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March 2013

InFOCUS News | Business Immigration and Employer Compliance

For those of you who might be first-time readers, Immigration Compliance Group focuses its practice on corporate immigration, both nonimmigrant and immigrant, and employment eligibility compliance. Our talented team has a depth of experience in providing uniquely tailored services and solutions to assist our clients in accomplishing their immigration related objectives. For more information sign up to receive our blog via email or RSS feed, and visit our and To become a client of our office please call 562 612.3996 or email

Progress on the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Front

[Excerpts from a report by AILA Feb. 26, 2013]

Earlier in the week, President Obama met with Senators McCain and Graham to discuss immigration. Reports indicate that an actual bill, probably several hundred pages long, incorporating the bi-partisan principles of the "Gang of Eight" led by Senator Rubio will be introduced in March, with markup possibly beginning in March itself.

On the House side, reports indicate that a secret bi-partisan group including Rep. Ryan (R-WI) and Rep. Gutierrez (D-IL), has made progress and may have a bill ready for introduction. How far that bill may go with the House Judiciary committee is an open question. If a CIR bill does not have a path to citizenship it will likely lose sufficient votes from the Democrats on the committee. However, if a CIR bill does have a path to citizenship, it will likely lose so many Republicans that not enough Democratic votes will be available to prevent the bill from dying (since at least a few Democrats on that committee want legalization without any guest worker provisions).

In the House, if the Senate passes a bill, even one with guest worker provisions, the majority will probably vote for such a bill – such a majority will have more Democrats than Republicans. The only feasible way currently available is to have the Senate bill lurch rightward, to ensure House consideration and House passage.

... The most hopeful sign is the 3-way competition between the leaders of the House, the Senate and the President for progress on immigration - all of them understand the way the wind is blowing on immigration and want to be out ahead of the others; hence our optimism. The bills are being written now, and we urge all our readers to ask Congress to get CIR done now.

How does E-Verify Fit into Comprehensive Immigration Reform?

House Judiciary Committee holds Hearing Feb 27, 2013 on E-Verify to determine how it works and how it benefits American employers and workers.

Business and Labor Announce Breakthrough on Immigration Reform

[Reported 2/21/2013, “Immigration Impact”]

One of the most contentious issues that has stymied past immigration reform proposals is the divide between business and labor over how many and under what conditions the U.S. should admit new immigrants into our labor force. Also known as the “future flow” issue, the conflict lies in the tension between business’ desire to recruit foreign workers and labor’s desire to ensure workforce protections for those working in the U.S.

However, in what appears to be a monumental breakthrough, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO, released a joint statement of shared principles which lays out their vision on how immigration reform can proceed and satisfy their joint concerns. This is the first time that labor and business have put in writing a joint commitment to commonsense immigration reform.

Immigration Task Force Led by Condoleezza Rice, Henry Cisneros and Gov Haley Barbour & Ed Rendell

The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) is creating a high-level bipartisan task force on immigration - co-chaired by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros, and former Governors Haley Barbour and Ed Rendell - to develop a politically viable package of policy recommendations and work with Congress to help pass immigration reform.

Change could be in the Pipeline for the H-1B Program

Computerworld reported that a bipartisan group of Senators were ready to introduce a high-skilled immigration bill, the Immigration Innovation Act that calls for the H-1B cap to increase to 115,000 per year, from its current 65,000. The H-1B cap would contain a “market-based escalator” that would increase or decrease the H-1B cap as employer-demand ebbed and flowed, although it could never fall below the 115,000 threshold.

We note the current draft of the bill authorizes dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders to work in the U.S. This is a long time coming. With H-1B filing season quickly approaching, with a quota that is expected to be reached in a matter of days, the Innovation Act would be a welcomed relief.

Each year approximately 50,000 master’s and doctoral students graduate from U.S. universities. However, one-third of those graduates accept job offers from competing countries — including China, India, Canada, the United Kingdom, Singapore and Australia — despite a preference to apply their knowledge and skills right here in America where they received their education.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, co-chair of the Partnership for a New American Economy, a coalition of mayors and business leaders who support the need for immigration reform, stated at the STEM in the City leadership summit this winter, "We are on the wrong side of global competition. . . . Our economy depends on immigrants, and, currently, our immigration policy is what I call national suicide."

The creation of new visa categories for STEMs and entrepreneurs will do no good if the current “Culture of No” at the USCIS service centers, where employment-based petitions are adjudicated, is not alleviated. The dramatic increase in denials and multiple-page Requests for Evidence for H-1B and L-1 petitions in the last four years, with no corresponding change in the immigration laws or regulations, still plagues U.S. employers nationwide. Whether legislation will be a part of a comprehensive bill or piecemeal, we strongly hope that the Immigration Innovation Act swiftly passes in Congress so that stories like this one – that defy commonsense and practical economics, stop once and for all.

