It certainly has been a very exciting month for those interested in immigration issues. From the negotiations that took place in the Senate regarding Comprehensive Immigration Reform, the announcement that all USCIS government filing fees will increase as of 7/30/2007, to the announcement of a final rule banning substitutions on permanent labor certification applications-- immigration issues are undoubtedly hot topics that will only keep getting hotter. Although the Senate reached what they've deemed the "Grand Bargain," critics are adamantly opposing it, stating that the reforms will only hurt our society in the long run and do not provide adequate solutions for immediate immigration needs. Some hard-line critics go so far as to suggest that if the "flaws" are not erased, the bill as it now stands should be abandoned completely. No matter where you stand on the issue, it is certain that this one bill will not solve every immigration problem, and it will continue to be the source of controversy for years to come. One thing that is certain -- we are amidst an exciting historical moment and the entire world is watching.
As the laws continue to change, it is imperative that you keep informed in regards to your immigration needs.
If you are receiving "In Focus" for the first time, Immigration Solutions is comprised of a network of highly experienced Immigration Case Managers and Paralegals, working in association with licensed, U.S. Attorneys and Certified Specialists in the field of immigration and nationality law. Through an affiliate office, we also provide our clients with global migration consulting services and global work permits. We have a depth of experience with complex business visas for investors, multinational managers, outstanding individuals in the areas of athletics, business, science and the arts, visa petitions on behalf of nurses and allied healthcare professionals and PERM Labor Certification. We are set up to conveniently work on your behalf throughout the USA and abroad.
We welcome your comments, questions and suggestions at all times. We would be pleased to send you a copy of our brochure, our fees and respond to any other inquiry that you might have. Please visit us at www.immigrationsolution.net and sign up for our monthly newsletter and NewsFLASHES to stay current with the ever changing issues of the day.
|IN THE NEWS - Nurse Update: Schedule A|
Recent events in the news regarding proposed changes to the immigration laws of the United States have caused some concern and confusion. The purpose of this update is to provide a summary of the current immigration system for nurses to immigrate to the United States and to discuss the proposed new laws and their possible effects.
At the present time the law generally does not provide temporary nonimmigrant visas to allow nurses to enter the United States to work as a nurse while waiting for the much longer permanent immigrant visa process to be completed. As a result, nurses must generally obtain an immigrant visa before they can enter the United States to work as a nurse. While Nurse is listed on the Department of Labor Schedule A as a profession in short supply in the United States, the number of nurses who can enter the United States with immigrant visas each year is presently limited by the EB-3 quota. There currently is more demand than supply in the EB-3 quota category which has resulted in a waiting list. Since the movement of the waiting list is determined by future demand, it is impossible to predict when one's place on the waiting list will be reached. A nurse's place on the EB-3 quota waiting list is determined by the date that the employer hospital files the I-140 Immigrant Visa Petition. The I-140 Immigrant Visa Petition can be filed only after the nurse has either obtained CGFNS certification, passed the NCLEX exam and or holds a permanent, full and unrestricted license to practice professional nursing in the state of intended employment. In order to complete the immigrant visa processing, either the nurse's place on the waiting list must be reached, or a new law must be passed to speed up the process.
At the present time several proposed laws in the Senate and the House of Representatives are being debated to change the immigration laws of the United States. It can not be predicted which, if any, of these proposed laws will actually pass and become law since the final outcome will be determined by the politics surrounding the proposals. The proposals generated so far will likely have a favorable effect on the immigration process for nurses if passed. Specifically, there are proposals to add visas to the quota, exempt nurses from the quota, change the quota system to a merit-based point system, and create a temporary nonimmigrant visa to allow nurses to enter the United States to start work while waiting for the immigrant visa process to be completed. In order for a proposed law to become law, it must pass both the Senate and the House of Representatives and be signed by the President. At the moment, competing proposals have been introduced and will be debated in the Senate and the House of Representatives in the next couple months.
We remain hopeful that a favorable solution will be reached for nurses. The continuing critical shortage of nurses can not continue to exist without serious adverse consequences to the healthcare system of the United States. Historically, new laws have addressed and provided temporary remedies in the past. Finally, proposed new laws are being debated. We follow the developments of the proposed laws on a daily basis. We will provide you with monthly updates and immediate updates in the event of significant developments.
|IN THE NEWS - Senate "Grand Bargain"|
A "Grand Bargain" was reached by the Senate and posted on May 17, 2007. Below is a brief summary of the provisions it encompasses.
First, as stated in Title I, before the Guest Worker and Z visa programs can begin, the Secretary of Homeland Security must certify that certain security triggers are met. The triggers include the employment of 18,000 Border Patrol agents; construction of 200 miles of vehicle barriers and 370 miles of fencing; and the use of secure and effective identification tools to prevent unauthorized work, among others. Interior enforcement of immigration laws include provisions that stiffen the laws and penalties as relating to the detention of criminal aliens and passport, visa, and immigration fraud.
In regards to workplace enforcement, the bargain sets forth an increase in penalties, revising and making mandatory a system of electronic employment verification, and promoting information sharing. It reduces the list of documents that may be presented to employers to prove identity and work eligibility, and increases penalties over current law for unlawful hiring, employment, and recordkeeping violations.
