Business Immigration Monthly - December 2010

Date: 12/2/2010
 Business Immigration Monthly - December 2010

DOS Releases December 2010 Visa Bulletin – Little Advancement in Most Employment-Based Immigrant Visa Categories

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) recently released its December 2010 Visa Bulletin. Similar to the other Visa Bulletins since the start of the government's fiscal year 2011 which commenced on October 1, 2010, there was little advancement in most employment-based immigrant visa cateogires. The greatest advance was in the EB-3 World category which advanced by one month from January 22, 2005 to February 22, 2005. However, there was no movement in the EB-2 or EB-3 Indian national preference categories.

In the December 2010 Visa Bulletin, the DOS provided information about potential visa availability in the upcoming months. The DOS stated that based on current indicators and demand, the "best case scenarios" for priority date movement each month during the coming months are as follows:

· EB-2 Chinese national preference category - None to 2 weeks

· EB-2 Indian national preference category – No movement

· EB-3 World preference category – 3-6 weeks

· EB-3 Chinese national preference category – 1-3 weeks

· EB-3 Indian national preference category – None to 2 weeks

· EB-3 Filipino national preference category- 3-6 weeks

The DOS emphasized that these are projections of future priority date movement in the upcoming months and that the movement can not be guaranteed and are subject to fluctuation.

The following is a comparison of the priority date movement since the inception of the current round of regression in October 2005:

Oct 2005

Dec 2007

Jun 2008

Aug 2009

Oct 2010

Nov 2010

Dec 2010

EB-3 World

03/01/01

09/01/02

03/01/06

U

01/08/05

01/22/05

02/22/05

EB-2 China

05/01/00

01/01/03

04/01/04

10/01/03

05/22/06

06/01/06

06/08/06

EB-3 China

05/01/00

10/15/01

03/22/03

U

11/08/03

11/22/03

12/08/03

EB-2 India

11/01/99

01/01/02

04/01/04

10/01/03

05/08/06

05/08/06

05/08/06

EB-3 India

01/01/98

05/01/01

11/01/01

U

01/15/02

01/22/02

01/22/02

EB-3 Other Workers

10/01/00

10/01/01

01/01/03

U

03/22/03

04/01/03

04/22/03

Additional information about future priority date movement in the employment-based immigrant visa categories will be contained in our firm's future Immigration Updates when it becomes available.

USCIS Filing Fee Changes and Introduces New Forms

As previously discussed in our firm's Immigration Update dated September 27, 2010, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently implemented a modification to its fee schedule which became effective on November 23, 2010. Applications and petitions which are submitted without the new fees will be rejected by the USCIS. Most of the filing fees increased as part of this fee modification. Additionally, the USCIS introduced new filing fees for various services.

In addition to modifying its fees, the USCIS introduced new versions of some of its forms on the date that the new fee schedule became effective. The USCIS modified the following forms:

1. Form I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. The new revised Form I-129 with a November 23, 2010 revision date must be used for filings received on or after December 23, 2010.

2. Form I-129S Nonimmigrant Petition Based on Blanket L Petition. The revised Form I-129S with a November 23, 2010 revision date must be used for filings on or after January 7, 2011.

3. Form I-212 Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States after Deportation or Removal. The revised Form I-212 with the November 23, 2010 revision date must be used with filings on or after January 7, 2011.

4. Form I-912 Request for Fee Waiver. This new Form clarifies the documentation requirements for a fee waiver. Previously, the USCIS did not have a specific form on which applicants could request a waiver of the filing fees. The USCIS stated that with the introduction of this new form, its wants to bring "clarity and consistency" to the fee waiver request process.

5. Form I-924 Application for Regional Center Under the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Pilot Program. This new Form clarifies the regional center application requirements and the documentation which must be submitted to receive a regional center designation. Currently designated regional centers will be required to file Form I-924A on or before December 29, 2011 and during each subsequent year in order to retain their regional center designation.

