Sam Adair Discusses Visa Vetting Questionnaire in Bloomberg BNA

Sam Adair was recently quoted in Laura Francis’s Bloomberg BNA article “‘Extreme Vetting’ Immigration Form Causes Delays, Confusion.” In the article, Sam discusses the State Department’s new visa vetting questionnaire and its potential impact on business immigration. 

Click here to read the full article.

Full article reproduced with permission from Daily Labor Report, 106 DLR A-7 (Jun. 5, 2017). Copyright 2017 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (800-372-1033) <http://www.bna.com>

Trump Immigration Order Significantly Impacts Travel and Visas

On Friday January 27, 2017, President Donald Trump issued an executive order on immigration that will significantly impact some of our current and past clients. This executive order, “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals,” put a 120 day ban on refugee admissions from all countries. More significantly for our clients, this order also suspends the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the U.S. of nationals from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen for 90 days. Furthermore, the order calls for implementing uniform screening procedures, such as in-person interviews, for all visa applicants.

For the time being, this means that any person who is a citizen of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen should refrain from traveling outside of the U.S. There is an extreme likelihood that if you are from one of these countries, and even if you have a green card, valid visa, or advanced parole document, that you will be barred from re-entering the U.S. for 90 days.

This is an extremely disappointing move by the new administration given the many significant and positive contributions that so many of our clients, who will be impacted by this executive order, make to this country and our economy.

This is an extreme measure and the advice against traveling cannot be overstated. If you are currently outside of the U.S. you should contact the attorney overseeing your case or Sam Adair for advice on next steps. Graham Adair is closely monitoring any new developments and will release information as it becomes available. Please check back here for further updates and follow us on twitter @grahamadairlaw for real-time updates as they become available.

Canada Electronic Travel Authorization to be Strictly Enforced by September 29, 2016

In March 2016, the Government of Canada introduced an ETA requirement for U.S. green card holders, as well as nationalities that were formerly visa exempt. U.S. citizens still do not require an ETA to enter Canada.

The Citizenship and Immigration (CIC) Canada has stated that the “leniency period” in which travelers can board their flight without an ETA will end on November 9. However, various reliable sources confirm that the ETA requirement will be strictly enforced by September 29. Hence, we highly recommend that all travelers to Canada check whether they require an ETA or a visa before traveling.

To find whether or not you require an ETA, please go to: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/visas-all.asp.

Please contact your Graham Adair representative if you have any questions.

New 24-Month STEM OPT Extension Rule

The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) final rule regarding STEM optional practical training (OPT) extensions will take effect on May 10, 2016. Most notably, the new rule allows F-1 STEM students to extend the standard 12-month OPT period an additional 24 months, for a total of 3 years. It also allows F-1 STEM students who are currently on an approved 17-month extension to apply for an additional 7 months.

F-1 STEM OPT students who are currently on an approved 17-month extension may apply for an additional 7 months, provided they have at least 150 days remaining when the petition is filed with USCIS. Applications will be accepted from May 10 – August 8 only.

Individuals who receive the 24-month extension would have a total of three years of OPT status. In addition, individuals who earn a second STEM degree at a higher educational level are now eligible for an additional 12-month period of OPT plus another 24-month extension (for a total of 6 years of OPT status). F-1 students currently on a 12-month period of post-completion OPT based on a non-STEM degree are now eligible to use a prior STEM degree as the basis for a 24-month extension—as long as both degrees are from accredited institutions and the OPT employment is directly related to the previously obtained STEM degree.

The new regulations carry additional requirements for employers, who must provide compliant training plans and complete regular validation reports. There are also new obligations for OPT extension employees, who must submit annual self-evaluations.
Under the new rule, the DHS may conduct worksite visits. The DHS is required to provide 48 hours’ notice, unless the employer is non-compliant or if the visit is triggered by a complaint. As with the prior rule, employers must be enrolled in E-Verify and comply with reporting requirements.

Please contact us with any questions on how the new STEM OPT rule impacts you or your employees.

Big Changes in U.S. Immigration

Last night, President Obama announced some significant changes to U.S. immigration policy that will take effect in coming months.  Some of the items announced, such as suspending deportation proceedings for certain groups of people, will go into effect immediately.  Other aspects of the plan will require input from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the State Department, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, among others, and will likely require changes to the current regulations.

 

The biggest takeaways, from a business immigration standpoint, from the President’s speech include:

1. ICE will work to “expand and extend the use of optional practical training (OPT) for foreign students.”

2. The USCIS will provide clearer guidance on adjustment of status (I-485) portability so that individuals with pending applications have greater career and job flexibility during the green card process.

3. The USCIS will look to provide EAD work cards and advance parole travel authorization to those who have approved I-140s with retrogressed priority dates.

4. The USCIS will allow H-4 spouses to seek Employment Authorization Documents if the H-1B holder is “on the path to lawful permanent resident status.”

5. The USCIS will issue more clear guidance with respect to what qualifies as “specialized knowledge” in the L-1B context in an effort to improve consistency and reinvigorate employers’ confidence in the visa status.

6. The USCIS and State Department are seeking a method and means to modernize the Visa Bulletin and allocation process to ensure that backlogs are reduced and the process is workable and usable for all intending permanent residents.

7. The USCIS will enhance the National Interest Waiver process to allow greater flexibility in adjudications and permit foreign inventors, researchers and founders of start-up enterprises to benefit the U.S economy.

8. The USCIS will create a parole system for “eligible inventors, researchers and founders of start-up enterprises who do not yet qualify for a National Interest Waiver, but who: (1) Have been awarded substantial U.S. investor financing; or (2) Otherwise hold the promise of innovation and job creation through the development of new technologies or the pursuit of cutting-edge research.”

