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New USCIS Immigrant Fee required as of February 1, 2013

As of February 1, 2013, all individuals issued immigrant visas overseas must pay a $165 immigrant fee (in addition to the visa application and affidavit of support fees) before entering the United States.

Only prospective adoptive parents whose child (ren) is/are entering the United States under either the Orphan or Hague Process, Iraqi and Afghan special immigrants who were employed by the U.S. government, returning residents, and those issued K visas are exempt from the new fee.

The fee must be paid online using USCIS ELIS.

You will not receive a Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) until you pay the required US$165 USCIS Immigrant Fee. Failure to pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee does not affect your lawful permanent resident status, but it does affect when USCIS will be able to issue you a Green Card. You should pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee after you receive your immigrant visa package from the Department of State and before you depart for the United States.

For more information on this new fee, or if you are not sure whether it may apply to you, please visit

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Travel for F-1s During Cap-Gap Extension
(AILA InfoNet Doc.No. 13051555)

Now that USCIS has completed the H-1B lottery, many F-1 students who filed H-1B petitions and were accepted as part of hte lottery are eligible for cap-gap extension coverage. The cap-gap provision automatically extends F-1 status and employment authorization until October 1 for F-1 students who have a pending or approved H-1B petition.

Many F-1 clients may be wondering if they can travel during the cap-gap period. Though USCIS guidance is fuzzy, it appears that F-1 students will lose cap-gap benefits if they travel internationally during the cap-gap period. Therefore, if an F-1 student travels outside the US during the cap-gap extension period, he/she will not be able to return to the US in valid F-1 status.

Note that an H-1B beneficiary may enter the US up to 10 days prior to the start date (i.e. September 20). Therefore, F-1s who wish to travel over the summer should plan to apply for the H-1B visa at a US consular post and return to the US on or after September 20. (However, it should be noted that the H-1B alien cannot start H-1B employment until October 1.)

If you are an F-1 student with a cap-subject H-1B beginning in October and you have questions about your status in the interim, please contact our office.

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In May, the CBP began automating its arrival and departure process and eliminating the paper Form I-94 for air and sea travelers. Although air and sea travelers will no longer receive a paper Form I-94 (except in limited circumstances), CBP will create an electronic record. Travelers will need to obtain their admission number and electronic I-94 record through the website
When you enter the United States, CBP will stamp your passport with an entry stamp and record the date your status expires. However, in order to obtain your I-94 information for immigration purposes, you will need to go online and enter your entry date (as found on your passport stamp). Make sure that the date stamped in your passport corresponds with the date recorded in CBP's online I-94 system. You will need to include this e-record in any petitions or applications you file with USCIS.
If you have questions about the new I-94 practices and how it affects any of your pending or future immigrant processes, please feel free to call our office.

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CBP Announces Automation of Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record

Eliminates Paper Forms, Streamlines Admission Process

— U.S. Customs and Border Protection today announced that it has submitted to
the Federal Register a rule that will automate Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record to streamline the admissions process for individuals lawfully visiting the United States. Form I-94 provides international visitors evidence they have been lawfully admitted to the U.S. which is necessary to verify alien registration, immigration status, and employment authorization. The automation means that affected visitors will no longer need to fill out a paper form when arriving to the U.S. by air or sea, improving procedures and reducing costs. The change will go into effect 30 days after the rule is published in the Federal Register.

"Automation of the I-94 will increase efficiency and streamline the admission process," said CBP Deputy Commissioner David V. Aguilar. "Once fully implemented, the process will facilitate security and travel while saving CBP an estimated $15.5 million a year."
Travelers wanting a hard copy or other evidence of admission will be directed to* to print a copy of an I-94 based on the electronically submitted data, including the I-94 number from the form, to provide as necessary to benefits providers or as evidence of lawful admission. As part of CBP's work to bring advances in technology and automation to the passenger processing environment, records of admission will now be generated using traveler information already transmitted through electronic means. This change should decrease paperwork for both the officer and the traveler and will allow CBP to better optimize its resources.

