Visa Guru Charlie Oppenheim Agrees There Are Unused Visas

As many of my readers will know, over the summer there was much discussion about whether there were unused visas and whethey they could be recaptured.  Various newspapers had reported about 200,000 visas remain unused. The recaputuring of those visas would reduce the severe visa backlog.  Here is my article: Unused Visas- To Recapture or Not to Recapture, That Is The Question”

As a result, through AILA, I asked Charlie Oppenheim to confirm whether there were indeed unused visas.  Here is what he said (see below): Copied from AILA.  I want to extend a huge thank you to Mr. Oppenheim on behalf of myself and my readers for taking the time to read my questions, and to AILA for taking my questions to him.

________________________________

Member Question Regarding Unused Visa Numbers
An AILA member posed a series of questions following news reports of an estimated 200,000 unused visas which could be recaptured through administrative action.

Charlie agrees that there are approximately 220,000 family and employment-based visas that have gone unused, most of which can be attributed to the period between 1992 and 1997. Prior to the “dot com bubble,” demand was usually insufficient to use all of the available employment-based visa numbers in any given fiscal year. Since then, the increase in demand for labor in the IT sector and improved interagency processes have contributed to greater use of employment-based visa numbers in the fiscal year for which they were allocated. In the past, such unused numbers have only been recaptured through legislative action.

_________________________________

Now that we confirmation that there are 220,000 visas to recapture, what can be done about it? Legislation would be necessary to recapture those. This is because the law does not specifically discuss roll-overs in these categories (see my chart in the previous article).  However, I would ask the Adminstration to look at reinterpreting the law.  The law already allows for the recapturing of unused visas.  Recapturing those would significantly reduce the visa backlog which would in turn help American businesses hire skilled-immigrants as well as would-be entrepreneurs who are otherwise stuck ‘in the line’ preventing them from starting their own companies and creating jobs.

**Copyright 2014 by Watson Immigration Law. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Obama Executive Action on H1b Visas?

There is much ado today and in the last couple of days in the news that President Obama will change H1b visa rules to help keep talented skilled-immigrants in the US. Here is a link to such a story from the International Business Times.

I don’t want my readers to get too excited.  Obama cannot change the law. Congress needs to act to increase the visa numbers. I will remind my readers of my recent article on what Obama can do on his own. I copy the items below again.

1. Expand the H-4 EAD policy to all H-4 visa holders (not just to those waiting in the so called ‘line’ for a green card), just like E-2 and L-2 visas holders are allowed (this rule is awaiting a final decision).

Use the existing USCIS Entrepreneur in Residence program to expand favorable policies to founders of companies. For H-1B visas specifically, he can:

2. Eliminate restrictive policies that require  a startup founder to demonstrate an employer-employee relationship between himself and his company.

3. Allow company stock valuation and equity to be used to in lieu of cash wages in H-1B visas.

In addition, Obama can work with existing H1b laws to help high-skilled immigrants who graduate from US universities to continue working in the US in specific circumstances.  The Partnership for a New American Economy and other business immigration advocates, including AILA have given substantial guidance to the White House in this regard.

While these may be small changes, the impact could be worthwhile and significant.   I am hopeful that Obama will implement those ideas.

**Copyright 2014 by Watson Immigration Law. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

November 2014 Visa Bulletin Commentary

The November 2014 visa bulletin was released today. Here is what my readers are looking for:

For all countries except India, China, Philippines, and Mexico:  F2A category advances 29 days taking the priority date to 1 March 2013; F2B preference advances 62 days with PD at 1 January 2008;  F4 category advances 18 days taking PD to 8 February 2002;  EB2 is current and, and EB3 advances a huge 8 months (245 days) to PD at 1 June 2012.

For India only: F2A category advances 29 days taking the priority date to 1 March 2013; F2B preference advances 62 days with PD at 1  January 2008 ;  F4 category advances 18 days taking PD to 8 February 2002;  EB2 India sees great retrogression of 4 years, 2 months and 17 days, moving  PD at 15 February 2005 and EB3 sees 7 days advancement taking priority date to 22 November 2003.

