Thursday, September 11, 2008

DOS Issues October Visa Bulletin

Department of State's (DOS') Visa Office (VO) has released the visa numbers for the month of October. This is a critical announcement for immigrants and employers alike who have been frustrated during the summer by the lack of "green card" visas. The problem arises because Congress long ago established a cap on the number of green card visas that are issued each year in most visa categories. In addition, because the federal government works on a fiscal year that begins October 1st, the government often runs out of green card visas during the summer, when its fiscal year ends.

The new numbers indicate that employment-based visas will be available in the professional and skilled categories for applications that were filed on or before January 1, 2005. Other, more highly skilled workers can apply immediately for citizens of all countries other than China, India, Mexico and Philippines.

Click here for a complete copy of the Visa Bulletin for October 2008.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Union Sues Employer Successfully Over No-Match Letter

In a follow-up to the recent controversy over No-Match letters, a federal appeals Court in California has ordered re-instatement and awarded back pay to workers who were dismissed over discrepancies in their social security numbers. The Court stated the issue bluntly: "This case boils down to a single issue: whether the SSA's no-match letter -- and the fired employees' responses -- put [the employer] on constructive notice that it was employing undocumented workers."

The employer received a no-match letter from the Social Security Administration that reported discrepancies between the social security numbers reported by the employer and the numbers in SSA's data base. Upon receipt of the no-match letter, the company gave the employees 3 days to correct the mismatches and fired 33 employees a week to 10 days later, if they failed to comply.

The Court's decision effectively holds that no-match letters do not effectively provide "constructive notice" to employers of any immigration violations. The Court concluded that "Constructive notice . . requires positive information of a worker's undocumented status."

The issue of no-match letters took on heightened importance last summer, when DHS announced that employers would be required to respond to those letters by requiring verification of employment authorization by the affected worker or dismiss the worker. The issue has remained bogged down in litigation for the past year.