Fascinating Reading on Immigration

There are always numerous studies and articles that provide fascinating insights into immigration. However, one that may be particularly interesting to our audience was published just in June 2014 by The Partnership for a New American Economy. The Partnership states that it “brings together more than 500 Republican, Democratic and Independent mayors and business leaders who support sensible immigration reforms that will help create jobs for Americans today.” Their study titled “Closing Economic Windows: How H-1B Visa Denials Cost US-Born Tech Workers Jobs and Wages During the Great Recession” makes several key findings, inter alia:
*The high number of H-1B visa applications that were eliminated in the 2007-2008 visa lotteries represented a major lost opportunity for US-born workers and the American economy overall;
*The US tech industry would have grown substantially faster in the years immediately after the recession if not for the large number of visas that didn’t make it through the 2007 and 2008 visa lotteries;
* U.S. Born workers without bachelor’s degrees were disproportionately hurt by the H-1B visa lotteries in 2007-2008;

In contradiction of oft-repeated anti-immigration rhetoric, the report goes on to state that “Contrary to what some believe, high-skilled immigrants don’t displace U.S.-born workers in computer fields. Instead, their presence spurs growth and creates more jobs -and higher wages -for native-born workers in the local tech industry.”

It’s a fascinating analysis that provides a lot of food for thought. You may want to consider on your summer reading list. Read it in full at:

Partnership for a New American Economy – H-1B Report

CBP Updates Website to Expand Admission Records Access

Good news in expanded records access from the CBP. At the end of April 2014, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website began providing historical admission records online. This allows access to view and print entry/exit data of foreign nationals going back five years.

This historical admission record is an expansion of the program in effect since April 2013 to allow foreign nationals to view and print their most recent I-94 admission record directly from the CBP website. This electronic access is in lieu of receiving a hard copy I-94 card at the airport/port of entry. The printing of such I-94 record is critical for all foreign national’s after each admission.

The expansion of this I-94 information on the CBP website can be an important tool for foreign nationals and their attorneys. For the first time, it allows us to view all admissions and proactively correct errors before benefit applications are filed with USCIS that may be potentially impacted by these errors. Further, for Lawful Permanent Residents that wish to apply for US citizenship through naturalization, this historical entry/exit data is required on the application.  However, it often proved difficult for applicants to recall, and thus this new information greatly facilitates the process.

Our office encourages our clients to view this information and ensure that the information CBP has in their file is accurate. If there are any inaccuracies, our office is happy to advise whether and how to correct the data with CBP.

Customs and Border Protection  – www.cbp.gov

 

Get I-94 Information

 

Ongoing Immigration News Important to Follow

SURGE IN UNACCOMPANIED MINOR CHILDREN AT THE SOUTHERN BORDER

While we don’t have space to do the story justice, as many of our readers know, in 2014 there has been a surge of unaccompanied minor children and families along the southern border in response to the regional humanitarian crisis in Central America. Our government is rapidly trying to get a handle on this situation and the question of whether to deter future dangerous migration by children versus family reunification or resettlement in the U.S. is still evolving. We urge you to follow this story and add your voice to a democratic debate on the topic.

EXECUTIVE ACTION BY PRESIDENT OBAMA TO “FIX” IMMIGRATION?

In remarks from the White House on June 30, 2014, President Obama discussed using his executive powers if congress continued to fail to act to bring immigration legislation to his desk.

Stay tuned to what we hope will be a lively political summer.

An Update on Immigration Petitions and Benefits for Same Sex Marriage Applicants

We are happy to relate that with few exceptions, the news is good all over.

By way of background, in June 2013 the US Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional. DOMA narrowly defined marriage, and that definition effectively precluded an extensive range of federal benefits for same sex couples. In overturning DOMA, federal agencies were no longer constrained by the DOMA definition of marriage and were able to recognize and grant federal benefits for same-sex married couples.

One agency significantly impacted by the decision was the Department of Homeland Security, which includes USCIS. Consistent with DOMA, USCIS’ practice was routinely to deny cases filed by spouses in same sex marriages. In June 2013 the USCIS immediately began a review of past denials and started to accept immigration cases wherein a same-sex spouse would be eligible for US immigration status. This included many different types of derivative non-immigrant visas, but also opened the door to the issuance of “green cards” based on marriage to a same sex spouse.

As with any new large scale change in policy, there have been many nuances to figure out such as the impact of a couple’s residence when it was not in the state in which their marriage was performed and the impact of civil unions. A large concern for immigration attorneys was how USCIS would view the absence of the same type of evidentiary documentation that opposite-sex spouses were routinely able to obtain (such as medical coverage, insurance, tax returns, etc). However, we are pleased to say that the overall consensus is that USCIS is very understanding of these issues and unique challenges. In fact, some clients have related their shock that their treatment by immigration officials both in the US and at consulates overseas was so “normal” after feeling precluded from any immigration benefits for so long.

