This week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a Privacy Impact Assessment update of the E-Verify program. In the update, DHS provides an update about additional information that E-Verify will now require from new employers that register with the employment eligibility verification system. This new information will be sent to Dun & Bradstreet, an organization that provides a range of information about businesses; the information will be compared against Dun & Bradstreet’s database to ensure that the new employer is indeed an official enterprise.
New information that will be collected include the following:
1) The employer’s DBA name, if applicable (Doing Business As).
2) The employer’s DUNS number, if available (a Dun & Bradstreet identification number). If the employer does not have a DUNS number, the employer’s address, phone number and other data will be used to clearly authenticate the employer.
3) The corporate administrator’s name.
4) The parent organization, if applicable.
5) The place where the employer heard about the E-Verify program (an optional field).
If Dun & Bradstreet is able to verify the authenticity of the employer, the new employer will then be able to automatically register for an E-Verify account. If Dun & Bradstreet is unable to verify the employer’s authenticity, the employer will then need to be contacted via phone or email.
In a recent annual report submitted to Congress, USCIS presented the numbers and characteristics of H-1B petitions received for Fiscal Year 2009. In the report, USCIS commented that the number of petitions received during FY 2009 had decreased by 15 percent, as compared to the previous year; the rate of approvals also decreased, down by about 20 percent.
Roughly 50 percent of approved petitions were for individuals from India and about 40 percent were for computer-related jobs. Additionally, the majority of approved H-1B workers were between the ages of 25 and 34. Half of the approved individuals received an annual salary less than $64,000; the other half received annual salaries above that amount.
The Department of Homeland Security has issued a number of requests for comments on whether it should revise certain forms. If the agency decides to revise any of these forms, it will advise the public when it publishes the 30-day notice in the Federal Register. Comments on any revisions will then be accepted during that 30-day period.
Forms for which requests for comments have been issued include:
Form I-363, the Request to Petition for Custody for Public Law 97-359 Amerasian
Form I-600/I-600A, the Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative and the Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition
Form I-698, the Application to Adjust Status from Temporary to Permanent Resident
Additionally, USCIS has issued 30-day extensions on the comment request period for National Interest Waivers and the revised Form I-102, the Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Document.
As of June 11, 2010, USCIS has received 27,778 H-2B petitions toward the 47,000 petitions the federal agency aims to accept for the second half of this fiscal year. This current count includes about 26,000 approved petitions and about 1,500 pending petitions.
Currently, there is an annual H-2B cap of 66,000 per fiscal year, with 33,000 allocated for the first half of the fiscal year (October 1 to March 31) and 33,000 allocated for the second half of the fiscal year (April 1 to September 20). USCIS will accept 47,000 petitions for this half of the fiscal year, a target number they believe will give them enough petitions to reach the cap.
On June 14, 2010, USCIS announced that the availability of a new version of Form I-90, the Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. This new version, which is dated 8/10/09, contains a number of new, more user-friendly features. USCIS comments that it will accept previous versions of the I-90 form for 45 days (until July 28, 2010). After that date, all previous versions of the I-90 form will be returned to the applicants with a note instructing them to use the correct, current version of the form.
Applicants may file the form electronically through e-filing or by mailing it to the USCIS Phoenix Lockbox facility at one of the following two addresses:
U.S. Postal Service:
P.O. Box 21262
Phoenix, AZ 85036
Express Mail/Courier Services
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S Floor 1
Phoenix, AZ 85034
Please note that if you are filing your form at the USCIS Lockbox facility, you may request that USCIS provide you with an email or text message notifying you that your application has been accepted. Simply complete and file-in Form G-1145, the E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance form, and attach it to the first page of your I-90 application.
On June 9, 2010, USCIS proposed to raise fees for immigration applications and petitions. These new fees will increase the average cost of an immigration application and petition by roughly 10 percent; there will, however, be no increases in fees for the application for naturalization. USCIS has projected a $200 million deficit for 2010 to 2011; the goal of these fee increases is to close this budgetary gap. According to USCIS, budget cuts of $160 million were not enough to manage the agency’s $2.3 billion in annual costs. The agency projects $2.1 billion in revenue without the fee increases.
Among the proposed fee increases is a rise in the cost of filing the following petitions:
1) I-140: Fee increase from $475 to $580
2) I-687: Fee increase from $710 to $1,130
3) I-765: Fee increase from $340 to $380
Comments on this proposed fee increase will be accepted by USCIS from June 11, 2010 to July 26, 2010.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced last week the deployment of the Remote Video Surveillance System in the Detroit Border Patrol Section. This new system is part of CBP’s Secure Border Initiative’s Northern Border project; the goal of the greater initiative is to use technology to secure the northern border against any illegal activity.
“The Northern Border Project technology deployment provides immediate capability to help Border Patrol agents expand their ability to detect, identify, classify, respond to and resolve illegal cross border activity,” said Mark Borkowski, Executive Director of the Secure Border Initiative. “At the same time, this deployment will provide lessons learned that will enable CBP to design better-tailored, longer-term technology options for the northern border.”
Each of these new security systems includes two day cameras and two night cameras, enabling 24/7 monitoring. Ten systems have been deployed in the Detroit region; an eleventh will be officially completed by the end of this year.
The United States and Mexico have again restarted the Mexican Interior Repatriation Program (MIRP), now active for its seventh consecutive summer. The program, which is a bilateral effort of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of the Interior, returns Mexican nationals found in the Sonora Arizona desert back to where they are from in Mexico.
First started in 2004, the goal of MIRP is to reduce the loss of lives caused by the smuggling and trafficking of aliens across the Arizona/Mexico border. Candidates for MIRP include persons who are identified as at risk and vulnerable to heat or victimization by criminal trafficking operations.
Under the program, Mexican nationals that are caught by U.S. border patrol agents in the Yuma and Tucson regions of Arizona are taken to DHS facilities and are offered the opportunity to voluntarily participate in the program. Participants are then returned to their home regions via plane and bus.
Over the past 6 years, more than 93,000 Mexican nationals have been repatriated under MIRP.
In late May, USCIS announced that it will continue the process of transitioning the intake part of a number of additional forms from various Service Centers to its Lockbox network. This transition is a part of USCIS’s larger goal to improve consistency and integrity in the form intake process.
Forms scheduled to be transitioned to the Lockbox network include:
- Form I-817, the Application for Family Unity Benefits (If you are filing this under section 301 of the Immigration Act of 1990)
- Form I-526, the Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur
- Form I-539,the Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (applicable only for those forms filed separately from an I-129 form)
- Form I-129F, the Petition for Alien Fiancé
- Form I-140, the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker
USCIS began this transition process in mid-May. At that time, Service Centers began forwarding these applications to the Dallas and Phoenix Lockbox facilities. In June, USCIS will post revised filing instructions for these forms and will officially announce the revised process.