SEVP Draft Guidance on Pathway Programs

On September 26, 2014, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) posted draft guidance on pathway programs, seeking comment from stakeholders. It is the third in a series of related guidance documents. The September 26 guidance addresses postsecondary programs of study combining nonremedial and remedial coursework to prepare a foreign national student who is unable to meet the requirements of admission into a degree program. The purpose of this draft guidance is to clarify SEVP regulations and ensure uniformity of interpretation. SEVP will accept public feedback until November 10, 2014.  Read More >

USCIS Alert for Employers Regarding Certain Secure Stamps

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recently alerted that on July 1, 2014, it began using blue ink for many of its secure stamps. The older secure red ink was retired and is no longer used by USCIS.  Read More >

Eleventh Circuit Says No to Nunc Pro Tunc
Stand-Alone 212(h) Waiver

A waiver of certain criminal grounds of inadmissibility under section 212(h) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is available to individuals applying for a visa, admission or adjustment of status. A lawful permanent resident may obtain a waiver only if he or she is an applicant for admission after a trip abroad or assimilated to the position of an applicant for admission by applying for an adjustment of status. In 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held, in Poveda v. U.S. Att’y Gen., that a section 212(h) waiver without a concurrent adjustment of status filing (“stand-alone waiver”) is not available to an alien in removal proceedings.  Read More >

India EB-2 Expected to Retrogress

The second preference employment based category for immigrant petitions for Indian nationals is expected to retrogress as early as November. The visa bulletin recently released shows India EB-2 petitions with a priority date of May 1, 2009 and earlier will be processed in October. However, due to current demand that priority date could retrogress as far back as early 2005 in November.   Read More >

ICE I-9 Audit Leads to $2 Million Fine Against Hotel

When an employer becomes the subject of an enforcement audit by ICE and I-9 violations are discovered, civil fines for simple paperwork violations – even if no undocumented workers are discovered – will range from $110 to $1,100 per I-9 Form depending on the severity of the errors. Penalties for knowingly hiring or continuing to hire undocumented individuals range from $375 to $16,000 per individual. In addition, the company owner, managers and human resources professionals can be held criminally liable for certain infractions.  Read More >

Large Increase in Fee to Renounce Citizenship

Beginning September 6, 2014, the U.S. Department of State's fee to renounce U.S. citizenship increased fivefold—from $450 to $2,350. The increase, intended to discourage dual citizens from renouncing U.S. citizenship, comes after a significant increase in renunciations over the past year. Last year, the total number of expatriations was roughly 3,000, compared to 932 in 2012. In the first two quarters of 2014, there were already 1,577 renunciations, on pace to top 2013. The increase has created backlogs at some U.S. consulates causing delays. Currently, U.S. consulates in Canada are not scheduling renunciation appointments until 2015. Read More >

OCAHO Significantly Reduces Fine After Finding No Unauthorized Employees

On June 30, 2014, the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO), which is responsible for review of penalties imposed by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for I-9 compliance violations, issued a decision significantly reducing an I-9 penalty for failing to prepare and/or present I-9 forms. The Respondent in that case, a janitorial service company, claimed to have misplaced most of the I-9s. ICE imposed a baseline penalty of $935 per missing form. OCAHO reduced this penalty to $450 per form, after finding no unauthorized employees and no history of previous violations. Read More >

Change in Immigrant and Non-Immigrant Visa Application Fees on September 12, 2014

Nonimmigrant and immigrant visa application fees for certain visa categories will change on September 12, 2014. All visa applicants must pay the fee amounts in effect on the day they pay, with the exception of Immigrant Visa application processing fees paid domestically to the National Visa Center (NVC), which will be effective as of the date of billing.  Read More >

DOL Alert: New PERM Password Requirements

A permanent labor certification issued by the Department of Labor (DOL) allows an employer to hire a foreign national to work permanently in the United States. The application for a labor certification is filed via the DOL’s Permanent Case Management System (PERM), which requires employers to set up individual accounts.  Read More >

DOS Alert: China EB-5 “Unavailable” for Remainder of FY2014

According to the U.S. Department of State, effective Saturday, August 23, 2014, the China Employment Fifth (EB-5) preference category has become "Unavailable" for the remainder of the fiscal year 2014. This action is necessary because the maximum level of numbers which may be made available for use by China EB-5 applicants during fiscal year 2014 has been reached. Read More >

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