President Obama Renews Calls for Comprehensive Immigration Reform|
In a speech before members of Congress, business and labor leaders, and immigration advocates Thursday, President Obama called the current immigration system “fundamentally broken” and urged federal legislators on both sides of the aisle to work together to fix it. Though he criticized the polarization that has long characterized the immigration debate, he acknowledged the widespread frustration felt by advocates all sides, and pressed for a moderate program that would balance the concerns of both border security and immigration proponents alike.
The speech broadly sketched the essential elements of a reform package, including improvements to the current legal immigration system, enhancements to border security systems, continued enforcement of employer sanctions laws, and a regularization program for the undocumented, which would require applicants to register, pay taxes and fines, and learn English to attain lawful status. President Obama also praised a similar outline for immigration reform authored earlier this year by Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
Though the speech did not address business immigration issues in detail, the President pressed for measures to attract and retain foreign talent educated in the United States, arguing that flaws in our current system force “best and brightest” to leave the United States, taking their skills to other countries. “Instead of training entrepreneurs to create jobs on our shores, we train our competition,” the President remarked.
Given the already-full legislative agenda, an upcoming congressional recess and looming midterm elections, the President’s address is not likely to change the prognosis for comprehensive immigration reform this year, but could spur momentum for a full-fledged reform effort in 2011.
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Important Updates in Immigration This Week
June 29, 2010
Fees for U.S. Passports and Immigrant Visas to Increase on July 13
Applicants for U.S. passports and immigrant visas will be required to pay higher fees beginning July 13, 2010, when a new Department of State fee schedule takes effect. Notably, fees for employment-based immigrant visa applicants will more than double.
June 28, 2010
Supreme Court Will Hear Challenge to Arizona Employer Sanctions Law
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether an Arizona law prohibiting the employment of unauthorized foreign workers should be overturned.
July 1, 2010
UK Government Formally Begins Developing its Permanent Economic Migration Caps
The UK government has formally begun the process of developing permanent annual limits on the number of foreign workers admitted each year. The Migration Advisory Committee launched a consultation on June 30 that will study the impact of annual caps, which will last until early September.
July 1, 2010
Higher Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold and Stricter Standards for English Proficiency Test Exemptions for Subclass 457 Visas
Effective July 1, 2010, the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) for Subclass 457 visas will increase to AUD 47,480 per year, from AUD 45,220. In addition, Subclass 457 applicants seeking an exemption from the English proficiency test requirement must demonstrate an annual salary of at least AUD 85,090 (up from AUD 81,040) unless they are exempt from the language requirement on other grounds.
June 29, 2010
UK to Introduce a Cap on the Number of Foreign Workers Admitted Each Year
Effective July 19, 2010, the British Government will impose a temporary cap on the number of foreign workers it will admit through April 1, 2011. The government will also begin a 12-week consultation period to determine future migration limits for the country.
June 29, 2010
New Occupational Classification List Introduced for Several Visa Categories
From July 1, 2010, employers sponsoring foreign workers in several frequently-used visa categories must make sure that their offered positions fall under newly released occupational lists for these categories based on the new Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) descriptions. Employers must continue to use the current Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO) descriptions for applications submitted before July 1.
June 28, 2010
More Stringent Requirements Introduced for Several Permanent Residence Programs
Canada is tightening requirements for several of its permanent residence programs. The Federal Skilled Workers Program is now capped at 20,000 applicants annually. There is a new language proficiency requirement for applicants under the Canadian Experience Class and the Federal Skilled Workers programs. Canada may also double the investment requirements for the Federal Investor Program.
June 25, 2010
Visa-Free Entry for Short-Term Work Is Confirmed for Certain Nationalities
Citizens of Australia, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, the United States, and Venezuela who are coming to France to work for a period of less than three months are not required to hold a visa as long as they can present a work permit on arrival.
|Other Immigration News This Week|
United States: Government Moves to Block Injunction Against USCIS’s Controversial H-1B Policy Memorandum - The government has filed its opposition to a possible preliminary injunction against U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ controversial memorandum on the employer-employee relationship in the H-1B context (known as the Neufeld memo). The government’s filing is the latest development in Broadgate, Inc. v. USCIS, a federal lawsuit challenging the memorandum and seeking to bar USCIS from applying it while the lawsuit is ongoing. The suit was filed in early June by a group of employers and advocacy groups in the information technology consulting and staffing industry, who argue that the Neufeld memorandum violates the Administrative Procedures Act and exceeds USCIS’s statutory and regulatory authority. The memorandum takes strict positions on use of the H-1B classification in consulting and staffing arrangements, and for the self-employed, business owners and investors.
