Republicans Speak Up About Immigration

In recent days, Republican rivals for president are speaking up against immigration and for rigorous immigration control. At a campaign appearance in Plymouth, New Hampshire, Rudy Giuliani promised major changes in how the U.S. manages illegal immigration:

“You need security at the border, a fence, a technological fence to stop people from coming in before they can be illegal,” said Giuliani. For those that remain in the U.S., Giuliani said, “they should have to read English, write English and speak English.”

Mitt Romney is taking a different approach, attacking fellow candidate, John McCain, in a series of ads in the state of New Hampshire. “McCain pushed to let every illegal immigrant stay here permanently,” stated one ad by Romney.

“The issue of illegal immigration may be one of the most emotional issues I ever encountered,” McCain said, of the topic of immigration. McCain, who, just a year ago, supported a guest worker program for the 12 million illegal immigrants currently in the U.S., has changed his opinion and has now shifted to a more protective attitude toward the hot topic. “There are about 2 million people here illegally who have committed crimes; those people should be deported immediately,” said McCain. “We can’t round up the other 10 million people and deport them all at once, so you are going to have to go step by step … [with] walls in urban areas, through vehicle barriers, with cameras and sensors.”

Immigration is quickly becoming a hot topic on the path to choosing a Republican candidate for president. Assuredly, we’ll see this topic remain in the forefront of the entire presidential campaign in 2008.

H-2B Visas Still Available for Second Half of 2008

According to USCIS, there are still a number of H-2B visas available for the second half of 2008. Nearly 17,000 H-2B visas have been approved thus far, leaving roughly 16,000 visas still open to reach the half-year cap of 33,000. Currently, about 17,500 H-2B cases are pending, with USCIS stating that they need about 50,000 total H-2B petitions to reach the 33,000 cap.

The H-2B visa category lets U.S. employers in industries with “peak load, seasonal or intermittent needs” to add to their existing workforce with temporary labor. H-2B workers usually work in the fields of construction, healthcare, landscaping, lumber, manufacturing, food service and hospitality services.

An Update on the Arizona Law to Curb Illegal Immigrants

All signs currently lead to an Arizona-based federal judge not stopping a law against employers who hire illegal immigrants. Judge Neil V. Wake of the Phoenix, AZ Federal District Court has said that he will issue a final ruling later this week and that business and civil groups that attempted to block the law were incorrect in attempting to sue Arizona’s governor and attorney general.

The law, which is slated to go into effect January 1, will penalize employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers. A first offense will lead to a suspension of their business license and a second offense will lead to the revocation of that license.

Supporters of the law believe that it will lead to an end to massive migration into Arizona, a state with one of the highest growth rates of illegal immigrants in the U.S. Opponents of the law, however, believe that it has already led to hundreds of undocumented workers leaving the state or being fired from positions after being unable to provide valid employee eligibility documentation to their employers.

In Hispanic Populations, Fluency in English Increases Dramatically with Each Generation

According to a recently published study conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center, almost 9 out of every 10 Hispanic adults born in the U.S. are fluent speakers of English. In contrast, the immigrant parents of U.S.-born Hispanic Americans reported a less than 25% rate of fluency in the English language.

The study, which gathered data from 14,000 Hispanic adults over a 4-year period, found, startlingly, that the level of fluency in the English language rose up to 94% in each generation. According to the study, “as fluency in English increases across generations, so, too, does the regular use of English by Hispanics.”

Hispanics are the fastest-growing population in the country; more than 43 million of the nation’s 300 million inhabitants are Hispanic and that number continues to grow. Further, Hispanics are at the forefront of the recent debates on immigration in the House and Senate.

Data from the Pew Hispanic Center report points to high level of assimilation seen in Hispanic immigrant populations in the U.S. at a generational level, something that may lead to a more supportive view of immigration issues and rights related to this minority population.

Nonimmigrant Application Fees to Increase on January 1, 2008

Fees for applying for nonimmigrant visas are schedule to increase on January 1, 2008. Worldwide, these fees for tourist, business, student and other nonimmigrant visas will rise to $131. In addition, this increased fee will apply to all Border Crossing Cards (also known as “Laser Visas”) for applicants from Mexico. Note that Mexican nationals under the age of 15 will still be able to pay an application fee for $13 for any visa that does not extend past their 15th birthday.

The Department of State has stated that application fees of $100, paid before January 1, 2008, will be accepted up to January 31, 2008. After that date, all worldwide applicants will be required to pay the equivalent of $131 at the time of processing of their application, regardless of when the application was originally submitted.

DV-2008 Winners Chosen, Notified

The Department of State has announced the winners of the 2008 Diversity Visa Lottery. This lottery, which makes available 50,000 permanent resident visas for individuals from countries with low immigration rates to the U.S., is held each year. This year, roughly 96,000 people have been registered and notified that they were chosen by the Department of State to be applicable for permanent resident visas. DOS regularly issues more than 50,000 notifications; a percentage of the first 50,000 recipients historically have not pursued their cases to the point of visa issuance.

Applicants for DV-2008 were chosen at random from more than 6.4 million entries received this year. The visas were split up between six geographic regions; not more than seven percent of the winners came from any one country. Please note that, during the visa interview, all DV winners will need to provide proof of a high school education (or its equivalent) or show two years of work experience in a job that requires at least two years of training or experience over the past five years. Please note that, if you were chosen, you should act quickly to start the process. Feel free to contact our firm to begin this process.

U.S., Canadian Citizens Will Soon Be Required to Show I.D. at Land and Sea Borders

Earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State issued a joint reminder that, as of January 31, 2008, all adult travelers entering the U.S. through land and sea ports of entry will be required to show proof of citizenship. This proof could include a birth certificate or a driver’s license.

This new requirement is part of a larger transition toward the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), which will establish a range of documentation requirements for all travelers entering the U.S. (including citizens of the U.S., Canada and Bermuda).

Right now, U.S. Customs and Border Protection are allowed to accept oral declarations of citizenship from U.S. and Canadian citizens attempting to enter the U.S. from a land or sea border. But, as of January 31, 2008, these oral declarations will no longer be considered proof of citizenship. All U.S. and Canadian citizens, age 19 and older, will need to show a government-issued ID. All individuals age 18 and younger will only be required to show proof of citizenship. Please note that passports will continue to be accepted when attempting to cross land or sea borders.

USCIS Notes an Address Change for Petitioners Filing Stand-Alone Form I-130s

USCIS, who is revising I-130 filing instructions, now advises all applicants filing stand-alone Form I-130s (the Petition for Alien Relative) to file their petitions with the Chicago Lockbox, as opposed to a USCIS service center. Petitions received at the Chicago Lockbox will then be sent to and adjudicated at the appropriate USCIS Service Center, which is based on the petitioner’s residential location in the U.S.

USCIS has created two separate post office addresses; each correspond to the appropriate USCIS Service Center that will process and adjudicate the I-130 petition.

Petitioners who live in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin or Wyoming are advised to file their stand-along Form I-130s to the following Lockbox address:

P.O. Box 804625
Chicago, IL 60680-1029

Petitioners who live in Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, U.S. Virgin Islands, West Virginia or District of Columbia are advised to file their stand-along Form I-130s to the following Lockbox address:

P.O. Box 804616
Chicago, IL 60680-1029

This procedural change went into effect December 3, 2007; however, Form I-130s filed directly to the Service Center will not be rejected. It will simply be forwarded to the corresponding Chicago Lockbox address. However, this may lead to delays in the processing of your application.