A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration attorney and counsel. Contact Info: 732-632-9888, http://www.1visa1.com/ (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

Friday, November 16, 2018

December 2018 Visa Bulletin: EB-3 and EB-2 India Close








December's visa bulletin sees slight advancements in most notably the EB-1 and EB-2 categories. All EB-1 categories remain retrogressed. Family categories also advance slightly, particularly in the F-1 category.

India's EB-3 and EB-2 have similar cutoff days now.  Similar to what has happened to Chinese applicants, downgrading from EB-2 to EB-3 is a real possibility now for Indian applicants to speed up the application process.

EB-1 India, China, Mexico, Philippines, Other Countries - advance 3 months.
EB-2 China advances 6 weeks;  EB-2 India advances 1 week.
EB-3 India advances 2 months; EB-3 China and Philippines advance 1 week.

Family 1st India, China, Other Countries - advance 6 weeks.



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AD: Dates for Final Action (Approval)              FD: Dates for Filing Applications Only

      Family
Other Countries
      China
India
Mexico
Philippines
F1
AD
08/08/2011
08/08/2011
08/08/2011
08/01/1997
02/15/2007
FD
03/08/201203/08/201203/08/201204/22/1999
02/15/2008
F2A
AD
10/08/2016
10/08/2016
10/08/2016
09/22/2016
10/08/2016
FD
12/01/2017
12/01/2017
12/01/2017
12/01/2017
12/01/2017
F2B
AD
02/15/2012
02/15/2012
02/15/2012
06/08/1997
06/08/2007
FD
03/22/2014
03/22/2014
03/22/2014
08/01/1997
12/15/2007
F3
AD
08/01/2006
08/01/2006
08/01/2006
12/22/1995
07/08/1995
FD
01/08/2007
01/08/2007
01/08/2007
10/08/1999
06/01/1997
F4
AD
04/22/2005
04/22/2005
06/08/2004
02/08/1998
07/15/1995
FD
02/01/2006
02/01/2006
01/01/2005
09/15/1998
04/22/1997

1st: Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Citizens (about 23,400 per year).
2A: The 2 "A" preference is for Spouses and Children (under 21 & unmarried) of LPR's.
2B: The 2 "B" Preference is for Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 or older) of LPR's.
3rd: Married Sons and Daughters of Citizens (about 23,400 per year)
4th: Brothers and Sisters of Adult Citizens. (about 65,000 per year)
   
Employment
Other Countries
China
El Salvador
Guatemala
Honduras
India
Mexico
Philippines

Vietnam
EB1
AD
      07/01/2017
   09/01/2016
07/01/2017
  09/01/2016
07/01/2017
07/01/2017
07/01/2017
FD
06/01/2018
10/01/2017
06/01/2018
10/01/2017
06/01/2018
06/01/2018
C
EB2
AD
 C
07/01/2015
C
  04/01/2009
C
C
        C
FD
C
09/08/2015
C
05/22/2009
C
C
C
EB3
AD
C
06/08/2015
C
03/01/2009
C
06/15/2017
C
FD
C
12/01/2015
C
01/01/2010
C
08/01/2017
C
Other Workers
  AD
C
06/01/2007
          C
03/01/2009
C
06/15/2017
C
FD
C
06/01/2008
C
01/01/2010
C
08/01/2017
C
EB4
AD
C
C
02/22/2016
C
01/01/2017
C
C
FD
C
C
05/01/2016
C
C
C
C
EB5
AD
C
08/22/2014
C
C
C
C
05/01/2016
FD
C
10/01/2014
C
C
C
C
C









1st: Priority Workers (Extraordinary ability aliens, multinational companies executives/managers, outstanding prof./researchers)
2nd: Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability.
3rd: Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers (Unskilled.)
4th: "Special Immigrants" (Religious & others)    
5th: Employment Creation (Investors)

Monday, November 12, 2018

Combined Departmental Action to Counter "Caravans"

President Trump's recent Presidential Proclamation, aimed at the large approaching "caravans" of migrants approaching the southern border, has led to combined efforts by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Justice (DoJ), and Department of Defense (DoD) to enforce border security.

