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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What You Need to Know About the Hike in H-1B Visa Costs

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By: Rachel Horner The Actual Numbers Starting in October, the basic H-1B Visa fee will increase from $460 to $550 -- a 21% increase.  The H-1B visa is one of many visa categories that will see a change in price. The proposal put forth in November of 2019 states that there will be different fees for form I-129, depending on which visa category is used. The proposal will also directly affect “50/50” employers (employers who have 50% of their workforce on the H-1B or L -1 Visa.) For these employers, the extension fee will double in price -- specifically $4,000 for an extension of an H-1B visa (previously $2,000), or $4,500 (previously $2,250) for an L visa. Why the Increase? After a back-and-forth with the ...

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International students hit hard by the pandemic

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How Columbia, Harvard are trying to keep their students in the U.S. this fall with classes operating solely online. By: Rebecca Anderson The coronavirus pandemic is truly a global crisis, especially for international students trying to remain in the U.S. this fall. Confirmed in early July, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said its granting of visa flexibility to students outside the country applies to only those who were actively enrolled in American schools on March 9 of this year. "Nonimmigrant students in new or initial status after March 9 will not be able to enter the U.S. to enroll in a U.S. school as a nonimmigrant student for the fall term to pursue a full course of study that is 100 percent online," the agency said in a statement ...

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ICE Recovers a 19th Century Italian Painting Stolen from a Monastery Nearly Two Decades Ago

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By: Rebecca Anderson “The Assumption of the Virgin Mary” was an oil painting created by the great Italian artist Giuseppe Pappini in August of 1851. For over a century, the work of art was admired by many onlookers, but was stolen from its home—a monastery at the Abbey of Santa Maria in Sylvis in Sesto al Reghena, Italy—in May of 2002, and was perceived lost. That is until officers from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) team in Dallas, Texas recovered it this week. “Investigating the loss or looting of cultural heritage properties and returning them to their countries of origin is an important part of HSI's diverse mission” said Ryan L. Spradlin, special agent in charge ...

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