October 2012 Newsletter
In This Issue
Details Released on DV-2014 Lottery Program; DV-2013 Entrants Should Keep Confirmation Numbers
Online registration for the DV-2014 Program began on Tuesday, October 2, 2012, at noon EDT, and concludes on Saturday, November 3, 2012, at noon EDT. Applicants must submit entries electronically during this registration period using the electronic DV entry form (E-DV) at https://www.dvlottery.state.gov/. Paper entries will not be accepted. The Department of State strongly encourages applicants not to wait until the last week of the registration period to enter. Heavy demand may result in website delays.
Selectees for the DV program are chosen by a computer-generated, random drawing. The visas are distributed among six geographic regions, with a greater number of visas going to regions with lower rates of immigration to the United States, and with no visas going to nationals of countries sending more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States over the past five years. No single country may receive more than seven percent of the available diversity visas in any one year.
Natives of the following countries are not eligible to apply because the countries sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the previous five years: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam. A "native" ordinarily means someone born within a particular country, regardless of the individual's current country of residence or nationality. Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible.
For DV-2014, the Department of State once again will implement an online process to notify entrants of their selection and to provide information about the immigrant visa application and interview. Beginning May 1, 2013, DV-2014 entrants will be able to use their confirmation number provided at registration to check online through Entry Status Check at http://www.dvlottery.state.gov. Successful entrants will receive instructions on how to apply for immigrant visas for themselves and their eligible family members. Confirmation of visa interview appointments will also be made through Entry Status Check.
For detailed information about DV-2014 entry requirements, along with frequently asked questions about the DV program, see the instructions for the DV-2014 Diversity Visa program, available here. The related Federal Register notice was published on September 28, 2012. Click here to read..
The Department of State also noted that DV-2013 entrants should keep their confirmation numbers until at least September 2013, even if they were not selected on May 1, 2012. The Department said it may select more DV-2013 entries on October 1, 2012. Entrants in the DV-2013 program may check the status of their entries through Entrant Status Check (https://www.dvlottery.state.gov/ESC/) through September 30, 2013.
STEM Bill Fails in House
On September 20, 2012, the U.S. House of Representatives rejected the STEM Jobs Act (H.R. 6429), sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) by a vote of 257-158. (288 votes were required to pass under suspension of the rules.) The bill would have provided permanent residence to 55,000 foreign students each year who graduate with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) from U.S. universities and agree to work for at least five years in the United States in a STEM field. The bill included requirements for an employer to petition on the student's behalf and a labor certification process.
Democrats who voted against the measure signaled that they were in favor of similar legislation but objected to a provision that would have eliminated the diversity visa program. Congress may take up this and similar bills in November, after the presidential election.
CBP Announces Delays in Processing I-94 Arrival/Departure Records
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced on September 17, 2012, that it is experiencing delays in processing foreign visitors' travel information in the Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record database. CBP said this does not affect the majority of foreign travellers visiting for business or leisure and will not affect any visitor's record of departure.
CBP is exploring automating the I-94 to allow for the collection of arrival/departure information electronically to streamline the arrival and inspection process for travellers. CBP is coordinating with other agency stakeholders and is considering rulemaking.
The announcement is available here.
H-1B Visas Cap Met
With the H-1B cap having been reached in June, and no H-1B visas available until Oct. 2013, we have been busy advising clients about alternative strategies for employing professional foreign workers. Many clients are already planning and anticipating their H-1B needs, to be ready to file H-1B Petitions on the 1st April 2013. If you would like to discuss your current/future needs, please contact us.
EB5 Immigrant Investor Update
On September 28, President Obama signed S. 3245 into law. The bill extends the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, E-Verify, Special Immigrant Non-minister Religious Worker Program, and the Conrad 30 Program through September 30, 2015.
The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program was created by Congress in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. Qualifying EB-5 investors (and their dependent relatives) are eligible for conditional, two-year Green Cards. After the two-year period, investors and their dependents can apply for a removal of the conditions on the Lawful Permanent Residence.
