This week in immigration, travelers and border authorities throughout the world continued to cope with flight delays and related immigration issues due to the Icelandic volcano. In the United States, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services updated its Fiscal Year 2011 H-1B cap statistics, which showed only modest increases in filings since the opening week of the cap period. These stories and other immigration news follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.
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Important Updates in Immigration This Week
April 22, 2010
USCIS Updates FY 2011 H-1B Count
H-1B cap numbers remain available for employment in Fiscal Year 2011, according to the latest cap statistics from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
April 19, 2010
Travel Delays Due to the Icelandic Volcano Eruption
Foreign nationals who are unable to timely depart the United States due to the Icelandic volcano eruption should contact their designated immigration professional as soon as possible to discuss options for extending their period of authorized stay.
April 22, 2010
Expanded Freedom to Travel within the Schengen Area for Long-Stay (Type D) Visa Holders
Foreign nationals holding the Schengen Long-Stay (Type D) visa now have the flexibility to make short trips for business or tourism within the Schengen Area without the need for any additional travel documents.
April 22, 2010
Changes to the Visa on Arrival Program
As a result of proposed changes to Qatar’s Visa on Arrival Program, nationals of up to 33 countries will soon have to obtain entry visas before traveling to Qatar for business visits. Immigration authorities recently clarified that there is no definitive date for the implementation of the new requirement, despite media reports that it would take effect on May 1, 2010.
April 19, 2010
Potential Impact of Volcanic Ash on European Travel
Travelers who are affected by flight cancellations resulting from the recent volcanic eruption in Iceland and have to remain in their host destination beyond their authorized period of stay are urged, at a minimum, to retain proof of their planned travel and contact their Fragomen global advisor with any queries or concerns.
|Other Immigration News This Week|
United States: USCIS Will Hold May “Listening Session” on Employment Verification Issues, Releases Executive Summaries of Recent Stakeholder Meetings - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is inviting stakeholders to a May 3, 2010 listening session on employment eligibility verification issues, including the I-9 process and the federal contractor E-Verify regulation. Meanwhile, the agency has issued executive summaries of its recent stakeholder sessions on the impact to the healthcare industry of the recent H-1B policy memo and on procedures and practices concerning requests for evidence.
United States: USCIS Updates H-2B Cap Count for Second Half of FY 2010 - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has updated the Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 H-2B cap count. As of April 16, 2010, the agency had received filings for 24,164 beneficiaries for the second half of the fiscal year. Of these, 21,514 had been approved, and 1,650 were pending. USCIS has established that a total of 47,000 cap-subject H-2B petition beneficiaries will be needed to reach the 33,000 cap for the second half of the fiscal year. USCIS uses the beneficiary target figure to account for cases that are ultimately denied, withdrawn or revoked, as well as cases in which employers actually employ fewer workers than requested. The target figure is subject to change. USCIS maintains its H-2B cap counts for FY 2010 at http://www.uscis.gov/h-2b_count.
United States: Federal Appeals Court Denies Rehearing in Oklahoma Employment Verification Law Challenge - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit has denied a petition for a rehearing of its earlier decision barring the state of Oklahoma from enacting certain employment provisions of the Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizenship Protection Act. The court had earlier struck down two provisions of the law that would have prohibited employers from retaining undocumented workers while terminating the employment of authorized workers and would have imposed higher tax rates on private contractors that did not obtain documentation of employees’ work authorization, but narrowly upheld an E-Verify requirement for state contractors. The case now goes back to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, which had earlier enjoined the employment provisions, including the E-Verify requirement, pending a final decision on the merits of the case. If the district court lifts the injunction, the E-Verify requirement could go into effect soon. A press report on the decision is available here.
Panama: National Census to Take Place on May 16th; Could Affect Foreign Travelers - Panama will conduct its National Census on May 16, 2010 from 12:01 AM until 11:59 PM. Foreign nationals who will be present in Panama on that day should expect travel restrictions due to the country's unique census procedures. Every person physically present in the country on May 16 must be counted, including foreign visitors, tourists, and even those transiting through Panama to other countries. In addition, every person in Panama must remain in their home, hotel, or wherever they are staying on May 16 until a census worker counts them, completes a census questionnaire, and issues them a card as proof that they have been counted. Only then can they leave their home and go out in public. National Police officers will patrol on May 16 and are authorized to ask people for their card. If a person cannot provide their card, he or she may be fined. More information is available at http://www.censos2010.gob.pa/.
- Immigration reform could move up on the Democratic priority list, reports the Washington Post. In a meeting to discuss legislative priorities, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) expressed their commitment to bringing legislation to the House and Senate floors this year. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that President Obama has reached out to Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) in a bid to enlist additional Republican support for a forthcoming immigration reform package from Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Charles Schumer (D-NY).
- The New York Times profiles Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, the prime mover behind a bill that would allow state authorities to demand proof of immigration status of any individual suspected of being an undocumented foreign national, among other stringent provisions. U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), a longtime proponent of bipartisan immigration reform who is now in a tough reelection bid, has voiced his support for the state bill.
- Elsewhere, the Times reports on an economic study showing that, in more than half of the 25 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, more immigrants are employed in white collar occupations than in low-wage work. Relatedly, there are increasing calls for better U.S. immigration policies aimed at retaining highly-skilled immigrants and combating the growing problem of “reverse brain drain” -- foreign-born innovators and entrepreneurs turning away from the United States and seeking opportunities in other countries.