Saturday, 29 September 2012

Electronic Filing of Labor Certification Applications for H-2A and H-2B Visas to Start this Fall

The Employment and Training Administration (ETA) has announced that it will implement electronic filing for the submission of temporary labor certification applications that are part of the H-2A and H-2B visa programs through the iCERT Visa Portal System. This new electronic filing system, run by the Department of Labor, will enhance the accessibility and quality fo labor certification services and reduce the reporting burden on small employers, commented the Department of Labor.

Employers or their authorized representatives will be able to submit H-2B applications electronically starting October 15, 2012 and H-2A applications starting December 10, 2012, at Employers who choose to not use this electronic filing option are guided to continue to file their H-2A and H-2B applications using the standard paper-based filing method.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Bill to Extend EB-5, E-Verify, J-1 and Religious Worker Programs Signed Into Law

A bill was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Leahy (D-VT) in May 2012 to extend the EB-5 Regional Center program, the E-Verify electronic employee eligibility verification program, the R Special Immigrant Nonminister Religious Worker program and the Conrad State 30 J-1 Visa Waiver program. The bill was passed by the Senate on August 2, 2012, with unanimous consent. It was extended in the Senate to include a 3-year extension of the four immigrant programs.

On September 13, 2012, the House passed the bill as well by a vote of 412 to 3. President Obama signed the bill into law on September 28, 2012

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

New Locations for Certain USCIS Petitions

USCIS has posted a notice of a series of changes for the work performed at the agency’s four service centers in Vermont, Nebraska, Texas and California. Certain tasks and case reviews will now be shifted from a service center to either a Field Office or the National Benefits Center in order to balance the overall workload with the processing capacities at each location. The changes include the following:

I-90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card
Effective Date: August 15, 2012
Previous Location: Nebraska Service Center
New Location: National Benefits Center

Stand-Alone Immediate Relative I-30, Petition for Alien Relative
Effective Date: August 15, 2012
Previous Location: All USCIS Service Centers
New Location: The Field Office with jurisdiction over the petitioner’s place of residence

Interview-Waivable Family-Based I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
Effective Date: August 1, 2012
Previous Location: California Service Center
New Location: National Benefits Center

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

First Immigrants Receive Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Approval

The Department of Homeland Security has approved its first wave of applications from young illegal immigrants seeking to avoid deportation and apply for official work permits. The federal department is notifying its first set of applicants this week that they have been approved to remain in the U.S. for a two-year period as part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

USCIS first started accepting applications for the DACA program three weeks ago. According to news sources, over 70,000 people have applied for the program. Background checks and fingerprinting are being conducted on each person applying for DACA consideration. The average wait time, according to the Department of Homeland Security is between four and six months. Applicants must have first come to the U.S. before they were 16 years old, be age 30 or younger and be high school graduates, in college or have served in the military.

Friday, 7 September 2012

U.S. Embassy in India Introduces New Visa Processing System

The U.S. Embassy in India announced this week that it will implement a new visa processing system throughout India to further standardize procedures and simplify fee payment and appointment scheduling through a new website. Beginning September 26, 2012, U.S. visa applicants will be able to pay application fees via Electronic Fund Transfer, with their mobile phones or in cash at an Axis bank branch.

On September 26, applicants will be able to schedule appointments online at the new website: Applicants can also schedule their appointments by phone. Companies and travel agents will also be able to purchase multiple fee receipts for group travel, and the system will accommodate the scheduling of group and emergency appointments. Please note that under the new system, applicants will have to make two appointments. Prior to their visa interviews, applicants will be required to visit an Offsite Facilitation Center to submit fingerprints and a photo.

Learn more at

USCIS Publishes Updated H-2B Visa Numbers – Aug. 31, 2012

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is informing foreign visitors coming to the U.S. who are required to prove their legal visitor status to plan ahead. Foreign visitors may need information in addition to Form I-94, the Arrival/Departure Record that they received from CBP, when proving their legal visitor status to employers, schools, universities and governmental organizations. Currently CBP is experiencing delays in processing foreign visitors’ travel information into their I-94 database.

CBP is currently looking into automating the I-94 form to allow for electronic management of arrival and departure data. This would streamline the arrival and inspection process for travelers. Because the I-94 has been a long-standing form of proof of status for foreign travelers, CBP will keep the public updated of any changes to the process. Please note, though, that the current delays in processing do not affect most foreign travelers visiting for business or leisure and do not affect any visitor’s record of departure.