Reportedly there are two caravans, each with at least 3,000 migrants and hundreds of additional followers, are approaching the U.S.-Mexico border.  According to the President's proclamation, the government had to spend tremendous resources to take care of these unlawfully-entered foreign nationals. Government statistics show that in Fiscal Year 2018, there were 396,579 foreigners arrested at the border due to unlawful entry.  Most recently, DHS reports that an average of approximately 2,000 people enter the U.S. daily at our Southern border.  The President proclamation identifies migrants that illegally enter between ports of entry, foregoing inspection, and declares these migrants' entry "suspended and limited" as of November 9th. The proclamation is in effect for 90 days.

Almost simultaneously, DoJ and DHS, have issued a final interim rule to align with the proclamation by automatically denying asylum to those crossing the Southern border illegally. These final interim rules forego the proposal process, becoming effective immediately. They will instead be turned to ports of entry for proper processing. The proclamation and interim rule allows migrants to apply for withholding of removal (which has stricter legal requirements than asylum) and protection under the Convention Against Torture (for those who can prove reasonable fear of torture upon returning to their country).  

The DoD has already deployed military personnel to provide a wide range of support to the DHS and CBP in anticipation of the approaching caravans. Support will be in the form of logistics, transport, medical support, and other areas. CBP and DoD officials had a clear message at their October 29 joint press conference: illegal entrants will be apprehended, asylum seekers should take Mexico's offer of protection, and economic migrants should go home and apply for a visa. 

These migrants are mostly natives of Central America, a place that has been governed by dictatorships and corrupted governments and plagued by wars, violence, poverty, gangs and political uprisings. They are determined to seek protection and a better life in the U.S.  It is a very dangerous journey to take as many of them have gone missing in the past in similar caravans and migration.  Lawsuits have been filed to stop the enforcement of the proclamation and interim rule.  Despite the deployment of military personnel, it is hoped that the matter can be resolved peacefully at the end.  

Friday, November 2, 2018

Tremendous Growth in International Students' Practical Training Program

What do Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Apple have in Common? Other than being the world's largest business enterprises, they also share a passion for the world's top tech talent.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a branch of Homeland Security, has recently published data on Top 200 Employers for STEM OPT and the yearly approved authorization growth of the OPT, STEM OPT, and CPT programs. Unsurprisingly, big names like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Apple top the list. Amazon is #1, with 2,953 tech-savvy students employed in STEM OPT in 2017 alone. Numerous universities are on the list, employing as many as 511 students (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) for STEM OPT. Many companies in IT and consulting can also be found on the list.

OPT refers to Optional Practical Training, a program that allows international students one year of authorized status working for an American company in their field to gain real world experience. Typically holders of the F-1 student visa, these students may engage in OPT employment before or after graduation from an academic program in the undergraduate (bachelor's) or graduate level. Curricular Practical Training (CPT) occurs as part of a student's course of study and may count toward the one-year OPT period. STEM OPT refers to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics OPT, a 2 year OPT extension available for certain STEM fields such as mathematics, engineering and computer science. 

The practical training programs have had a substantial increase in participants over the last ten years.  ICE's data includes Top 200 Employers for STEM OPT students from 2008-2017. OPT authorizations have grown about 2.5 times from 83,077 authorizations in 2007 to 219,635 in 2017. Since its creation in 2008, STEM OPT has seen immense growth from 2,169 authorizations to 60,410 in 2017. CPT participants have more than doubled over the past decade. 

figure 1 - Source: ICE website

Practical training is clearly a very popular option for foreign students. Last year, a total of 328,205 students have been authorized for OPT, 89,839 for STEM OPT, and 105,351 for CPT (see table). This growth will most likely continue, although the Trump administration is working on revamping the STEM OPT program and possibly curbing its availability.