Under a pilot immigration program first enacted in 1992 and regularly reauthorized since, certain EB-5 visas also are set aside for investors in Regional Centers designated by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth. If you would like further information regarding applying for permanent resident status as an immigrant investor, please contact us.
State Dept. Announces Visa Availability for Fiscal Year 2013
The Visa Bulletin for October 2012, which includes the cut-off dates for employment-based and family-based visa numbers, is available here.
New Publications and Items of Interest
Updated fact sheets on FY 2012 statistics. The Department of Labor has posted updated program fact sheets on FY 2012 selected statistics:
Visa processing and foreign visitor processing. The Departments of State and Homeland Security issued a joint report, "Executive Order 13597: Improvements to Visa Processing and Foreign Visitor Processing 180-Day Progress Report." The report, released on September 19, 2012, notes that a foreign visitor's first and primary encounters with the U.S. government shape opinions about the United States. Executive Order (EO) 13597 (Jan. 19, 2012) initiated a policy to ensure that these first impressions are the best impressions. The report states that over the past six months, the Departments have "made significant progress in three key areas: increasing productivity and efficiency; improving the traveller's experience; and enhancing partnerships, both within the U.S. government and with the travel and tourism industry."
Increased staffing has been key to lower visa interview wait times, the report says. By the end of 2012, the State Department will have created more than 50 new visa adjudicator positions in China and 60 in Brazil, including 43 hired under the Limited Non-Career Appointment program. Between October 2011 and July 2012, the Department deployed, on temporary duty, 220 consular officers to Brazil (a 253 percent increase over the number of temporary officers sent the previous fiscal year) and 48 officers to China (a 60 percent increase). The additional staff enabled the Department to meet the 40 percent capacity increase target goal outlined in EO 13597 in Brazil in June 2012, and will enable the Department to meet that goal in China by December 2012, the report notes.
Visa processing capacity in high-demand countries, particularly Brazil and China, has grown to meet sharply rising demand, the report states. Consular managers in China have expanded their work hours to maximize interview window use. Managers throughout Brazil's four consular sections have responded to a nearly 50 percent year-on-year increase in demand by expanding operating hours, including occasional Saturdays and holidays.
On January 20, 2012, the two Departments initiated a two-year Interview Waiver Pilot Program (IWPP) to streamline processing for low-risk visa applicants. Many consular sections have implemented the IWPP during the past six months, the report notes. As of August 2012, 52 visa processing posts in 28 countries participate in the pilot program, waiving interviews for more than 63,000 low-risk visa applicants.
The Department of Homeland Security is also focusing on a risk-based approach to security to create efficiencies for travellers, as exemplified through its Trusted Traveller Programs.
Click here for the report.
2011 immigration statistics. The Department of Homeland Security has released its 2011 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics. The yearbook consists of a compendium of tables organized by subject, including legal permanent residents, refugees and asylees, naturalizations, nonimmigrant admissions, and enforcement actions. It is available here.
USCIS national engagement. On October 16, 2012, USCIS will hold a public engagement (in-person in Washington, DC, and via teleconference) for EB-5 immigrant investor stakeholders. Click here.
Notes from previous engagements by topic are available here.
Green Card Stories. The immigration debate is boiling over. Americans are losing the ability to understand and talk to one another about immigration. We must find a way to connect on a human level. Green Card Stories does just that. The book depicts 50 recent immigrants with permanent residence or citizenship in dramatic narratives, accompanied by artistic photos. If the book's profiles share a common trait, it's a mixture of talent and steely determination. Each of them overcame great challenges to come and stay in America. Green Card Stories reminds Americans of who we are: a nation of immigrants, from all walks of life and all corners of the earth, who have fuelled America's success. It tells the true story of our nation: E pluribus unum--out of many, one. For more information or to order, visit www.greencardstories.com.
Government Agency Links
Follow these links to access current processing times of the USCIS Service Centers and the Department of Labor, or the Department of State's latest Visa Bulletin with the most recent cut-off dates for visa numbers:
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