Skilled Immigrants Filling U.S. Health Care Needs

As the debate around immigration reform continues one of the cornerstones of ongoing discussions is what kinds of skilled immigrants the U.S. needs. There is no doubt that high-skilled immigrants play an important role in America’s innovation economy, and particularly in those industries agglomerated in the Silicon Valleys and Research Triangles of the United States. However, it’s important to remember that high-skilled immigrants play a host of other critical roles in our society, namely in our healthcare industry. As the country’s population grows—and grows older—there is a large gap that can continue to be filled by immigrant primary-care/family practice physicians, nurses, and other healthcare workers.

New NCLEX-RN Passing Standard Goes Into Effect April 1, 2013

Starting April 1, 2013, a new passing standard of 0.00 logit will be implemented for the NCLEX-RN Examination. The new standard represents an increase from the current passing standard of -0.16 logits.

Discriminatory Language in Internet Recruiting

Healthcare Staffing Agency Posts discriminatory job advertisements on the internet. We did an article on this in 09/2012.

Republicans, Democrats Agree on Need to Rework Agricultural Worker Program:

Republicans and Democrats said that farmers should be allowed to hire foreign workers more easily as Congress reworks U.S. immigration laws. But there was some disagreement on how it should happen.

Skills to Expand the Middle Class

Saying that a thriving middle class is our nation's most powerful economic engine, acting Secretary of Labor Harris took President Obama's message about the need to strengthen workforce training programs to leaders in business, industry, education and government gathered in Charlotte, N.C., on Feb. 21.Job Training Partnerships.

Six Months out on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), here are the Stats

[Reported 2/20/2013 by “Immigration Impact”]

The Department of Homeland Security has issued its latest data on the Obama Administration’s initiative that offers deferment from deportation and temporary work permits to young undocumented immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative. In the first six months of the program (August 15–February 14), 423,634 out of the roughly 936,933 immigrants between the ages of 15 and 30 who might immediately meet the requirements, have had their applications accepted for processing.

Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver Process goes ‘live’ March 4, 2013

This new process allows certain immediate relatives of US citizens who are physically present in the USA and are seeking permanent residence, to apply for and receive provisional unlawful presence waivers BEFORE departing the US for consular processing of their immigrant visa applications abroad.

A Portrait of the Nation’s 52 Million Latino’s

The Pew Research Center today published a statistical profile of the U.S. Hispanic population. This profile, based on Pew Research tabulations from the Census Bureau’s 2011 American Community Survey, features detailed characteristics of the U.S. Hispanic population at the national level./

DOS Announces Mexico-US Business Facilitation Program

The Business Facilitation Program (BFP) is designed to facilitate business travel for employees of participating companies. Qualifying firms will have access to expedited visa processing for employees traveling to the U.S. on company business. The BFP requires interested firms to register with the U.S. Embassy’s Consular Section.

IRS Changes Policy on ITIN Numbers

ITIN numbers will expire in 5 years A key change is that, for the first time, new ITINs will expire after five years. This change will help ensure ITINs are being used for legitimate tax purposes. Taxpayers who still need an ITIN will be able to reapply at the end of the expiration period. This step will provide additional safeguards to the ITIN program to help ensure only people with legitimate tax purposes are using the numbers. In addition, the IRS will explore options, through engagement with interested groups, for deactivating or refreshing the information relating to previously issued ITINs.

OCAHO Reduces I-9 Penalties down from $77K to $41K

OCAHO and ICE continue to disagree on the size of fines. OCAHO is continuing to show a leniency trend in reducing I-9 fines for companies that are found to be non-compliant. On the contrary, ICE doesn't tend to be so willing to forgive. In the recent matter, OCAHO decided that "Considering the record as a whole and the statutory factors in particular, the proposed assessment appears unduly harsh and will be adjusted as a matter of discretion to a result closer to the mid-range of permissible penalties." The fees were reduced down to $700 per I-9 form that was missing or never generated and $500 per I-9 for improperly filling out the Section 2 Attestation. This is the criteria that ICE uses to assess fines and penalties:
  • The size of the employer‘s business
  • The employer’s good faith,
  • The severity of the violation(s)
  • Whether individuals involved were unauthorized aliens, and
  • A history of former violations by the employer
If you're a small to medium size employer and you can't afford to pay high ICE fines, hire an experienced immigration attorney and present your case to OCAHO.

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Disclaimer: This newsletter does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only. The information provided should never replace informed counsel when specific immigration-related guidance is needed. Copyright 2007-2013 Immigration Compliance Group.

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