Proposed Increase in Filing Fees for Immigration Filings

On May 4, 2016, a proposed rule was published seeking comments on U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) raise filing fees for most types of immigration filings.  The rationale for raising filing fees is that USCIS is facing an annual shortfall of $560 million.  It has been nearly five years since USCIS raised filings fees in November 2010.

Proposed Increase in Filing Fees:

Below are examples of commonly used forms that would see fee increases if the proposed rule become final:

Petition TypeCurrent FeeProposed Fee

I-129

Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker$  325$  460

I-130

Petition for Alien Relative$  420$  535

I-131

Application for Travel Document$  360$  575

I-140

Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker$  580$  700

I-485

Application to Register / Adjust Status$  985$1140

I-539

Application to Extend / Change Nonimmigrant Status$  290$  370

I-765

Application for Employment Authorization$  380$  410

N-400

Application for Naturalization$  595$  640

For more information on increase in filing fees, email Gail@GailLaw.com or call 1-877-GAIL-LAW or 407-292-7730.

FREE in-office consultation – FREE Live Chat www.GailLaw.com

Copyright © 2016, Law Offices of Gail S. Seeram. All Rights Reserved.

Earthquakes in Ecuador, Japan – Immigration Relief

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is offering immigration relief measures for people affected by natural disasters, such as the severe earthquakes in Ecuador, Japan and Burma.

One of the immigration reliefs that will be available for those affected by the earthquakes in Ecuador, Japan and Burman is change or extension of nonimmigrant status if you are currently in the United States, even if the request is filed after your authorized period of admission has expired.  Also, for students, expedited adjudication of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship because of the earthquakes in Ecuador, Japan and Burma.  If the applicant can prove inability to pay based on a direct impact from the earthquakes in Ecuador, Japan and Burma then USCIS may consider fee waivers. (more…)

New Rules for Visa Waiver Program & ESTA

Under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), citizens or nationals of 38 participating countries (see list below) are allowed to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without first obtaining a visa. Travelers must have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval prior to travel.

New U.S. laws after the deadly attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, make significant changes to the Visa Waiver Program. The new laws add a dual national provision that requires citizens of those countries listed below to get visas if they also happen to be nationals of Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan.

Nationality can be conferred through marriage or birth and such nationality is rarely easy to renounce.  An Australia citizen born and raised in Australia may be considered Iranian based on father Iranian citizenship even though never visited the Middle East.  Civil liberties and minority rights groups pointed out that there is no international agreement on the rules of nationality and that many people are dual nationals even if they do not wish to be. (more…)

H-1B Filings Reach Record High

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on April 7, 2016, that it has received enough H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 visas for fiscal year (FY) 2017. USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption, also known as the master’s cap.

USCIS received over 236,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period, which began April 1, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. On April 9, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and the 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will reject and return all unselected petitions with their filing fees, unless the petition is found to be a duplicate filing.

U.S. businesses use the H-1B visa program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require the theoretical or practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, including but not limited to scientists, engineers, or computer programmers.

For more information, email Gail@GailLaw.com or call 1-877-GAIL-LAW or 407-292-7730.
FREE in-office consultation – FREE Live Chat www.GailLaw.com
Copyright © 2016, Law Offices of Gail S. Seeram. All Rights Reserved.

U.S. to Aggressively Examine Social Media Accounts of Visa Applicants

Our office suggest that all applicants for U.S. immigration benefit should think twice before they hit the “Like” or “Friend” button or post a status update.  Social media accounts may be scrutinized by Department of Homeland Security and may lead to a denial of pending immigration benefits.

As reported in the New York Times on February 23, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is looking to build tools to more aggressively examine the social media accounts of all visa applicants and those seeking asylum or refugee status in the United States for possible ties to terrorist organizations. During a congressional hearing earlier this month, USCIS Director León Rodríguez testified that most social media screening is currently performed manually by USCIS analysts. In the future, he stated, DHS hopes to find a way to fully automate the process of examining applicant’s social media accounts. (more…)

Abused Spouse can get Immigration Benefits

As March is Woman’s History Month, it is appropriate to celebrate the contributions made by women and bring awareness to programs that benefit women. One such program was created under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which grants victims of abuse legal status in the United States. VAWA benefits both women and men who are victims of abuse.

However, most of the cases processed under VAWA involve women and children who were victims of abuse. In general, if you are married to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (green card holder), have no legal status in the U.S. and are a victim of abuse, then you can self-petition for lawful permanent resident status in the U.S. (more…)

Winning in Immigration Court

Appearing in any court is a scary experience. Well, it is scarier for an illegal immigrant to appear in immigration court with the fear of being arrested and place on an airplane back to his/her home country. The most important advice an immigration lawyer can give is that the immigrant or Respondent MUST appear in immigration court at the designated date and time noted in his/her “Notice of Hearing”. If the immigrant or Respondent fails to appear in immigration court, then the immigration judge will issue an “in-abstentia” removal order – ordering deportation for failure to appear. If you are unable to attend a court hearing, write a letter to the immigration court or advise your immigration lawyer to submit a motion for a continuance. Once any removal order is issued, it is very difficult to file a successful motion to reopen.

(more…)

Immigration Raids target Central American Families

This past Christmas Eve, a nationwide immigration raids was announced and launched by Immigration and Custom Enforcement to remove Central American families and unaccompanied children with deportation orders from the United States. Today, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson released a statement on southwest border security, including information on this weekend’s ICE raids, during which 121 individuals—primarily from Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina—were taken into custody and are in the process of being removed. (more…)

Refugees in US is a Solution not a Problem

The U.S. has a proud history and tradition of admitting refugees in US who have fled from their home country due to persecution based on religion, race, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. The U.S. refugee resettlement program has welcomed over 3 million refugees in US from all over the world and the program should not be shut-down or limited due to terror attacks; instead, the program should be utilized more by the U.S. to demonstrate our compassion, generosity and leadership.

On November 13, 2015, President Obama addressed the G-20 summit in Turkey and stated the United States would continue to accept more refugees from Syria and elsewhere, though “only after subjecting them to rigorous screening and security checks.” “Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values,” he said. “Our nations can welcome refugees who are desperately seeking safety and ensure our own security. We can and must do both.”

How does the refugee resettlement program work? (more…)

New Security Changes to the Visa Waiver Program and ESTA

Yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security announced it will take steps to modify its Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) applications to capture information from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) travelers regarding any past travel to countries constituting a terrorist safe haven. In addition, steps have already been taken to strengthen the screening of those who are traveling to the United States, including security enhancements to the Visa Waiver Program and ESTA. (more…)