS will continue to process petitions filed to:

- Extend the stay of a current H-2B worker in the United States.
- Change the terms of employment for current H-2B workers.
- Allow current H-2B workers to change or add employers.

USCIS Reaches H-1B Cap on February 17, 2004

Press Office
U.S. Department of Homeland Security

February 17, 2004

Press Release

USCIS ANNOUNCES NEW H-1B PROCEDURES - REACHES CAP

Washington, D.C.-- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it has received enough H-1B petitions to meet this year's congressionally mandated cap of 65,000 new workers. After today, USCIS will not accept any new H-1B petitions for first-time employment subject to the FY 2004 annual cap.

USCIS has implemented the following procedure for the remainder of FY 2004:

- USCIS will process all petitions filed for first-time employment received by the end of business today;
- USCIS will return all petitions for first-time employment subject to the annual cap received after the end of business today;
- Returned petitions will be accompanied by the filing fee;
- Petitioners may re-submit their petitions when H-1B visas become available for FY 2005; and
- The earliest date a petitioner may file a petition requesting FY 2005 H-1B employment with an employment start date of October 1, 2004, would be April 1, 2004. Petitions for current H-1B workers do not count towards the congressionally mandated H-1B cap. Accordingly, USCIS will continue to process petitions filed to:

- Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
- Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
- Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
- Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

USCIS also notes that petitions for new H-1B employment are not subject to the annual cap if the alien will be employed at an institution of higher education or a related or affiliated nonprofit entity, or at a nonprofit research organization or a governmental research organization. USCIS will also continue to process H-1B petitions for workers from Singapore and Chile consistent with Public Laws 108-77 and 108-78.

USCIS Fact Sheet on Numbers of H-1B Petitions Approved

March, 2004 Visa Bulletin Released by U.S. Department of State

The March, 2004 Visa Bulletin is now available on-line from the U.S. DOS. Click here to read the bulletin.

USCIS Proposes Adjustment of the Immigration Benefit Application Fee Schedule

The USCIS has proposed an adjustment of its fee schedule. Affected filings would include applications and petitions, as well as the fee for capturing biometric information of applicants/petitioners who apply for certain immigration benefit applications and petitions. Filing fees collected from persons filing immigration benefit applications are used to fund the full cost of providing immigration benefits; the full cost of providing similar benefits to asylum and refugee applicants; and the full cost of similar benefits provided to other immigrants. This rule proposes to adjust the immigration benefit application fees by approximately $55 per application, and increases the biometric fee by $20, in order to ensure sufficient funding to process incoming applications.

Nearly 67 Percent of Available H-1B Visas Used During First Quarter of FY 2004 (via AILA)

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced in a January 21, 2004 press release that, based upon its tabulations for the first quarter of fiscal year (FY) 2004, 43,500 H-1B cases that could count against the 65,000 cap have either been approved or are in the queue for adjudication. This figure is about 67 percent of the total number of H-1B visas available this fiscal year. The cap, which had been elevated to 195,000 for three years as a result of the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act, reverted back to 65,000 at the beginning of FY 2004, on October 1, 2003.

February, 2004 Visa Bulletin Released by U.S. Department of State

The February, 2004 Visa Bulletin is now available on-line from the U.S. DOS. Click here to read the bulletin.

January 7 - President Bush Introduces Immigration Reform

President Bush on Wednesday outlined his immigration reform proposal that would allow workers who are in the United States illegally to come forward and join a new temporary worker program.

Those now-illegal immigrants could then apply for permanent residence in the United States, although those in the temporary worker program would get no preference over other "Green Card" applicants from foreign countries, officials said.

"Out of common sense and fairness, our laws should allow willing workers to enter our country and fill jobs that Americans are not filling," Bush said Wednesday.

Here are some highlights of the president's initiative, according to several senior administration officials.

• The new temporary worker program. It would include a temporary visa for three years, and Bush will call for Congress to allow one renewal -- so a six-year total for a temporary visa. Officials said they were open to allowing additional terms, subject to congressional debate and negotiation.

• This program would be open to prospective immigrants, but also to illegal immigrants in the United States, so long as these undocumented individuals could prove they were working in the United States as of the date the new policy becomes law. Officials say that requirement -- having a job at the date of the new policy -- would discourage a flood of new illegal immigration.

• Those who qualify as new "legal temporary workers" can apply for permanent residency, or Green Cards, under existing laws but would not receive any favorable treatment. The administration will, however, urge Congress to increase the current annual limit of issuing 140,000 Green Cards a year. The officials said how much of an expansion will be determined based on negotiations with Congress.

