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Immigration Watch

November 2005
Immigration Watch

Filing Fees Increase as of October 26, 2005

(USCIS published a notice in the Federal Register on September 26, 2005, announcing increases in filing fees for certain immigration benefits. The fee increases are attributed to inflation and are approximately $10 per application. Since cases with incorrect filing fees will be rejected outright, it is vital to include correct fees with any petition or application filed. The effective date for the new fees is October 26, 2005. Please consult www.uscis.gov for the new fee for each affected form

More Information on Visa Availability Cut-Off Dates and Retrogression ? The Future

The fear of visa availability retrogression has loomed for some time. Basically, as the USCIS and DOL have improved processing and have issued labor certification and visa petition approvals, and the USCIS has approved adjustment of status applications and the DOS has issued visas through consular processing, the number of EB immigrant visas available has been exhausted.

The State Department has provided some key statistical data to inform attorneys and their clients in planning for the future. The reduction in the number of visas available to employment-based immigrant visa applicants is alarming:

FY 2005--249,000

FY 2006--156,000 (estimate --the actual number may be as much as 6,000 fewer)

FY 2007--148,000

This represents a 40% reduction in EB numbers from FY 2005 to FY 2006, alone, and a further reduction in 2007.

With the exception of India and China, worldwide EB-2 numbers are expected to remain current at least through the first quarter of fiscal year 2006 (until 12/31/05). However, numbers in the EB-2 category may retrogress during the second quarter of fiscal year 2006. Also, there is a possibility that there will be a cut-off date during the third or fourth quarter of fiscal year 2006. A similar slow advance is expected in the EB-3 category worldwide, and beginning only in the second quarter of FY 2006.

Because of the exhaustion of AC21 "carryover" visas, the per-country limit for visas in the employment-based categories is similarly reduced. While India used 45,000 EB immigrant visas in all of the employment-based visa categories last year (due to the extra numbers from AC21 carryover and unused family-based visas), for this year, the per-country limit in all EB categories will only be 10,700, and of that 10,700, the number available per-country in the EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 categories is projected to only be 9,180, and may be slightly lower.

A "bulge" exists in the number of 245(i) and regular labor certification filings that are still working their way through the DOL and the USCIS. The estimate is that there are approximately 345,000 labor certification applications with the DOL. Even assuming that a significant percentage will be denied, withdrawn or abandoned, that leaves perhaps as many as 250,000-275,000 valid applications. Add in the demand for visa numbers for dependents, averaging 2.5 numbers required for each applicant unit, and the advance in cut-off dates in the categories in which 245(i) applications are found is going to stagnate for many years. We will continue to keep readers updated on this situation through Immigration Update and on our website at www.subhani-law.com.

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