Monthly Archives: January 2013

IMMIGRATION REFORM: THE DEVIL’S IN THE DETAILS

This afternoon a bipartisan group of eight senators will unveil the framework for comprehensive immigration reform and tomorrow President Obama will discuss his proposal.  It seems like now, more than any time in recent history, the stars are aligned for progress on what has always been a thorny issue.

I predict the trickiest issue will be the legalization component of any reform package for a couple of reasons.  Politically, many House Republicans may not personally have much to lose by opposing what some refer to as “amnesty”.  For them, it will be a matter of putting party before personal ambitions for reform to make it through the House.

From a practical point of view, some will object if undocumented immigrants are given an advantage over those who have applied through existing employment-based immigration channels.  Most foreign nationals who obtain permanent residence through employment must first obtain a PERM labor certification which is an immigration process analogous to having an appendix removed.  This is to test that there are no available US workers for the positions being offered to foreign workers.  Legalizing and granting green cards to millions of permanent residents without first testing the labor market will lead to accusations of giving the undocumented preferential treatment.

This promises to be an interesting debate and as with previous attempts by congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, I will update regularly with important developments.  During these debates CSPAN actually becomes a fascinating channel!

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WHITE HOUSE MAKES IT EASIER FOR SOME UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS TO APPLY FOR PERMANENT RESIDENCE

According to an article on latimes.com:  “Beginning March 4, when the changes go into effect, illegal immigrants who can demonstrate that time apart from an American spouse, child or parent would create “extreme hardship,” can start the application process for a legal visa without leaving the U.S.”

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SECRETARY NAPOLITANO ANNOUNCES FINAL RULE TO SUPPORT FAMILY UNITY DURING WAIVER PROCESS

According to a USCIS News Release:  “Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano today announced the posting of a final rule in the Federal Register that reduces the time U.S. citizens are separated from their immediate relatives (spouse, children and parents), who are in the process of obtaining visas to become lawful permanent residents of the United States under certain circumstances. The final rule establishes a process that allows certain individuals to apply for a provisional unlawful presence waiver before they depart the United States to attend immigrant visa interviews in their countries of origin.”

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NEW YEARS RESOLUTION: START PERM EARLY

For employers who have foreign nationals in H-1B status and wish to sponsor them for permanent residence, it is a good idea to start the PERM labor certification process early.

In most instances, labor certification is the first step towards obtaining a green card through employment.  It requires undergoing a recruitment process for the position and certification by the employer that no US workers were qualified and available for the position.  This is not always a simple task and has been referred to as the “root canal” of immigration law!

When a foreign national is in H-1B status, in order to extend their status beyond six years, the PERM application must be filed before the fifth year anniversary of the person’s H-1B status.  If this is not done, absent other avenues to immigrate to the US that may be available to an individual, the beneficiary will need to leave the US for a year before reapplying for H-1B status.

Therefore, to avoid a situation where issues arise with the PERM process, it is best to start recruitment, file early and preserve a priority date that will allow the continuity of H-1B employment.

Please visit our firm’s websites at www.immigrantconnect.com and www.americaninvestorvisa.com and check out our page and “like” us on Facebook!