Category Archives: Permanent Residence

Don’t gamble, if you’re not prepared to win!

Every year, in the course of my professional practice as an immigration lawyer, I meet or know of at least 2-3 people who win the Greencard by virtue of the annual “Diversity Visa”-Lottery.    While this in itself may not be that unusual, I AM, however, astounded time and time again when I meet someone who either returned the Greencard after receiving it, or, in the alternative has no intention whatsoever to relocate to the United States.

On a near daily basis, I meet foreign nationals who would literally give ANYTHING to obtain a Greencard.  These people will often spend years of their lives,  thousands of dollars of their money, and many sleepless nights doing whatever possible in their power to get to that coveted lawful permanent resident card.

With this knowledge, I am completely dumb-founded when someone who actually won the Greencard-Lottery not only was notified as a “winner”, but also took the affirmative steps necessary to complete the residence process and take possession of the Greencard and then actually either voluntarily turn in the card, or never actually move to the U.S., because it does not fit into their life-plan.

I wonder why these types of individuals actually participate in the Lottery, when they know full-well, that participating in the lottery brings with it the chance of a “win”, and that they could likely receive 1 of an annually limited number of available Greencards…   Why play this kind of lottery when you are not prepared for (or willing to accept) the consequences of a possible win?

People should approach the Greencard Lottery in the same way, as they otherwise would when they make an offer to purchase something.   When the other side in an agreement accepts the offer, as it was made, then a binding legal agreement (i.e. “contract”) exists.   Once this contract exists, there will be legal consequences, whether one follows through on the transaction or not.

While I often counsel eligible persons to participate in the annual Greencard Lottery, I also advise of the obligations that come with the participation in the event of a winning-notification.   Persons contemplating participating in the lottery should not do so lightly and without sufficient deliberation. Keep in mind that when you play, you could potentially win.  If you win, you should be able to follow through and make the required relocation to the United States.  The Greencard requires by law that the possessor relocate his/her worldwide residence from abroad INTO the United States, and be physically present in the United States at least 6 months out of the year (some exceptions may apply).

If you have any specific questions or concerns about the Lottery, or the requirements of a lawful resident in the United States, please feel free to contact me.

USCIS to begin collecting new Immigrant Visa Fee on Feb. 1.

Starting February 1, 2013, USCIS will begin collecting a new fee of $165 from foreign nationals arriving in the United States as new immigrants.

The agency said it has worked closely with the Department of State (DOS) to implement the new fee, which will allow USCIS to recover the costs of processing immigrant visas in the United States after immigrant visa-holders receive their visa packages from DOS. This includes staff handling and the cost of producing and delivering the permanent resident card.  Applicants will pay online through the USCIS website after they receive their visa packages from DOS and before they leave for the United States. DOS will provide applicants with information on how to submit the payment when they attend their consular interviews. The new fee is in addition to fees charged by DOS associated with an individual’s immigrant visa application.

USCIS processes approximately 36,000 immigrant visa packages each month. Adoption cases are generally exempt from the new fee.

Talking Points on “DREAM Act”

THE DREAM ACT: A CENTRAL ELEMENT OF REFORM
The Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors (DREAM) Act (S. 729/H.R. 1751) is a bipartisan bill that would provide a conditional six-year pathway to legal permanent residence for certain unauthorized youth who, as children, were brought to the U.S. if they: complete high school; demonstrate good moral character; and complete at least two years of higher education or serve for at least two years in the U.S. military. The bill also would also repeal section 505 of the Illegal Immigrant Reform and Immigrant Reconciliation Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) that prohibits states from providing any higher education benefit based on residency to unauthorized immigrants unless they provide the same benefit to U.S. citizens in the same circumstances, regardless of their residence.


THE DREAM ACT CAN STRENGTHEN THE U.S. ECONOMY

The students who would benefit under the DREAM Act have been raised and educated in the U.S. and by allowing them to pursue a higher education, we are investing in the future of our country and our economy.
•  Communities, states, and nation would reap significant benefits from the DREAM Act. A RAND study showed that a 30-year-old Mexican immigrant woman who graduated from college will pay $5,300 more in taxes and cost $3,900 less in government expenses each year than if she had dropped out of high school. This amounts to an annual fiscal benefit of over $9,000 every year, money that can be used to pay for the education of others.
•  DREAM Act beneficiaries will make up part of the educated workforce needed to help the U.S. compete in the global economy. In our globalized world, their multilingual and bicultural skills, and contributions are more important than ever to the success and global competitiveness of the United States.

CURRENT LAW PROVIDES NO WAY FOR THESE CHILDREN TO ACHIEVE LEGAL STATUS

•  Due to the undocumented status of their parents and other family members, they have no available avenues for family-based visa sponsorship.
•  Few employers would or could sponsor them for a work visa due to their age and lack of work experience. Even if an employer was willing to sponsor them, the process takes precious years that these children cannot afford to waste.

