Screen shot 2011-05-11 at 2.58.08 PM.pngPresident Obama addressed the nation in a highly anticipated speech on immigration reform from El Paso, Texas. Many have criticized the President’s speech because he offered little in detail but spoke in broad terms.

The immigration attorneys at Fong & Aquino would like to note that while deportations have increased under the Obama administration, President Obama reiterated that legalization should be offered to the undocumented, but with an emphasis on accountability. The President stated clearly: “those who are here illegally have a responsibility as well … they have to admit that they broke the law, pay their taxes, pay a fine, and learn English. And they have to undergo background checks and a lengthy process before they can get in line for legalization.”

The President also weighed in on the hallmark of immigration: family reunification. President Obama said “I don’t believe the United States of America should be in the business of separating families. That’s not right. That’s not who we are.”

The business immigration attorneys at Fong & Aquino have been asked numerous times when the H-1B cap will be reached, or whether the quota is closing soon. While no one knows when the H-1B cap will be reached, USCIS has released some recent numbers of the current H-1B usage.

As of May 6, approximately 10,200 petitions have been received for the regular, Bachelor’s degree quota while approximately 7,300 petitions have been received for the advanced degree quota.

It seems that the H-1B quota is still wide open and those interested in consulting with the attorneys at Fong & Aquino for potential applications should give us a call as soon as possible given the fact that it can take USCIS months to adjudicate H-1B petitions. —ecf

Thumbprint.jpgLos Angeles-based immigration attorneys at Fong & Aquino have received a recent string of consultations from the Palm Springs and Inland Empire area involving the immigration consequences of drug convictions.

One individual is a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) who was convicted in 2000 for possession of drug paraphernalia. The conviction did not come to the government’s attention until the gentleman returned from a vacation abroad and he re-entered the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) has placed him into removal proceedings, charging that he had been convicted of a controlled substance offense.

Another man recently walked in with a Notice to Appear in which the DHS alleged that he entered the United States in 1965. “That’s wonderful!”, I thought, “I’ve got one of the few people in America that is eligible for registry.” My excitement waned when I discovered that the man had a conviction for possession of drugs in the 1980s.

So far, the USCIS has announced that it received 5,900 H-1B applications for the normal quota and an additional 4,500 for the advanced degree quota. These numbers were released yesterday, April 7, 2011.

In years past, many remember that the H-1B quota was exhausted as early as the first day of applications. Last year, the H-1B cap was not reached until January the following year. I would anticipate that with the economy still rebounding, the H-1B quota will last a significant amount of time. This will also ensure that everyone who can find a job offer this year will have a chance to make an H-1B application. Please contact the business immigration attorneys at Fong & Aquino for a consultation if you are interested in applying for an H-1B this year! —ecf

It’s H-1B season and the business immigration attorneys at Fong & Aquino are busy once again fielding phone calls and inquiries regarding employment-based visas, including those of L-1 and new company visas. In the past few years, the USCIS and US Department of Labor have suspected newer and small companies of fraud, especially within the immigration system. New procedures and increased scrutiny of employment-based cases have made H-1B petitions and H-1B visas especially more difficult to attain.

Handshake.pngToday’s Wall Street Journal ran a story about the very disturbing trend revealed by the Securities and Exchange Commission that small private companies are merging with public shell (dormant) companies instead of going through more rigorous methods of becoming public, avoiding initial public offerings. SEC Commissioner, Luis Aguilar announced that since January 2007, 600 of such “backdoor registrations” occurred and most notably, more than 150 of these occurred in and around China.

It’s no secret that the USCIS, as part of the US Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) is engaged in “national security, fraud detection and prevention.” The DHS now has an unit attached to it which investigates corporations suspected of defrauding the government specifically through the H-1B program and other visa categories. This has made adjudications of all H-1B applications much more difficult and I believe we will see strict review of all H-1B and work related applications. —ecf

Crying joker card.pngH-1B season begins today – April 1, 2011. Like a cruel joke, the beginning of this year’s H-1B applications, H-1B quota, H-1B cap, fiscal year 2012 H-1B season, whatever you want to call it…starts today, April Fool’s Day!

