Business Immigration Monthly - November 2012

Date: 11/26/2012
 Business Immigration Monthly November 2012

Taiwan Added to Visa Waiver Program Countries

This month Taiwan passport holders may begin participating in the Visa Waiver Program. The program allows certain nonimmigrants to enter the United States as a Visitor for Business or Tourism without having to previously apply for a B-1/B-2 visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. A Visa Waiver Program entrant is granted a period of authorized stay for 90 days and prior to entry must register online and pay a $14 fee through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). Currently, 37 countries (listed below) and Taiwanese passport holders are eligible to participate in the program.

*Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom.

U.S. Global Entry Members Eligible for Australia's Trusted Traveler Program "Smartgate"

Australia now allows U.S. Global Entry members to participate in their trusted traveler program "SmartGate." The program, which is in a trial period, automatically applies to U.S. Global Entry epassport holders aged 16 and older who are visiting Australia and allowing them to take advantage of an automated admissions process. Similarly to Global Entry, SmartGate allows pre-screened, low-risk travelers to bypass inspection by an Australian Border Protection Service officer and are processed at kiosks at international airports. Holders of NEXUS and SENTRI cards are also eligible to participate in this program. Officials at U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Australian Border Protection Service remind travelers that these automated systems do not guarantee admission into the country and travelers are always subject to inspection and screening by officers. If you would like to participate in Global Entry, you may learn more about requirements and the application process at: www.globalentry.gov.

December 2012 Visa Bulletin Update

The U.S. Department of State ("DOS") recently released its December 2012 Visa Bulletin which shows the availability of employment-based immigrant visa categories for the month of December. The most significant advancement is in the EB-3 China, but there has been no advancement in the EB-2 India category.

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

 

Dec 2007

Jun 2008

Aug 2009

Mar 2010

Sept 2012

Oct 2012

Dec 2012

EB-3 World

09/01/02

03/01/06

U

12/15/02

10/01/06

10/22/06

12/22/06

EB-2 China

01/01/03

04/01/04

10/01/03

07/08/05

U

07/15/07

10/22/07

EB-3 China

10/15/01

03/22/03

U

12/15/02

12/15/05

02/06/06

07/01/06

EB-2 India

01/01/02

04/01/04

10/01/03

02/01/05

U

09/01/04

09/01/04

EB-3 India

05/01/01

11/01/01

U

07/01/01

10/08/02

10/15/02

11/01/02

EB-3 Other Workers

10/01/01

01/01/03

U

06/01/01

10/01/06

10/22/06

12/22/06

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

Nonimmigrant Classifications Expanded for Visa Renewals in India

The U.S. Department of State has expanded the nonimmigrant categories that are eligible for a streamlined visa renewal process, which includes a waiver of the interview requirement, at U.S. Embassy and Consulates in India. The program, which was first put into place in March 2012, allowed for faster processing to nonimmigrants applying under the following circumstances:

  • B-1/B-2 Visitor Business/Tourism
  • J-2, H-4 and L-2 Dependents
  • C Transit, D Crew Member, including C1/D
  • Children applying before they turn 7 years of age under any visa classification
  • Individuals applying on or after they turn 80 years of age under any visa classification

The expansion of the streamlined program now includes the following nonimmigrants:

  • Children applying before they turn 14 years of age under any visa classification
  • Students who will be attending the same school and program
  • H-1B Temporary Workers
  • L-1A and L-1B Temporary Workers

Applicants must be renewing their visa in the same classification and their visas must not be annotated with "clearance received." Meeting these requirements does not guarantee that a visa renewal application will be streamlined and all applicants may still be interviewed at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate's discretion. Specific information regarding visa renewal application requirements is available at: http://www.ustraveldocs.com/in/

Department of Defense Reauthorizes Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) Program

In an effort to recruit individuals with medical skills and special language capabilities, the Department of Defense has reauthorized the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) Program which creates a fast-track path toward U.S. citizenship for nonimmigrants, asylees, refugees and individuals with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) after completion of military service. The pilot program allows for 1,500 individuals to be recruited per year and ends on May 15, 2014. Applicants must be in a valid nonimmigrant status (E, F, H, I, J, K, L, M, O, P, Q, R, S, T, TC, TD, TN, U or V), an asylee, a refugee or in TPS for two years prior to enlistment, although holding the same category is not required for the two-year term. Additionally, nonimmigrants must not have been absent from the United States for more than 90 days during the two-year period. Furthermore, individuals who have applied for adjustment of status, who are otherwise eligible for MAVNI, may have the two-year requirement waived.

Qualified health care professionals must meet the armed forces branch's shortfall requirements and criteria for the medical specialty, have English proficiency and commit to three years of active duty or six years of reserve service. Individuals with critical language skills must be proficient in one of the languages listed below, meet all other enlistment requirements and commit to four years of active duty service. The following languages qualify: Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bengali, Burmese, Cambodian-Khmer, Cebuano, Chinese, Czech, French (only citizens of an African country), Haitian-Creole, Hausa, Hindi, Hungarian, Igbo, Indonesian, Korean, Kurdish, Lao, Malay, Malayalam, Moro, Nepalese, Persian (Dari & Farsi), Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Pushtu (or Pashto), Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Sindhi, Sinhalese, Somali, Swahili, Tagalog, Tajik, Tamil, Thai, Turkish, Turkmen, Urdu, Uzbek and Yoruba. Applicants who fail to complete their term of service may have their citizenship revoked.

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.