Although Comprehensive Immi- gration Reform died in Congress, immigration changes are underway. In early August, the Government announced ways in which it can implement changes without changing the law. This appears to be a creative and innovative way to avoid the political games that have frustrated immigration reform in the past. On the other side of the coin, the USCIS has set a rather lofty goal for itself, in aiming to replace all "green cards" issued between 1979 and 1989 within 120 days. We shall see how these two different entities succeed or fail in their endeavors. On another note, it is important to keep an eye towards the forthcoming travel requirements that will be implemented over the next year. As the laws and regulations become more strict, more travelers will need documentation, such as passports, and it will be imperative for travelers to submit any applications for travel documents well in advance. Although there is always a chance that these regulations will not go into effect by the Government's proposed deadlines, it is better to err on the side of caution.
We at Immigration Solutions make it a point to keep you informed of every change that happens pertaining to U.S. immigration policy and law. 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 petitions on behalf of nurses and allied healthcare professionals, complex business visas for investors, multinational managers, outstanding individuals in the areas of athletics, business, science and the arts, visa and PERM Labor Certification. We are set up to conveniently work on your behalf throughout the USA and abroad.
You may contact our office to schedule a one-time free consultation with one of our attorneys at no further obligation. 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.
|IN THE NEWS - Monthly Nurse Update|
By Thomas J. Joy, Immigration Solutions Affiliated Attorney
In the middle of September, the US Department of State will release its October 2007 Visa Bulletin which marks the start of the government fiscal year and the availability of the new annual quota of immigrant visas for fiscal year 2008 (October 1, 2007 to September 30, 2008). At that time we will have a better idea of the waiting periods for immigrant visas for nurses under the current immigrant visa quota system.
As we have indicated recently, we remain hopeful that new laws will be enacted soon to decrease the present waiting periods for nurses to immigrate to the US. We base our hope on the fact that the current critical shortage of nurses in the US demands immediate action so that the US healthcare system can continue to operate effectively. In addition, in the past, new laws have been enacted to address the shortage of nurses in the US by allowing more foreign nurses into the US. Finally, several legislative solutions have been and continue to be proposed and debated.
Various groups of healthcare employers, nurse recruiting companies and related entities and persons are presently lobbying for a legislative solution. The present focus is on short-term immediate relief for nurses. In addition, long-term permanent relief is being pursued. Specific proposals include exempting nurses from the annual immigrant visa quota restrictions, increasing the number of immigrant visas available in the EB-3 quota category that applies to nurses and creating a new nonimmigrant visa to allow nurses to come to the US immediately to start work while waiting for the immigrant visa process ("green card") to be completed. Hospitals and nurse recruiters in the US are encouraged to contact their Senators and Congressmen to express their support for these legislative efforts to relieve the current shortage of nurses in the US by speeding up the process to bring foreign nurse to the US.
Be assured that we continue to follow these issues on a daily basis and will keep you advised.
|IN THE NEWS - USCIS Aims to Replace All Greencards That Do Not Have An Expiration Date on the Back|
On August 22, 2007, USCIS new proposed legislation, much to the chagrin of immigration professionals and green-card holders around the world. The proposed legislation, which is now open for public comment, proposes to require lawful permanent residents with cards that do not have an expiration date printed on them to file for a replacement card. This law would largely pertain to legal permanent residents whose cards were issued between 1979 and 1989, as the Government started printing cards with expiration dates on them in 1989. The process for obtaining a replacement card entails filing an Application to Replace Lawful Permanent Residence Card (Form I-90). In order to complete the Form I-90, applicants must provide current biographic and biometric information. Card holders be aware that the proposed rule also states a manner in which the USCIS could terminate "green cards" without an expiration date. Under the rule, USCIS would be able to terminate the aforementioned "green cards" by publishing notice in the Federal Register.
The proposed rule will be up for public comment at www.regulations.gov until September 21, 2007. More information about it is available on a fact sheet and questions and answers notice posted to the USCIS web site, http://www.uscis.gov. If you have any questions about this procedure or if it applies to you, please give us a call.
|IN THE NEWS - CBP Launches Online Application for Cross-Border Travel Program|
U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced on 08/16/2007 that cross-border travelers wishing to apply for Nexus privileges are now able to do so through a new, online application system. Nexus is a popular, joint frequent traveler program with Canada where applicants volunteer to undergo a background check, in-person interview and fingerprinting, and pay a $50 5-year membership fee. The use of the Nexus card is an alternative to a passport for travel between the US and Canada. According to the CBP, "the system helps [its] officers accomplish their dual mission of securing the borders while facilitating trade and travel." In view of that recent requirement, this voluntary program allows persons holding Nexus cards to travel, crossing the border between the United States and Canada more easily and with less potential for delays.
Interested persons should submit an online application and pay the membership fee by using the Global Online Enrollment System (GOES) at https://goes-app.cbp.dhs.gov/. Once the completed application is received by the CBP, it will be reviewed and notification of a conditional approval will be sent. Applicants will also be instructed to schedule appointments for interviews. A Nexus appointment interview is scheduled according to the online instructions. If the CBP denies an application, the enrollment office will send a letter to the applicant outlining the reasons for the denial. For more information on the program we link to:
|IN THE NEWS - Making Changes Within Existing Immigration Law|
The Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Michael Chertoff, and Commerce Secretary, Carlos Gutierrez, announced a series of reforms the Administration will pursue to address border security and immigration challenges. They outlined steps the Administration can take within existing law to enforce and secure borders more effectively, improve interior and worksite enforcement, streamline existing guest worker programs, improve the current immigration system, and help new immigrants assimilate into American culture. Steps within existing law include strengthening security at the border with additional personnel and infrastructure, maintain the policy of "catch and return" for aliens apprehended at the border; strengthen legal efforts to keep international gang members out of the United States; expand exit requirements so persons who overstay limited-duration visits to the United States can be identified; require all travelers to ports of entry to the United States to use passports or other similar secure documents; and reform and expedite background checks for immigration.
