Policy Update: USCIS Includes Gestational Mothers Under the Definition of "Natural Mother"

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a new policy to include gestational mothers, using Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), under the definition of a “natural mother,” provided that she is also the legal mother at the time of birth.

Previous policy requires that a mother have a genetic relationship with the child in order to qualify as a a parent for purposes of obtaining immigration benefits.

What does this mean?

Under this new policy, a mother who meets this definition but does not have a genetic relationship with her child (for example, she became pregnant through an egg donor) will:

  • Be able to petition for her child based on their relationship;
  • Be eligible to have her child petition for her based on their relationship;
  • Be able to transmit U.S. citizenship to her child, if she is a U.S. citizen and all other pertinent citizenship requirements are met.

Last January, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) also issued a Policy Change Related to Children Born Abroad Through Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), which was applied retroactively.

#immigrationupdates


Tagged with:

November 2014 Visa Bulletin Is Out: EB-2 India Retrogressed (As Anticipated)

The State Department has released the November Visa Bulletin. As noted last month, EB-2 India retrogressed due to heavy demand. The current EB-2 cut-off date is now February 15, 2005, retrogressing from May 1, 2009 (a total of over 4 years and 2 months)!

Meanwhile, EB-3 (including Mexico and the Philippines) advanced by 8 months. EB-3 mainland China advanced by 9 months.

The State Department also notes that EB-3, except India, will continue to advance, while no forward movement is expected for EB-2 India, in the following months.

#immigrationupdates #visabulletin

 


Tagged with: ,

New E-Verify Tool for Employees

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) introduces myE-Verify, a new online tool which gives workers the ability to create and manage secure accounts when participating in the E-Verify program. It will be initially available in Arizona, Idaho, Colorado, Mississippi, Virginia – as well as the District of Columbia.

myE-Verify gives workers a free and secure way to participate in the E-Verify process by accessing features dedicated for employees, including Self Check and the Employee Rights Toolkit. For added security, individuals will have their identities verified through Self Check, in order to create a myE-Verify account.

myE-Verify introduces the following new services:

  • myE-Verify accounts – Allows employees and job seekers to set up free and secure personal accounts to manage the use of their information in E-Verify and Self Check through the available myE-Verify features.
  • Self Lock – Allows individuals to lock their social security numbers to prevent unauthorized or fraudulent use within E-Verify. Users can proactively protect their identities from being used by others to illegally gain employment. Self Lock is available only to myE-Verify account holders.
  • myResources – A section of the myE-Verify site that contains information in multi-media formats to educate employees about their rights as well as responsibilities of employers in the employment eligibility verification process.

myE-Verify accounts and Self Lock will initially be accessible to individuals in five states – Arizona, Idaho, Colorado, Mississippi, Virginia – as well as the District of Columbia. In future releases, USCIS will roll out myE-Verify across the country with plans for additional features focused on employees and job seekers.

#immigrationupdates

 


Tagged with:

CA Governor Signs SB 1159: Professional Licensure Eligibility

Over the weekend, California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1159, which authorizes agencies to accept tax identification numbers (TIN) in lieu of social security numbers (SSN) from individuals applying for professional licensure, and prohibits the denial of licensure applications based on citizenship status or immigration status.

Existing law provides for the licensure and regulation of various professions and vocations by boards within the Department of Consumer Affairs, among other licensing bodies. Existing law requires those licensing bodies to require a licensee, at the time of issuance of the license, to provide its federal employer identification number if the licensee is a partnership, or his or her social security number for all other licensees. Existing law requires those licensing bodies to report to the Franchise Tax Board any licensee who fails to provide the federal employer identification number or social security number, and subjects the licensee to a penalty for failing to provide the information after notification, as specified.

This bill, no later than January 1, 2016, would require those licensing bodies to require an applicant to provide either an individual tax identification number or social security number if the applicant is an individual. The bill would require the licensing bodies to report to the Franchise Tax Board, and subject a licensee to a penalty, for failure to provide that information, as described above. The bill would prohibit, except as specified, any entity within the department from denying licensure to an applicant based on his or her citizenship status or immigration status. The bill would require every board within the department to implement regulatory and procedural changes necessary to implement these provisions no later than January 1, 2016, and would authorize implementation at any time prior to that date. The bill would make other conforming changes.

