USCIS News Alert Regarding Those Affected by Severe Storms in Louisiana

August 26, 2016

USCIS has alerted stakeholders that (Special Situations) immigration measures are available for unforeseen circumstances, such as the recent severe storms and flooding in Louisiana but they must request them. The News Alert details several specific measures that may be available and are listed below. When making any of these Special Situations requests, explain how the severe storms and flooding in Louisiana caused your need for relief.

Immigration measures may be available upon request:

• Change of nonimmigrant status or extension of nonimmigrant stay for an individual currently in the United States, even if the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired;
• Re-parole of individuals previously granted parole by USCIS;
• Expedited processing of advance parole requests;
• Expedited adjudication of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship;
• Expedited adjudication of employment authorization applications, where appropriate;
• Consideration of fee waivers due to an inability to pay;
• Assistance for those who received a Request for Evidence or a Notice of Intent to Deny but were unable to appear for an interview, submit evidence or respond in a timely manner;
• Replacement of lost or damaged immigration or travel documents issued by USCIS, such as a Permanent Resident Card (Green Card);
• Rescheduling of a biometrics appointment.

For further details please review the USCIS News Alert, “USCIS Alerts Customers Affected by Severe Storms and Flooding in Louisiana to Available Immigration Relief”.


Source of Information:
USCIS.gov, 8/19/16, News Alert:
USCIS Alerts Customers Affected by Severe Storms and Flooding in Louisiana to Available Immigration Relief

USCIS.gov, 5/1/15, Web Page:
Special Situations

USCIS Naturalizes New Citizens in celebration of National Park Service Centennial

August 25, 2016

On August 25th, USCIS in partnership will the National Park Service will hold 16 naturalization ceremonies across the United States to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service! Nearly 450 new citizens were administered the Oath of Allegiance during these ceremonies at national parks and historic landmarks nationwide. USCIS Director León Rodríguez stated,” At USCIS, we believe that being an American means understanding and honoring our history and the places the National Park Service is charged to protect. We look forward to continuing to welcome new U.S. citizens and protecting ‘America's Best Idea’ for the next 100 years.”

For further details please review the USCIS News Release, “USCIS Naturalizes New Citizens in celebration of National Park Service Centennial”.


Source of Information:
USCIS.gov, 8/23/16, News Release:
USCIS Naturalizes New Citizens in celebration of National Park Service Centennial

Resources for Citizenship – Find Local English and Citizenship Classes! - YouTube Update

August 24, 2016

If you are searching for “English as a Second Language” or “Citizenship” classes in your local area try using the America's Literacy Directory (ALD). First you choose the type of class/classes you are looking for, then just type in your zip code or city/state and active the search. If the directory locates a training source within your local area it will list the details. You can also generate a map and driving directions for all programs listed in the ALD.

America's Literacy Directory (ALD) is a web site that allows users to find local literacy providers in all 50 states and the U.S. territories. The ALD includes literacy programs for adults looking for adult basic education, adult secondary education, computer literacy and English as a Second Language.


Update: Civics Practice Test for the Naturalization Test on YouTube!
USCIS has put together a YouTube playlist to help you prepare for the civics test given during the naturalization interview.


Source of Information:

Lincs.ed.gov, website, America's Literacy Directory (ALD)

USCIS.gov, website, Find Help in Your Community

Related Links:
Catholic Charities of BaltimoreEsperanza Center:
English as a Second Language Program (ESL Program)

BALCA Finds No Regulatory Violation in Wage Error on ETA 9089

August 23, 2016

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA) recently overturned the decision of a Certifying Officer (CO) to deny labor certification for the position of “Software Engineer.”

After obtaining & examining an Employer’s Application for Permanent Labor Certification, the CO issued an Audit notification ordering the Employer to submit its Prevailing Wage Determination (PWD) and other requested documentation. The Employer replied to the Audit by providing the PWD as well as the other documents.

The CO denied the labor certification stating the prevailing wage on the ETA form 9089 did not match the one listed on the PWD. He cited a violation of PERM Regulations 656.10(c) (1), 656.40 AND 656.41. In addition, the Employer’s Notice of Filing did not contain the job requirements or duties as listed on the ETA Form 9089. The Employer requested a reconsideration of the denial stating the prevailing wage inconsistency was an unintentional harmless error. The Employer also believed all of its audit response materials were compliant with PERM regulations.

The CO forwarded the case to BALCA for review. The CO raised an entirely new issue in its transmittal letter for denial of the Employer’s application.

