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Updates From The Immigration Lawyers’ Annual Conference

August 2005
Updates From The Immigration Lawyers’ Annual Conference

Attorneys from Subhani & Subhani LLC attended the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) National Conference in Salt Lake City on June 23rd-26th, 2005. Representatives from US Citizenship & Immigration Services (US CIS), the Department of State (DOS), and the Department of Labor (DOL) presented information on current situations at their respective organizations. The following category updates come directly from government officials:

H1B Visas: USCIS has approximately 8,300 H-1B petitions that will count against the new exemption cap of 20,000 for FY05, as established by the H-1B Visa Reform Act of 2004. Further, the USCIS announced that they currently have approximately 27,300 H-1B petitions approved or in the pipeline for FY06.

Existing Labor Certifications/RIR Cases: Cases sent to Backlog Processing Centers are still being logged into the automated system. The DOL expects to have all cases logged in by September 30th, 2005. The DOL has indicated that it is unable to answer questions on individual cases, but is working to make its website more user-friendly. For those applicants needing proof of their labor filing for the purpose of H1 extensions, they can contact the DOL via the e-mail address provided on that website, Approximately 700 cases were accidentally closed because the DOL believed that the 45-day letters were not returned; those cases have been identified, and are being reopened.

The DOL recommended that for those cases that are denied based on technical errors, that the employer re-file the case rather than filing an appeal, as the re-filing will be processed much faster, and the denial does not negatively affect the employer or sponsored employee. However, many denials previously re-issued are being withdrawn and reconsidered, now that the DOL has acknowledged the technical problems of the system. The DOL indicated that as of June 24th, they had accepted 28,500 employer registrations, and approximately 8,500 PERM applications. Numbers on approvals issued were not available.

Congressional bills seek to overhaul immigration system

Efforts to overhaul the immigration system are heating up in Congress, with two Senate plans that differ sharply on how to deal with undocumented immigrants. Bipartisan legislation introduced last month by Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass) proposes a temporary guest-worker program that would put undocumented immigrants on a path toward U.S. citizenship. This legislation has received strong support from immigration advocates.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex) and Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) are working on a measure that also would establish a guest-worker program but would require participants to eventually return to their home countries. The bill also would beef up border security ? before the guest-worker program is started. Cornyn said his concept has support among Mexican officials concerned about the economic effects of a permanent exodus of workers from that country. But backers of the McCain-Kennedy bill, including business, organized labor and immigrant-advocacy groups, think that immigrants now in the United States illegally are an important component of the U.S. economy and should be allowed to have "green cards" and permanent residential status.

Both measures would stiffen penalties against employers who hire illegal immigrants and expand workplace enforcement. They would require tamper-resistant identification documents and electronic systems to verify eligibility. We will keep Khabar readers updated as new information on either bill becomes available.

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