During the holidays, we want to wish you and your family the very best, and hope you enjoy a safe and happy New Year! Thank you for your continued support of our newsletter as we have experienced a number of positive changes in 2007, and plan to reveal many additional innovative touches for our newsletter and website come 2008.
Thank you again for all of your support, and please have a Happy New Year!
|Top 10 Migration Issues of 2007
During the year of 2007, migration took center stage. The U.S. failed to initiate immigration reform, Iraqi refugees faced diminished options and little U.S. support after their country was torn apart by war, and The Highly Skilled, now needed more than ever, fueled Europe to initiate the "Blue Card," that could increase Europe's competitiveness for The Highly Skilled. These were just a few of the Top 10 Migration Issues, according to The Migration Information Source, for 2007:
Issue #1: Political Paralysis: The Failure of U.S. Immigration Reform
With a Democratic-controlled Congress in place, 2007 was expected to be the year for immigration reform legislation. However, even after a vow by President Bush during his State of the Union Address in January, immigration reform bills never made it past the opposition in Congress. Thereafter, with the federal government now refusing to take up the subject until 2009, the job has been left to state and local governments to respond to the frustrations and public pressures.
Issue #2: Iraqi Refugees: Diminished Options and Little U.S. Support
With war ravaging their country and being forced to relocate to neighboring allies, displaced Iraqis and their stories became more desperate and widely known during the year of 2007. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees reports that 2.2 million Iraqis have left the country, but with neighboring countries like Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, and The Gulf states taking much of the burden and imposing visa restrictions for the past few years, Iraqi refugees have been forced to go back to their war-ravaged homeland. The security situation in the country has been improving, according to reports, but the returning refugees have only been forced to return because they are facing economic difficulties or have depleted their savings - so only if stability lasts in the country, will larger numbers be able to return.
Issue #3: Wanted More Than Ever: The Highly Skilled Worker
In October, the European Commission took a bold leap and initiated the "Blue Card" scheme for admitting highly qualified non-EU workers who already have a work contract in a Member State and professional qualifications. After two years in one Member State, Blue Card holders will be allowed to work in any other Member State without having to go through national level immigration processes. The proposal has hit some roadblocks though, including how qualifications from outside Europe will be considered and whether all Member States will participate. In the end though, the message Europe wants to send is: Skilled Migrants should be welcomed.
Issue #4: Testing Immigrants - Literally
Many countries are beginning to place distinct terms, implementing citizenship tests, and increasing the language requirements for potential immigrants. In Australia, the government decided to pass a cultural knowledge test, along with a Basic English skills test. This created a domino effect that created several new measures across the globe, including revamping the point-based system in the UK for 2008 and a new language skills and values test in France.
Issue #5: Managing Global Travel with Technology and Cooperation
Countries are adopting new technological means to support border and immigration officials and their decisions about certain travelers. Malaysia has pioneered biometric passports that have reduced the passport theft rate in 2007. Japan, the UK, and countries throughout the EU, have implemented new systems that will keep traveling safe from potential risks.
For the remaining five issues and more information about the Migration Issues of 2007:
Read this article from Migration Information Source
|Travelers Reminded of New Document Requirements Beginning January 31, 2008
All adult travelers, as of Jan. 31, 2008, will be required to present proof of citizenship, such as a driver's license, and proof of identity, such as a birth certificate when entering the United States through sea and land ports of entry. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of State will be issuing a notice announcing the change this month.
This change is to prepare travelers and ease the transition into the future requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). The WHTI proposes to establish documentation requirements for travelers entering the United States, who were previously exempt, including citizens of the U.S., Canada and Bermuda. The 9/11 Commission recommended Congress to enact the traveling Initiative in 2004. This should result in enhanced security and ease the border process once it is facilitated. The Department of State and Homeland Security are working to lessen the impact on travel and trade.
Currently, U.S. Customs and Border Protection accepts oral declarations of citizenship from U.S. and Canadian citizens seeking entry in the United States through land or sea border. However, by Jan. 31, 2008 - oral declarations will no longer be accepted and the above-mentioned will be enacted on all travelers.
For more information on the new traveling requirements:
Read this article from Immigration Daily
|Nursing Groups Lobby to Save Increased Funds for Education
As a massive nursing shortage looms, nursing groups are storming the halls of Congress - lobbying for increased funds for nursing education.