Upon review, BALCA reversed the denial because the CO inappropriately referred to inapplicable PERM regulations in his labor application denial. BALCA stated that the Employer did not violate any of the PERM regulations. In agreement with PERM regulation 656.10 (c)(1), the Employer presented the worker a salary that surpasses the prevailing wage. As required by PERM 656.40, the Employer kept his PWD on file and submitted it upon request. As to the new issue brought forward by the CO, since the Employer was not provided sufficient notice of the CO’s denial and was not able to present any evidence, BALCA believed that in the interest of due process and fundamental fairness, the Employer’s labor application should not be denied, as they did not have an opportunity to present evidence that would overcome the denial.

USCIS Teleconference: EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program – 8/29/16

August 22, 2016

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be holding an EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Teleconference on Monday, August 29th, between 1:00pm and 2:00pm (Eastern). This second teleconference is being held because of telephone issues encountered during the July 28th EB-5 teleconference from Miami, FL. This second engagement will address questions that were not heard or shared during the previous engagement. The remarks from the July 28th EB-5 engagement are available at, “EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program: Stakeholder Engagement from Miami”.

Event Information:
DATE: Monday, August 29, 2016
TIME: 1:00pm to 2:00pm (Eastern)

To join the teleconference:
Note: It is recommended that you call in 10 to 15 minutes before the teleconference begins.
- Toll-free number: 1-888-390-1015
- Toll number if you are calling from outside of the U.S.: 1-312-470-7212
- Passcode: EB5

Background:
In 1990, Congress created the EB-5 Program to help stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by approved immigrant investors. Under this program, entrepreneurs (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) are eligible to apply for a green card (permanent residence) under specific conditions. Congress placed a 10,000 annual limit on the number of visas available for the EB-5 program. In 1992 Congress set aside 3,000 of the EB-5 visa total for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, also known as the Regional Center Program. These set aside EB-5 visas are for participants who invest in commercial enterprises associated with regional centers which are approved by USCIS.
USCIS warns that potential investors should always do their own research and consult with a financial professional before making any investment decisions.


Source of Information:
USCIS.gov,8/17/16, National Engagement:
EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program: Stakeholder Teleconference

Related Link:
USCIS.gov, Web Page:
EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program

MVP LAW GROUP – Immigration Q&A Forum, Friday, August 19, 2016

August 19, 2016

MVP Law Group, P.A. makes available the information and materials in this forum for informational purposes only. The information is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice or any contractual obligations. Further, the use of this site, and the sending or receipt of this information, does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. Therefore, your communication with us through this forum will not be considered as privileged or confidential.


Question #1 – General
Are there any type of restrictions on a Conditional Green Card? Once I get my green card, can I travel out of the country?

Answer #1
A conditional green card is only granted for a period of two years. Within 90 days of the expiration of the two year anniversary period, you must file to remove those conditions (Form I-751) with the USCIS, or risk losing conditional green card status and being deported. With a conditional green card, you may travel outside of the U.S.; however, you should limit your trips abroad to less than one (1) year to avoid any abandonment issues, unless you have applied for a re-entry permit.


Question #2 – Employment Authorization for Certain H4 Spouses
What forms do I need to file an H4/EAD visa for my wife? What are the USCIS filing fees for this visa?

Answer #2
Form G-28, if you have an Attorney representing you for the filing, and Form I-765 are required to file the request for H4/EAD, along with supporting documentation to establish the H4 spouse’s eligibility. The USCIS filing fee is $380.00, the check should be made payable to the “US Department of Homeland Security.”


Question #3 – Form I-485, Adjustment of Status Petition
What are the filing fees for the I-485 application? I would like to file an EAD and AP as well.

Answer#3
The USCIS filing fee for Form I-485 is $985.00, plus an $85 biometrics fee (total = $1070.00) for people ages 14-78. For children under 14 & applying with at least one (1) parent = $635.00. For children under 14 and NOT applying with at least one (1) parent = $985.00. For people 79 or older = $985.00.

No additional fee is required to also file an application for employment authorization on Form I-765 and/or advance parole on Form I-131.


Question#4 – Change of Address (Form AR-11)
My family and I are in the process of moving to a new home this summer. How do I notify the USCIS of this change? I have a pending I-485 for myself, my wife and child.

Answer#4
To notify the USCIS of any address change for any pending cases, the process consists of two (2) steps:

Step1: File Form AR-11 (online OR by mail)
AND
Step 2: Change your address on any pending or recently approved applications or petitions (online OR by phone at 1-800-375-5283)


Question#5 - General
Can I change my employer once I receive my Green Card or is there a waiting period?

Answer #5
Our recommendation is that you wait at least six (6) months after receiving your green card before changing employers.


Question #6 – H1B Nonimmigrant Work Visa
What is the minimum time period for which an H1B visa can be issued? Can it be less than 3 years? If yes, what is the minimum number of years for which my employer can sponsor me for a visa?

