Immigration Updates - April 2013

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Temporary Protection Status Extended to Hondurans and Nicaraguans

The Department of Homeland Security has extended temporary protected status (TPS) for eligible nationals of Honduras and Nicaragua for an additional 18 months, beginning July 6, 2013, and ending January 5, 2015. In order for applicants to maintain Temporary Protected Status (TPS), they must re-register during the 60-day re-registration period that runs from April 3, 2013, through June 3, 2013. If you are a Honduran or Nicaraguan national and currently hold TPS status, we encourage you to register as soon as possible within the 60-day re-registration period.

The 18-month extension allows TPS re-registrants to apply for a new employment authorization document, or the EAD. Eligible Honduran and Nicaraguan TPS applicants who apply for an EAD and meet the re-registration deadline will receive a new EAD that will expire on January 5, 2015. USCIS will automatically extend current TPS Honduras EADs that have a July 5, 2013 expiration date for an additional six months. These existing EADs are now valid through January 5, 2014.

Important Dates to Consider:

  • TPS extended through: January 5, 2015
  • Re-Registration period for Hondurans or Nicaraguans who already have TPS: April 3, 2013- June 3, 2013.
  • Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Auto-Extension through: January 5, 2014
Residence and Physical Presence Requirements for TPS re-registration:

  • Continuous Residence in U.S. Since: December 30, 1998
  • Continuous Physical Presence in U.S. Since: January 5, 1999
  • TPS Designation Date: January 5, 1999
At Dyer Immigration Law Group, our attorneys and staff are dedicated to helping our clients successfully navigate the TPS process to meet their immigration needs. Contact us today!

An Update on the FY 2014 H-1B Cap

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on April 5, 2013, that it had received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap for fiscal year 2014. USCIS also received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions under the master’s cap. This was the first time since 2008 that the H-1B cap was met within the first week of the filing period, and USCIS is no longer accepting any further cap-subject petitions.  

On April 7, USCIS conducted a lottery for the fiscal year 2014 cap-subject petitions. USCIS has noted that the data entry for H-1B cap-subject cases filed via premium processing has been concluded and that it has begun to issue receipts for these applications. Adjudication of the premium processing cases should be completed within the required 15 days of April 15th.  

Data entry for non-premium processing H-1B cases will begin after the premium processing cases are entered, and will likely continue through May. Notably, when the cap was reached in 2008, USCIS did not complete data entry and issue receipt notices until late in May. Cases that are not selected for inclusion in the 2014 H-1B quota will be rejected. However, these cases may not be returned to employers until June. Employers may convert any non-premium processing case to a premium process case, but a request to convert the case can only be made after its receipt notice is issued.

Immigration Reform Proposed by a Bipartisan Group of Senators in April

On April 16, 2013, a bipartisan group of eight U.S. Senators introduced proposed legislation to reform the current immigration system. The draft legislation includes specific changes to family and employment-based immigration. These reforms are only proposed legislation and have not been enacted as law at the present moment.

Some key provisions of the proposal include the following:

Pathway to U.S. Citizenship: The majority of undocumented persons in the United States would be able to apply for Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status. In order to be eligible for RPI status, applicants would need to prove that: 1) that they were present in the U.S. prior to December 31, 2011; and, 2) that they have maintained continuous physical presence since that time. Applicants would be required to pay certain fees, penalties, and taxes. However, any of the below conditions could prevent individuals from obtaining this status:

o    Convicted of an aggravated felony

o    Convicted of a felony

o    Convicted of three or more misdemeanors (other than minor traffic offenses or state/local status-based on immigration offenses) where the convictions occurred on different dates.

o    Convicted of an offense under foreign law

o    Unlawful voting

o    Inadmissible for criminal, national security, public health, or morality grounds.  

RPI status holders would be eligible to apply for a green card after holding the status for ten years and will then be able to apply for citizenship three years after being granted a green card.  RPI status holders who are present in the United States will be able to petition for their spouses and children as derivative beneficiaries. Also, individuals with RPI status would be able to work for any employer and travel outside of the United States.

Additionally, individuals previously present before December 31, 2011 who were deported on non-criminal grounds could also apply to re-enter the United States on an RPI status. Further, individuals in the U.S. with orders of removal or who are presently in removal proceedings could also apply for RPI status.

Individuals in DREAM Act Status and the Agricultural Program will be able to obtain their green cards in five years, and DREAM Act applicants would be eligible for citizenship immediately after obtaining their green cards.

H-1B nonimmigrant visas: The number of available H-1B visas would increase from 65,000 to 110,000 annually and a market-based formula would provide annual adjustments to potentially increase the cap up to 180,000. However, all employers would be required to recruit American employees and H-1B dependant employers would have to pay higher wages and filing fees. Certain H-4 spouses will be able to receive employment authorization.

Family-based immigration: The draft legislation proposes to eliminate the current backlog for family-based immigrants. The revised categories will limit married adult children category to those who file before age 31 and will eliminate the preference category for siblings. Spouses and children of permanent residents will be considered immediate relatives.

W visa for Lower-Skilled Workers:   The W visa would be established to permit foreign nationals to come to the U.S. to work for a "registered" employer in a "registered" low-skilled position. This new visa would replace the current H-2A program. 

Employment-Based Green Cards: The proposed legislation would exempt certain categories from the annual numerical limits on employment-based immigration: derivative beneficiaries (family members), extraordinary ability individuals and outstanding professors and researchers, multinational executives and managers, Ph.D. graduates in a STEM field, and physicians who have completed the two-year home residence requirement or obtained a waiver of the requirement. Additionally, n increased number of visas would be made available for professionals holding advanced degrees and working in the sciences, arts, professions, or business; individuals who earned a U.S. master's degree in a STEM field within five years of filing the petition, skilled workers, professionals, and other professionals.

Waivers: The proposal also would lower the standard for unlawful presence waivers from extreme hardship to hardship, and would allow children to be considered as qualifying relatives along with spouses and parents.

Overall, the draft legislation proposed by the Senate includes reforms that seek to rectify the current immigration system in the United States. The draft legislation represents a positive step forward towards resolution of this critical issue and will hopefully lead to meaningful immigration reform in the coming months.

At Dyer Immigration Law Group, we are dedicated exclusively to the practice of immigration law and specialize in the full range of immigration issues. For over a decade, we have helped countless individuals and companies to achieve their immigration goals through innovative solutions and effective client-focused advocacy. We have the experience, the reputation, and the expertise to handle virtually any immigration issue for businesses, families, and individuals. Call us today for an appointment regarding your immigration matters!

Call us toll free at 1.877.377.1247 to schedule an appointment at our office in Richmond, Virginia. We speak English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

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