STATES SHOULD HAVE THE RIGHT TO DETERMINE WHO QUALIFIES FOR IN-STATE TUITION

•  States are required to invest in elementary and secondary education for undocumented children, but can’t collect on the return. However, when states are ready to earn a return on their investment through a highly educated workforce, they are barred from offering in-state tuition to these children. The states (and their taxpayers) have the right to earn this return.
•  States should have the authority to determine how they allocate their resources. Such an educational investment pays dividends for the states by reducing the dropout rate, leading to substantial savings in criminal justice costs and the use of public benefits, and sharply increasing the taxes paid by those benefiting from this initiative. AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 09043072. (Posted 3/19/10).

THIS BILL REFLECTS A BALANCED APPROACH TO REFORM AND MUST BE PART OF ANY COMPREHENSIVE EFFORT TO OVERHAUL OUR IMMIGRATION LAWS

•  This measure would require children to have lived in the U.S. for a number of years and to have no criminal record.
•  This measure would require eligible children to dedicate themselves to learning English and succeeding in our educational system.
•  This measure proposes a one-time only fix that would not encourage illegal immigration.

This measure recognizes that the status quo needs to be reformed by granting children the means to continue their education and legalize their status. Such reform works for children and works for America.

USCIS Announces “Entrepreneurs in Residence” Initiative

USCIS Director Mayorkas announced the coming of “Entrepreneurs in Residence.” This new innovative initiative will utilize industry expertise to strengthen USCIS policies and practices surrounding immigrant investors, entrepreneurs and workers with specialized skills, knowledge, or abilities.

“This initiative creates additional opportunities for USCIS to gain insights in areas critical to economic growth,” said Director Mayorkas. “The introduction of expert views from the private and public sector will help us to ensure that our policies and processes fully realize the immigration law’s potential to create and protect American jobs.”

The agency will stand up a tactical team comprised of entrepreneurs and experts, working with USCIS personnel, to design and implement effective solutions.

Please Sign E-2 Reform Petition!

Zoe Adams, the driving force behind E2VISAREFORM.ORG, has initiated a petition with the White House in order to raise Washington’s awareness for the need of reforming E-2 visa regulations to allow for a path to permanent residency.

If we can reach 5,000 signatures within 30 days – till October 26th 2011 – the White House staff will look at our issue. We have to reach 150 signatures for the Petition to be shown on their website, so please take a moment and sign the petition…

U.S. State Dept. announces new DV-2013 dates and instructions.

In keeping with “tradition”, the U.S. State Department, which oversees the annual Greencard Lottery program, has posted participation dates and instructions for the upcoming DV-2013 lottery, which will accept entries between October 4 and November 5.

As usual, the lottery entries will only be accepted online at the official U.S. State Department site during the registration period.

For fiscal year 2013, 50,000 diversity visas will be available. The annual DV program makes visas available to persons meeting simple, but strict, eligibility requirements. A computer-generated, random drawing chooses selectees for DVs. The visas are distributed among six geographic regions, and within each region, no single country may receive more than seven percent of the available DVs in any one year. Visas are allocated to nationals of countries with historically lower rates of U.S. immigration. Nationals of countries who have sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States over the past five years are not eligible to apply for the Diversity Visa program.

For DV-2013, natives of the following countries1 are not eligible to apply because the countries sent a total of more than
50,000 immigrants to the United States in the previous five years:

BANGLADESH, BRAZIL, CANADA, CHINA (mainland-born), COLOMBIA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, ECUADOR, EL SALVADOR, GUATEMALA, HAITI, INDIA, JAMAICA, MEXICO, PAKISTAN, PERU, PHILIPPINES, SOUTH KOREA, UNITED KINGDOM (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and VIETNAM. Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible.

Changes in eligibility this year: For DV-2013, natives of South Sudan and Poland are now eligible for selection, while Bangladesh natives are now ineligible.

Entries for the DV-2013 DV program must be submitted electronically between noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), Tuesday, October 4, 2011, and noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), Saturday, November 5, 2011. Applicants may access the electronic DV Entry Form (E-DV) at www.dvlottery.state.gov during the registration period. Paper entries will not be accepted.

You can download a complete set of the official DV-2013 instructions (PDF) from our server.

U.S. Consulates in Copenhagen (Denmark) and Oslo (Norway) to consolidate certain filings to Stockholm (Sweden).

