EB-5 Visa Allotment
January 31, 2015
In the past, when China exceeded its 7% allocation of US Immigrant Investor Visas (EB-5 visas), Chinese applicants were permitted to take advantage of unused EB-5 visas allotted to other countries. But as of the last week of August 2014, the US State Department decided that the issuance of new EB-5 visas to Chinese applicants will be frozen or retrogress (move backward) until October 1, 2014, when the new fiscal year starts. At that time, a new visa quota of 10,000 EB-5 visas (for all countries) will become available for the next fiscal year through September 30, 2015. China will again be allotted only 7% of these visas but most experts expect that Chinese investors will be permitted to access visas unused by other countries in accordance with practice over the past 3 years. This means that the 10,000 visa cut-off date likely will be reached much earlier in the fiscal year ending September 30, 2015.
Certified Mexican Birth Certificates
January 30, 2015
Starting January 16, 2015, Mexican consulates in the U.S. will issue copies of birth certificates registered in Mexico. To obtain certified copies, Mexican nationals should visit the nearest consulate, present an official proof of identity, fill out an application and pay a fee of $13 per certified copy, and, if they have it, provide their Clave Única de Registro de Población (CURP).
Midway Airport Added to Global Entry Program
January 29, 2015
Last week, CBP expanded the Global Entry Program to seven additional airports one of which is Chicago's Midway International Airport (MDW). Currently, approximately 45 international airports have Global Entry capability and this includes Chicago's O'Hare International Airport (ORD).
Panama Joins Global Entry Program
January 28, 2015
The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has announced that as of January 12, 2015, Panama will join the select countries that are eligible to participate in the Global Entry Program, which facilitates entry into the United States after international travel for certain pre-screened travelers at automated kiosks at certain airports. Global Entry Travelers can bypass inspection by a CBP officer and instead proceed to an automated kiosk where they scan their machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card data, provide their fingerprint and can make their customs declaration. Other countries in the Global Entry Program include Germany and Mexico.
New Cuba Travel Regulations
January 27, 2015
Under the new regulations that were implemented on January 17, 2015, Americans will now be allowed to travel to Cuba for any of a dozen specific reasons without first obtaining a special license from the government. Airlines and travel agents will be allowed to provide service to Cuba without a specific license. And travelers will be permitted to use credit cards and spend money while in the country and bring back up to $400 in souvenirs, including up to $100 in alcohol or tobacco.
Changes to the Issuance of Correspondence by USCIS
January 24, 2015
Effective January 27, 2015, USCIS will make a number of changes regarding the issuance of correspondence. Specifically, documents will be mailed as follows:
Documents: Unrepresented individuals will continue to receive directly all notices and documents. For individuals and employers that are represented by an attorney, USCIS will now send original versions of all documents to both the applicant/petitioner and the attorney as a default procedure. For applications filed electronically, USCIS will transmit notifications to both the applicant/petitioner as well as to his or her attorney of record.
I-94 Forms: I-94 forms will continue to be sent to the Attorney of record. By default, USCIS will send such I-94s to the official business address of the applicant’s lawyer, unless informed that it should do otherwise.
Original Documents Such as Green Cards: USCIS will continue sending original, secure documents only to the foreign national, unless specifically directed to send such documents to his or her attorney. Examples of such documents include the employment authorization document (EAD) and the permanent resident card (Green Card/I-551).
February Visa Bulletin
January 23, 2015
The February 2015 Visa Bulletin has been issued showing significant advancements for EB-2 India, EB-3 China, and most other countries. To see the February 2015 bulletin, click here.
January 22, 2015
The Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Homeland Security removed Mali from the list of Ebola-Affected countries thus discontinuing the need for enhanced screening for people arriving from Mali.
CBP Drone Program
January 21, 2015
The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General recommended that CBP discontinue its drone program after finding that in the eight years it has been running, it failed to improve border security.
New Illinois Vehicle Registration Law
January 20, 2015
The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) has extended Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) for eligible nationals of El Salvador for an additional 18 months, effective March 10, 2015, through Sept. 9, 2016. Current TPS El Salvador beneficiaries seeking to extend their TPS must re-register during the 60-day re-registration period that runs from Jan. 7, 2015, through March 9, 2015. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) encourages beneficiaries to re-register as soon as possible once the 60-day re-registration period begins. USCIS will not accept applications before Jan. 7, 2015. The 18-month extension also allows TPS re-registrants to apply for a new Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Eligible TPS El Salvador beneficiaries who re-register during the 60-day period and request a new EAD will receive one with an expiration date of Sept. 9, 2016. USCIS recognizes that some re-registrants may not receive their new EAD until after their current one expires. Therefore, USCIS is automatically extending current TPS El Salvador EADs that have a March 9, 2015, expiration date for an additional six months. These existing EADs will now be valid through Sept. 9, 2015.
New Illinois Vehicle Registration Law
January 19, 2015
Motorists may drive without an up-to-date vehicle registration sticker under a law that takes effect Thursday, January 1, 2015. This law allows more online purchases. A motorist must carry an online-purchase receipt in his or her car. It is valid for only a month after the previous sticker's expiration.
Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program
January 16, 2015
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announces that as of February 17, 2015, USCIS will begin requiring the filing of an Application for Travel Document (Form I-131) and payment of its associated fee or approval of a fee waiver request from individuals who are applying for the Cuban Family Reunification Parole (“CFRP”) Program on behalf of a beneficiary in Cuba.
January 15, 2015
In an unusual weekend session, the US Senate passed the “Cromnibus” government funding bill, providing funding for most government agencies through September 2015. However, the Department of Homeland Security, which includes US Citizenship and Immigration Services and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, was only funded through February 27, 2015.
H-2A and H-2B Nonimmigrant Programs
January 14, 2015
The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) issued a notice listing the 68 countries whose nationals are eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B nonimmigrant worker programs. For the first time, nationals from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Madagascar, Portugal, and Sweden are eligible to participate. The notice is effective January 18, 2015.
Syrian TPS Designation Extension
January 13, 2015
The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) extended the designation of Syria for TPS from April 1, 2015, through September 30, 2016. The 60-day re-registration period will run from January 5, 2015, through March 6, 2015. Syria is also re-designated for TPS and the 180-day initial registration period for new applicants will run between January 5, 2015, and July 6, 2015. Additionally, DHS extended the suspension of certain requirements governing on-campus and off-campus employment for F-1 nonimmigrant students from Syria, effective through September 30, 2016.
Governor Quinn Issues Executive Order
January 12, 2015
As one of his last acts as Governor, Governor Quinn issued an executive order prohibiting state law enforcement agencies from stopping anyone solely based on citizenship or immigration status, or from detaining anyone based only on an immigration detainer or administrative warrant.