Let’s review what the H-1B season means to those looking for a job and who hope to find a suitable employer to sponsor the H-1B application. (1) find a job (2) which requires a Bachelor’s degree (3) with a company that is well established (or decently so) and (4) is willing to pay the government filing fees!

These criteria make up the most basic of H-1B requirements. There are many cases which get filed for H-1B each year and get denied, even though they “meet” the initial criteria. I gave a talk last month to attorneys in the Los Angeles area regarding some of the things a seasoned immigration attorney can do to help their clients make good choices in searching for H-1B sponsors and/or in documenting a good H-1B case. I was able to show examples of cases where other attorneys had short-changed their clients by only submitting the basic requirements to USCIS. These cases, of course, resulted in denial. The business immigration attorneys at Fong & Aquino have been able to re-file and overcome such denials, but when you really understand how the cards can easily stack up against you in H-1B applications, you might be wise to start with a initial consultation at Fong & Aquino as soon as you have an employer lined up before you end up with a denial or notice of intent to deny from USCIS. —ecf

Bridge Cables.jpgImmigration lawyers at Los Angeles’ Fong & Aquino have learned that, in view of the massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the related devastation, clean-up, possible radiation concerns, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has temporarily suspended removal of Japanese citizens who may have been ordered deported.

It is expected that ICE will be deporting Japanese nationals again, as soon as conditions in Japan stabilize. Should you have questions about this, or any other immigration or nationality law concern, please do not hesitate to contact us. –jcf

Taiwan Flag.jpgThe immigration lawyers at Fong & Aquino in Los Angeles have recently learned that the United States’ American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) temporarily closed its visa section as of 18 March 2011, in order that personnel at AIT can assist US diplomatic staff in nearby Japan.

US-Taiwan diplomatic relations are unique, and there is no US Embassy in Taipei. The AIT oversees US interests in Taiwan, handles liaison with the Taipei government, and issues US visas.

For those who may have had immigrant and nonimmigrant visa interviews at AIT after 18 March 2011, AIT is instructing that you visit the AIT’s visa processing website to reschedule.

Eliz Taylor.jpegWith today’s passing in Los Angeles of Hollywood film star, Elizabeth Taylor, the sometimes-sentimental immigration lawyers at Fong & Aquino want to examine the question of citizenship. Miss Taylor was born in London, England in 1932 to US citizen parents. So: was she a citizen of the US? or the UK? or was she a dual citizen?

Under the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution, the general rule is that “all persons born … in the United States [and in certain territories] are citizens of the United States.” This rule has been a part of American law since 1868. This aspect of the fundamental rule of the Constitution is today under attack by radicals who do not want the children of undocumented aliens to become citizens. However, Elizabeth Taylor was born in England, so we do not yet have our answer.

Miss Taylor was born in 1932, the daughter of two US citizen parents who were living in England. As a general proposition, a child born in wedlock, outside the USA, to two US citizen parents, automatically acquires US citizenship at birth. Immigration and Nationality Act §301.

The USCIS this week provided information on the types of immigration applications for Japanese nationals who are affected by disasters caused the earthquakes and tsunamis last week. In limited circumstances, the USCIS can expedite the processing of the following types of requests/cases:

  • requests for extensions or change of non-immigrant status even if the request is made after the applicant’s stay has expired
  • re-parole of individuals who have already been granted parole by USCIS
  • expedited processing of advanced paroles
  • expedited adjudication and approval for requests for off-campus employment in the case of F-1 students suffering economic hardship
  • expedited employment authorization
  • If you or someone you know is eligible for these services, please contact the attorneys at Fong & Aquino for assistance in making these applications to the USCIS. —ecf