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Immigration Update

July, 2013                                                                         Vol. 5 Issue 6

I am happy to be back and resume Marks Gray's Immigration Updates. We have recently seen many historical and important immigration news and events that impacts our valued clients and readers.
  

I look forward to continuing to provide you with timely and practical information on these events and the path to an improved immigration system. ~ Giselle Carson

In the July Update
A Same-Sex Married Florida Man First to be Approved
E-Verify to Provide Direct Notification
Historic Immigration Legislation
SKILLS Act Making Steps
August Visa Bulletin
The Electronic I-94 Card
Redesigned Naturalization Certificates
New and Noteworthy
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Giselle Carson

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 A Same-Sex Married Florida Man is First to Receive an Approved Immigrant Petition after DOMA's Decision

 A Bulgarian immigrant studying in the U.S. for several years to preserve his documented status was having dinner with his American husband when he received notice that USCIS had approved his "green card" petition.  He became the first immigrant in a same sex marriage to receive approval since the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on DOMA.  The Court's recognition of same sex marriage allows couples to seek federal benefits that come with matrimony, including legal permanent residency.  For the past two years, USCIS has logged same-sex couples petitions that have been denied. Anticipating a movement towards marriage equality, USCIS will reverse those denials without individuals having to reapply for visas.  We are expecting further guidance from USCIS  as to the requirements for citizens and lawful permanent residents to sponsor qualified same-sex fiancÚs, spouses and spouses' children for immigration benefits.

E-Verify to Provide Direct Notifications to Employees
 USCIS has started notifying employees who enter their email address on the new Form I-9 of mismatch of data or Tentative Non-Confirmation (TNC). Employees and employers will receive immediate notification from E-Verify. Previously, a TNC was only sent to the employer, who would then notify the employee.  This enhancement does not relieve the employer's obligation to notify the employee of a TNC.  It is intended to combat and monitor situations where employers may not give proper notice to employees of a TNC and to allow employees effected to fully exercise their rights. E-Verify also sends an email to the employee if a TNC is not resolved within four days of a decision to contest, and when a SS or DHS document needs to be updated. To read more, click here..
Historic Immigration Legislation Passed by the Senate

 In a 68-32 vote, the Senate passed a sweeping immigration reform bill, S.744. After many revisions, compromises and debates, Senators showed their overwhelming support for the legislation and appealed to the House of Representatives to keep the momentum going.  This is a historic and giant step towards repairing our immigration system. After the vote, Sec. Napolitano said "I applaud the U.S. Senate on their bipartisan passage of commonsense immigration reform ... the legislation incorporates ... strengthening border security, creating a path to earned citizenship, cracking down on employers that hire undocumented workers, and streamlining our legal immigration system so everyone is playing by the same set of rules. I am hopeful that the House of Representatives will follow the leadership shown by a strong bipartisan majority of their Senate colleagues and work to fix our broken immigration system."

The House Takes Positive Steps Towards Immigration Reform with the SKILLS Act

 Following on the Senate's momentum, The House Judiciary Committee approved the Supplying Knowledge Based Immigrants and Lifting Levels of STEM Visas Act (H.R. 2131), also known as the SKILLS Visa Act, in a vote of 20-14.  The bill allocates green cards to foreign graduates of U.S. universities with advanced degrees in STEM fields, increases the H-1B visas, and repeals the employment-based per-country cap.  The bill establishes a new entrepreneur visa program and strengthens the investor visa program.  The SKILLS Visa Act is one of several bills introduced in the House to improve our immigration laws.  We are expecting that the House will take a piecemeal approach to immigration reform using smaller, targeted bills like this one.  Additional information is here.

 

August Visa Bulletin Released

Significant progress made for India in the EB-2 category with the priority date moving up three years and four months.  Demand in this category is expected to rise as a result of this movement. The Philippines EB-3 category also moved forward, although modestly by comparison, by three weeks. All other employment based categories remained unchanged. To read the bulletin in its entirety, click here.
 
The Electronic I-94 Card

As reported previously here, CBP has eliminated most paper based Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, the white card that foreign nationals complete prior to entering the U.S. and replaced it with an electronic record. As needed, a foreign national can obtain a copy of his or her I-94 card at  www.cbp.gov/I94.  Instructive FAQs on this issue can be found here.

Redesigned Naturalization Certificates

USCIS has begun to issue redesigned certificates for citizenship and naturalization for individuals who request replacement certificates (Form N-561, Replacement Certificate of Citizenship, and Form N-570, Replacement Certificate of Naturalization). The new   certificates incorporate state-of-the-art technology to help deter counterfeiting, prevent tampering, and facilitate quick and accurate authentication.  Previously issued certificates remain valid. For more information, visit the USCIS website.

 
 
  Gotta Have Faith ~  My article titled Applying Good Faith Defenses Against I-9 Violations was published in the July issue of SHRM Jacksonville's Newsletter HR Matters. Click here to read the article and learn how a good faith defense can impact employers' penalties.
 
  Leadership Florida It is an honor to have been selected to 32nd class of Leadership Florida. This highly competitive program aims at discovering and convening committed individuals by enhancing and recharging their leadership skills and knowledge so that they can work together for the betterment of Florida. For more information about this program, click here.
  
 GC Signature
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.