Breaking News 10.07.2015

Revised October Monthly Visa Bulletin Causes Disappointment Regarding Pre-Registration Dates

As we explained in early September, the Department of State and USCIS recently announced the new concept of "pre-registration" in the monthly Visa Bulletin, effective October 2015. Pre-registration will permit some eligible immigrants to pre-register or pre-file their adjustment of status applications, allowing them to more quickly obtain work authorization and travel benefits for themselves and dependents. Unfortunately, in late September the agencies issued an updated plan for pre-registration that narrowed the category of eligible immigrants.

In the original pre-registration plan, it appeared that certain beneficiaries of employment-based petitions born in India, Philippines, and China would benefit the most. Under the revised pre-registration plan - issued just days before October 1 - pre-registration dates for India and China were moved back as much as two years.

On September 28, 2015, fourteen Indian and Chinese immigrants filed a class action lawsuit against the DOS and USCIS because of the agencies' sudden and arbitrary about-face. The class action plaintiffs explain that they incurred significant costs in attorney's and other fees on account of the revised policy.

If you were harmed by the revisions to the October Visa Bulletin, you may be eligible to join the class action lawsuit. For more information about this issue, please contact us.

2017 Diversity Visa Lottery Registration is Now Open

The Diversity Visa (DV) Program for fiscal year 2017 began accepting registrations on Thursday, October 1, 2015 and will conclude on Tuesday, November 3, 2015 . Instructions for registration are available through the Department of State (DOS) website: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/immigrate/diversity-visa/instructions.html

All applications must be submitted electronically and should be done as early during the registration period as possible. DOS advises applicants not to wait until the last week of the registration period to enter, as heavy demand may result in website delays. There is only one application permitted per person. Those who submit more than one entry will be automatically disqualified. Each spouse of a married couple, however, can file a separate application.

Applicants must meet specific criteria to qualify for the DV program:

- Must be born in a country with low levels of immigration to the U.S. or be married to a person born in such country.

- Persons whose place of birth is one of the following do NOT qualify for the DV program for 2017 (unless the spouse is born in a qualifying country):

Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.

Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible.

- Applicants must also have completed a high school education or its equivalent or have at least two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience (a skilled occupation).

Note that interested persons should NEVER apply for the DV Lottery through a service or website other than the official Department of State site, www.travel.state.gov . A third-party provider CANNOT increase your chances of winning the lottery and many are SCAMS.

The US Department of State has repeatedly opined that a DV Lottery application has no effect on visa applications or renewals, so even "pure" nonimmigrants such as F students may apply.

Note that in most cases, persons who are illegally in the US (except those who last entered in F or J status and a few others) cannot obtain any benefit from the DV Lottery. Also, it is important to remember that winning the DV Lottery does not erase the two year home residence requirement often attached to J 1 or J 2 status. That requirement must either be waived or satisfied.

Good luck!

MAVNI Extended to U.S. Navy

Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) is a recruiting program that allows legal nonimmigrants with in-demand skills to join the U.S. armed forces in exchange for expedited U.S. citizenship. Previously, the program was only open to the U.S. Army. The program is now also available for the Navy.

The Navy is looking for applicants skilled in seven languages in particular: Arabic, Farsi, Korean, Pashtu, Punjabi, Swahili, and Urdu. There is a five-year service commitment.

MAVNI is only available to nonimmigrants in the following categories at the time of their enlistment:

E, F, H, I, J, K, L, M, O, P , Q, R, S, T, TC, TD,
TN, U or V

Asylees, refugees, those with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) may also be eligible, as might applicants in the United States under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), at least for the U.S. Army.

Additionally, applicants must have legally resided in the United States for a minimum of two years prior to joining the Army (excluding DACA) without a single absence from the country lasting longer than 90 days.

Applicants also must have a high school diploma and a qualifying score on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AQFT).

Applicants should ensure that they meet all the eligibility criteria before applying.

For more information, click here.

Conrad 30 Program for J-1 Waivers Extended through December 2015

Several months ago, we explained that the Conrad 30 Waiver program was set to expire on September 30, 2015, unless Congress acted. On the eve of the deadline, as part of the continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown, Congress extended the Conrad 30 Program through December 11, 2015.

The Conrad 30 Waiver program allows J-1 medical doctors to apply for a waiver of the 2-year residence requirement upon completion of the J-1 exchange visitor program. This program has brought many foreign physicians to medically underserved regions in the United States.

It is unclear what will happen to the Conrad 30 Program after December 11. Regardless, individuals who are admitted in, or have acquired, J-1 status prior to December 11, 2015, will still be able to seek a waiver under the Conrad program. There is a bipartisan bill in the Senate that would make the program permanent with some changes. Stay tuned for more as December 11 approaches.

Attorney Speaking Engagements

Ware|Immigration attorneys frequently present at regional and national conferences. They also have speaking engagements at various universities and corporations across the nations.

If you are interested in attending one of the presentations or inviting an attorney to speak at your business, please contact [email protected] to discuss possibilities.

Here are some of the upcoming engagements.

Ware|Immigration On the Web

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