In regards to existing guest-worker programs, it is reported that the Department of Homeland Security will extend the visa term for professional workers from Canada and Mexico to attract more of these talented workers to the United States. The TN visa duration will be extended to three years, which is the same term as other popular professional visas. Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor will study and report on potential administrative reforms to visa programs for highly skilled workers.
Also of interest is a provision in regards to assimilation, which provides that the Department of Education will launch a free, web-based portal to help immigrants learn English and expand this model over time.
Re Proposals for Forthcoming Travel Requirements: Earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security instituted the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), requiring all air travelers in the Western Hemisphere to carry a valid passport or secure travel document, would apply to travelers entering by land and sea as well.
Beginning on January 31, 2008, the rule will also apply to travelers arriving by land and sea. Due to these impending requirements, plan ahead and apply for your passport before the regulations go into effect, especially if you are planning travel in the Western Hemisphere in the early part of 2008. Note: Although the Department of Homeland Security has marked January 31, 2008 as the start date for the land and sea port implementation, the DHS and DOS anticipate the date of full WHTI implementation to be in the summer of 2008. The exact date when the WHTI will be implemented will be formally announced with at least 60 days notice.
DHS Fact Sheet: http://www.dhs.gov/xnews/releases/pr_1186757867585.shtm
|IN THE NEWS - Government Receives 300,000 VISA Applications in July|
Approximately 300,000 visa applications were received by the Government for the month of July. Only 140,000 visas were allocated for the month of July and 80,000 were approved. This will most likely increase the wait time for applicants from India (EB3 category) and the Philippines, already the categories with the highest demand.
|IN THE NEWS - IMMIGRATION REFORM -- CIR in Retrospect|
Although the rejected immigration bill attempted to solve problems with the current system by focusing on issuing permanent and temporary work visas, it failed to address the numerous underlying institutional problems. Up until 1990, H-1B visas were not subject to numerical limitations. At one point, 195,000 H-1B visas were awarded in one year. Now the story is much different, and the process is mired by the involvement of three different agencies: the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS). This schema lacks clear lines of accountability and results in arbitrary, inefficient and inconsistent decisions.
Companies that are frustrated with the maze-like bureaucratic process have responded to visa procurement problems by out-sourcing and establishing cross-border facilities. However, recent evidence suggests that the out-sourcing process has slowed at the upper end of the high-technology sector, due to the rising costs of highly skilled Indian labor and because of the increasing difficulties associated with working in multiple locations. It is perhaps being replaced by companies establishing cross-border facilities, such as what Microsoft plans to do. Microsoft recently announced that it would open a software development facility in Vancouver, British Columbia. This is the first to be created outside of the United States to accommodate workers caught up with U.S. visa procurement issues.
Even though the bureaucratic mess and visa shortage has started to tangibly effect the investments and future developments of U.S. companies, the Democratic congressional leadership is divided on the prospects for incremental immigration reform. Although many of us can point fingers at Congress to not fixing the problem, perhaps there are other entities that deserve attention. A significant number of U.S. high-technology professionals oppose allowing targeted immigration in this sector as they argue importing lower-cost foreign workers depresses wages and benefits. These professionals have strong lobbying associations, which were well represented in the drafting of the immigration bill and may have diluted the relevant high-technology immigration provisions to the extent where the overall package lost corporate backing. One of the most egregious examples was a proposed amendment that would have guaranteed certain minimum wage and benefit standards to workers allowed in on H-1B visas. Until the lobbyists are not part of the political picture, or change their tune, so to speak, it appears that high-technology employers are likely to continue to suffer under a glaringly inadequate visa system for highly skilled immigrant workers, and will be forced to continue searching for creative methods of meeting employment needs.
|IN THE NEWS - Vermont Teams Up with Department of Homeland Security|
In answer to the new Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative discussed above, the state of Vermont has teemed up with the United States Department of Security to enhance the security of state driver's licenses and potentially serve as an acceptable alternative document for traversing the United States' land and sea borders. The state of Vermont will develop an enhanced driver's license that will give their residents, who voluntarily apply and qualify, with a document that is acceptable for U.S. land and sea ports. The enhanced driver's license will cost slightly more than a standard Vermont state driver's license and will require proof of citizenship, identity, and residence, as well as contain security features similar to a U.S. passport.
|"In Focus" for Nurses and Other Healthcare Professionals: What You Can Do to Expedite Your Immigration Case|
In the course of processing a high volume of registered nurse and other allied healthcare professional casework, we have found the following points to produce extremely beneficial results in successful case preparation. It is our hope that you will utilize these tips and that you find them helpful in staying organized throughout the process:
Fill out all forms thoroughly and completely. Immigration cases require detailed information; i.e., complete addresses, dates, complete employment information, etc.
- Check your email on a daily basis. Make sure that our email is not going into your spam folders by mistake.
- Acknowledge receipt of email communications within 24 hours and respond to requests for information and documentation as quickly as possible. This will be our main source of communication with you and it's important that you give it priority attention.
- If you are encountering a delay in responding to information or documentation requests for whatever reason, please let us know and also stay in touch with your staffing agency contact, as they can assist you on your end.
- Please keep us informed of any material change in your circumstances; such as:
- Change of address and personal contact information
- Change of employment
- Marriage plans; divorce; child's birth
- If you will be out of town and or otherwise unavailable for a period of time during the processing of your immigration case, please let us know.
- Please inform Immigration Solutions and your staffing agency point person (if applicable) when you have received your NCLEX Candidate Report and ICHP VisaScreen Certification.
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