The new temporary Y worker program addresses future labor needs of temporary foreign workers and discourages future illegal employment of undocumented individuals. The Y visa is for workers who come to the USA to perform a temporary job that the USA employer is unable to fill. It provides for a non-seasonal Y temporary worker (Y-1 visa), seasonal temporary worker, and their spouses and minor children. Y workers must be matched to a "willing employer" through an electronic database in order to qualify for a Y worker visa. Families of Y visa holders can accompany Y workers if certain provisions are met. A Y-1 worker can be admitted for a two year period that can be renewed twice if that worker spends a period of one or more year outside the USA between each admission. Y workers who fail to timely depart are permanently barred from any future immigration benefit. The Y-1 visa program has an initial cap of 400,000 with yearly adjustments based on market fluctuations.
Also included in this bill is a rebalancing of immigrant visa allocation, resetting the number of family-based, family backlog, merit-based immigrants, and eventual Z immigration green cards. The current employment based green card system will be replaced by a merit based points system.
Critics of the bill believe that these provisions will not solve the illegal immigration problem and will make matters even worse by destroying families and creating requirements that are unfeasible. Specifically, critics take issue with the fact that the bill eliminates current family preference categories and limits future family immigration; eliminates current employment-based immigration categories and puts in their place a new merit-based point system with inadequate numbers; does not provide a reasonable path to permanent status for the Y workers; and underestimates the number of green cards needed for families and workers. They assert that passage of the bill as written would be worse than the status quo. Immigration Solutions will continue to keep you informed as the bill is revised.
GO: The White House Myth/Fact Sheet
|IN THE NEWS - Visa Dates Leap Forward|
The Department of State (DOS) has released its June Visa Bulletin, revealing that the visa dates have jumped ahead. The current level of demand in many of the Employment-based categories has been much lower than anticipated. As a result, the June cut-off dates have been advanced significantly in an effort to maximize number use under the annual numerical limits. At this time, it appears likely that there will be additional advances during the coming months. The new Bulletin can be accessed here:
|IN THE NEWS - Final Rule Bans Substitution on Perm Labor Certification Apps|
DOL Seeks To Eliminate Fraud and Abuse With New Rule
The Department of Labor is finally enacting a rule that ambitiously tries to stop fraud and abuse relating to permanent labor certification applications and resulting certifications. Concerns about fraud and abuse have been growing for the past fifteen years, and were magnified by a number of recent criminal prosecutions by the Department of Justice (DOJ). Review of these prosecutions revealed that the ability to substitute alien beneficiaries turned labor certifications into commodities which can be sold by unscrupulous employers, attorneys, or agents to those seeking a "green card."
Thus, in order to recapture the integrity of the process as well as reduce costs associated with prosecuting those who abuse the system, the Department of Labor is amending its regulations by implementing a new rule which will take effect on July 16, 2007. The boldest provision in the rule prohibits both the substitution of alien beneficiaries, as well as modifications to applications once they are filed with the Department. In addition, employers will now have 180 days (as opposed to 45 days) to file an approved permanent labor certification in support of a Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker.
The Department seeks to reduce the incentive to commit fraud by strictly prohibiting the sale, barter, purchase, and payments to employers in compensation or reimbursement for the employer's costs incurred to obtain labor certification. Additionally, the rule requires employers to pay the costs of preparing, filing and obtaining certification, and any transfer of these costs to the employee are strictly prohibited.
Lastly, the Final Rule also provides for enforcement mechanisms that permit the Department to debar an employer, attorney or agent based upon certain actions. Such enumerated actions include penalties for behavior that amounts to a pattern or practice of noncompliance with PERM requirements, regardless of whether the labor certification application involved was filed under the prior or current registration.
GO: Final Rule DOL Employment and Training Admin
|"In Focus" for HR's -- Telecommuting: How to Succeed|
As gas prices soar, so does the appeal of telecommuting. In order to achieve a successful telecommuting arrangement, several key elements should not be overlooked. First and foremost, the employer should create a Telecommuting Agreement that willing and eligible employees should review and sign. This agreement might include the following: a definition of the telecommuter's work schedule and an outline of the probationary period, if applicable. If the company is providing any work-related items, the agreement should include a list of such items; and acknowledgement that the employee will take precautions to protect company items from damage or theft.
If you are an employer who has numerous employees who desire to work as telecommuters, you are then faced with the issue of who will be permitted to do so. In order to make a fair choice, first establish a series of standards that you will apply to every telecommuting request you receive, such as the type of position the employee has, or the employee's tenure with the company. Many companies require a minimum number of months of consecutive employment in order for employees to be eligible for telecommuting. By doing so, employers reward loyal staff and feel more confident that these employees will succeed in this type of arrangement. Also, employees with an above-average job performance history should be considered strong candidates for telecommuting.
As appealing as it may sound, some workers still prefer the traditional work environment and don't want to telecommute. For this reason, forced telecommuting is never a successful management technique. After all, people who are forced to work against their nature will not be as satisfied, and the quality of their work will undoubtedly suffer. Thus, simply informing an employee of the date that they are to begin telecommuting should be avoided.