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News from our team

2017 Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery Program Announced

The U.S. Department of State has announced the opening of the registration period for the DV-2017 Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery Program. The DV Lottery Program enables foreign nationals to apply for permanent residence in the United States without employer or family sponsorship. The DV Lottery Program selects 50,000 people annually who can then pursue an immigrant visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country or adjust their status in the U.S. through the Department of Homeland Security (if a foreign national is residing legally in a nonimmigrant status in the U.S. at the time of the application). Learn more about the DV Lottery Program process and who is eligible to... read more

USCIS Suspends Final Adjudication of Employment-Based Adjustment Applications Until October 1

Starting today, September 24, 2015, USCIS will suspend final adjudication of employment-based adjustment of status applications filed on Form I-485, because the Department of State reports that the statutory cap has been reached for all employment-based preference categories for fiscal year (FY) 2015. This suspension applies to all employment-based adjustment applications pending with USCIS through September 30, 2015 (the remainder of FY 2015). USCIS will continue to accept adjustment of status applications that are filed when the foreign national’s priority date is earlier than the cut-off date published in the September Visa Bulletin for his or her preference category and country of birth/chargeability. USCIS will resume final adjudication of employment-based adjustment applications beginning October 1, 2015, when visa numbers are again available. Applicants filing Form I-485 on or after October 1, 2015, should review the “When to File” section on the Visa Bulletin to determine whether they are eligible to file Form I-485 and should consult with immigration... read more

Permanent Residence for Extraordinary Coaches: When an Olympic Gold Medal Isn’t Enough

The EB-1A permanent residence category is reserved only for individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. Individuals seeking EB-1A status must demonstrate that they belong to a small percentage of professionals who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor, that they have sustained national or international acclaim in the field of expertise, and that they intend to continue to work in their area of extraordinary ability. They must produce evidence of one major internationally-recognized award (e.g. a Nobel Prize or an Olympic medal), or alternatively, evidence of at least three out of 10 criteria. The standard has become more stringent over the years and EB-1A petitions are more challenging than they may seem. EB-1A petitions are particularly complex for coaches and for former athletes who have transitioned into a different profession related to the same sport in which they used to compete – for example, athletic managers or sports analysts. Many coaches can demonstrate substantial successes as athletes – perhaps, even enough to meet the rigorous EB-1A criteria. However, EB-1A applicants must show that they will continue to work in their field of extraordinary ability. USCIS has traditionally interpreted the “field” of extraordinary ability to mean the same profession in the field or sport, which requires the same or similar skillset. Therefore, coaches must show evidence of extraordinary ability in coaching or a similar profession that requires the same or related skillset. Lee v. I.N.S., 237 F.Supp.2d 914 (N.D. Ill. 2002) is one of the first cases that tightened the EB-1A standard for coaches and former athletes. In Lee, the... read more

Individuals Matched to a Job Order Not “Applicants” for Purposes of PERM

The permanent labor certification process (also referred to as PERM) allows an employer to hire a foreign national to work permanently in the United States. Prior to filing a PERM application for a foreign worker with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), U.S. employers must conduct a cumbersome recruitment process to first attempt to hire a U.S. worker. Demonstrating that the recruitment process was correctly undertaken and failed to yield an able, willing and qualified U.S. worker is a required part of the PERM application. The regulations require employers to retain specific documentation to be submitted in response to a potential audit by DOL. One such document is a recruitment report listing all U.S. applicants for the position and providing lawful reasons for their rejection. On August 25, 2015, the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA), which is responsible for reviewing PERM denials, issued a decision in Matter of Usmania finding that individuals matched to a Job Order by the Illinois State Workforce Agency (SWA) were not considered applicants for purposes of PERM. In Usmania, the employer received a PERM denial alleging that its recruitment report had failed to list all U.S. applicants for the job opportunity. The Illinois SWA system had identified a group of candidates whose skills appeared to match the employer’s job requirements. The SWA system allowed the employer to determine if those candidates were suitable. The employer reviewed the list of candidates but determined that they were not qualified. The PERM denial argued that, because the employer reviewed the candidates, they were considered “applicants.” On appeal, BALCA reversed the PERM denial.  BALCA based its decision on DOL’s... read more

USCIS Announces New Process for Determining Eligibility to File for Adjustment of Status in Backlogged Preference Categories

, , and On September 9, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a major overhaul of its system for determining adjustment of status eligibility for individuals with family-based or employment-based petitions in backlogged preference categories. This revised process will enhance the Department of State’s ability to more accurately predict overall immigrant visa demand and determine the cut-off dates for visa issuance published in the Visa Bulletin. This will help to ensure that the maximum number of immigrant visas is issued annually as intended by Congress and to minimize month-to-month fluctuations in Visa Bulletin final action dates. Learn more about this significant update and what it means for employers and immigrant... read more