Thursday, September 27, 2012

ICE breaks of Immigration fraud ring

A man illegally living in the United States was convicted at trial late Wednesday of attempting to bribe a corrupt government official to obtain a "green card," part of a long-term joint undercover investigation into a group of Chinese nationals engaged in purchasing fraudulent permanent resident alien cards. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C., and the Herndon Police Department. "This conviction is the culmination of an intensive undercover investigation that dismantled an immigration fraud organization," said HSI Washington, D.C. Special Agent in Charge John P. Torres. "These organizations threaten our national security and place our communities at risk because they create a vulnerability that may enable terrorists and criminals to gain entry to and remain in the United States. HSI DC recognizes the extraordinary contribution by the Herndon Police Department and other law enforcement partners in our continued commitment to make our communities safer." Rui Shui Chen, 44, a citizen of the People's Republic of China who was not legally present in the United States, was convicted Sept. 26 of conspiring to commit immigration fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and misuse of immigration documents, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 14. "Green cards sold on the black market pose a serious threat to our national security," said Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. "This is a difficult crime to infiltrate, and the success of this investigation is a tribute to the patient and dedicated investigators at HSI DC and Herndon Police Department."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Almost 20% of all H-1b still left unadjudicated by USCIS

From AILA Author: Eleanor Pelta on 09/26/2012 USCIS has told AILA that between the California Service Center and the Vermont Service Center, perhaps as many as 17,000 cap-subject H-1B petitions filed between April and mid-June remain unadjudicated, and many remain completely “untouched” by examiners. That means that USCIS has done very little, or nothing, with nearly 20% of the petitions filed by U.S. employers seeking the services of foreign high-skilled workers in fields as diverse as science, technology, business, education and marketing. USCIS has refused AILA’s requests to speed up processing of the backlog of H-1B petitions, saying that businesses that want faster service should request Premium Processing. Telling a large corporate petitioner to pay $1225 for Premium Processing Service in order to get an H-1B petition acted on after it has sat untouched for four months or more is bad enough – you’d think that for the more than two thousand dollars in filing fees that most petitioners pay that USCIS would act on a petition with greater alacrity – but, we know from USCIS’ own data from the 2008 H-1B Benefit Fraud & Compliance Assessment report that many of the businesses that use the H-1B program to meet needs for highly skilled experts are smaller businesses, those with fewer than 25 employees, with revenues under $10 million, and operating for less than ten years – the emerging companies and start-ups that are the focus of the agency’s entrepreneurial initiatives. Businesses don’t embark on the H-1B process lightly. Plans to bring on an H-1B usually start early in the year, and employers know quite well that the candidate won’t be able to start until October 1st, at the earliest. Projects are mothballed, customers are warned, and contracts are put on hold, waiting for the beginning of the new fiscal year and the arrival of the specialist so that folks can get back to business. For those employers lucky to have former students working on practical training, which expires on September 30th, seamless and uninterrupted employment is expected, or at least hoped for. If the candidate is overseas, arrival will be further delayed while a visa is obtained from a U.S. consulate. All of these delays could be avoided if USCIS would efficiently process H-1B petitions. It’s not like there has been a change in the law that has caused the delays. They simply haven’t, don’t have a reason for the backlogs, and when they were asked late in August to speed up processing, they said they were trying, but they weren’t going to make any special efforts, and, if a business wants faster service, to pay up. Exacting another twelve hundred dollars from a small business to get USCIS to do in fifteen more days what it hasn’t done for over four months sure doesn’t seem to be a way to promote startup businesses and spur job creation. USCIS needs to get with its own program and promptly adjudicate the pile of H-1B petitions that have been on the shelves for months.

New Scheduling procedures for Visa Applicants in India

The United States Embassy in India today announced it is implementing a new visa processing system throughout India that will further standardize procedures and will simplify fee payment and appointment scheduling through a new website at Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs, Julia Stanley, announced at a press conference here today that beginning September 26, 2012 U.S. visa applicants will be able to pay application fees via Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) or with their mobile phones. They can also pay in cash at more than 1,800 Axis bank branches. For the first time, applicants will be able to schedule their appointments online or by phone. The new system will also allow companies and travel agents to purchase multiple fee receipts for group travel, and it accommodates the scheduling of group and emergency appointments. Visa applicants will be able to have their questions answered via telephone, email, or online chat. Call center agents in Noida and Hyderabad will answer questions in Hindi, English, Punjabi, Gujarati, Tamil, and Telugu. Call centers will be open 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday through Friday, and 9:00 am to 6:00 pm on Sunday. The numbers are (91-120) 660-2222 or (91-22) 6720-9400 in India or 1-310-616-5424 in the United States. Applicants can email in English or Hindi at, or they can chat with us directly from our website ( during call center hours. One important change is that under the new system, applicants will have to make two appointments. Prior to their visa interviews, applicants will have to visit an Offsite Facilitation Center (OFC) to submit their fingerprints and a photo. Located apart from the Embassy and Consulates in Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai, the OFCs will reduce congestion at U.S. consular facilities and speed applicant processing. Most applicants will need to visit an OFC only once.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Computers, but not Smart phones and Ipads now allowed at immigration hearings

On a day where Apples announces the new Iphone Email from ICE Public Advocate: Today I want to make you aware of a policy change at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that will enhance detainees’ access to fair and impartial immigration court proceedings by giving their advocates an important, additional tool to use during those proceedings. At the request of the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR), ICE will now allow private attorneys or accredited representatives appearing before an immigration judge on behalf of detainees to bring a laptop into EOIR courtrooms located within detention facilities. Private attorneys or accredited representatives will be required to complete a request form each time they intend to bring a laptop into an EOIR courtroom in a detention facility. Please note, this process is for laptop computers along with an air card only and does not include iPADs, iPODs, smart phones, BlackBerrys or other electronic devices. In addition, this process does not permit attorneys to take laptops in attorney-client visitation rooms. Further rules outlining where, when, and how laptops can be used while in detention facilities are clearly stated in the request form. ICE is currently implementing this policy in each of its 24 Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) field offices. To get the laptop request form, you should contact the field office in which your EOIR proceeding and detention facility are located. If you do not have a field office point of contact, you may identify and email the appropriate Public Advocate Field Liaison by using this interactive map on the website and clicking on the area where your pending proceeding will take place. Phone numbers for each field office are also available on the Contact ICE page. Please help us spread the word about this important change in ICE policy by forwarding this message to your colleagues and community partners.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

October 2012 Visa Bulletin finally released

The US State Department finally released the much anticipated Oct 2012 Visa Bulletin. this is the first visa Bulletin for the 2013 Government Fiscal Year. It is important to note that visa ARE available for EB-2 all other countries. The last Bulletin indicated this category was unavailable. While the Numbers are retrogressed , visa are available for those with priority date of January 1, 2012. Other relevant news is that EB-2 for India nationals has retrogressed to September 1, 2004. For more updates, please follow this blog or twitter feed @nfleischer