Month: November 2012

by SCwpadmin SCwpadmin 28 Comments

Immigration Reform in 2013?

The 2012 election put the spotlight on immigration reform.  The candidates’ contrasting positions on immigration policy was highlighted throughout the presidential campaigns and the results of the Presidential Election have been attributed in part to how those positions influenced voter turnout and the margin in favor of President Obama.  In the wake of the election, many are waiting to see whether immigration reform will remain a priority of the White House and a commitment of Congress.    

There are early signs that although the “fiscal cliff” is the immediate priority, immigration reform remains a key issue to be tackled in the coming months. At a news conference the week after the election, President Obama said he expects Congress to propose a comprehensive immigration reform bill in early 2013.  There have also been encouraging signs that Congress is committed to taking action on meaningful immigration reform.  A day after the election, Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner (R) told ABC News that he was confident Congress could work with the White House on a comprehensive immigration solution.  An encouraging sign that needed bipartisanship for immigration reform may be present also include post-election statements from top Republicans affirming that the party needs to move forward on immigration reform. 

Taking a cue from poll results collected a day after the election that showed majority support for immigration reform, including wanting to see undocumented people in the United States provided with a “path to citizenship,” is a smart move for both parties.  But while the reality of votes and election demographics is undoubtedly a significant motivator for bipartisanship on immigration reform, both parties’ ideological underpinnings provide independent reasons to enact reform. Now, we all hold our breathe to see if, and how, the two parties will work out a compromise in 2013 that repairs our broken immigration system.  



by SCwpadmin SCwpadmin 87 Comments

H-1B Season is Coming

The most important season for immigration law not winter, spring, summer, or fall. Rather, it is “H-1B Season.”

As of April 1, 2013, USCIS will start accepting H-1B applications for the next fiscal year with an effective date of October 1, 2013.  USCIS will continue accepting applications until the H-1B cap numbers have been exhausted (65,000 regular H-1B numbers and 20,000 numbers for applicants with a master’s degree or higher).

In 2007, during the first week of April, USCIS received approximately twice as many applications as there are H-1B cap numbers.  In subsequent years, due to the recession, H-1B numbers lasted as long as January of the following year.  The numbers ran out quite quickly in 2012 and we expect that they will run out even faster in 2013.  Therefore, employers should start the process of preparing H-1B applications for appropriate candidates in the near future . We want to make sure that our clients have sufficient time to prepare the applications to have them ready to file by April 1, 2013.

by SCwpadmin SCwpadmin 553 Comments

Pentagon Reopens the MAVNI Program Allowing Immigrants with Temporary Visas and Special Skills to Enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces

Thousands of immigrants successfully petitioned the U.S. government to reopen a special program that allows individuals in non-immigrant status to serve in the military if they possess designated specialized skills.  Ordinarily, only lawful permanent residents or U.S. citizens can enlist in the armed forces.  The program, entitled Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI), seeks legal immigrants with medical or certain language skills to serve in the U.S. military in exchange for an expedited path to citizenship. The program is relatively small, allowing a maximum of 1500 recruits for each two-year period, the majority of whom will serve in the army.  Pentagon spokesperson Eileen Lainez stated the program is intended to fill “some of our most critical readinessneeds.”  The MAVNI program focuses on securing medical professionals such as dentists and surgeons, as well as psychology professionals who help manage the severe emotional strain many soldiers experience while serving in combat areas in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Additionally, officials are seeking native speakers of 44 different languages.  The reopening of this program is based on the exemplary members produced by the MAVNI program in the past,many of whom distinguished themselves as exceptional soldiers.  A powerful incentive of the program is that it allows enlistees to naturalize as U.S. citizens at the end of basic training, which only lasts about ten weeks. 


The temporary non-immigrant categories eligible for enlistment include: asylees, refugees, individuals in temporary protected status, or individuals in the following nonimmigrant categories, E, F, H, I, J, K, L, M, O, P, Q, R, S, T, TC, TD, TN, U, or V. To qualify for the program, the applicant must have been present in the U.S. in one of the listed visas for at least two years immediately prior to enlisting. Additionally, applicants must not have been outside the U.S. for more than a 90-day period during the two years, must be high school graduates, and must pass an entrance exam.  Other technical requirements must also be met in order to enroll.

If you are interested and think you may be eligible to serve in the program, it is best to speak to a legal professional to ensure eligibility to apply. Further information is available on the Defense Department website, including requirements for healthcare professionals and individuals with special language and cultural backgrounds. 
by SCwpadmin SCwpadmin 155 Comments

Visa Backlogs

The December Department of State visa bulletin shows very little movement in the immigrant visa backlogs, both for the family and employment-based categories. The only category that advanced more than a month was the EB–3 category for China, which moved from April 15, 2006 to July 1, 2006.  In light of the recent presidential election, there is much hope that various types of immigration reform will be passed, including some form of relief from the extensive backlogs. Such relief could come in the form of removing the individual country limits, or no longer counting derivative applicants against the limits. Only time will tell if such reprieve will become a reality.

by SCwpadmin SCwpadmin 46 Comments

EB-5 Regional Center Investment Program

President Obama recently signed a bill to extend the EB-5 regional center investment program, which was set to expire at the end of September this year.  The regional center investment program allows individuals to invest $500,000 in a program that has been approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and use that investment as the basis for a permanent residence application. The regional center program obviates the need for investors to create their own business enterprise that directly creates 10 jobs for American workers, and instead allows them to meet the requirements by investing in an ongoing enterprise and indirectly creating 10 jobs for American workers.

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New Colorado Affirmation Form

All public and private Colorado employers are now required to the complete the specific Colorado Affirmation form created by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. The new form can be used for employees hired between October 1, 2012 and October 1, 2014 and should not be used for those hired before September 6, 2012.  As with the previous version, employers are required to keep the form along with copies of the documents provided by the employee for the completion of the I-9.  The affirmation and documentation must only be kept for the duration of employment.  Stern & Curray recommends that affirmation forms and accompanying documentation be purged when the employment relationship ends.