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October 2014
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DV Lottery Opens October 1, 2014 – 50,000 Green Cards to be Issued

By Vanessa Sanchez, Esq.

Online registration for the U.S. diversity (DV) immigrant visa program for fiscal year 2016 will begin on October 1, 2014 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) and will remain open until Monday, November 3, 2014 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Standard Time (EST). As in prior years, the U.S. government has made 50,000 immigrant visas available to qualified applicants through the DV program for fiscal year 2016 which starts October 1, 2015. Only one entry is allowed per person.  Entries may be submitted online at www.dvlottery.state.gov.

The U.S. Department of State usually selects over 100,000 applicants as “winners.” However, less than half of these “winners” will actually be issued immigrant visas. Many applicants are disqualified for technical reasons, such as failure to meet the strict eligibility requirements, or because their application was not approved prior to the September 30th cut-off date.

In order to qualify, applicants must have been born in an eligible country. Those individuals born in Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam are not eligible to apply. However, individuals born in an ineligible country may qualify if 1) their spouse was born in an eligible country, or 2) if their parents were born in an eligible country and the parents were not legally resident in the individual’s country of birth under the so-called “missionary exception”. Additionally, to qualify applicants must have the equivalent of a U.S. high school education, or two years of qualifying work experience in the last five years.

If selected, the “winners” must complete the entire process and receive their immigrant visa by September 30, 2016. There are no exceptions to this rule.

Attorney representation is unnecessary to submit an entry for the DV program unless there are complications. However, if selected applicants are encouraged to speak with an attorney as soon as they are selected. No “winning” notifications are sent so in order to find out if an applicant is selected, it is important to retain the submission confirmation page and number to check the status of the entry. Winning notifications will be available starting May 5, 2015 at www.dvlottery.state.gov.

If you have questions regarding your eligibility for the DV program, please contact one of our attorneys. If you do want to have our firm submit your application, you can also download our firm’s DV Lottery packet.  For more information about the DV Lottery, go to the DV Lottery section on our website.

Department of State Releases New Fee Schedule

By: Joseph J. Shepherd, Esq.

Beginning Saturday, September 6, 2014, the Department of State will charge new fee amounts for all immigrant visa applications, certain nonimmigrant visa applications in the E and K categories, and for J-1 waiver recommendation applications, among others.  The highlights:

Immediate relatives and family-based immigrant visa applicants will see a significant hike in fees . . . → Read More: Department of State Releases New Fee Schedule

China EB-5 “Unavailable” for Remainder of FY2014 – What Does This Mean?

By Bernard Wolfsdorf, Esq. (in cooperation with AILA’s EB-5 Committee)

On Saturday, August 23, 2014, Charles Oppenheim, Chief of the Department of State Immigrant Visa Control and Reporting Division, announced that, effective immediately, the EB-5 preference category had become “unavailable” for Chinese applicants.  This announcement was made at the sold-out AILA EB-5 Conference in Chicago during the . . . → Read More: China EB-5 “Unavailable” for Remainder of FY2014 – What Does This Mean?

Visa Bulletin Updates for August and Some Predictions for the Remainder of the Fiscal Year

By Jessica L. Marks, Esq.

The August 2014 Visa Bulletin is out and brings some exciting developments in several employment-based categories. The following major movement forward will take place on August 1:

The EB-2 category for those born in China advances three months to October 8, 2009, while the EB-3 category advances 25 months to November 1, 2008! . . . → Read More: Visa Bulletin Updates for August and Some Predictions for the Remainder of the Fiscal Year

The Executive Branch Proposes Reforms to Employment-based Immigration Rules

By: Joseph J. Shepherd, Esq.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) yesterday announced the forthcoming publication of not one but two new proposed rules in the Federal Register to amend regulations applying to both nonimmigrant visa holders and applicants for employment-based immigrant visas.  As previously reported, the first proposed rule provides employment authorization for some (but not . . . → Read More: The Executive Branch Proposes Reforms to Employment-based Immigration Rules

“Winner” of the Diversity Visa Program: A Fairy Tale for Many

By Vanessa Sanchez, Bernard Wolfsdorf and Naveen Bhora

On May 1, 2014 the U.S. Department of State announced the winners of the 2015 Diversity Visa program (DV-2015). Over 100,000 eager U.S. immigrants were selected and these “winners” will have an opportunity to have their fairy tale come true – a chance to obtain a green card.

However, being . . . → Read More: “Winner” of the Diversity Visa Program: A Fairy Tale for Many

Winning the H-1B Lottery is Just the Beginning of the Battle – The Fierce Fight over What Constitutes a “Specialty Occupation”

By Jessica L. Marks, Esq.

Now that the dust has settled from the mad dash to March 31, the receipt notices are rolling in for the lucky lottery winners whose H-1B petitions have been selected for the FY 2015 cap.  Since the lottery was held on April 10, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has begun notifying . . . → Read More: Winning the H-1B Lottery is Just the Beginning of the Battle – The Fierce Fight over What Constitutes a “Specialty Occupation”

As Faith in Congress Fades, the Executive Branch Takes another Small Step Forward

By Jessica L. Marks, Esq.

Last week, the White House announced that new rules will soon be published to authorize employment for H-4 spouses. Currently, H-4 status does not permit the visa holder to work in the United States, a restriction the Obama Administration has concluded runs counter to the goal of attracting talented foreign entrepreneurs and . . . → Read More: As Faith in Congress Fades, the Executive Branch Takes another Small Step Forward

MD District Court Decision Continues to Reinforce Inviolability of Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, Rights and Responsibilities

By Matthew Beatus, Esq.

In February, we reported on the implications of a decision issued by a federal court in New Jersey concerning Form I-864, Affidavits of Support.  In Shah v. Shah, the court held that a preexisting prenuptial agreement providing for the waiver of an immigrant spouse’s rights “to spousal alimony, maintenance, or other allowances incident . . . → Read More: MD District Court Decision Continues to Reinforce Inviolability of Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, Rights and Responsibilities

USCIS RELEASES UPDATED EB-5 PROCESSING TIMES AND APPROVAL STATISTICS –THE NEWS IS GENERALLY GOOD

By Bernard P. Wolfsdorf, Esq. and Robert Blanco, Esq.

USCIS has published its latest processing times from the new Immigrant Investor Program Office (IPO) for I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur applications and for I-829 Petitions by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions under the EB-5 Immigrant Investor program.  As of January 31, 2014, USCIS was processing I-526 applications that were . . . → Read More: USCIS RELEASES UPDATED EB-5 PROCESSING TIMES AND APPROVAL STATISTICS –THE NEWS IS GENERALLY GOOD