February 4, 2011

Employers to Face New Scrutiny as USCIS Implements VIBE Business Verification Tool

Petitioning employers could soon see more questions from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services about their commercial activities, structure, and employee population, as the agency begins a beta test of the Validation Instrument for Business Enterprises (VIBE), a program that will use Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) databases to verify employer business information provided in certain types of employment-based petitions.

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Important Updates in Immigration This Week

February 3, 2011

United States
Beware Diversity Visa Lottery Fraud

Foreign nationals should be wary of communications claiming that they have been selected in the State Department Diversity Visa Lottery.

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February 1, 2011

Government Strike Ends but Processing Delays Continue

Workers at the Israeli Foreign Ministry have returned to work after a recent strike, but foreign nationals and their employers are still experiencing long processing delays due to application backlogs that developed during the strike.

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February 1, 2011

New Employer Compliance Requirements for Temporary Foreign Worker Program Take Effect Soon

Employers should be prepared for new restrictions on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program taking effect April 1, 2011. Employers will be required to demonstrate past compliance with program rules and commitments in order to participate in the program. Further, some foreign workers will be subject to a four-year limit on employment in Canada.

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January 31, 2011

Government Agencies and Foreign Consular Posts Close Due to Unrest

The ongoing civil unrest in Egypt has caused government agencies to close, including those responsible for immigration procedures. In addition, many countries have closed the visa divisions of their consular posts in Egypt to focus on assisting their citizens evacuate and are advising against future travel to Egypt.

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Other Immigration News This Week


United States: White House Offers Immigration Plan - In the wake of last week’s State of the Union address, the White House has released a brief outline of its immigration plan. The document, and a companion post on the official White House blog, focuses largely on border security and worksite enforcement, but also touches on the need for skilled immigration to strengthen the United States’ economic competitiveness.

United States: H-2B Cap Count Updated - Finally, USCIS has updated its H-2B cap count for Fiscal Year 2011. USCIS has received H-2B filings on behalf of a total of 37,862 beneficiaries for employment in the first half of FY 2011, against a beneficiary target of 47,000. For employment in the second half of FY 2011, the agency has received filings on behalf of 9,591 total beneficiaries, against a target of 47,000. These cap counts were current as of January 28, 2011. 

United States: USCIS Issues Application Statistics for Immigration Benefits, Naturalization - USCIS has released new statistics on Immigration Benefits and Naturalization applications for December 2010. Compared to December 2009, immigration benefit applications increased by 11 percent, with approvals increasing two percent and denials decreasing 18 percent. Naturalization applications decreased by 14 percent, with approvals increasing 10 percent and denials decreasing nine percent.

Angola: New Legislation Prohibits Women from Taking Certain Jobs - The Angolan Government has published a list of jobs that women and children cannot perform, which may affect applications for new and renewal work visas involving female foreign nationals. The prohibited occupations mostly involve exposure to certain gases and chemicals, such as carbon monoxide, carbon disulfide, certain acids, benzene, phosphates and phosphatides, among others. Sponsoring companies should proceed cautiously because visa applications that may have been approved in the past may now be denied as a result of the new policy.

Brazil: New Work Permit Exemption for Foreign Technicians Working with Brazilian Academic or Scientific Institutions - Foreign nationals who will perform technical activities in Brazil may qualify for a work permit exemption if they will work in cooperation with a Brazilian institution of higher education, academy of science, or scientific center. To take advantage of this new exemption, a foreign technical worker must first obtain an administrative ruling from the Ministry of Science and Technology confirming that his or her activities will be cooperative in nature. The foreign national can then submit this ruling with a work visa application to the appropriate Brazilian consular post abroad. No filing with the Brazilian Ministry of Labor is necessary. Employers should note, however, that in many cases this new process may take longer than a traditional work permit application because of the time necessary to obtain a ruling from the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Canada: Post-Graduation Work Permit Program Now Open to Qualifying Students at British Columbia Schools - Effective January 31, 2011, international students who have completed career training programs of eight months or longer at select private educational institutions in British Columbia can participate in the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP). This expansion of the PGWPP will be in effect from January 31, 2011 through January 31, 2013. The PGWPP offers graduating foreign students the opportunity to gain work experience in Canada in their field of study by granting them an open-market work permit valid for up to three years with no restrictions on the type or location of employment and no requirement to obtain a job offer in advance.

Global Immigration News Links
  • Advocates from the business community argue the H-1B program should no longer be subject to an annual cap, in light of the fact that it took 10 months to reach the cap for Fiscal 2011, longer than it has taken in many years. "End Urged to Work-Visa Limit."
  • State lawmakers who promised to crack down on unauthorized immigrants with Arizona-style legislation are finding difficulty doing so, due to state budget deficits and potentially expensive legal challenges. "Arizona-Inspired Immigration Bills Lose Momentum in Other States."
  • Former President George W. Bush, speaking to a group of students, voiced his belief that the United States would arrive at a “rational immigration policy,” but expressed concern that the country is in a period of “isolationism, protectionism and nativism.” “George W. Bush Worried That America is Becoming Nativist.”

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