The U.S. State Department has announced that certain Immigrant Visas (leading to permanent residence upon entry to the United States), and cases based on the Diversity Visa Lottery (“Greencard Lottery”) will NO LONGER be processed at its consular posts in Copenhagen (Denmark) and Oslo (Norway), due to low demand to process these types of cases in those posts. The change will become effective October 1, 2011.

These types of cases, for applicants of Norway and Denmark (or third-country nationals residing there), will now be asked to process at the Consular Post in Stockholm, Sweden.

The State Department has posted a webpage to this effect.

PLEASE NOTE: Embassies in Copenhagen and Oslo will continue to process all cases currently underway until December 31, 2011. After December 31, all pending immigrant and diversity visa cases will be transferred to Embassy Stockholm.

“IDEA Act”, a Summary of this Proposal’s Major Provisions.

This post summarizes the major provisions of the legislative proposal known as “IDEA Act”, or H.R.2161 – Immigration Driving Entrepreneurship in America Act of 2011, as it is officially known. As stated in the bill itself, its purpose is “to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to promote innovation, investment, and research in the United States, and for other purposes.”

1 — Preferential Processing for “STEM”-graduates

Academics who hold degrees in the “STEM” fields will have some preferential processing parameters when applying for certain employment-related immigration benefits, including exemption from numerical caps and simplifying other visa processing hurdles.

2 — Incentivizing Job-Creation and Entrepreneurship

This builds on the principles and spirit set forth when the original EB-5 Greencard category was created. A new category of “EB-6″ entrepreneur Greencard will be created, not subject to numerical limits.

3 — Simplifying the Burdensome Labor Certification Process

Shorten processing and turn-around times by the U.S. Dept. of Labor. Offer optional fee-based expedited processing. Enhance communication between Employers and DOL during the “PERM” process. Streamlined processing for established employers who file PERM’s frequently.

4 — Modifications to Prevailing Wage System and H-1B to protect U.S. workforce

Measures will be implemented to strengthen the recruitment processes, prevailing wage determinations will be adjusted to better reflect actual market wages, employers will be “incentivized” to retain or recruit U.S. workers, and also for paying above-average wages. Additional safeguards will be put in place to protect workers from potentially abusive or retaliatory conduct by employers. Spouses of H-1B workers are to be employment-authorized.

5 — Modifications to the L-1 category to protect U.S. workforce

Modifications will be made to the existing L-1B “specialized knowledge worker” classification to now required prevailing wage determinations (under certain circumstances). Exceptions would apply in some instances where the L-1B worker is kept on foreign payroll. DOL will be provided with enforcement mechanisms, equal to those currently available in the H-1B classification.

6 — Existing EB-5 Employment Creation Greencard to undergo some modifications

Aims to set aside half of the annual allotment of EB-5′s for those specifically to be used by Regional Center projects. USCIS will revise its current methods of calculating direct and indirect job creation. A major improvement to the current EB-5 program would be the desired authorization of 2-years of added time on the Conditional Residency status if not all conditions could be met within the first two years, if unexpected problems or delays occur. Another welcome change would be the allowance of “concurrent” filings of I-526 and I-485 in the EB-5 and new EB-6 programs, as well as an optional “Premium Processing” to adjudicate petitions within 60 days.

No More ADIT-Stamps from USCIS (for now).

Recently the USCIS has been implementing nationwide changes throughout its Field and District Offices that essentially do away with the practice of issuing so-called ADIT-stamps to Approved Adjustment Applicants.

ADIT-stamps are rectangular red-ink stamps placed into the passports of Applicants who have been approved for Green Card resident status, as temporary evidence of such approval / status, while the actual Green Card is in processing.

Unless there is a bona fide “Emergency”, USCIS will no longer issue such stamps, since the overall card production and delivery (via certified Postal Service) is now within 3-4 weeks.

Beware of Fraudulent “Winner” Notifications for Greencard Lottery!

Following the PR nightmare and fiasco of the State Department’s horrendous blunder, a second drawing was conducted on July 15 among the entrants who participated in the Fall 2010 Diversity Visa Lottery (“Greencard Lottery”).   While this dashed the dreams of many, for others this represents a second chance to maybe hit that coveted “immigration jackpot”…

In the wake of the July 15 do-over,  there has been a surge of fraudulent “winner notifications” which looks essentially like this:

Fake Lottery Win Noticiation

This notification appears to notify participants that they have in fact won the Greencard, and that processing must continue through the U.S. Embassy in London, after payment of about $800 to a certain individual through Western Union.

DO NOT act on this email.  DO NOT make any kind of payment.

In order to determine the status of one’s actual lottery entry, the U.S. State Department has provided an online check: http://www.dvlottery.state.gov/ESC/

Please also see the USCIS’ online warning about this fraud:  http://blog.uscis.gov/2011/03/e-mail-scam-avoid-green-card-lottery.html