Recent Changes To Visa Waiver Program Travel Application

November 7, 2014 § Leave a comment

Visa Waiver Changes

On November 3, 2014, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson released a statement describing certain “security enhancements” for the Visa Waiver Program (“VWP”). Effective immediately, applicants submitting their VWP Travel Application through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (“ESTA”) will need to provide additional information to secure travel authorization.

Specifically, applicants are now required to provide other names and aliases, contact information, and more detailed passport data. Secretary Johnson disclosed in his statement that the changes were made to enhance VWP security and learn more about travelers coming to the United States.

The VWP allows citizens of 38 participating countries to travel to the United States—without a visa—for stays up to 90 days. The purpose of the travel must be allowable under the B Visa, which permits travel for certain business and tourism activities. In order to travel to the United States under the VWP, a traveler must first secure authorization through ESTA.

ESTA is an automated system that determines the eligibility of applicants to travel under the VWP. However, securing travel authorization through ESTA does not guarantee admission into the United States. Customs and Border Protection will need to make its own admissibility determination upon the traveler’s arrival in the United States.

Participating VWP countries include Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. For the full list of participating countries, as well as additional information on the VWP, please click here.

Questions regarding the VWP or ESTA? GoffWilson has answers for you! Please contact our office today for more information.

Visa Retrogression: A Reality for EB-2 India

October 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

EB-2-Visa-Retrogression-India

In our recent Blawg post dated September 22, 2014, we mentioned the possibility of a November 2014 retrogression for the EB-2 India visa category.  As we predicted, the EB-2 India cut-off date has retrogressed to February 15, 2005 on the Department of State’s November Visa Bulletin.  The prior cut-off date for EB-2 India was May 1, 2009.

In the Bulletin’s Visa Availability in the Coming Months section, the Department of State declares there will most likely be “no forward movement” for EB-2 India in the coming months.  Due to this declaration, foreign nationals who fall under the EB-2 India category should file their eligible immigrant visa applications as soon as possible.  Need assistance? GoffWilson can assist you in the filing of your application.  Not eligible to file? Contact our office today to discuss what other options may exist for you or your employees even with visa retrogression.

Please visit the following link to view the November 2014 Visa Bulletin: http://1.usa.gov/1DbYIV7

Visa Bulletin: Visa Retrogression Likely for EB-2 India

September 18, 2014 § Leave a comment

Visa Retrogression EB-2 India

Each month, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) publishes a Visa Bulletin that summarizes the available immigrant visa numbers for the upcoming month. The visa numbers are calculated based on total fiscal year limits set by the Department of State.

The Visa Bulletin is broken down by categories (e.g. employment-based), preferences (e.g. 2nd preference), and countries of chargeability (e.g. India), which are presented in matrix format. On each of the matrices, the breakdowns come together with either a “C,” a “U,” or a date.

  • A “C” stands for current (i.e., all of the immigrant visa demand for that breakdown can be satisfied by the amount of available visa numbers currently allocated).
  • A “U” stands for unavailable (i.e., all of the allocated visa numbers in that breakdown have been used for the fiscal year).
  • A date represents the cut-off date for an oversubscribed breakdown (i.e., not all of the immigrant visa demand for that breakdown can be satisfied by the amount of available visa numbers currently allocated).

Cut-off dates are determined by priority dates (i.e., date of filing for the petition or application granting a visa number). Thus, if a date is listed in one of the matrix breakdowns on the monthly Visa Bulletin, the date represents the priority date of the first applicant whose immigrant visa application could not be processed within the numerical limits.

For example, if “01APR11” appears in one of the matrix breakdowns, then only applicants whose priority dates are earlier than April 1, 2011 are eligible to receive an immigrant visa.

Countries of chargeability are determined by countries of birth. It is important to note that this is not referring to country of citizenship. Often times, foreign nationals mistakenly believe that they can “skip the line” by obtaining citizenship in another country. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Currently, the Department of State has four countries designated on the Visa Bulletin whose visa demand exceeds the per-country limitation. These countries are China (mainland born), India, Mexico, and Philippines. If a country is not specifically represented on the Visa Bulletin, it falls into the “All Chargeability Areas” section. In recent months, the India Employment-Based Second Preference (“EB-2 India”) cut-off date has been rapidly advancing due to the use of “otherwise unused” immigrant visa numbers. However, this rapid advancement has led to increased demand for these visas.

In the October 2014 Visa Bulletin, the DOS specifically mentions that the increased demand will require the retrogression of the EB-2 India cut-off date. The Visa Bulletin goes on to explain that the retrogression could occur as early as November 2014. Currently, the cut-off date for EB-2 India is May 1, 2009. However, Visa Bulletin experts are predicting a retrogression to around 2005.