I am sorry for those who see their priorities dates retrogress.  However, those who can file the adjustment applications should start preparing and aim to file on the 1st of the month.  Good luck.

We will report on the December 2014 visa bulletin when it is released.

Notes from the visa bulletin.

D.  INDIA EMPLOYMENT SECOND PREFERENCE

Increased demand in the INDIA Employment-based Second preference category has required the retrogression of this cut-off date to hold number use within the fiscal year 2015 annual limit.

E.  VISA AVAILABILITY IN THE COMING MONTHS

FAMILY-sponsored categories (potential monthly movement)

Worldwide dates:

F1:   Two to three weeks
F2A: Three to five weeks
F2B: Six to eight weeks
F3:   One to three weeks
F4:   Two or four weeks

EMPLOYMENT-based categories (potential monthly movement)

Employment First: Current

Employment Second:

Worldwide: Current
China:        Three to five weeks
India:         No forward movement

Employment Third:

Worldwide: Continued rapid forward movement for the next several months. After such rapid advance of the cut-off date applicant demand for number use, particularly for adjustment of status cases, is expected to increase significantly. Once such demand begins to materialize at a greater rate it will impact this cut-off date situation.

China:       Rapid forward movement. Such movement is likely to result in increased demand which may require “corrective” action possibly as early as February.

India:        Little if any movement
Mexico:      Will remain at the worldwide date
Philippines: Will remain at the worldwide date. Increased demand may require “corrective” action at some point later in the fiscal year.

Employment Fourth: Current

Employment Fifth: Current
The above projections for the Family and Employment categories indicate what is likely to happen during each of the next three months based on current applicant demand patterns. Readers should never assume that recent trends in cut-off date movements are guaranteed for the future, or that “corrective” action will not be required at some point in an effort to maintain number use within the applicable annual limits. The determination of the actual monthly cut-off dates is subject to fluctuations in applicant demand and a number of other variables.

November 2014 Visa Bulletin is Out!

The November 2014 Visa Bulletin was released today.  Here is a link. Usual commentary to follow shortly.

Important notes from the visa bulletin copied below:

D.  INDIA EMPLOYMENT SECOND PREFERENCE

Increased demand in the INDIA Employment-based Second preference category has required the retrogression of this cut-off date to hold number use within the fiscal year 2015 annual limit.

E.  VISA AVAILABILITY IN THE COMING MONTHS

FAMILY-sponsored categories (potential monthly movement)

Worldwide dates:

F1:   Two to three weeks
F2A: Three to five weeks
F2B: Six to eight weeks
F3:   One to three weeks
F4:   Two or four weeks

EMPLOYMENT-based categories (potential monthly movement)

Employment First: Current

Employment Second:

Worldwide: Current
China:        Three to five weeks
India:         No forward movement

Employment Third:

Worldwide: Continued rapid forward movement for the next several months. After such rapid advance of the cut-off date applicant demand for number use, particularly for adjustment of status cases, is expected to increase significantly. Once such demand begins to materialize at a greater rate it will impact this cut-off date situation.

China:       Rapid forward movement. Such movement is likely to result in increased demand which may require “corrective” action possibly as early as February.

India:        Little if any movement
Mexico:      Will remain at the worldwide date
Philippines: Will remain at the worldwide date. Increased demand may require “corrective” action at some point later in the fiscal year.

Employment Fourth: Current

Employment Fifth: Current
The above projections for the Family and Employment categories indicate what is likely to happen during each of the next three months based on current applicant demand patterns. Readers should never assume that recent trends in cut-off date movements are guaranteed for the future, or that “corrective” action will not be required at some point in an effort to maintain number use within the applicable annual limits. The determination of the actual monthly cut-off dates is subject to fluctuations in applicant demand and a number of other variables.

The Guardian Newspaper Discusses The Startup Visa & Mentions Tahmina

As my regular readers will know, the Startup Visa or lack thereof in the US, is something we feel very passionate about. Here is a compelling story from The Guardian newspaper discussing why the Startup Visa is necessary. Thank you to The Guardian and to Reporter Nina Roberts for giving the issue a voice.