The American Hospital Association and professional nursing societies confirm that a widespread nursing shortage is only years away, and the U.S could need more than 2.8 million registered nurses in 2020. The reports said that only around 1.8 million nurses would actually be in the workforce at that point.
The aging baby boomers are sure to send more nurses into retirement sooner than expected, and the increasing need for healthcare workers in hospitals nationwide could hit crisis mode quickly. The American Hospital Association reported that there were almost 116,000 vacant positions for registered nurses as of December 2006.
This adds to growing measures that have led to further depletion of the nursing workforce, including a 2008 Labor-HHS-Education measure for the Nursing Workforce Development program that President Bush vetoed in November. Moreover, in 2006 U.S. nursing schools rejected more than 40,000 qualified applicants because of budget restraints, according to the AACN.
For more information on the nursing groups lobbying for increased education funds:
Read this article from CQ Politics
|Immigrants Sue over Citizenship Delays
Tired of waiting for their citizenship, a group of immigrants in Southern California sued the federal government on Dec. 4 to get answers on their U.S. Citizen applications, which have been tied up in FBI name checks for the several months and even years in some cases.
The class-action lawsuit, filed by the ACLU of Southern California and immigrant rights groups, targets to help immigrants who passed their civics and English tests, but have had their cases held up due to mandatory FBI name checks, which must be checked manually by hand.
The lawsuit also includes green cardholders who have applied for citizenship, but are still waiting to be contacted for an interview because of mandatory name checks.
This lawsuit is one of many challenges posed against the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services under a law that allows applicants to go to court if they don't get an answer on their application within 120 days of passing the citizenship test.
Counteracting that measure, the USCIS changed its policy last year and stopped calling applicants for interviews until the FBI cleared a person's name. And there is no limit on how long the FBI can take to complete a name check. The FBI receives 74,000 requests for name checks every week, which includes checking witnesses and references all manually by hand, according to a newspaper report.
A USCIS Ombudsman said that in May 2007, more than 300,000 applications for immigration benefits were pending FBI name checks - a third of these for more than a year. A delay in citizenship applications prevents people from applying for defense industry job, traveling abroad with a U.S. passport and voting if they have met all other requirements.
The lawsuit says USCIS is supposed to complete applications for citizenship within 180 days.
The USCIS spokesperson declined to comment on the lawsuit
For more information on immigrants suing over citizenship delays:
Read this article from The Orange County Register
| USCIS Revises Filing Instructions for Petitions for Alien Relative Form I-130s
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services have revised the filing instructions for the Petitions for Alien Relative (Form I-130).
Beginning Dec. 3, 2007, all applicants filing the stand-alone Form I-130s must file their petitions with the Chicago Lockbox instead of a USCIS Service Center.
Two separate post office box addresses have been established that correspond to the appropriate USCIS Service Center that will process the adjudicate petitions.
For more information on how to file the Alien Relative Form I-130:
Read this press release from the USCIS
|New Immigration Law in Arizona could Punish Businesses Severely Beginning in 2008
On Jan. 1, a new law will take effect in Arizona that would severely punish businesses caught hiring illegal immigrants. This comes in the wake of the federal government's failure to reform immigrations laws. Arizona is becoming just one of the more than 100 states and municipalities across the country that have taken matters into their own hands to control the flux of illegal immigrants.
The new law in Arizona is harshest by far when comparing it to other initiatives - a business caught knowingly employing an undocumented worker will have its license suspended for up to 10 days. If they are caught a second time - the company will lose its license to operate all together. It is being nicknamed the "business death penalty."
Local businesses in the area are arguing that the law could shutdown a company for inadvertently hiring illegal workers with false papers. In the fall, a coalition of business groups filed a lawsuit to squash the law. However, on Dec. 7, a judge threw out the suit on technical grounds. Three days later, the group filed a new suit and asked for a preliminary injunction.
This stir has caused many companies to prepare for investigation, so numerous businesses have been going over old records, verifying documents and checking their workers status. Reports say that many businesses have centralized hiring in certain places; so local managers avoid making key mistakes that could penalize the business.
The new law has also led to thousands of workers losing their jobs - and many companies having second thoughts about moving into Arizona. Business Week reports that one company, Curry Seed & Chili Co., stopped growing some crops in Arizona and may plant in Mexico, fearing that work shortages will worsen once the law takes hold.
