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 >

Automated Passport Control

By now, many of our readers have likely seen Automated Passport Control (APC) kiosks in the passport control area of certain airports. APC, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program designed to expedite entry into the U.S. for certain eligible travelers. Rather than completing the paper customs declaration form, travelers can provide information at APC kiosks. At the kiosks, each traveler will be prompted to scan his or her passport, take a photograph, and answer various questions to verify flight and biographic information. Travelers residing together are permitted to be processed at the APC kiosk together. A CBP officer will then complete the inspection for entry after the traveler has completed the process at the kiosk. Read More >

BIA Holds Guilty Plea Without Conviction Is Not An Admission

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) contains a provision making an individual inadmissible to the United States if he or she has admitted to the commission of certain crimes, including controlled substance offenses. Inadmissibility prevents an individual from being able to obtain certain immigration benefits, unless the individual can obtain a waiver. In order for an individual to trigger inadmissibility under the “admission” clause of the INA, the government must find that the essential elements of the crime were explained to the individual in layman’s terms, that the individual admitted to each element, and that the admission was voluntary and unequivocal. Further, several precedent decisions of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) have held that if an admission was made as part of criminal proceedings that did not result in a conviction, the admission may not be used against the individual to trigger inadmissibility.    Read More >

“Surge Docket” for New York Minors

An immigration court in New York has begun what it is calling “surge docket” proceedings for unaccompanied minors. The court, which typically sees less than 100 minor cases per month, is now taking on around at least 30 cases per day. The surge docket hearings are an initiative of the federal government to help expedite the legal proceedings for the recent surge in unaccompanied minors in the U.S.    Read More >

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