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Immigration Newsletter
September 2013 - Volume 5, Issue 4
In This Issue
Immigration Benefits Post-DOMA
PERM Processing Delays
Warning: Immigration-Related Telephone Scam
In the News: What's Happening at RS

Common Acryonyms

CBP: Customs & Border Protection

Department of Labor


DOS: Department of State


USCIS: U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services   

Ross Silverman LLP
50 Congress Street, Suite 200
Boston, MA  02109
Phone: (617) 542-5111
Fax: (617) 542-2331
Attorneys at RS

Christine C. Gannon

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This summer brought some major changes in immigration law and procedure, including the full implementation of the automated I-94 system, and the granting of immigration benefits to same-sex couples.  Following is some of the key information about this. 


I-94 Automation Tips

As a reminder, in April and May 2013, CBP discontinued issuance of paper Forms I-94s to nonimmigrants entering the U.S. by air or sea, implementing a new automated I-94 system in place of the paper form for most visitors. We have received reports of ongoing problems with clients' ability to access their online I-94 records. If any of your employees are unable to access their I-94 records from the CBP website, it is possible that their information has been formatted in the CBP system in a different way than they are entering into the search parameters at, and therefore the record is more difficult to obtain. Below are some tips to assist nonimmigrants in obtaining Form I-94 from the CBP automated system:

  • Try different variations of the individual's name:  
    • CBP has stated that it will use the name listed on the travel document (e.g., passport biographic page), but has separately indicated that the name is drawn from the visa (if any) - and we have found this is somewhat inconsistent. Therefore, check the passport, visa, and a copy of the submitted Form DS-160 (if available) for name variations.
    • Enter the first and middle name in the First Name field, with a space in between. Do this even if the middle name is not stated on the passport or visa.
    • Switch the last and first name when entering the information on the website. Some countries state the name in the passport as first name, last name, rather than the more standard order of last name, first name. This may cause the name to be recorded incorrectly in the CBP system.
    • If a person has two first names and/or two last times, enter the names without spaces. Example: type the first names "Mary Jane" as "Maryjane".
  • Check for multiple passport numbers. Specifically, verify the passport number stated on Form DS-160 (if available), and also the passport number stated on the visa. If either number is different from the passport used to enter the U.S., try entering the other passport number(s).
  • Do not enter the year if included in the passport number. Some passport numbers may begin with the year in which the passport was issued, causing the number to be too long for the relevant field in CBP's automated system. If relevant, try entering the passport number without the year. For example, a Mexican passport that was issued in 2008 may have a passport number that starts with "08" followed by nine digits - try entering the passport number without the "08."
  • Check the classification designated on the visa and compare it to the classification stated on the admission stamp in the passport, as there may be a slight variation. Be sure to try both designations. For example, the visa may state "E-3D" for an E-3 dependent, but the admission stamp may state only "E-3." The automated I-94 could state the classification either way.
  • If all else fails and a nonimmigrant is unable to locate the electronic I-94, the next step is to visit the local CBP deferred inspection office at the airport to seek assistance in locating the record.

Immigration Benefits Post-DOMA

When the Supreme Court struck down key provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on June 26, 2013, the effects were far-reaching for same-sex couples, but it took a little while for guidance to be issued by the U.S. Government agencies that issue benefits. Both Immigration-related agencies released substantive guidance in August:

  • The Department of State issued detailed guidance for consular posts, instructing all posts to adjudicate visa applications filed by same-sex spouses in the same manner as those filed by opposite-sex spouses. The guidance also states that same-sex spouses and children are immediately eligible for derivative nonimmigrant visas. In addition to issuing this guidance to its consular posts, DOS also removed sections of the Foreign Affairs Manual that define "marriage" for immigration purposes as a legal union between between one man and one woman.
  • USCIS posted a comprehensive FAQ on immigration benefits for same-sex spouses, including information regarding the availability of derivative nonimmigrant visas. The USCIS guidance states that same-sex marriages will be treated the same as opposite-sex marriages for immigration purposes and the adjudication of all immigration benefits. The guidance further indicates that USCIS will re-open any I-130 petition previously denied solely on the basis of the same-sex nature of the marriage. 


PERM Processing Delays


As those of you who have filed PERM labor certification applications this year may be aware, DOL has significantly slowed in processing PERM applications. At the beginning of this year, it was taking approximately 2-3 months for a PERM application to be adjudicated. Now, however, DOL is still processing cases that were filed in early March. Furthermore, adjudication of Prevailing Wage (PW) requests continues to be erratic and unpredictable - not only does it generally take about 2 months to receive PW determinations, but DOL is frequently issuing determinations that place the position into a different wage category or level than has historically been the case for similar positions. This has made it very difficult to move forward with other steps of a PERM case prior to receiving the PW determination, and has also caused significant delays in some cases if we need to request a re-determination or file a new PW request. This is an issue which is being encountered across the country by all different types of employers. Several liaison groups are trying to address the inconsistency of PW adjudications with DOL, but so far have not made very much progress. In the meantime, we will continue to work with DOL on a case-by-case basis.  


Warning: Immigration-Related Telephone Scam


Over the past several months, a new telephone scam targeting USCIS applicants and petitioners has come to light. Scammers are using a technique called "Caller ID spoofing" to display a misleading or inaccurate phone number in a recipient's Caller ID. The scammer poses as a USCIS official and requests personal information (such as Social Security number, passport number, or A-number), identifies supposed issues in the recipient's immigration records, and asks for payment to correct these records. Please be aware that USCIS never asks for any form of payment over the phone. If you receive a call like this, do not provide any information to the caller. Please report the call to our office, and we will provide you with information to also report the call to the government.


In the News: What's Happening at RS


We are happy to announce the following awards and recognition of our firm and our partners:

  • All four of the Firm's partners, Sharryn Ross, Howard Silverman, Heidi Snyder, and Rhonda Tietjen, have again been listed in The Best Lawyers in America, and we are excited to announce that Howard Silverman has been named the Best Lawyers' 2014 Boston Immigration Law "Lawyer of the Year."
  • Sharryn Ross and Howard Silverman have been selected as 2013 Top-Rated Lawyers in Immigration Law by American Lawyer Media and Martindale-Hubbell.
  • Earlier this year, Sharryn Ross was named the Business Immigration Lawyer of the Year in Massachusetts as part of the 2013 Corporate Intl Magazine Legal Awards.

Speaking Engagements & Events:

  • July 24, 2013: Sara Fleming spoke on a panel entitled, "LGBT Immigration in a Post-DOMA World" at Northeastern Law School. The event was sponsored by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD).
  • August 6, 2013: Howard Silverman spoke on a panel for an AILA audio seminar entitled, "Representing and Defending Marriage Fraud Cases".
  • September 13, 2013: Howard Silverman led a training session in Boston, MA through the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project entitled, "Lawyering Skills & Practice Tips for Immigration Court Proceedings."
  • December 17, 2013: Rhonda Tietjen will be speaking on a panel about the PERM process at the Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) Immigration Law Basics Conference in Boston, MA.


This newsletter does not constitute legal advice and is not a substitute for consulting with an attorney.  Please contact us by phone or email if you have questions about any of the topics discussed here or if you have any other immigration or naturalization questions.