Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Immigration Reform After Senator Specter’s Switch

Immigration Reform After Senator Specter’s Switch
Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter stunned the political world on Tuesday by announcing he was switching his party affiliation from Republican to Democratic. The switch may create a “filibuster proof” Senate that will allow President Obama to more forward on key issues including health care reform, climate change and immigration reform despite possible Republican objections. Senator Specter has long been considered a friend to Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR.) He helped draft the doomed reform bill that died in Congress in the summer of 2007 and he renewed his support for CIR at a recent Spring Conference of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA.) To that extent, the party switch will not likely change the number of votes in favor of a reform package.

Nevertheless, Spector’s switch will permit the president to move aggressively on an immigration bill this year, as he has promised. And perhaps most importantly, it will likely encourage those who see CIR as the only realistic means of solving our current immigration mess.

Overall, Senator Specter's decision to switch parties is a good for CIR and good for immigrants.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

USCIS Reports 20,000 H-1B Visas Still Available

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reported today that approximately 45,000 H-1B cap-subject petitions and approximately 20,000 petitions qualifying for the advanced degree cap exemption had been filed since April 1, 2009, leaving 20,000 slots still available for fiscal year 2010. USCIS continues to accept advanced degree petitions stating that experience has shown that not all petitions received are approvable.

The H-1B visa allows U.S. employers to employ foreign workers who have a minimum of a U.S. Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent and will be coming to the U.S. to perform professional caliber work at a prevailing wage established by the U.S. Department of Labor. Congress has established an annul numerical limit (or cap) of 65,000 for new H-1B visas and an additional 20,000 for foreign workers with an advance degree from a U.S. university. The government’s fiscal year begins October 1 and the law permits applicants to file petitions no more than 6 months in advance of the commencement date, thus resulting in an “earliest” filing date of April 1.

For each of the past two fiscal years, more than the maximum number of applications was filed during the first days of April, resulting in H-1B petitions “capping out” immediately. This year, due to the economic downturn, less than the maximum number of applications was received.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

USCIS Sets New Address For Filing Form I-90?

USCIS announced today that it had established a “lockbox” in Phoenix, Arizona for the future filing of I-90 forms. These forms are routinely used by permanent residents to renew expired “green cards” and correct erroneous existing cards.

The new rule requires applicants to mail the paper Form I-90 to:
The Phoenix Lockbox address is: USCIS, P.O. Box 21262, Phoenix, AZ 85036.

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Express Mail/courier deliveries, use the following address: USCIS, ATTN: I-90, 1820 Skyharbor, Circle S Floor 1, Phoenix, AZ 85034.

Applications sent to the wrong address will be forwarded to the Phoenix Lockbox facility for the first 30 calendar days after this notice is published. Forwarded applications will be considered properly filed when received at the Phoenix Lockbox facility. After the 30 calendar-day transition period, the application will be returned with a note explaining that it must sent to the correct address.