New Reality of Immigration: Increasing Restrictions and Blackouts
The past few years have seen many restrictions on immigration, none more so than this year. With the 2006 H1 cap being met before the start of Fiscal Year 2006, increases in fees associated with H1 and L1 petitions, the introduction of REAL ID, and the current severe visa backlogs in employment-based categories, lawyers, employers, and immigrants are continuously frustrated in their efforts to find workable solutions to employment cases.
The October 2005 Visa Bulletin issued by the Department of State illustrates the problem, as it shows severe retrogressions in India and China employment-based first and second preferences, and early cutoff dates in worldwide third preference. The first preference is popularly used by Extraordinary Ability Aliens, such as researchers, and by multinational executives/managers, while the second preference is most popularly utilized by Advanced Degree Aliens and those seeking National Interest Waivers. The Bulletin indicates that future forward movement in these dates is likely to be limited. This is discouraging news for thousands of beneficiaries of labor certifications approved by the DOL under the new PERM system, and is an unfortunate trend for 2005. The bulletin can be viewed at http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/bulletin/bulletin_2631.html. However, some in the immigration law community predict that numbers for all cases will move forward quickly, as this is most likely an effort on the part of the Department of State to be conservative in its estimates of processing times.
Promised visa reforms have stalled in Congress. We strongly urge all employers to contact their Congressional Representatives to support visa reform that will ensure that open job positions can be filled by qualified foreign nationals. An easy way to go about this is to log on to www.aila.org, the public website of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. There, by clicking "Legislation & Advocacy", you can contact your representatives on a variety of specific issues with just a click of the mouse. Only by urging reform can we ensure any chance of seeing progress in the employment immigration process.
Update on DOL Backlog Reduction
As Khabar readers are aware, in March 2005 the DOL instituted a new method of labor certification, PERM, and all previously filed cases were forwarded to Backlog Processing Centers for processing. The DOL confirmed that the total number of cases forwarded to the Backlog Processing Centers was approx. 345,000. As those cases are entered into the BPC system, 45-day letters are issued to verify that the employer wishes to proceed with the petition.
Approximately 90 percent of the cases now at the centers have had at least partial data entry. However, it is only with full data entry that the 45 day letters are sent out. There are at least 100,000 pending cases on which only partial data entry has been done. During the next few months, the centers will be working to complete full data entry on these cases and issue the 45-day letters.
The centers have been working RIR and traditional cases where recruitment was completed previously and no further recruitment was required. While they are not yet ready to process cases that will require recruitment, in the coming months, they will be preparing to work these cases and deal with all related issues such as prevailing wage and job orders.
Visa Preference Numbers for October 2005
FAMILY Pak/Bangladesh India
First 22 Apr 01 22 Apr 01
2A 01 Nov 01 01 Nov 01
2B 22 Apr 96 22 Apr 96
Third 15 Apr 98 15 Apr 98
Fourth 01 Feb 94 01 Aug 93
First C 01 Aug 02
Second C 01 Nov 99
Third 01 Mar 01 01 Jan 98
Other Workers 01 Oct 00 01 Oct 00
Fourth C C
Religious Workers C C
Fifth C C
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