Pursuant to this information, foreign nationals who fall under the EB-2 India category should verify whether they are eligible to file an immigrant visa application based on the current cut-off date. Eligible individuals should heed the retrogression warning and file their applications as soon as possible. Not sure how to verify this information? GoffWilson is here to help! Please contact our office today for more information on filing an immigrant visa application.

To view the October 2014 Visa Bulletin click here.

DACA (Dream ACT) Renewal: What You Need to Know

July 16, 2014 § Leave a comment

Two years ago it was announced that individuals who came to the US as children and met several guidelines could request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal.

The time for renewal of the initial two-year grant of deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) is upon us and we want to highlight the renewal process. To request a renewal, you must meet the initial DACA guidelines:

  1. You were under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012
  2. You came to the US prior to your 16th birthday
  3. You have continuously resided in the US since June 15, 2007
  4. You were physically present in the US on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS
  5. Either you entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012
  6. You are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces
  7. You have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and you do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety

 

In addition, for your renewal, you must also meet the following:

  • You have not departed the US on or after August 15, 2012, without advance parole; and
  • You have continuously resided in the US since you submitted your last DACA request that was approved.

We recommend that submissions for renewal occur no later than 120 days before your current period of deferred action will expire; earlier submissions may be rejected with instructions to file closer to the date of expiration.

There is a $380 filing fee for Form I-765 and an $85 biometric fee for a total filing fee cost of $465 paid to the immigration service.

For more information, please visit the following USCIS website or contact our office.

We are happy to answer any questions you may have and we can assist you with the renewal process of your status. Immigration is all we do!

Coming Soon: H-1B Specialty Occupation Visas!

January 9, 2014 § Leave a comment

H1-B Visas Coming Soon!

April 1 is the annual roll out for the coveted H-1B Visa. The H-1B visa category is one of the most highly sought-after visa classifications by US employers and foreigners. It is open to professionals that will work in a specialty occupation that generally requires at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.

The visa is issued for three years and is renewable. Last year, there were more H-1B visa petitions filed in the first 5 days than the entire allotment in the calendar year of 65,000. Hundreds of employers across the country were unable to hire all the professional talent that they needed.

Contact us if you have an employee you want to hire who requires an H-1B Visa to work for your company.

John Wilson to Speak at NH Institute of Politics Immigration Panel

December 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

Immigration Panel at NH Institute of Politics

GoffWilson partner John Wilson will participate in the panel on Immigration from Canada and its Impact on Economic Development in New England on Tuesday, December 17 at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anslem College.

The event, sponsored by Comcast Business, will take place in the New Hampshire Institute of Politics Auditorium from 8:00-9:45 a.m. To register online, click here.

The economic effect of Canadian firms making their way into New Hampshire and Vermont is an increasingly important issue for New England. During this panel, participants will address a range of questions, including:

  • Who can participate in the job-creating benefits of the EB-5 program?
  • Does the H1B visa fee hinder the development of STEM programs for New England youth?
  • Will relaxing the rules for H1B visas help grow the local economy?
  • Does the sharing of immigration information make it easier for Canadian companies to invest in New England?

The proposed panel of speakers includes experts with a range of relevant expertise, including:

The panel will be covered by Fox Business Channel and moderated by Mike Nikitas, New England Cable News (NECN) anchor and host of “This Week in Business.”

We hope to see you there!

USCIS Responds to Typhoon Haiyan

November 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

Immigration-Typhoon-natural-disaster

Time after time we are reminded of the devastating impact of natural disasters.

Along with physical destruction and loss of life, these disasters impact a variety of different people and businesses. Typhoon Haiyan (referred to as “Yolanda” by Philippine authorities) formed off of the coast of the Federated States of Micronesia on November 2, 2013 and passed through the Philippines on November 8, 2013.

Recorded as one of the strongest storms on the planet, Typhoon Haiyan left a wake of destruction leaving thousands in precarious situations.

On November 15, 2013, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a statement reminding Filipino nationals of possible immigration relief measures, if requested. Understanding that natural disasters sometimes make establishing and maintaining a lawful immigration status difficult, USCIS has issued the following measures to ease the process for people affected from this disaster:

  • Change or extension of nonimmigrant status for an individual currently in the United States, even when the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired;
  • Extension of certain grants of parole made by USCIS;
  • Extension of certain grants of advance parole, and expedited processing of advance parole requests;
  • Expedited adjudication and approval, where possible, of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship;
  • Expedited processing of immigrant petitions for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs);
  • Expedited adjudication of employment authorization application, where appropriate; and
  • Assistance to LRPs stranded overseas without immigration or travel documents, such as Permanent Resident Cards (Green Cards).

If you, a family member, or someone you know is experiencing immigration difficulties from Typhoon Haiyan, or have questions on what we can do, please give GoffWilson a call; we are ready to help!

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