United States: USCIS Seeks Further Public Feedback on Proposed Revision of Nonimmigrant Worker Petition – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has extended, until July 30, 2010, the deadline for public comments on its wide-ranging proposed revision of Form I-129, the nonimmigrant worker petition. The revision would require employers to make declarations about offsite placement of foreign workers and attestations about compliance with federal laws, among other changes. Specifically, the petitioner would be required to state whether a beneficiary would work offsite under a contract with a third party, provide contact information for the third party and, if the petition sought H-1B classification, attest to the petitioner’s compliance with that program’s rules. The form would also require H-1B, H-1B1, L-1 and O-1A petitioners to declare whether they have complied with federal export control regulations, which obligate employers to obtain an export license if they will release certain kinds of technology information to foreign nationals. The proposed form would also require petitioners to acknowledge USCIS’s authority to verify the information in the nonimmigrant petition by any means the agency deems appropriate, including through on-site inspections. Comments on the proposed form can be submitted through http://www.regulations.gov.
United States: Puerto Rico Extends Validity of Birth Certificates – The Government of Puerto Rico has decided to postpone its plan to invalidate Puerto Rican birth certificates that were issued before July 1, 2010. Individuals born in Puerto Rico before that date will now have until September 30, 2010 to apply for a reissued birth certificate, though Puerto Rico will begin to issue the new, more secure certificates as of July 1. The Department of State has announced that it will continue to accept Puerto Rican birth certificates for U.S. passport applications until further notice, but it is not yet clear how other government agencies plan to address the issue. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has not announced how it will treat pre-July 1, 2010 birth certificates that are submitted with immigration filings or whether such birth certificates will be acceptable documents for purposes of Form I-9 employment eligibility verification.
United States: USCIS Reports Increase in FY 2011 H-1B Cap Filings - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reports a small uptick in H-1B cap filings, according to the agency’s latest statistics. As of June 25, the agency had received 23,500 cases against the 65,000 standard H-1B cap and 10,000 filings against the cap exemption of 20,000 for holders of U.S. advanced degrees, for a total of 33,500 filings. This is an increase of 900 cap-subject petitions since the last count on June 18.
United States: USCIS Updates H-2B Numbers for the Second Half of FY 2010 - As of June 25, USCIS had received H-2B filings on behalf of 28,741 H-2B beneficiaries for the second half of the current fiscal year, against a beneficiary target of 47,000 for the period. Of these, 27,290 beneficiaries had been approved and 1,451 were pending.
United States: DOL Updates Prevailing Wage Data - The Department of Labor's Online Wage Library (OWL) has been updated with new Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) wage data valid from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011. OES data is a source of prevailing wage information for several immigration programs, including permanent labor certifications and labor condition applications for the H-1B, H-1B1 and E-3 programs. If a prevailing wage determination is based on OWL, DOL regulations require use of the latest published wage data. Requests for prevailing wage determinations that were filed with DOL’s National Prevailing Wage and Helpdesk Center and were pending as of July 1 will be based on the new wage data.
United States: DOL Announces Public Online Tool for H-2A Job Orders - The Department of Labor has announced that on July 8 it will launch the National Electronic Job Registry, an online database that will allow the public to search for and retrieve job orders relating to temporary labor certification applications for agricultural workers in the H-2A program. As a public web-based tool, the Job Registry is designed to improve public access to H-2A job orders. DOL did not announce whether this tool will be extended to other labor certification programs in the future, but such an expansion remains a possibility.
Belgium: Police Clearance Requirements Eased for Long-Stay Visa Applicants - Applicants for Belgian employment-based long-stay visas now need only submit police clearance certificates covering the twelve months preceding their application, not the five preceding years that was previously required. The same applies for their accompanying family members who are older than 18 years of age. Note that while the Belgian government has notified all of its consular posts of the new requirement, there are reports that some posts continue to require five-year clearance certificates. Please contact the global immigration professional with whom you normally work at Fragomen with any questions.
Canada: Three Pilot Programs Extended - Canadian authorities have extended through July 30, 2012 three immigration pilot programs that were set to expire over the next few months. The extended programs are the Alberta Pilot Project for Spouses and Common-Law Partners of Long-Haul Truck Drivers; the Pilot Project for Working-Age Dependent Children of Workers Destined to Ontario; and the Pilot Project for Working-Age Dependent Children of Workers Destined to Alberta.
Israel: Consular Posts in Turkey Reopen - All Israeli consular posts in Turkey have reopened for normal business. Israel closed its posts in Turkey several weeks ago, following the Gaza blockade conflict. Now that the consular posts have reopened, normal visa services for Israel are again available in Turkey.
Global Immigration News Links:
- A piece from the New York Times' Week in Review discusses the wide-ranging effects of global migration through out the world. "Global Migration: A World Ever More on the Move."
- The New York Times reports on criticisms from the governors of Texas and Arizona to President Obama's recently announced border security plans. "Governors Criticize Border Plan." These governors argue that more National Guard troops are necessary along the U.S./Mexico border, despite reports that the border is now more fortified than ever, with far more agents on patrol and more fences, barriers and technology protections.