Gov. Brown also signed two other immigration bills: SB 1159, which authorizes the creation of the California DREAM Loan Program; and, SB 873, which authorizes the funding of nonprofit organizations to provide legal services to unaccompanied minors.

 


USCIS Introduces Form I-9 Webinar On-Demand

On September 25, 2014, USCIS published the first Form I-9 Webinar On-Demand. Now you can watch the free Form I-9 webinar at any time. Choose the chapters of your choice or watch the entire 22 minute video in one sitting. You will see how to complete Sections 1, 2 and 3, best practices and much more.

#immigrationcompliance #immigrationupdates


Tagged with: ,

14 Ports of Entry Designated for Optimized Processing of First-Time Canadian TN & L-1 Applicants

Beginning in mid-September, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is optimizing processing for first-time Canadian TN and L applicants seeking entry into the United States under NAFTA. CBP has designated ports of entry that will ensure a more efficient approach to processing the high volume of TN and L applicants.

The designated ports of entry are:

1. Lester B. Pearson International Airport
2. Trudeau International Airport
3. Vancouver International Airport
4. Calgary International Airport
5. Highgate Springs Port of Entry
6. Derby Line Port of Entry
7. Alexandria Bay Port of Entry
8. Peace Bridge Port of Entry
9. Rainbow Bridge Port of Entry
10. Champlain Port of Entry
11. Detroit Canada Tunnel Port of Entry
12. Detroit Ambassador Bridge Port of Entry
13. Blaine Peace Arch Port of Entry
14. Sweetgrass Port of Entry

#immigrationupdates

Traveling on a TN or L-1 Visa From Canada? | U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Optimize Your Processing at these U.S. Ports of Entry
Beginning in mid-September, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is optimizing processing for first-time Canadian TN and L applicants seeking entry into the United States under NAFTA. CBP has designated ports of entry that will ensure a more efficient approach to processing the high volume of TN and L applicants.

 

Tagged with:

October 2014 Visa Bulletin Is Out: EB-2 India Retrogression Anticipated

The State Department released the October Visa Bulletin. EB-3 (excluding India and mainland China) advances by 6 months, while EB-3 mainland China advances by 5 months. The State Department also notes that:

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.

#immigrationupdates #visabulletin

Visa Bulletin For October 2014
Number 73. Volume IX Washington, D.C. View as Printer Friendly PDF. A. STATUTORY NUMBERS. 1. This bulletin summarizes the availability of immigrant numbers during October. Consular officers are required to report to the Department of State documentarily qualified applicants for numerically …

Tagged with: ,

Special Ebola Outbreak-Related Immigration Relief Measures

USCIS offers special immigration relief to Nationals of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, who are currently in the United States, in connection with the Ebola Outbreak.

Immigration relief measures that may be available if requested include:

• Change or extension of nonimmigrant status for an individual currently in the United States, even if the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired;

• Extension of certain grants of parole made by USCIS;

• Expedited adjudication and approval, where possible, of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship;

• Expedited processing of immigrant petitions for immediate relatives (currently in the United States) of U.S. citizens;

• Expedited adjudication of employment authorization applications, where appropriate; and

• Consideration for waiver of fees associated with USCIS benefit applications.

#immigrationupdates

Ebola Outbreak-related Immigration Relief Measures to Nationals of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone Currently in the United States | USCIS

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is closely monitoring the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. USCIS offers relief measures to nationals of those three countries who are currently in the United States. Immigration relief measures that may be available if requested include: …
 

Tagged with:

UPDATE: DOS and CBP Issue Procedures to Facilitate Travel for Visa Applicants Affected by CCD Outages

Following the global systems-wide “crash” of the State Department’s (DOS) Consular Consolidated Database (CCD) (a system critical to visa issuance operations), there have been widespread delays in nonimmigrant visa issuance worldwide. As a result, in conjunction with the DOS, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has indicated that in order to ease the situation, it will exercise its legal authority to waive nonimmigrant visa requirements for admission on a case-by-case basis.

