The American Immigration Lawyers Association will be hosting a free workshop on September 19, 2015 at various sites around the country.  The workshop will be providing assistance to lawful permanent residents who are eligible for naturalization. Each year, at sites across the country, AILA attorneys and other stakeholders provide assistance to lawful permanent residents eligible for naturalization.  Last year, AILA and its partner “ya es hora ¡Ciudadanía!” held more than 50 naturalization clinics in 22 states and the District of Columbia serving thousands of immigrants who aspired to become citizens. We will provide more updates to our community as they become available. For more information about the event please contact AILA’s Pro Bono department probono@aila.org.

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In order to alleviate the workload received by the Vermont Service Center, USCIS recently announced that some cases normally processed at the Vermont Service Center will be transferred to the California Service Center. Cases that may be affected include I-130 petitions for alien relatives and I-751 petitions to remove the conditions on permanent residence.

For cases that are transferred to the CSC, USCIS will issue applicants a receipt notice confirming the transfer of their application. The transfer notice will include the date of transfer and the new location where the application will be processed. The receipt number identifying your application will remain unchanged. There may be a slight delay in the processing time for cases that are transferred to a new location.

CIS has clarified that the filing location for I-130 and I-751 applications will remain the same and applicants should continue to follow the form instructions before filing their applications with CIS.

Applicants can check the status of their applications by navigating to the CIS website and entering their receipt number in the Case Status Online system. Applicants are also encouraged to continue to check the processing times published on the CIS website for the California Service Center or by calling the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283. If your application is outside of the normal processing time you should submit an e-Request inquiry on the CIS website or by calling the NCSC. When submitting the e-Request by telephone you must have your receipt number on hand and notify the customer service representative that your application has been transferred to a new location.

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In this blog we are answering 5 of your frequently asked questions in detail. Please remember that every case and every story is different and unique. You should not compare your situation to anyone else’s. We hope that our answers will provide you with further guidance while you embark on your immigration journey. For any further questions call our office for a free legal consultation. We thank you for your continued trust in our law office.

Q: I would like to understand if my case has any possibility of success. I am a Mexican citizen, my mother is a US Citizen. Years back she began the immigration process for me, but lost a notification due to a change of address. The whole process stopped. We both talked and would like to reinstate the process, can you please assist?

A: Thank you for your question. Did you save a copy of the case file that was mailed to CIS? It is important for an attorney to first evaluate your application to make sure you sent all necessary documentation along with your application. You will also need to provide copies of your receipt notices with your corresponding receipt numbers. It may be that you may have received a request for additional evidence. If you failed to change your address with CIS or if you failed to respond to CIS within the required timeframe you will need to reinstate your application. Our office has experience reinstating applications with CIS however the process can be time consuming. In some cases it is better to re-file to save time. If you have criminal history, have been deported, or detained these factors will have a profound impact on the success of your application. To determine the best strategy for you please contact our office.

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On August 12, 2015, U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle vacated the Department of Homeland Security’s 17-month STEM OPT Extension program that has been in existence since 2008. But because an immediate vacatur of the STEM OPT program would cause “substantial hardship” to thousands of F-1 students and create a “major labor disruption” for technology employers, the court allows the program to stay valid till February 12, 2016 and gives DHS in the next 6 months to issue a new rule and complete its notice and comment obligations by providing the public an opportunity to comment on any proposed rule.

For now, F-1 students with an approved STEM 17-month OPT extension remain eligible to work and USCIS should be still accepting and adjudicating STEM extension applications throughout the court’s stay of its ruling.

Any guidance or further action taken by the DHS and USCIS, we will update you via our blog.

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It is our pleasure to provide our readers with newly released statistics published by the Department of Labor’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification concerning the processing status of the PERM program and Prevailing Wage Determinations. The PERM graphic provides a breakdown for the review of applications certified during FY 2015 by the top 5 occupations, site states, industries, visa classifications, countries of citizenship, and minimum educational requirements. The graphic concerning the National Prevailing Wage Center outlines the determinations requests received for the H-1B program H-2B program, and PERM program FY 2015, breaks down prevailing wage actions, and issuance of prevailing wage determinations for PERM top 5 employers and occupations, H-1B top 5 employers and occupations, and H-2B top 5 employers and occupations.

PERM Graphic

Prevailing Wage Graphic

For more information please contact our office. 

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National Visa Center Blunders

On July 30th the National Visa Center sent out a notification confirming reports that applicants had been receiving letters or emails from the NVC on July 29, 2015. These letters and/or emails stated that applications would be terminated or that their applications were in the process of being terminated under INA 203(g) for failure to contact the NVC within a year of receiving a notification of the availability of a visa, even if the individual or their legal representative had been in contact with the NVC during the one-year period.

