Consular sections across India now accepting drop box applications for renewals of all nonimmigrant visa categories at Visa Application Centers across India

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By: Rachel Horner Under the Presidential Proclamation, the Department of State was barred from issuing immigrant visas. The proclamation “suspends the entry to the United States of certain additional foreign nationals who present a risk to the U.S. labor market during the economic recovery following the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak.” However, the United States embassies in India, specifically in New Delhi, Chennai Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai, have recently begun a slow but steady re-opening of services. This is welcomed news for Indian nationals who need visas and eager to return to work. The priority for these centers will continue to be student visa applications. In addition to student visas, they will accept drop box applications for certain visa categories, including renewals of ...

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A Breakdown of the Crisis-Era Shakeups at USCIS

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Written By: Lynn O’Brien, Senior Associate Attorney in the Northern Virginia office of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP.  The widely reported changes at USCIS have already had major consequences for foreign nationals looking to enter the United States. From fee hikes to narrowly avoided furloughs, to a proposed expansion of the premium processing program in an attempt to salvage some funds to stave off those furloughs, the leading sentiment among attorneys, petitioning companies, and would-be beneficiaries alike has been one of apprehension. With so much in flux, when will the other shoe drop? Background: A Deficit to Match the Times Like ...

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USPS Mail Delays and How they can Negatively Affect Our Immigration System

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By: Rachel Horner Furloughs, a pandemic, and a divisive political climate – it seems the USCIS has navigated through the worst. However, a new obstacle has been thrown their way: USPS mail delays. The USPS has already seen budget cuts and now they must process mail-in ballots for the 2020 election. These mail delays – which have already had a devastating impact across the country –are yet another blow to the USCIS, as they rely on the postal service to deliver paperwork, notices, visas, work authorizations, and naturalization documents to the 47 million immigrants living in the U.S. Immigration lawyers and USCIS agents alike agree that the USPS is essential to the success of the immigration process. A United ...

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NORCOR, last jail in Oregon to house immigration detainees, officially ends ICE Contract

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By: Rachel Horner A unanimous agreement was made by the board who oversees Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facility in The Dalles to forbid NORCOR from housing immigration detainees, which had been the lone jail left in Oregon permitted to do so. While the board has not yet commented on their exact reasoning behind the sudden end to the contact, which was announced August 20, they did mention in a statement that there was a decrease in detainees -- which had lead to a decrease in revenue for the jail. NORCOR’s contract with ICE was found to be controversial by many. For one, it is situated in Oregon, a “sanctuary state.” The law which marked Oregon as such was enacted in 1987, and ...

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Are USCIS Furloughs Still Coming?  What Happens Now to H-1B and Other Processing Times? A chat with Lynn O’Brien

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As hurricane season heats up, many in the business immigration world are beginning to wonder if USCIS will be able to weather its own stormy outlook. Furloughs and higher fees almost certainly seem to be on the agenda, with the service’s for-profit structure leaving it unequipped to handle the visa freeze instituted by President Trump’s June executive order (likely causing a reduction in petitions filed for employees outside the US who require visas to enter). Petitioning organizations seeking H-1B and L-1 visas, which have formed the backbone of the business immigration world for several years now, are faced with doubts as to the predictability in processing of these categories in the short term. Many businesses do not know ...

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Indian national arrested in $21 million H-1B visa scandal. How did it go unnoticed?

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By: Rebecca Anderson An Indian National was caught in a $21 million scam and arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit visa fraud. Well, that escalated quickly. Arrested last week, 48-year-old Ashish Sawhney allegedly used four separate companies in Virginia to submit illegal visa applications, federal prosecutors said. The incident was first reported in the Times of India publication. According to prosecutors, Sawhney was charged with two counts of conspiracy, three counts of inducing an alien to come to and reside in the U.S. for commercial advantage or private financial gain, and one count of attempted naturalization fraud—the illegal admittance of a foreigner to the citizenship of a country. Sawhney allegedly gained gross profits of approximately $21 million over the span of five years from 2011 to 2016. So, how did it go unnoticed all this time? Court documents claim that statements ...

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Strengthening the H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa Classification Program” Rule Proposed by DHS targets H-1B process, Could Possibly Go into Effect Soon

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By: Rachel Horner Every year, in the Spring and Fall, all federal agencies are required to submit a regulatory agenda, which lists each regulatory action the agency expects to work on within the next 12 months. It is then published in the Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions. The latest Agenda, published in Spring 2020 (specifically June 30), contains a proposed rule from the DHS relevant specifically to those looking to arrive to the United States on an H-1B visa. Entitled the “Strengthening the H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa Classification Program,” the proposal was initially set to be reviewed as a proposed rule first in December 2019, but was then moved to December 2020. However, DHS recently ...

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Court ruling: Trump is allowed to end Temporary Protected Status for nearly 300,000 immigrants

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By: Rebecca Anderson Immigrants hailing from Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti and El Salvador could potentially be relieved of U.S. humanitarian protections after a split federal appeals court panel claimed that the Trump administration could terminate them. According to CNN, the decision—made in a 2-1 ruling on Monday—affects thousands of immigrants who currently live in the U.S. and could eventually be deported in the near future. "This government has failed me and the other 250,000 US citizen children of TPS holders,” said Crista Ramos, lead plaintiff in the case. “If this decision stands, it means Trump's termination of TPS will move ahead and TPS holders will only have until January 2021 to legally live and work in this country. The decision is expected ...

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