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EIG Week in Review (Aug 15, 2014)

August 15, 2014

Highlights

  • September 2014 Visa Bulletin Released
  • CBP Launches Mobile Passport Control App
  • E-Verify System Improvements
  • China Conducting Health Inspections of Certain Foreign Travelers
  • Saudi Arabia Requiring Employers to Provide Health Insurance for Foreign Workers

September 2014 Visa Bulletin Released

As announced earlier this week, the U.S. Department of State has released the September 2014 Visa Bulletin.  EB-3 Philippines saw the most movement, jumping from June 1, 2010 to April 1, 2011.  EB-2 India also saw progression, moving from January 22, 2009 to May 1, 2009.

The September 2014 Visa Bulletin can be summarized as follows:

EB-1

  • All countries remain current.

EB-2

  • Persons in the EB-2 category and born in China are current if they have a priority date before the cut-off date of October 8, 2009.  This category remains unchanged.
  • Persons in the EB-2 category and born in India are current if they have a priority date before the cut-off date of May 1, 2009.  This category has advanced by 3 months, 9 days.
  • The worldwide quota, Mexico, and the Philippines remain current.

EB-3

  • Persons in the EB-3 category and falling into the worldwide quota are current if they have a priority date before the cut-off date of April 1, 2011.  This category remains unchanged.
  • Persons in the EB-3 category and born in China are current if they have a priority date before the cut-off date of November 1, 2008. This category remains unchanged.
  • Persons in the EB-3 category and born in India are current if they have a priority date before the cut-off date of November 8, 2003.  This category remains unchanged.
  • Persons in the EB-3 category and born in Mexico are current if they have a priority date before the cut-off date of April 1, 2011.  This category remains unchanged.
  • Persons in the EB-3 category and born in the Philippines are current if they have a priority date before the cut-off date of April 1, 2011. This category has advanced by 10 months.

EB-4 and EB-5

  • All countries remain current.

The complete Visa Bulletin for September 2014 can be found at: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/law-and-policy/bulletin/2014/visa-bulletin-for-september-2014.html.

CBP Launches Mobile Passport Control App

On August 11, 2014, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced the launch of the first authorized app, aimed to help expedite the entry process for travelers into the U.S.  The Mobile Passport Control (MPC) app was developed in partnership by CBP, Airside Mobile, and Airports Council International-North America.

The MPC pilot program launched earlier this week at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and is expected to expand to other airports throughout the year.  The MPC allows eligible travelers to submit passport information and customs declaration forms via their smartphone or tablet.  As a result, travelers can expect shorter wait times, less congestion, and faster processing.

The MPC app is now available for download (free of charge) on the Apple App Store.  The app should also be available for Android smartphone users in the future.  Eligibility information and answers to frequently asked questions regarding the app is available at the Travel section of the CBP website.

E-Verify System Improvements

To date, over 500,000 employers use the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) E-Verify system, an internet-based system that compares information from an employee’s Form I-9 to data from U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Social Security Administration records to confirm employment eligibility.

E-Verify launched the crowd-sourcing “E-Verify Listens” site 2 years ago, asking users to share ideas and feedback concerning improvements for the system.  In an effort to make the system more user friendly, E-Verify has utilized these suggestions and updated some features to assist employers in using the program.  Some of the improvements include:

  • Duplicate Case Alert:  E-Verify now notifies the employer if a social security number matches another social security number entered within the past 30 days for an existing case.
  • User Name Verification:  The user’s name no longer auto-fills but must now be completed each time to ensure accuracy, providing a prompt to validate or update email and phone number whenever the user’s password expires, which is every 90 days.
  • Tentative Non-Confirmation Notification & Referral:  The tentative non-confirmation (TNC) Notice and Referral Letter have been combined into one document known as the “Further Action Notice.” Additionally, an employee whose information is entered in E-Verify resulting in a TNC will receive email notification if they provide their email address on the Form I-9.
  • Photo Tool:  A new photo tool will display any photo on record with E-Verify, enabling the user to compare it to the photo ID being presented.
  • RIDE System:  E-Verify now verifies a driver’s license as to authenticity by matching the data entered by the user against participating state motor vehicle department records.  Currently, North Carolina does not participate.
  • Fraud Protection:  If E-Verify detects fraudulent use of a social security number, it prevents that number from being used more than once.
  • Language Expansion:  Notices generated by E-Verify are now available in 18 languages.
  • Spanish Capabilities:  There are monthly webinars in Spanish for employers and the Spanish website has been fully updated.
  • Spell Check:  E-Verify screens for typographical errors and requires employers to correct them.
  • TNC Correction Instructions:  The Further Action Notice that is generated after a TNC from DHS includes instructions on how to correct immigration records after resolving the TNC on E-Verify.

Employers who would like to share comments or feedback for the program can visit E-Verify Listens.

China Conducting Health Inspections of Certain Foreign Travelers

Effective August 1, 2014, China is performing on-the-spot polio inspections for travelers from the following nine countries: Afghanistan, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, and Syria. This policy applies not only to citizens but also to all individuals traveling from any of these countries.

The bureaus do not require travelers to receive official polio vaccination certificates; however, such certificates may prevent travelers from having to undergo polio inspections. Travelers suspected of having polio will be hospitalized for further testing.

This policy is expected to remain in effect for one year but is not expected to have a direct impact on visa processing times.

Saudi Arabia Requiring Employers to Provide Health Insurance for Foreign Workers

As of August 10, 2014, all private employers in Saudi Arabia are required to provide health insurance to all foreign workers and their dependent family members.  Without proof of medical insurance, passport offices will not issue or renew iqamas (residence permits) or exit/re-entry visas.  Proof of insurance will also be required in order to transfer dates from an old passport to a new passport.

Some exceptions do apply:  employers are not required to provide health insurance to children of Saudi women married to non-Saudi men or non-Saudi women married to Saudi men. Companies should enroll foreign employees and their dependent family members in a medical insurance program as soon as possible in order to avoid delays in processing.