The NVC is taking action to resolve these issued and will send all affected applications a follow up email confirming that their applications are still in process.

Upcoming Congressional Topics on Immigration

On August 4, 2015 the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs will be discussing challenges facing the federal prison system

On August 6, 2015 the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary will hold an Executive Business meeting on the Stop Sanctuary Cities Act and Transnational Drug Trafficking

DOL Power Outage

The Department of Labor Website will be experiencing a power outage from Friday 7/31/15 to Sunday 8/2/15 with service returning on 8/2/15.

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By Yingfei Zhou, Esq.

On July 21, 2015, USCIS issued the final guidance on when an employer must file an amended or new petition when the H-1B employee has changed or is changing his or her job location.

Except the situations listed below, the general requirement is that an employer must file an amended or new H-1B petition if the H-1B employee has changed or is changing his or her place of employment to a geographical area requiring a corresponding LCA to be certified to USCIS, even if a new LCA is already certified by the U.S. Department of Labor and posted at the new work location. Once an employer properly files the amended or new H-1B petition, the H-1B employee can immediately begin working at the new place of employment. The employer does not have to wait for a final decision on the amended or new petition for the H-1B employee to start work at the new location.

Exceptions when an employer does NOT need to file an amended petition are as follows:

  1. A move within an “area of intended employment”: If an employer’s H-1B employee is simply moving to a new job location within the same metropolitan statistical area, a new LCA is not generally required, and without material changes in the terms and conditions of employment the employer does not need to file an amended or new H-1B petition. However, the employer must still post the previously obtained LCA in the new work location.

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We would like to inform our readers that on July 21, 2015 the Department of Homeland Security issued a policy memorandum which provides guidance to employers and H-1B applicants regarding when to file an amended or new H-1B petition following the case law, Matter of Simeio Solutions, LLC, 26 I&N Dec. 542 (AAO 2015).

The memorandum is important because it is used to guide all determinations made by USCIS employees including adjudication procedures effective immediately.

To read the complete memorandum please click here  USCIS Policy Memorandum

For more information please contact our office directly.

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It is our please to introduce our readers to Associate Attorney Yingfei Zhou, Esq who joined our firm in 2012. Attorney Zhou is an active member of the California State Bar, the New York State Bar, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

Ms. Zhou practices primarily on employment-based and investment-based immigration law. Ms. Zhou has experience in various aspects of business immigration, including employment-based permanent residence and nonimmigrant visas, as well as marriage-based immigration and citizenship matters. Specifically, she has provided counsel to clients in relation to employment in specialty occupation, nonimmigrant NAFTA professional visa, individuals with extraordinary ability and achievements, nonimmigrant trainee or special education exchange visitor visa, religious worker visa, E-2 treaty investor visa, waivers, applications for adjustment of status, employment certification (PERM) applications, motion to reopen/reconsider, re-entry permit, visa interviews, as well as extensive EB-5 investment immigration work.

Ms. Zhou received her Bachelor’s degree in Law (LL.B) from Zhejiang University, one of the top universities in China. She graduated with distinguished honor awarded by the Department of Education of Zhejiang Province and was editor-in-chief of law review of her law school in China. She subsequently attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, CA and obtained her Master’s degree in Law (LL.M.). Prior to joining the Law Offices of Jacob J. Sapochnick, Ms. Zhou has practiced in China for two years.

Outside the office, Ms. Zhou enjoys traveling, cooking, and spending time with loved ones.

Want to schedule an appointment? Please contact our office by clicking here. 

DACA Update

On July 15, 2015 USCIS announced that it mistakenly issued approximately 2,100 employment authorization cards to DACA recipients that were printed with a three-year validity period instead of a two-year period, following a court injunction prohibiting USCIS from doing so.

To correct the error, USCIS sent these recipients a notice of intent to terminate deferred action and employment authorization. The letter describes that the three year employment authorization cards received after the injunction, are no longer valid and must be returned to USCIS by July 27, 2015 due to a federal court order Texas v. United States, which prohibits USCIS from issuing deferred action for a period exceeding 2 years.

USCIS also issued about 500 three year EAD cards to DACA applicants who were approved before the court order was enforced. These cards had been returned to USCIS as undeliverable by the United States Postal Service and were re-mailed to an updated address after the injunction went in effect on February 16, 2015. Due to this, these 3-year EAD cards are also deemed invalid.

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