Friday, March 13, 2009

Visa Bulletin for April 2009 released - significant retrogression

The US Department of State has released the Visa Bulletin for April 2009. In family-based categories there is very slight movement forward. In employment-based categories, however, the dates actually retrogress (move backwards) for some categories. In many cases, the retrogression is 2+ years, unfortunately. EB-3 for China retrogresses almost 8 months, EB-3 for Mexico retrogresses by nearly 6 months, EB-3 for Philippines and all other countries moves back by over 2 years.

The "other workers" categories also show retrogression in all categories: China by 20 months, India by 8 months, Mexico by 2 years, and Philippines and all other countries by over 2 years. Immigrant (permanent resident) visas for religious workers are "Unavailable" in April.

For an explanation of preference categories and priority dates, see here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My spouse is "illegal" - what can we do?

Many US citizens get married to foreign nationals who are undocumented, i.e. not legally in the United States. The US citizens wonder if they can "sponsor" their spouse to get lawful status. The answer depends on various facts, so it is important to review the specific details of your case with an experienced immigration attorney.

In general, if you entered the US legally and overstayed your authorized stay, your US citizen spouse can petition for you to become a permanent resident. All the usual requirements to become a permanent resident must be met, including showing good moral character, completing a medical exam, providing an Affidavit of Support, etc. (see blog posts and website links below). However, if you entered using the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), you should file for permanent residence before the 90-day period of authorized stay ends.

If you entered the US without inspection, you will have a harder time getting permanent residence. You cannot complete the process in the US because you are ineligible for Adjustment of Status. You need to apply at a consulate in your home country. Your spouse will need to request a waiver of inadmissibility on Form I-601. Your spouse needs to show that it would cause "extreme hardship" if you were not allowed back to the US. "Extreme hardship" is a very high standard - it needs to be greater than the normal hardship that a person would endure if they were separated from their spouse involuntarily. This includes showing why your spouse could not move to your country to live with you there.

If you entered without inspection over one year ago, OR were ordered removed from the US AND attempted to enter again without inspection, there is no waiver until you have been outside the US for 10 years.

If you are an undocumented immigrant married to a US citizen, please contact an immigration lawyer about your case. Do not attempt to file the paperwork yourself, especially if you entered without inspection (EWI), because there are many facts to analyze. The date that you entered, any prior immigration paperwork that was filed for you, your criminal history, and many other factors are important. Also note that the waiver process can take months or even years before you get a decision.

Blog on marriage-based filing

Monday, March 9, 2009

Bank of America withdraws job offers for foreign students

The Financial Times today reports that Bank of America has withdrawn job offers to foreign graduates, because of the restrictions on H-1B hiring that are contained in the stimulus package. As reported in the Financial Times:
The recently passed $787bn stimulus bill in effect prevents financial institutions that have received money from the government’s troubled asset relief programme from applying for H1-B visas for highly skilled immigrants if they have recently made US workers redundant.......

Traditionally, about a third of MBA students at the leading US schools have taken up finance and banking jobs on graduation, with about a third of those MBAs coming from outside the US.
(I blogged about these restrictions a few weeks ago:

While the BofA plans might affect only 50 students, business schools are concerned that other banks will need to withdraw their job offers also.

Despite this news, experts predict that the H-1B quota will again be reached within days of April 1. We recommend that all employers with potential H-1B cases contact their attorney immediately, if not already done. My law firm started preparing its H-1B cap cases in February, to be certain that they are ready to be filed on April 1.