Graham Adair will monitor the development of these policies and changes in regulation as they work their way through the various government agencies.

November 2014 Visa Bulletin: India EB-2 Retrogression

As expected, increased demand in EB-2 category for India required the retrogression of the cut-off date from May 1, 2005 to February 15, 2005. In contrast, potential visa availability is expected for other employment-based categories in the upcoming months.

 

For example, EB-2 China’s cut-off date is expected to have a 3-5 week forward movement. EB-3 China, with a cut-off date of January 1, 2010 is expected to have a rapid forward movement.  The rapid advance of the cut-off date may result in a significant increase in demand for visas.  Meanwhile, EB-3 India has little movement at all.  Lastly, EB-3 Philippines is currently at the worldwide cut-off date of June 1, 2012, but increased demand may require “corrective” action later in the fiscal year.

 

For more information on the November 2014 Visa Bulletin, please visit: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/law-and-policy/bulletin/2015/visa-bulletin-for-november-2014.html

 

If you have any questions about the visa bulletin or other immigration matters, please feel free to contact us at info@grahamadair.com.

October 2014 Visa Bulletin: Imminent Retrogression of EB-2 India

In the October 2014 visa bulletin, the cut-off date for EB-2 India is May 1, 2009. However, given current demand, the cut-off date for EB-2 India may retrogress as early as November. It is possible that the cut-off date may retrogress from May 1, 2009 to a date in early 2005. A major factor to the anticipated retrogression is attributed to the large volume of EB-3 to EB-2 upgrades in the preceding months.

 

Following our September 2014 Visa Bulletin alert, the maximum number of available EB-2 immigrant visas for India for FY 2014 was reached. EB-2 visas for India are “unavailable” until October 1, 2014. USCIS may accept and process EB-2 India cases with priority dates earlier than May 1, 2009. However, the cases cannot be acted upon until October 1, 2014.

 

In contrast, demand for employment-based and family-based visas for the Philippines continues to decrease. As a result, cut-off dates continue to advance in these categories. For October 2014, the EB-3 Philippines cut-off date is October 1, 2011.

 

For more information on the October 2014 Visa Bulletin, please visit: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/law-and-policy/bulletin/2015/visa-bulletin-for-october-2014.html

 

Graham Adair will notify our clients as soon as the new cut-off date for EB-2 India is released. If you have any questions about the visa bulletin or other matters, please feel free to contact us at info@grahamadair.com.

September 2014 Visa Bulletin: EB-2 Shows Steady Progress

For September, there is not much movement in the employment-based categories except for EB-2 India. Still, the progress is not significant, and this can be attributed to various factors. Charles Oppenheim, Chief of Visa Control and Reporting Division (U.S. Dept. of State), explained that EB-2 India cut-off could have moved forward more dramatically for September. However, worldwide EB-1 and EB-2 India demand in July and the beginning of August were higher than expected. This increase resulted in fewer available visa numbers for EB-2 India.

Mr. Oppenheim also predicts that EB-2 India will retrogress in FY2015, and this could occur as early as November. “Current USCIS filings based on forward movement of the India EB-2 cut-off may not results in a significant increase in requests for visa numbers until early FY 2015. When that occurs, we can expect to see retrogression based on the need to hold number use within the annual limit.”

Meanwhile, EB-3 China continue to advance, moving from October 1, 2006 to November 1, 2008. Also noteworthy is the progress of EB-3 Philippines, moving to the same priority date as EB-3 worldwide.

For more information on the September 2014 Visa Bulletin, please click here.

Graham Adair will be working with our clients who have priority dates that will become current on September 1, 2014. If you have any questions about this bulletin or its impact, please feel free to contact us at info@grahamadair.com.

U.S. Consulates in Canada Temporarily Suspend Third-Country National Visa Processing

The seven U.S. consulates in Canada have announced that they will not accept any new third-country national (TCN) visa applications for the summer months of June, July, and August. Any currently existing application appointments will be honored, but going forward nationals of countries other than Canada will be required to obtain a visa appointment at U.S. consulates elsewhere in the world. The U.S. consulates in Canada will resume TCN visa application processing in September.

This primarily will impact individuals who are currently working in the U.S. who had intended to make plans to apply for a U.S. visa in Canada over the summer months. If a visa application is required during June – August 2014 that application will need to be made in another country, unless the client holds a valid Canadian passport.

Please contact an attorney at Graham Adair if you need guidance or advice on this topic.

New Visa Processing System in India Starts Today

Beginning today, the United States Embassy in India will begin using a new visa processing system throughout India that is intended to standardize procedures, as well as simplify fee payment and appointment scheduling through a new website: www.ustraveldocs.com/in.

 

Perhaps the most important change is that under the new processing system, applicants will be required to make two appointments. Before the visa interview, applicants will need to visit an Offsite Facilitation Center (OFC) to submit photographs and biometrics. These OFCs are offsite, so applicants will need to plan accordingly. This is being done with the intention of reducing congestion at consular facilities and enhancing applicant processing timeframes.

 

 

The good news is that most applicants will only need to visit an OFC one time. Because of India’s Interview Waiver Program (IWP), which allows applicants who meet certain criteria to be considered for waivers of personal interviews, an increasing number of applicants will be able to complete all visa requirements without having to schedule an in-person interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

 

 

As part of this new visa processing system, U.S. visa applicants can now pay application fees and schedule appointments with mobile phones. The new system will also allow companies and travel agencies to purchase multiple fee receipts for group travel and emergency appointments.

 

If you have any questions about this new process or its impact, please feel free to contact us at: info@grahamadair.com.

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