For more information on the new immigration law in Arizona:
Read this article from Business Week
|Green Cards Without Expiration Dates are Still Valid
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a statement on December 11, 2007, dispelling the rumor that an older "green card," issued without an expiration date, is now invalid. In fact, the I-551 (informally referred to as the "green card") is still valid unless and until a final rule on this matter goes into effect.
The proposal would have required many legal permanent residents to replace their green cards, which lack an expiration date.
For the past 19 years, all residents have been issued green cards with a 10-year expiration date on them - thereafter, residents must apply to renew their cards. The government did this originally to update fingerprint and picture information.
Now, the USCIS wants to change that, and have put forth a proposal to have legal residents renew their green cards, if the cards have no expiration date. And how much will this mandatory renew cost - more than $300, and would have to be done in just under four months after the new program went into effect.
One of the only problems with this could be affording that figure of money in certain parts of the country. A legal immigrant could be posed with issues trying to afford $300 in a four-month span.
If the proposal is passed - residents who surpass the four-month window will be charged a misdemeanor and face a $100 fine and/or imprisonment for up to 30 days.
This mandatory renew could also bring up prior issues with certain persons who may have engaged in conduct when they were young, which could subject them to deportation. For this reason, we strongly recommend that applicants with past immigration problems consult an attorney before renewing their green cards if this proposal goes into effect.
For more information on the USCIS statement:
Read this press release from Immigration.com
|GOP Candidates Take Hard Line on Immigration
It is no secret the influx of immigrants into small-town America and other parts of the country have rose over the past years. As America prepares to enter the homestretch of another Presidential race - the current national controversy has taken center stage next to the war in Iraq.
At a recent CNN/YouTube debate, a question posed to the candidates said if they would pledge to "veto any immigration bill that involves amnesty for those that have come here illegally?"
The reference was to a Senate bill last year that if passed, would have aimed to step up enforcement while providing a path to legalize the immigration status of 10-12 million undocumented persons presently residing in the U.S. John McCain sponsored that bill, and has taken on enemies during his campaign run because of it. McCain has backtracked some and now says that while legalization of some point will be necessary, stronger enforcement is needed first.
While some candidates are taking stricter stands on the issue - Mike Huckabee is one candidate who has soared in the standings, taking a temperate tone on immigration. He publicly defends support of in-state tuition for illegal immigrant children - saying that America should not punish children for a crime their parents commit.
And after receiving public scrutiny on his immigration stance by fellow GOP candidate Mitt Romney through TV ads the past few weeks - Huckabee issued a nine-point immigration plan that now says no to amnesty, no to sanctuary cities, and makes no mention of this past support for giving illegal immigrants a way to become citizens.
Rudolph Giuliani and Mitt Romney have made similar changes in their public support for immigration - Giuliani once championed for hard-working illegal immigrants as welcome in NY, now said he would have deported them all if he could have.
GOP strategists are worried that the party risks alienating Hispanics, the country's largest and fastest-growing minority.
For more information on the GOP candidates 'take' on Immigration:
Read this article from NPR
|Iowa Senator puts pressure on Fannie Mae, NIH for use of H-1B Visas
A Republican senator is stirring in Congress about why so many temporary visas for foreign workers are being issued from a top research institute and a mortgage-finance giant, both supported by the federal government.
The National Institute of Health and Fannie Mae are under scrutiny by Iowa Sen. Charles E. Grassley about why they are among the top 200 employers holding H-1B visas, which are reserved for highly-skilled foreign workers who are in the United States on a temporary basis.
According to reports, NIH employed 322 highly skilled foreign workers in 2006, ranking 55th overall. Fannie Mae, a company that operates under a congressional charter, employed 141 such workers, ranking 199th on the list. These two agencies are the only two federal establishments on the top 200 list.
Grassley sent separate letters to each entity, demanding job titles under which these employees were listed and the detailed efforts made to hire U.S. workers before seeking the H-1B workers. He also asked to view the expenses incurred in the H-1B visa process and date of any layoffs either company experienced in 2006; all materials were required by December 12.