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SCIS..New I-9 Form to be used by employers after December 26, 2007. Employers who fail to use the new form may be subject to penalties. Non-resident aliens must notify the Department of Homeland Security of all changes in address within 10 days on form AR11. Travelers Reminded of New Document Requirements Beginning January 31, 2008. Read More Surge Brings New Immigration Backlog.

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USCIS Reaches Fiscal Year 2013 H-1B Cap

Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 for fiscal year (FY) 2013. Yesterday, June 11, 2012, was the final receipt date for new H-1B specialty occupation petitions requesting an employment start date in FY 2013.

As of June 7, 2012, USCIS already received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of persons exempt from the cap under the 'advanced degree' exemption. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap.

Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap will not be counted toward the FY 2013 H-1B cap. For more information, visit the news link on .

Revised: 6/22/2012

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USCIS Launches Online Immigration System, USCIS ELIS

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today launched the first phase of its electronic immigration benefits system, known as USCIS ELIS. Beginning today, individuals can establish a USCIS ELIS account and apply online to extend or change their non-immigrant status for certain VISA types. Eligible individuals include foreign citizens who travel to the United States temporarily to study, conduct business, receive medical treatment, or visit on vacation.

Benefits of using USCIS ELIS include filing applications and paying fees online, shorter processing times, and the ability to update user profiles, receive notices, and respond to requests electronically. For more information, visit .

Revised: 6/22/2012

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Deferred Action For Dreamers

On June 15, 2012 the Department of Homeland Security formally announced that it will offer deferred action to "DREAMers." For all the promising undocumented youth who call America home, this represents the opportunity to come out of the shadows and fully embrace the only country they know.

Eligible individuals must:

-Have arrived in the U.S. when they were under the age of sixteen
-Have continuously resided in the U.S. for at least five years prior to June 15, 2012 and have been present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012
-Currently be in school, have graduated from high school, have a GED, or be an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard or the U.S. Armed Forces
-Not have been convicted of a felony offense, a "significant misdemeanor offense," three or more non-significant misdemeanors, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety
-Have been under thirty-one years old on June 15, 2012

Effective immediately, certain young people who were brought to the United States through no fault of their own as young children and meet several key criteria will be considered for relief from removal from the country or the risk of being entered into removal proceedings. Those who demonstrate that they meet these criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal.

Only those individuals who can prove through verifiable documentation that they meet these criteria will be eligible for deferred action. Individuals will not be eligible if they are not currently in the United States and cannot prove that they have been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of not less than 5 years immediately preceding today's date. The use of prosecutorial discretion confers no substantive right or pathway to citizenship. Only the Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can confer these rights.

DHS will move to exercise prosecutorial discretion to ensure that enforcement resources are not expended on low priority case, such as individuals who were brought to this country through no fault of their own as children, have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, or multiple misdemeanor offenses, and meet other key criteria.

Please call our office to schedule a consultation if you believe that you are eligible for the benefits of deferred action.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Individuals who are not in removal proceedings or who are subject to a final order of removal will need to submit a request for a review of their case and supporting evidence to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Individuals may request deferred action if they meet the eligibility criteria. In the coming weeks, USCIS will outline and announce the procedures by which individuals can engage in this process. This process is not yet in effect and requests should not be submitted at this time. Beginning June 18, individuals may call the USCIS hotline at 1-800-375-5283 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., with questions or to request more information on the new process. The hotline offers assistance in English and Spanish. Individuals seeking more information on the new process should visit USCIS's website at

Yes. Pursuant to existing regulations, individuals who receive deferred action may apply for and may obtain employment authorization from USCIS provided they can demonstrate an economic necessity for their employment. Information about employment authorization requests is available on USCIS's website at .

-Does the process result in permanent lawful status for beneficiaries?
No. The grant of deferred action under this new law directive does not provide an individual with permanent lawful status or a pathway to obtaining permanent lawful status.

-Why will deferred actions only be granted for two years?
Grants or deferred action will be issued in increments of two years. At the expiration of the two year period, the grant of deferred action can be renewed, pending a review of the individual case.

Revised: 01/18/2013

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