Guardian newspaper still image

October 2014 Visa Bulletin Commentary

The October 2014 visa bulletin was released today. Here is what my readers are looking for:

For all countries except India, China, Philippines, and Mexico:  F2A category advances a month taking the priority date to 1 February 2013; F2B preference advances 2 months with PD at 1 November 2007;  F4 category advances 21 days taking PD to 22 January 2002;  EB2 is current and, and EB3 advances a huge 6 months to PD at 1 October 2011.

For India only: F2A category advances a month taking the priority date to 1 February 2013; F2B preference advances 2 months with PD at 1 November 2007;  F4 category advances 21 days taking PD to 22 January 2002;  EB2 India sees no movement leaving PD at 1 May 2009 and EB3 sees 7 days advancement taking priority date to 15 November 2003.

EB5 Note: There was much discussion in news reports about the unavailability of EB5 visas for citizens of China.  The October 2014 visa bulletin shows visas are now current and there should not be any waiting time.  The visa bulletin does not mention any warning issues for visa retrogression anytime soon but it is something that we will start monitoring to inform you.

If you are eligible to file,  it is important for those who are eligible to prepare filing your I-485 package as soon as possible.  Please note you cannot file until October 1st and can file while the priority date remains current for you.  Good luck to those who can file!

We will report on the November 2014 visa bulletin when it is released. See below for future cut off dates information:

News re. upcoming visa availability:

D.  VISA AVAILABILITY IN THE COMING MONTHS

INDIA Employment-based Second Preference: Increased demand will require the retrogression of this cut-off date, possibly in November, to hold number use within the fiscal year 2015 annual limit.

October 2014 Visa Bulletin is Out!

The October 2014 Visa Bulletin was released today.  Here is a link. Usual commentary to follow shortly.

Obama’s Immigration Delays: What Now?

So there we have it- a confirmation that any executive action on immigration will have to wait until after November when the mid-term elections are over. There are many news reports on it and of course, much anger has been expressed. What are we to do now?

Yes, our hopes keep getting dashed but unfortunately, we have no choice but to be patient. To all my clients and readers I suggest we remain optimistic (hard, I know) and continue to rally behind the POTUS. He needs public support and we are it.

I have to believe that there will be executive action on immigration reform, just not right now. Therefore, I suggest we make lemonade.  We use these next few weeks to our advantage, continue to push ideas to the White House, continue to see your Congress representative. If mid-term elections have candidates worried, tell them how important immigration is to you.

Continue to the be the 12th Man for immigration reform!

 

Will we see Executive Action from Obama next week?

The political winds of immigration keep shifting. It is rather hard to keep track.  The question of the moment is this: will President Obama announce executive actions on immigration reform next week?

A week or two ago, there were news reports that Obama will make announcements immediately after Labor Day weekend. But as the weekend is about to pass us by, the current reports suggest that he may be delaying announcements. Which will it be?

Reports suggest that the White House has not only been meeting with immigrant advocacy organizations but also business organizations.  That indicates the White House is indeed researching options and understanding its limits of possible actions. I have no reason to believe there will not be executive action.

The question of ‘when’ is now imperative.  People have been waiting for years for immigration reform. When it became clear immigration reform is dead because Congress will simply not act, President Obama did say he will act alone. That is indeed a promise the people are holding him to.

But as time nears the announcement- what may be giving the President second thoughts? The midterm elections. The GOP threat to shutdown government.  Oh, did I miss a threat of impeachment too? Whichever way you look at this, Obama is in a difficult position.

‘Deferred action’ is current law.  If executive action is announced, it will be expanding the criteria of people that can be eligible for its use.  But let it be clear- it is not giving a green card or permanent residency. Only Congress can do that.  Obama will not be doing anything illegal.

So, let Obama do something positive for the country.  The country needs it and it is time.

