USCIS announced October 20, 2011 that it will resume sending original receipt notices to the Attorney of Record. Recently, USCIS had changed its policy and had begun to send original receipt notices to the petitioner, which in most cases is the employer. This has caused a great deal of confusion and extra work for employers, so the return to the prior system is quite welcome.
H-1B Cap Update
USCIS has reported that the H-1B master’s Cap has been reached. Therefore, employers petitioning for employees who have an advanced degree from an American university or college will now have their H-1B petitions counted against regular H-1B Cap. There are 65,000 available H-1Bs in the regular Cap. As of October 25, USCIS had receipted 46,200 petitions against the regular Cap.
Deportations Increase in 2011 Despite Prosecutorial Discretion Memo
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reported that 396,906 individuals were removed from the U.S. in Fiscal Year 2011, the largest number in the agency’s history. What do these numbers mean? The administration prioritized certain areas, including the removal of individuals who have broken criminal laws, threats to national security, repeat violators of immigration law, recent border crossers, and immigration court fugitives. However, according to the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), about 45% of the individuals removed had committed only civil immigration offenses. The other 55% were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors, with many of the misdemeanors being minor violations created specifically to convert civil immigration violators into misdemeanor criminals. A June 2011 Memo from ICE Director John Morton encourages those enforcing immigration laws to use their discretion in deciding the types of individuals who should be removed from the U.S. The factors that would deem an immigration case a low priority include good behavior, schooling, ties to America, and economic contributions. According to Eleanor Pelta, AILA’s president, “Unfortunately, Morton’s June guidance is for the most part going unimplemented in the field … Instead of spending money and time removing low-enforcement individuals from the country, ICE is supposed to be going after the really bad guys who could do us harm … ICE still has a long way to go.”