H-1B Quota for Fiscal Year 2011 Remains Available

The USCIS recently provided an update about the fiscal year 2011 (October 1, 2010 through September 30, 2011) H-1B Quota. The regular H-1B quota for fiscal year 2011 is 65,000. An additional 20,000 numbers are available in fiscal year 2011 to individuals who have earned U.S. Master's or higher degrees. As of November 26, 2010, the USCIS indicated that it has received approximately 50,400 petitions filed under the regular H-1B quota. It has also received approximately 18,400 petitions filed under the U.S. Master's or higher degree exemption. The USCIS appears to be receiving approximately 1,500 petitions each week filed against the regular H-1B quota and approximately 600 petitions each week filed against the U.S. Master's or higher degree exemption. The USCIS will continue to accept petitions filed towards the H-1B regular cap and U.S. Master's or higher degree exemption until the quota is met. During fiscal year 2010, the U.S. Master's degree or higher degree exemption was met first in September 2009. However, the regular H-1B quota was not exhausted for fiscal year 2010 until December 23, 2009.

Additional information about the status of the fiscal year 2011 H-1B quota will be contained in our firm's future Immigration Updates when it becomes available.

International Student Enrollment in the United States Continues to Rise

The DOS recently reported that the number of international students at colleges and universities in the United States increased by 3% to 690,923 during the 2009-2010 academic year representing a record high number of international students in the United States. The DOS stated that this growth was driven mainly by a 30% increase in Chinese student enrollment in the United States. Chinese students account for more than 18% of the total international student population. The other top ten countries sending students to the United States include: India, South Korea, Canada, Taiwan, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Vietnam and Turkey.

SEVP Confirms the Commencement of School Recertification and Introduces the ICE CTCEU Unit

Officials from the Immigration and Custom Enforcement's (ICE) Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP) recently attended the NAFSA: Association of International Educator's Region V's Regional Conference held in Detroit, Michigan. During various sessions during the Regional Conference, various SEVP officials spoke on issues in the F and M nonimmigrant visa programs. The SEVP officials verified that recertification of F and M programs have commenced. SEVP initially wanted to commence recertification in January 2009. However, SEVP delayed the implementation of recertification as it developed the recertification procedures. During the NAFSA Region V Conference, SEVP confirmed that it already notified 150 schools that they would have to complete the recertification procedure. After receiving these notifications, school have 180 days to provide the requested documentation and information to SEVP. SEVP indicated that as it completes the training of new contractors, it will quickly be increasing the number of schools notified that they are being required to complete the recertification process. SEVP did not indicate a timeframe in which it would like 10,200+ SEVIS authorized schools to complete the recertification process. However, it is estimated that the first round of recertification may take at least two years for SEVP to complete.

SEVP also indicated that it is currently participating with USCIS in a complete rewrite of 8 CFR 214 regarding F and M nonimmigrants. SEVP indicated that the first proposed regulations should be released in Spring 2011. However, SEVP indicated that the rewrite of the regulation is anticipated to take approximately three years because SEVP will be creating special regulations for English as a Second Language (ESL), Flight Schools programs and Secondary Schools programs to name a few programs.

SEVP officials also introduced officials from the CounterTerrorism and Compliance Enforcement Unit (CTCEU) within ICE. CTCEU officials explained national terrorism, criminal and other non-compliance issues that they have recently encountered in the F and M programs. CTCEU officials stated that they will be training local ICE officers on educational/school fraud and criminal investigations in the SEVP program. The CTCEU officials also stated that one of the goals of the program is to improve communication between Designated School Officials (DSOs) and Homeland Security Investigations' (HSI) field agents and to provide subject matter expertise to partnering agencies when a SEVP exploitation is suspected.

Additional information about SEVP's recertification process and the expansion of CTCEU in the SEVP program will be contained in our firm's future Immigration Updates when it becomes available.

For more information about this or any other immigration law topic, please contact Bob White, at 847.734.8811 or via email at rwhite@masudafunai.com.

Weekly Immigration Updates are provided under the Legal Update link of the Immigration Group Section of our firm's website at www.masudafunai.com.