Answer #6
It depends. I’ve seen H1B approvals for the entire three (3) year period, and cases approved for only two (2) months. You should speak with an Immigration Attorney concerning your circumstances.


Question #7 – Employment Based Immigration
I have an approved I-140 in the EB-3 category. My new employer wants to file an application for me in the EB-2 category. Can I make the switch if I believe I am qualified?

Answer#7
If the employer offers you the position, and you are able to satisfy the minimum education and experience requirements for the position, you should be able to make the switch and petition to recapture the earlier priority date at the I-140 stage.


Question #8 – H1B Nonimmigrant Work Visa
Do non-profit organizations follow the same guidelines/rules for filing H-1B cases?

Answer #8
No. H-1B workers who are petitioned for or employed at an institution of higher education (or its affiliated or related nonprofit entities), a nonprofit research organization, or a government research organization are not subject to the numerical cap. In other words, if a nonprofit research organization wants to employ a qualified H1B specialty occupation worker in the middle of June, they may petition the USCIS directly, and do not have to wait for the annual April 1, H1B CAP to open.


Question #9 – Family Based Immigration
As a Lawful Permanent Resident, can I file an I-130 petition for my family members?

Answer #9
It depends upon your relationship to that family member. As an LPR, you may only petition on behalf of your spouse, your children, and your unmarried sons and daughters (21 and older). An I-130, Immigrant Petition for Alien Relative will need to be filed for each qualifying family member.


Question #10 – L1 Intracompany Transferee Work Visa
How long can one stay in the US on an L-1A visa?

Answer#10
If the L1A recipient is coming to open a new office in the U.S., the initial L1A visa will only be valid for a period of one (1) year. The recipient will then have to petition the USCIS for an extension of stay in L1A status. The max limit in L1A nonimmigrant visa status is seven (7) years.


MVP Law Group would like to thank everyone who contributed a question or comment.

Our next “Immigration Q & A Forum” is scheduled for Friday, September 2, 2016!

Please remember to submit your questions/comments on our H1B Visa Lawyer blog!

Transcript of USCIS-DOS-HHS Press Call on Syrian Refugee Processing – 8/5/16

August 18, 2016

USCIS has published the transcript of the USCIS-DOS-HHS Press Call on Syrian Refugee Processing which took place on Friday, August 5, 2016. This Press Call (conference call) started off with statements by Assistant Secretary of State, The Bureau of Population Refugees and Migration, Anne C. Richard, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Leon Rodriguez, and Health and Human Services Director of Refugee Resettlement, Robert “(Bob)” Carey. The Question and Answer period start right after their opening statements. This transcript includes the opening statements and the Q&A period that followed.


Source of Information:
USCIS.gov, 8/9/16, Press Release:
Transcript of USCIS-DOS-HHS Press Call on Syrian Refugee Processing

Related Link:
Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, 3/11/16, Factsheet:
U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) Syrian Processing -- Frequently Asked Questions

BALCA Finds Employer Failed to Investigate Qualifications of U.S. Applicants

August 17, 2016

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA) recently affirmed the decision of a Certifying Officer (CO) to deny labor certification for the position of “Design Engineer-Mechanical.”

After receiving & reviewing an Employer’s Application for Permanent Labor Certification, the CO issued an Audit notification. The Employer responded by sending its recruitment report as well as resumes from U.S. applicants. In response, the CO informed the Employer that they would be required to conduct supervised recruitment. As part of the process, the Employer could only advertise the position in permitted publications and abide by specific advertising conditions. The Employer sent the CO a copy of the proposed job advertisement that was approved by the CO. A few weeks later, the Employer sent copies of the Arkansas State Workforce Agency job order; newspaper ads, on-line job postings from its company web page and a job search website. The CO told the Employer about the resumes that he had received as well.

A few months later, the CO told the Employer that the recruitment time had concluded. In 30 days, the employer was required to submit a comprehensive written report about the recruitment process and the outcomes. In a timely manner, the Employer presented its recruitment results. In the report, the Employer noted it had received resumes from 45 applicants. During the review of the resumes, the Employer cited it considered job applicants based on their education, training, experience as well as trainability. The Employer believed that none of the applicants fulfilled the minimum job requirements and therefore, were not qualified for the position.

Upon review of the recruitment report, the CO denied certification of the labor application. He stated the Employer excluded qualified U.S. job applicants for other than lawful, job-related reasons. The CO believed there were at least ten possibly qualified candidates for the job opening.

The Employer requested review of the denial, so the CO sent the case to BALCA. In its review request, the Employer emphasized the ten candidates, named in the CO’s denial, were not qualified for the position because they either did not meet the minimum education requirements; did not have experience with the Unigraphics system; or did not possess a background in or knowledge of heat transfer and fluid dynamics. The Employer claimed that training for these individuals would be time consuming and very costly. The Employer believed it was within their right to discard candidates that lacked the job requirements.

