Immigration Update

January 2013                                                         Vol. 5 Issue 1

In the January 2013 Issue
Immigration Reform in 2013?
Florida and the RIDE E-Verify Program
ICE's Removal Priorities Changing
February 2013 Visa Bulletin
Family Unity Waiver Process Updated
ICE Audits Record Number of Business
New and Noteworthy
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Will 2013 Bring Immigration Reform?


Happy New Year! I look forward to continuing to provide the most important information surrounding immigration policy most relevant to you throughout the year.


One important issue this year is  whether  U.S. immigration reform will be resolved and if so, what will the reform include?  
We are optimistic that immigration reform will  be at the forefront of Washington's 2013 agenda.  The following elements are likely to be included in any reform package: 

- Employment verification audits with penalties for violations; mandatory E-Verify and ongoing border security measures;

- A pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants. Applicants should expect to have to show no criminal history; to pay back taxes; to learn English; and to pay a penalty; and 


-  Legal permanent residence visas for foreign graduates with an advanced STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) degree from an American university. 

Reform will  involve a balancing of interests and strategies to boost investment and entrepreneurship in the U.S. while managing the unemployed U.S. workforce.

I am hopeful that in the near future, we will have a more modern and practical immigration system. I will keep you updated on these and other exciting events as they occur.   


I also want to acknowledge that today is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day marking the birth of Mr. King.

Florida is Participating in E-Verify RIDE Program

Florida is the second state to join the RIDE (Records and Information from DMV's for E-Verify) program. RIDE allows E-Verify to validate the authenticity of driver's licenses presented by employees as a proof of identity for the I-9 process through DMV records.  Introduced in June 2011, RIDE is another tool that enhances E-Verify.  Currently, Mississippi and Florida are the only states participating in the program. For more information on RIDE and E-Verify, visit www.uscis.gov .

ICE Chooses Not to Renew Partnership with Local Law Enforcement 

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John  Morton announced that in FY 2012 ICE removed an unprecedented 400,000+ individuals from the U.S. In the past, under the 287(g) program, ICE worked with state and local law enforcement to detain undocumented individuals that were arrested by local law enforcement and would eventually deport the person.  However, ICE has indicated that it will no longer be allocating resources to these efforts. In the future, ICE will concentrate its resources on removing the most serious criminal offenders from the U.S. To date, four Florida agencies took part in the program, including the Jacksonville Sheriff's Department and Florida Department of Law Enforcement. To read more, click here.
 February 2013 Visa Bulletin Released

US Visa

 No significant priority date changes occurred for February and no significant movement is expected for March.  All EB-1 categories remain current, and in the EB-2 category, all countries other than India and China remain current. Foreign nationals from China have a new priority date of January 15, 2008 reflecting forward progress. India's priority date remains September 1, 2004.  There is ongoing backlog throughout the EB-3 category, but cutoffs in all countries have made some forward progress. To read the entire bulletin, click here

Change in the Family Unity Waiver Process Good for Undocumented Families

Each year approximately 25,000 families apply for the family unity waiver. Approximately, 70-80% of those waivers are granted.   Effective March 4, 2013, an updated process will minimize the amount of time U.S. citizens are separated from their immediate relatives (parents, spouses and children) who are undocumented and in the process of applying for permanent resident status.  The new provisions will allow undocumented individuals, who meet the specific criteria including; showing their immediate relative would suffer "extreme hardship" in their absence, to apply for a provisional unlawful presence waiver while in the U.S. and then depart the U.S. to attend the immigrant visa interview in their native country. Under current law, many immediate relatives must leave the country to apply for the waiver and then are barred from re-entering the U.S. The current  process can amount to months or years of separation.  Applications are expected to increase under the new process.    To read more, click here


ICE Audits Record Number of Businesses

ICEIn 2012, ICE reported approximately 3,000 I-9 audits conducted on businesses.This increased significantly from  250 audits conducted  on businesses in 2007. The amount in fines collected has also increased from $1 million in 2009 to nearly $13 million this past year. ICE stresses to employers that any company, regardless of geographic location, size, or industry can be audited at any point in time. While some audits are random, many stem from leads gathered from the public and current and former employees. To read more, click here.


The David Cup Comes to Jacksonville this February! Started in 1899 by four members of Harvard University tennis team to challenge the British to a tennis match, the Davis Cup has evolved into  one of the world's largest annual international team competition in sport, with 130 nations entering in 2013. Jacksonville will host the first round series between 6th ranked US  against 16th ranked Brazil on February 1-3 in Jacksonville's Veterans Memorial Arena.
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Giselle Carson
Attorney at Law
Marks Gray, P.A.
1200 Riverplace Blvd., Suite 800
Jacksonville, FL 32207
(904) 398-0900
If you need assistance with any immigration-related issues, please contact Giselle Carson or Thyra Reveron at (904) 398-0900.

Marks Gray, P.A. is dedicated to customer service. We monitor proposed and current developments in the law. The contents of this newsletter are not intended as legal advice related to individual situations. If you have any questions about your particular situation, please contact a lawyer.