Officials reject the notion that the new program amounts to amnesty for illegal immigrants because they say there is no guarantee those who join the new temporary worker program would qualify for Green Cards, they would have no advantages if they do apply, and they would be expected to return to their country of birth when their temporary visa expired.

The new program, like other temporary visa programs, would be administered by the Department of Homeland Security in coordination with the Department of Labor and other government departments and agencies.

Fact sheet and Q&A from the White House regarding the President's proposal for a temporary worker program.

US-VISIT Program to Begin Operations on Monday, January 5, 2003.

Starting today, most visitors arriving at U.S. airports and seaports will be fingerprinted and will have their pictures taken as part of the US-VISIT program to tighten border security. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge will be at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Monday morning to meet with some of the first people to go through the new system.

HHS Reinstates its J-Waiver Program

As of December 10, 2003, The Department of Health and Human Services is accepting applications for the waiver of the two-year foreign residence requirement of the Exchange Visitor Program based on clinical care practice in shortage areas for FY 2004. Please review new guidelines for submission of application, as there are additional requirements for employers.

DHS Suspends Re-Registration Requirements under NSEERS (via AILA)

Advance copy of Federal Register notice that will suspend the 30-day and 1-year re-registration requirements of Special Registration, provide for a waiver process for certain of NSEERS' requirements, and remove the requirement for notification of certain changes for people subject to SEVIS.

CIS Reinstates VisaScreen Policy

On July 25, 2003, we reported that The Department of Homeland Security had released its final VisaScreen regulatory amendment for health care workers. The new regulations would have taken effect September 23, 2003. - Federal Register Vol. 68, No. 143 Friday, July 25, 2003

Then on July 29, 2003, we further reported that the DHS would exercise its discretion to waive the certification requirement for non-immigrants for a period of one year after the date of publication of the final rule on certifications.

Today, we have learned that the CIS has reinstated its former policy of requiring the completion of VisaScreen to be presented at the time of the Adjustment-of-Status decision (interview date), rather than the proposed rule of requiring evidence of the Visascreen at the time the Adjustment-of Status is filed. This is indeed good news for registered nurses and other allied health care providers.

Office of Immigration Statistics Releases Statistical Report for September 2003

The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics has released its monthly statistical report for the month of September 2003, covering topics such as: inspections, immigration benefits, naturalization benefits, removals, investigations, border apprehensions, and asylum. Click on the above link to view the report.

December, 2003 Visa Bulletin Released by U.S. Department of State

The December, 2003 Visa Bulletin is now available on-line from the U.S. DOS. Click here to read the bulletin.

USCIS NCSC (800#) Planning to Restore Some Live Assistance Back to the Service Centers

The USCIS is planning to restore some direct contact to the Service Centers. The extent of the restoration has not yet been determined and is not expected until January. We will post additional information on BCIS Newsbreak as it becomes available.

Department of Homeland Security Unveils US-VISIT Program

On October 28, 2003, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security unveiled the capability it will have in place at airports and seaports on December 31, 2003, to process visitors holding visas as they enter the United States.

US-VISIT uses scanning equipment to collect "biometric identifiers," such as fingerprints, in an inkless process, along with a digital photograph of the visitor. Together with the standard information gathered from a visitor about their identity and travel, the new program will verify the visitor's identity and compliance with visa and immigration policies. The new procedures are expected to add just seconds to the entry and exit process.

The law requires that an automated entry/exit system be implemented at air and seaports by December 31, 2003; the 50 most highly trafficked land ports of entry by December 31, 2004; and all ports of entry by December 31, 2005.

DREAM Act is Approved by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee

On Thursday, October 23, 2003, the U.S. Senate approved the DREAM Act. Among the provisions of the DREAM Act, it includes cancellation of removal and Adjustment of Status for certain students.

The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM), now moves to the full Senate for a vote. The House has yet to act on a similar bill. Under the Senate bill, undocumented immigrants who complete two years of military service or two years of college within six years of graduating from high school could become legal residents. They also would have to prove that they had lived in the United States for at least five years and that they entered the country before age 16.

The bill would repeal a federal law that bars states from charging in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrants and would reduce their college costs. If approved by Congress, President Bush has indicated he will sign the legislation into law.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, insists the measure is necessary to help children whose parents put them in "a Catch-22 situation." "They did not make the initial decision to enter the United States illegally," said Hatch, who is co-sponsoring the measure with Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill.

We will provide updated information on the Act's further progress as it becomes available.

CIS Reports on Total H-1B Usage for FY 2003

An October 22, 2003 CIS Fact Sheet reports on total H-1B usage for FY 2003, including the number of petitions filed, as well as the number of petitions approved for both continuing and initial employment.

Click here to read the H-1B fact sheet in its entirety.

 
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