After BALCA’s examination of the case, BALCA affirmed the CO’s decision to deny certification. The Board found the Employer inappropriately excluded job applicants without interviewing them or researching their background. In addition, BALCA thought the Employer did not take into consideration that “these applicants could became qualified after a reasonable period of on-the-job training or taking on-line tutorials or training courses.”

Updated Service Center Processing Times (6/30/16)

August 16, 2016

Processing Time reports for all of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) Service Centers were released on 8/11/16 with processing dates as of 6/30/16.

If you filed a petition with one of the Service Centers, please review the links below to determine the applicable processing time associated with your particular case.


California Service Center (CSC)

National Benefits Center (NBC)

Nebraska Service Center (NSC)

Texas Service Center (TSC)

Vermont Service Center (VSC)

EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Office (IPO)


**Please be aware that the data provided above is approximately 45 days old at the time of posting.

If your petition is out-side of the normal range listed, contact USCIS (1-800-375-5283).

If you are a client of MVP Law Group and would like our assistance please contact our office.

MVP "Immigration Q & A Forum" - This Friday, August 19, 2016

August 15, 2016

We wanted to find a new way to engage our reader base. Every other Friday, we will post the ten (10) best/most frequently asked questions received during the week from our h1bvisalawyerblog, Facebook, and Twitter readers. We will answer those questions and provide the Q&A on our H-1B Visa Lawyer Blog.

If you have a burning question, are seeking assistance with a difficult immigration related case, wish to discuss your views on Comprehensive Immigration Reform, DREAMers, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, priority dates, the monthly visa bulletin, adjustment applications, etc., please contact us by submitting your question/comment/viewpoint in our comment box provided on our H-1B Visa Lawyer Blog.

Our next “Q & A Forum” will take place this Friday, August 19, 2016. Act now and submit your questions!

THANK YOU!

MVP Law Group, P.A. makes available the information and materials in this forum for informational purposes only. The information is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice or any contractual obligations. Further, the use of this site, and the sending or receipt of this information, does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. Therefore, your communication with us through this forum will not be considered as privileged or confidential.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) updated FY2016 Statistics (Third Quarter)

August 12, 2016

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) has provided FY2016 statistics (thirrd quarter) in the form of program factsheets for each of the major immigration programs. These updated FY2016 statistics (third quarter) cover April 2016 through June 2016.

The link to each program factsheet is listed below:

Permanent Labor Certification Program – Select Statistics, FY 2016 (third quarter)

Prevailing Wage Determination Program – Select Statistics, FY 2016 (third quarter)

H-1B Temporary Visa Program – Select Statistics, FY 2016 (third quarter)

H-2A Temporary Agricultural Visa Program – Select Statistics, FY 2016 (third quarter)

H-2B Temporary Non-agricultural Visa Program – Select Statistics, FY 2016 (third quarter)


Source of Information: OFLC Performance Data

BALCA Affirms Denial Where Web Ad Differed from ETA 9089

August 11, 2016

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA) recently affirmed the decision of a Certifying Officer (CO) to deny labor certification for the position of “Multi-Media Artists & Animators.”

After receiving & reviewing an Employer’s Application for Permanent Labor Certification, the CO issued an Audit notification. After the Employer responded, the CO denied certification of the application for multiple reasons. First and foremost, the position advertised did not match the one listed on the Employer’s ETA Form 9089 in violation of PERM Regulations 20 C.F.R. § 656.10 and § 656.17 (f)(3). These regulations require that an advertisement “provide a description of the vacancy specific enough to apprise a US worker of the job opportunity for which certification is sought.” The CO revealed that the employer’s web advertising specified the position required a minimum of a high school diploma. On the Employer’s ETA Form 9089, it listed a Bachelor’s degree plus 24 months, or 4 years of work experience as an alternative to the degree.

The Employer sent a reconsideration request to the CO. In its argument, the Employer stated the government made a clear error in denying the labor application. The CO delivered a second denial and forwarded the case to BALCA for review.

After BALCA’s examination of the case, they affirmed the CO’s denial of labor certification. The Board deemed the Employer clearly violated the PERM regulations “by not specifically apprising US workers of the job opportunity.” In the web advertising, the position advertised to applicants stated only a high school diploma was required. However, the ETA form mentioned a higher level of education. In its defense, the Employer believed the difference in listings would have caused a problem for applicants if the advertised job would have required stricter educational prerequisites. BALCA thought US workers viewed different requirements for the position then what was listed on the ETA Form. BALCA believed prospective applicants may have overlooked the ad because they thought they may be overqualified for the job.