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

    seisomograph.jpgThe immigration lawyers at Fong & Aquino in Los Angeles have many, many Japanese clients. In response to the devastation caused by the earthquake around Sendai, Japan yesterday, the US Citizenship and Immigraiton Services (USCIS) issued an advisory to Japanese nationals and others who cannot return to their home countries due to earthquake and tsunami disruption in the Pacific region. This is of particular importance to those who are here on visitor visas (B-1 or B-2), visa waiver, or other non-immigrant visas such as H-1B, L-1A, L-1B, E-1, E-2, F-1, J-1, M-1, etc.

    From time to time, the US government permits citizens from certain countries to remain in the USA — even after their visas or landing permits have expired — due to emergency circumstances in the home country. This special designation — which is called Temporary Protected Status (TPS) — is made by the US government. At the present time, Japan has not yet been designated a TPS-eligible country by the US government.

    However, the USCIS advisory, issued at 5:35pm today advises that people should visit their local USCIS office if they have overstayed their I-94s or will become an overstay because they cannot now return to their homes in the Pacific. In certain cases, the USCIS may allow for an additional 30 days be granted in order to depart without facing unlawful presence or other serious immigration violation. USCIS will likely control such applications with high scrutiny and enforcement. We do not recommend that Japanese citizens go to USCIS to obtain assistance without first consulting an immigration attorney.

    Japan: an 8.9 earthquake has rocked Japan today, marking the most powerful earthquake in Japan’s recorded history. This quake is the fifth most powerful in the world since 1900, says the U.S. Geologic Survey. Tokyo reports massive aftershocks. Narita Airport, Sendai Airport remain closed, although Haneda Airport has reopened already. The immigration attorneys at Fong & Aquino who practice in business immigration, family-based immigration, removal defense and appellate work extend sympathy and concern to all our Japanese clients and those with family and friends abroad who are affected by this devastating disaster.

    Over the years, the immigration attorneys at Fong & Aquino have worked proudly in the Japanese immigrant community, having represented multinational executives and managers for some of Japan’s largest corporations, professors providing invaluable research and teaching in top U.S. universities, professional employees working in companies based in Little Tokyo and in Japanese American non-profit organizations, and of course, countless individuals and families of Japanese descent.

    With early reports of the death toll, the true damage the earthquake has caused remains unknown at this moment. We do know that this earthquake may cause tsunamis powerful enough to engulf or wash over small islands in the Pacific causing more damage and posing continued danger to those in the Pacific. For clients wishing to return to Japan in the weeks to come, please call the attorneys at Fong & Aquino for guidance on how to check the US Department of State for travel warnings and other restrictions. —ecf

    Congressional hearings will soon take place to “highlight and investigate” the threat that radical Islam might pose to the USA. These short-sighted hearings, called by republican Congressman Peter King of New York, are supposed to merely investigate the question; however, many people — including the immigration attorneys at Fong & Aquino in Los Angeles — are concerned that the hearings will be an excuse to demonize Muslims and others of middle eastern origin and create a climate of suspicion and hatred.

    Already, immigration lawyers here at Fong & Aquino have noticed that several cases we are handling — involving persons from predominantly Muslim countries — have been side-tracked, investigated, and in other ways delayed by US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). These cases have been unnecessarily subjected to delays, and there has been no explanation forthcoming from USCIS. Simply more and more delay.

    There is no doubt that the US must investigate threats to national security; however, to do so in a way that broadly demonizes the faithful of any particular religion, nationality, or ethnicity is wrong. This is what was done to Japanese-Americans during World War II, and it should not be repeated in 2011. –jcf