EB5 Visas- Unavailable for China

Copied from AILA:

Practice Alert: China EB-5 “Unavailable” for Remainder of FY2014: What Does This Mean?
On Saturday, August 23, 2014, at the AILA EB-5 Conference in Chicago, 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 practice alert provides additional information and discusses some of the
practical implications of the announcement.
 It is important to note that a China EB-5 cut-off date has not been established and the
Visa Bulletin for September 2014 (which states that China EB-5 is still “Current”) has not
been amended. Therefore, this is not a visa retrogression.

 “Unavailable” simply means that for the first time since the EB-5 program was created
almost 25 years ago, the maximum number of EB-5 immigrant visas which are available
for Chinese applicants for fiscal Year 2014 has been reached, while sufficient numbers
for all other countries remain to ensure compliance within the annual Fiscal Year 2014
allocation.
 A new allocation of about 10,000 visas will be available on October 1, 2014, which is the
first day of Fiscal Year 2015. As a result, there will be virtually no impact on most China
EB-5 visa applicants who complete processing within the next 6 to 8 months.
 Visas have already been allocated for individuals with EB-5 visa interviews at the U.S.
consulates in August and September 2014 so interviews will proceed as scheduled and
visa may be issued to qualified applicants. A technical exception to this involves
applicants with August or September “comeback” interviews (a “comeback” interview is
scheduled for individuals who failed to prove themselves as documentarily qualified at
an earlier interview). If approvable, they will have to wait until at least October 1 to
obtain a visa.
 Immigrant visas will continue to be valid for 6 months from the date of issuance.
Applicants should be sure to enter the U.S. before the expiration date of their immigrant
visas, as requests for replacement visas to accommodate travel to the U.S. outside of
that 6-month period may not be possible.
 USCIS does not request immigrant visa numbers from the Department of State for I-485
adjustment of status applications until the time of adjudication. If visa numbers are

unavailable at the time of review, USCIS will hold the application in abeyance pending
availability of visa numbers.
 USCIS processing of EB-5 adjustment of status applications will proceed. However,
issuance of immigrant visas to China EB-5 applicants will be authorized effective October
1, 2014, when the new Fiscal Year 2015 allocation is available.
 Applicants chargeable to China who are also cross-chargeable to another foreign state
(e.g., Hong Kong, Macau, Canada, France, etc.) based on marriage or other claim1
may
request that they be cross-charged in an effort to receive a visa in August or September,
but this is not assured as the annual allocation for all foreign states is almost depleted.
 The Visa Bulletin has not been amended (i.e., visa numbers are still listed as “available”),
so eligible China EB-5 applicants may continue to file for adjustment of status in August
and September 2014.
 Though other employment and family visa categories already have waiting lines, this
announcement is significant because this is the first time the EB-5 category has reached
the annual limit. The State Department appears to be providing a warning that the China
EB-5 category will become oversubscribed and require the establishment of a cut-off
date, possibly as early as May 2015, near the end of the third quarter of Fiscal Year
2015.
 The announcement is also significant because it provides clear evidence that EB-5
demand, which has increased 700% since 2007, will certainly result in the establishment
of a China cut-off date in Fiscal Year 2015.
 It is impossible to determine what the “date gap” will be when a cut-off is announced,
most likely in May 2015. There are estimates that the wait time will be approximately 2
years. Since most I-526 petitions are presently taking 15 to 16 months (Requests for
Evidence are commonplace), an additional wait of about 6 months does not yet appear
to be unduly worrisome. The concern is that once a cut-off date for China EB-5 is
established, the Department of State may have to retrogress that date, depending on
the number of petitions approved, and the cut-off date may not move forward every
month. With over 10,000 petitions currently pending with USCIS and about 3,000 filed in
the last quarter ending June 30, 2014, this wait time is likely to increase.
 Consequences may include age-out of derivatives, and complex issues regarding the
timing of job creation, the requirement for which is currently set artificially at 30
months from approval of the I-526 petition (at the I-526 stage), and 36 months from the
time of acquisition of conditional permanent residence (at the I-829 stage).

 


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