We are honored to have represented a number of same-sex couples that have filed fiancé or marriage-based petitions and we are pleased to convey our experience that all federal agencies involved in the immigration process have so far greatly impressed us by their professionalism. While we have no doubt that there may remain exceptions to our experiences, we look forward to staying active in representing such meritorious clients and continuing to promote the goal of family unity for same sex married couples.

A Recap of Spring Immigration News – Employment

H-1B CAP REACHED IN FIRST WEEK

Once again this year, the supply of H-1B visa numbers was severely unable to meet demand. The US Immigration Service (“USCIS”) received a total of 172,500 petitions to fill the cap of 85,000 H-1B visa numbers. USCIS returned cases that were not selected in the quota by June. Processing on “selected” cases will continue, likely through September, for non-expedited (premium processed) cases.

If you or your employee were not selected in this year’s very limited quota, we would be happy to consult with you about whether there are other options. Our office particularly has done some challenging O-1 petitions with great success, and this category has no quota. Likewise, there are creative options if your company has offices overseas wherein the foreign national could be placed for a year, the employee has a spouse in valid US immigration status for which they could gain “derivative” status, or they are willing to consider going back to school.

POTENTIAL LEGISLATION WOULD GRANT WORK AUTHORIZATION FOR SOME H-1B SPOUSES

While it’s a change that would have limited applicability, the USCIS proposed rule of 5/12/2014 on employment authorization for the spouses of some H-1B workers is still very good news.

Spouses of H-1B visa holders in H-4 status have never before been granted the ability to work, unless or until a supplemental work permit was granted as part of the final green card application (“Adjustment of Status” or “I-485”). Because of long-standing visa backlogs (most notably affecting professional workers from India and China), this has meant that spouses in H-4 status, even themselves often degreed professionals, had to put their careers on hold for several years. The proposed rule would allow H-4 spouses to work at an earlier point in the process. The bad news is that it’s not “very” early in the process, and thus it applies to only a small group of H-4 spouses. Nonetheless, any expansion of work permission is welcome news to clients who have long been negatively impacted by this employment restriction.

Likewise greatly beneficial, for US companies this expansion of work permission to H-4 spouses would open up a sizeable pool of new employees. Many companies that were shut out of hiring due to the H-1B shortages in recent years may in fact find this pool of H-4’s to provide a welcome source of highly skilled employees.

A few general notes

A few general notes:

* Immigration processing of several types of applications has noticeably slowed in the past six months. In light of this, if you have an application pending with USCIS, keep in touch with immigration counsel to ensure that you understand the impact this could have for you and can plan accordingly.

* Summer is a busy travel season for foreign nationals in the US, as it is for everyone. Foreign nationals requiring a visa stamp in their passport in order to return to the US should be especially mindful of potential delays in obtaining visa appointments, and should plan well in advance of their departure.

* Importantly, US consulates in Canada, which normally entertain visa applications from nationals of all countries, have severely limited their visa appointments for non-Canadians this summer.

* There is unrest in many parts of the world at the moment and we strongly urge all of our clients to review any travel alerts or warnings issued by the US State Department prior to traveling.

* American Immigration Lawyers worldwide recently convened in late June in our beautiful city of Boston at our annual conference of AILA. It was a wonderful event full of topical and in depth analysis of US Immigration law. We were proud to have our city host and to have been able to join and learn from each other.

* We hope everyone had a joyous Fourth of July and was able to take time to celebrate the independence of our great nation with family and friends.

Have a wonderful summer.

Introduction to the Law Office of Adrienne J. Vaughan

Dear Clients and Friends:

It is with great pleasure that Law Office of Adrienne J. Vaughan is publishing our first blog. In this blog, which we will be publishing monthly, we hope to recap some of the most important developments in business and family immigration law. If you have a question on another topic not covered here, feel free to write us for more information. Likewise, if there is something here that is of interest to you or a friend, we’d love to discuss with you.

First thing, a recap of our firm: After starting the practice in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood in May 2012, Adrienne moved the firm to its current location on Centre Street in West Roxbury in May 2013. Our new location offers us much more space to expand the practice, walls of windows to enjoy the neighborhood, as well as increased amenities such as free parking, while still being accessible to public transportation.

This new space has allowed us to make many important changes as the firms grows. Learn more about our office and practice areas at: www.ajvimmigrationlaw.com