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Immigration FAQs

By Humera Subhani Email By Humera Subhani
November 2013
Immigration FAQs

What effect did the government shutdown have on immigration cases?
Fortunately, for most applicants (especially in the family-based categories), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) remained open, and scheduled appointments were taking place because USCIS is funded by application fees rather than federal funds. The one major exception at USCIS was E-Verify, the online system for verifying the employment authorization of foreign nationals, which was suspended for the entire duration of the shutdown.

Even though USCIS was accepting visa applications, many cases, such as H-1B petitions and labor certifications, involved the Department of Labor (DOL), whose services were mainly not available. For example, Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) are necessary for H-1B visa applications, and the iCert portal through which they are submitted was down. This mostly affected H-1B holders who had to file renewals or change employers, as the applications could not be filed. Electronic processing of labor certifications (also called “PERM”) was also unavailable. The Office of Administrative Law Judges, including the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA), which adjudicates appeals of labor certification decisions, was also closed, which means further delay for those challenging a decision.

The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), which manages the immigration courts, was also affected, which severely backlogged cases under review in the courts.

Of course, ICE (enforcement) was still operating and deporting people, as it is considered “essential,” as was the Border Patrol.

What happened to Immigration Reform? Is if off the table?
President Obama has reportedly said that immigration reform would be his top priority after the current budget and debt ceiling crisis is behind us.

With so many recent crises in the government, all the passion behind pushing for immigration reform was thought to be dampened. However, things may be moving forward again. On October 8, there was a large protest on the Capitol Hill Mall, which resulted in more than 200 civil disobedience arrests including those of several Democratic members of Congress. There are also mass demonstrations being organized, as people are mobilizing to push for immigration reform while it is still a realistic possibility.

I have heard that I can obtain a green card directly by investing $500,000 or more. Is that true and do I have to be in legal status to do this?
The Employment Creation Visa, or EB-5 immigrant visa, is available to investors who establish and actively manage a business, and invest at least $1 million in the business ($500,000 is acceptable in certain designated areas), which can be in cash, equipment, inventory, etc. They must also benefit the U.S. economy by creating full-time employment for not fewer than 10 U.S. workers. There are also EB-5 regional centers, which are qualified by USCIS to accept investors and meet the job creation requirement.

Qualified EB-5 investors are subject to "conditional" permanent residence for a two-year period. During this conditional period, the EB-5 investor must continuously meet the legal requirements for such cases, in order to be granted permanent residency.

Please note that you do have to be in legal status or out of the country (with no admissibility issues) in order to file. We will explore the EB-5 options in more detail in upcoming Khabar articles.

VISA PREFERENCE NUMBERS FOR November 2013

 

FAMILY

India

Pakistan/Bangladesh

1st

22Oct06

22Oct06

2A

08Sep13

08Sep13

2B

22Mar06

22Mar06

3rd

08Feb03

08Feb03

4th

22Aug01

22Aug01

 

EMPLOYMENT

India

Pakistan/Bangladesh

1st

Current

Current

2nd

15Jun08

Current

3rd

22Sep03

01Oct10

Other

22Sep03

01Oct10

4th

Current

Current

5th

Current

Current1B

 



 

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