"While the H-1B program has served a valuable purpose in allowing companies to bring in temporary workers for high skilled jobs, Congress has a responsibility to make sure that Americans are not overlooked in the process," Grassley said in a news release. "I'm asking questions today to find out how many taxpayer dollars are being used to recruit foreign workers and how invested our government backed entities are in this visa program."
Grassley's office said that the letters are part of a broader investigation into fraud, waste and abuse in the H-1B and L-1 visa programs. L-1 visas allow entities in both the U.S. and abroad to transfer employees from foreign operations to the U.S. for up to seven years.
Other organizations that lobby for changes in the H-1B policy said the use of H-1B workers are not surprising.
For more information on Grassley questioning Fannie May and NIH on their H-1B visas:
Read this article from CQ Politics
CGFNS: NY CVS Price increase Jan. 1
CGFNS recently announced new pricing for its Credential Verification Service for New York State. The announcement says that the "new price was necessitated by increases in fees charged by primary sources for securing required documents on behalf of applicants." The new $350 fee goes into effect on January 1.
Read this article from the CGFNS
FCCPT: New Prices, Policies starting Jan. 1
FCCPT has announced several price and policy changes that will go into effect at the beginning of next year. Notably, paper applications will no longer be accepted, as FCCPT moves completely into an on-line application system. Other changes, including filing fee increases are set to take effect.
Read this article from FCCPT
Rhode Island to Enter Nurse Compact
Rhode Island will in 2008 become the 23rd state to join the Nurse Compact. The Compact allows a nurse to have one license (in his or her state of residency) and to practice in other states (both physical and electronic), subject to each state's practice law and regulation. Under mutual recognition, a nurse may practice across state lines unless otherwise restricted.
Read this article from the State of Rhode Island
And read about participating states in the NLC here
Application Fees for Non-Immigrant Visas to Increase on January 1, 2008
The application fee for a US non-immigrant visa will increase from $100 to $131. This increase allows the Department of State to recover the costs of security and other enhancements to the non-immigrant visa application process. Additionally, the increase and its suddenness result from the FBI's success in obtaining OMB approval to charge DOS almost $20 per fingerprint for records clearance.
Read this article from The Community Dispatch
DHS Begins Collecting 10 Fingerprints from International Visitors at Washington Dulles International Airport
The US Department of Homeland Security is now collecting additional fingerprints from international visitors arriving at Washington Dulles Airport (Dulles). The next ports scheduled to collect 10 fingerprints from international visitors are: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, Boston Logan, Chicago O'Hare, San Francisco International, George Bush Houston Airport, Miami Airport, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, Orlando Airport and JFK/NY.
Read this press release from Homeland Security
|"In Focus" for HR: Migration, New Wealth, Time Stress Impact Workplaces
As the numbers of annual international migration is on the rise, new trends in areas of entertainment, food, social values, language and economics, will improve as international migration has escalated to 190 million, up from 145 million during the 1990s.
Tom Conger, futurist, reported the new statistics at a 2007 Leadership Conference in Arlington, Va.
Immigrant workers are sending large parts of their wages to their homeland in order to support their family in those locations - so that about $100 billion per year in migrant workers' pay is flowing globally, Conger said. Employers can further help their employees by enabling an automatic deposit system to help remit money overseas, and therefore will attract and retain more migrant employees by doing so, he added.
Rising wealth among Asian countries has raised the economic and cultural powers of those nationals enough so that corporate officials are now experiencing rising consumerism, modernization, time pressures and middle class growth, Conger said. Science and technology capabilities are also being helped by a rise in the gross domestic product in the Asian countries.
Emerging markets are also expanding, and middle class growth has led that benchmark. A global standard of about $7,000 to $10,000 per year per family is now being used, Conger said. As consumers who have annual spending budgets in that benchmark range, they begin to adopt middle class spending values, even if they can't purchase as much as their middle class counterparts. Employers need to know that middle class consumerism is not just about buying something -- many people buy things -- but once a worker reaches that appropriate income level, it becomes a key part of a worker's daily life.
For more information on the growth of migration, new wealth and time stress impact on workplaces:
Read this article from SHRM
|What's On Your Mind?
We'd like to hear from you, our readers -- tell us what you'd like to read about in the Immigration Solutions Newsletter! Do you have any questions you'd like one of our attorneys to answer? Don't be shy - send your questions as well as your ideas to
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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 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.
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