New biometrics ACS office opening in Saipan in March 2009

February 28, 2009

A new Application Support Center (ASC) is scheduled to start operations March 2, 2009 in Garapan, Saipan in the Common Wealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), according to a USCIS press release.

The new center will allow the people to provide their fingerprints and other biometrics without having to travel to Guam or the United States.

In addition to the traditional function of fingerprinting services, people will be able to make appointments through the USCIS website (www.uscis.gov) to see an Information Officer at the ASC for general immigration questions.

The customer service line (800) 375- 5283 is also now accessible toll-free from the Commonwealth.

In CNMI, U.S. immigration law currently only applies to immediate relatives of U.S. Citizens. Come June 1, 2009, when the transition period is scheduled to being, U.S. immigration law in general will be applied to the CNMI, according to USCIS.

On May 8, 2008, President Bush signed into law Public Law 110-229, the Consolidated Natural Resources Act (CNRA) of 2008.  Title VII of this law amended P.L. 94-241, the Act approving the Covenant to Establish a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Political Union with the United States.  Title VII extends certain provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to the CNMI for the first time in history, according to USCIS.

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Houses Approves EB-5 Regional Center Extension to Sept. 30; Senate Now Considering Bill

February 27, 2009

An appropriations measure containing a short-term extension of the EB-5 Regional Program has passed the House and was sent to the Senate for consideration, AILA has announced.

The House of Representatives passed the Fiscal 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill (H.R. 1105) on Wednesday, which included a provision that would extend the EB-5 regional center program through September 30, 2009.

The bill must jump through additonal hurdles before it goes into effect and the final product is still subject to change.

The measure also included an extension of the controversial Basic Pilot (E-Verify) program through the end of September.


I-140 Premium Processing Program Expanded Starting March 2, 2009

February 25, 2009

Effective March 2, 2009, USCIS has announced it will begin accepting premium processing for I-140 petitions for foreign nationals who meet certain conditions.

USCIS has announced it will expand its premium processing service to include I-140 beneficiaries who:

  • Have reached the sixth-year statutory limitation of their H-1B stay, or will reach the end of their sixth year of H-1B stay within 60 days of filing;
  •  Are only eligible for a further H-1B extension under section 104(c) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 (AC21); and 
  • Are ineligible to extend their H-1B status under section 106(a) of AC21.

“H-1B Legal Rights”: Employees Among Those Charged in Recent H-1B and Green Card Fraud Bust

February 25, 2009

While the recent H-1B and green card fraud bust has been applauded for focusing attention on abusive and exploitative H-1B employers and “bodyshops,” short shrift has been given to the fact that several H-1B employees were also indicted for their alleged participation in the scheme.

Of the 11 people arrested last week, eight were employees. The employees were indicted as co-conspirators based on their alleged role in obtaining H-1B visas and seeking permanent residency by fraud, according to redacted indictments filed in U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Iowa.

The H-1B employees are accused of the following legal violations:

  • Conspiring with their employers to obtain by fraud H-1B visas and permanent residency by falsely claiming they lived and worked in Iowa when in fact they were living and working in other states. 18 USC 371
  • Mail fraud for stating on tax and/or immigration documents they lived and worked in Iowa when they actually did not. 18 USC 1341, 18 USC 1342

These employees may not have originally devised the alleged scheme -in fact, they may well have been talked into it by their employers against their better judgment-but the pressure the employees may have felt does not excuse violations of the laws.

Are you worried about finding yourself in this same situation? In this article we discuss the charges and the laws at issue to help explain why these employees were arrested and what steps you can take to protect yourself and your status.

Read the rest of this article on our companion blog  H-1B Legal Rights here.