CBP and DOS have provided the following information regarding the procedures that are being put in place to assist individuals who have applied for but have not been issued nonimmigrant visas due to ongoing CCD problems:

=> A nonimmigrant visa applicant whose U.S. travel is urgent because it either involves an "emergency" or impacts U.S. national interests, may request consideration for special travel permission to the United States if their visa issuance is delayed as a result CCD systems problems.

"Emergencies" in this instance include urgent humanitarian travel and life-and-death situations.

Upcoming business engagements and U.S. employment needs are not typically considered humanitarian emergencies and likely will not be considered as such in most cases. They may, however, be considered on a case-by-case basis.

=> DOS and CBP joint task force teams will confer on a 24/7 basis, regarding individual emergency travel requests in order to process such requests as expeditiously as possible.

=> Travel permission, if approved jointly by DOS and CBP, will be facilitated by DOS. The consular post that accepted the visa application will release the traveler's passport and will issue a transportation letter, which can be presented to common carriers to allow boarding of international U.S.-bound flights. Upon arrival to a U.S. port of entry and presentation of the transportation letter, CBP will execute an I-193 application to waive the nonimmigrant visa requirement for admission. This will include waiving the $585 processing fee for the I-193.

=> Individuals requesting emergency travel must have a pending visa application with DOS, and the visa must be issuable but for CCD system problems. Applicants who have been issued a 221(g) notice indicating pending administrative processing on their visa applications are not eligible to request emergency travel accommodations.

=> DOS may not directly inform visa applicants whether or not the delay in visa issuance is the result of CCD problems. Those who have emergency U.S. travel needs should affirmatively communicate with DOS to provide proof of their circumstances. This can occur during the visa interview, or through e-mails after visa appointments to consular mailboxes or facilitation centers (whichever is the preferred method of communication for each individual consular post, as stated on its website).

=> If a request for emergency travel is not approved and facilitated by DOS, CBP strongly discourages petition-based applicants from traveling to the United States of their own accord using a visitor's visa or Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) registration. CBP sent guidance to all ports of entry regarding the above-referenced procedures and will only consider CCD-related I-193 waiver through its joint interface with DOS. Individual requests made at ports of entry will be referred back to DOS. If an applicant is found to have previously requested travel permission that was not granted by DOS, it will be a significantly negative factor and could result in denial of the applicant's I-193 request.

VIA +AILA National

#immigrationupdates

Information Regarding Ongoing Consular Consolidated Database (CCD) Performance Issues and Steps Taken
Consular Consolidated Database: Updates on Operational Status. We have made significant progress and issued most of the worldwide backlog of nonimmigrant visa cases. We are working to bring the Consular Consolidated Database back to full operational capacity. We continue to prioritize immigrant …

Tagged with:

Update on the Passport and Visa System Technical Problems

The Department of State (DOS) Bureau of Consular Affairs has been experiencing technical problems with its passport/visa system since July 19th. This issue is worldwide and is not specific to any particular country, citizenship document, or visa category. This systems “crash” has impacted all U.S. embassies and consulates, delaying the issuance of visas (e.g. E, F, J, H, L, O and P visas), and limiting the number of visa appointments that can be scheduled for visa applicants. While DOS has been working to fix the problem, the database is still performing below its normal operational capacity.
 
According to DOS, since the start of the operational issues on July 20 through July 28, it has issued more than 220,000 nonimmigrant visas globally, but would normally have issued closer to 425,000 nonimmigrant visas in that time period.

In response to the problem, DOS has posted this FAQ. 

#immigrationupdates  

Embedded Link

Information Regarding Ongoing Consular Consolidated Database (CCD) Performance Issues and Steps Taken
The Consular Consolidated Database (CCD) is still performing below its normal operational capacity. However, to give you an idea of the progress we have made, from the start of the operational issues on July 20 through July 28, we issued more than 220000 nonimmigrant visas globally.

Tagged with: