As of March 21, 2011, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, otherwise known as ICE, has temporarily stopped all removal of Japanese nationals from the United States. ICE also states that they will provide updates as the situation develops.
ICE of course is reacting to the terrible earthquake and tsunami that recently hit Japan. ICE also took the same action in the beginning of 2010 for Haitian nationals when there was a disaster in Haiti. At that time ICE stopped removal of all Haitian nationals. However, recently there are news developments that Haitian nationals with severe criminal convictions in the U.S. are being sent back to Haiti. As a result, we can keep in mind that the suspension of removal of Japanese nationals is possibly only temporary.
It is that time of year again when all H-1B applicants can file their H-1B visa. Please note that although you can file on April 1, 2011, the visa start date cannot be any earlier than October 1, 2011.
This may present a problem for some people that have a visa that expires in May 2011, for example, and want to remain in the U.S. until their H-1B visa is approved, etc. The problem is that all applicants in the U.S. need an underlying visa from April 1, 2011 until the end of September. If this is not the case, then USCIS may approve the H-1B visa but deny the change of status request.
The only exception to this is that all student visa holders have protection under the “cap gap” rule, which means that as long as they apply before the date of expiration on the I-20, then USCIS will consider them to be in status while their H-1B is pending. However, the applicant must have been complying with the full terms of their student visa.
The above rules are general rules and employment based visas are extremely complex. If you are applying for an H-1B visa, please consult with an immigration attorney for assistance so that you can remain in legal status here in the U.S.
To begin, the thoughts and prayers of the member of our office go out to the people of Japan and all Japanese nationals and naturalized citizens here who have family and friends in Japan. We are sorrowful as we see the horrifying images.
USCIS has thankfully issued a news release explaining the help that they can offer Japanese nationals that are here in the U.S. The link is provided below for details straight from the USCIS website.
The USCIS News Release states that the USCIS will allow an additional 30 days for all nationals of Japan who are here in the U.S. on lawful stay that is about to expire. For exact details and procedures that must be followed, please refer to the following link:
Again, please note that it is not advised that Japanese nationals overstay their visa for fear of returning to Japan. The attached news release provides specific steps that have to be taken before USCIS can help the nationals of Japan here in the U.S.
As a final note, I am so grateful that USCIS has really helped the nationals of Haiti in the past and now USCIS has again offered quick help, this time to the nationals of Japan here in the U.S.
Putting an end to the debate about whether people that enter the U.S. through the Visa Waiver program and ESTA are considered to be “inspected,” USCIS’ headquarters has issued a statement that people who enter with a visa waiver are considered inspected and admitted for adjustment of status purposes.
The statement from USCIS HQ states that USCIS itself has the jurisdiction to adjudicate any adjustment of status (i.e. green card) application filed by applicants who enter through the VWP. Of course who retains jurisdiction will change if the applicant is placed in removal / deportation proceedings for overstaying their visa.
USCIS also indicated that it intends to make a statement in the near future about this issue.
As of March 7, 2011, the U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai, India has indicated that they will no longer offer the services of handling H-1B and L-1 visas. Applicants for H and L visas may now schedule appointments at Chennai, New Delhi, and Hyderabad.
For more information from their website, please go to: http://mumbai.usconsulate.gov/applyingmain.html
Anyone with questions about this change can email the US Consulate General in Mumbai at firstname.lastname@example.org .
As I know from personal experience, many clients go to Mumbai to have their visa stamped and other services. Those that really need an appointment at Mumbai can send them an email to see what the options are and whether any exceptions can be made.
U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and Employment and Training Administration (ETA) recently issued a report about its strategic goals and policies that the organizations are implementing for all future applications being filed with their agencies.
Specifically, the report indicates that there will be a higher scrutiny for all future permanent labor applications, including PERM applications, that will be applied to all cases in 2011 and following. The policy that DOL has in place is to balance the hiring of foreign workers for permanent hire with the goal of keeping jobs for Americans.
I have already written several articles about this issue.
The following are links to separate articles: