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EIG Week in Review (Oct 11, 2013)

October 11, 2013

Highlights

  • U.S. Government shutdown approaches third week
  • Immigration Policy Center releases guide to House comprehensive immigration reform bill
  • November 2013 Visa Bulletin released
  • Schengen member countries implement changes to short-stay visa calculation methods

U.S. Government Shutdown Approaches Third Week

The government shutdown is approaching its third week, and several immigration agencies and operations remain to be affected.  In addition to the effects we reported last week, the shutdown is also impacting the following immigration-related services:

Social Security Administration:  Social Security field offices are open with limited services. Hearings offices remain open to conduct hearings before an Administrative Law Judge, but Social Security card centers are closed.  As a result of the shutdown, Social Security field offices will not issue new or replacement Social Security cards, replace Medicare cards, or issue proof of income letters.

DOJ OSC:  The U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices is closed except for essential litigation functions.

EOIR:  In light of the shutdown, EOIR has begun categorizing the operating status of each immigration court:

  • Category 1 (Detained Cases) – As a general matter, immigration courts that have a docket consisting primarily of detained cases are designated as “Open” and are accepting filings at the window and by mail. Deadlines relating to cases before courts designated as “Open” are effective even during the lapse in funding as the adjudication of these cases moves forward.
  • Category 2 (Detained & Non-Detained Cases) – A second group of courts, which hear both detained and non-detained cases, are referred to as “Open to hear detained cases only.” Deadlines relating to detained cases before these courts are effective during the lapse in funding, and filings related to such cases are being accepted at the window and by mail. Filings relating to non-detained cases at these courts also will be accepted at the filing window or by mail and date-stamped, but will not be processed further during the lapse in funding. In addition, motions for extension of filings deadlines pursuant to section 3.1(c)(iv) of the Immigration Court Practice Manual will be accepted for non-detained cases, but decisions on such motions might not occur until the government receives funding for Fiscal Year 2014.
  • Category 3 (Non-Detained Cases) – For non-detained cases pending before court locations that are designated as “Closed,” filings currently are not being accepted at the window and no court staff is processing mail. Decisions on how non-detained cases will be rescheduled and how filings related to those cases will be considered will be made once the government reopens. If motions for extension of filings deadlines pursuant to section 3.1(c)(iv) of the Immigration Court Practice Manual are submitted by mail, decisions on such motions will not occur until the government receives funding for Fiscal Year 2014.

Global Immigration:  The recent shutdown is likely to cause delays for some global immigration processes, such as the legalization or apostille of vital records (e.g., birth and marriage certificates).  In addition, delays are expected in the issuance of police clearance records for those who have lived in the U.S, which is a requirement in order to obtain a work permit in the following countries: Angola, Belgium, Brazil, Germany, Mozambique, the Netherlands, South Africa, and the UAE.  U.S. applicants who require renewals to their passports or additional passport pages should also expect delays.

Visa services for U.S.-based individuals applying for visas to most other countries are expected to operate as normal.  The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is still conducting fingerprinting for visa applications.  Once the shutdown comes to an end, however, some processing delays should be expected as a result of anticipated backlogs.  The length of such delays and backlogs will, of course, depend on the duration of the shutdown.


Immigration Policy Center Releases Guide to House Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill

Last week we reported that the U.S. House of Representatives had passed its version of a comprehensive immigration reform bill.  Today, the Immigration Policy Center released A Guide to H.R. 15: The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.  The House bill is based on S.744, the bipartisan bill passed by the Senate in June.  However, the House bill removes the Corker-Hoeven border security amendment and replaces it with the bipartisan House border security bill H.R. 1417, which passed unanimously by the Homeland Security Committee in May 2013.


November 2013 Visa Bulletin Released

As we reported yesterday, the U.S. Department of State released the November 2013 Visa Bulletin.  The November bulletin movement 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 of October 8, 2008 or earlier (jump of 23 days).
  • Persons in the EB-2 category and born in India are current if they have a priority date of June 15, 2008 or earlier (no change from October bulletin).
  • The world-wide quota, Mexico, and the Philippines remains current (no change from October bulletin).

EB-3 

  • Persons in the EB-3 category and falling into the world-wide quota are current if they have a priority date of October 1, 2010 or earlier (jump of 3 months).
  • Individuals in the EB-3 category and born in China are current if they have a priority date of October 1, 2010 or earlier (jump of 3 months).
  • Foreign nationals in the EB-3 category and born in India are current if they have a priority date of September 22, 2003 or earlier (no change from October bulletin).
  • Persons in the EB-3 category and born in Mexico are current if they have a priority date of October 1, 2010 or earlier (jump of 3 months).
  • And individuals in the EB-3 category and born in the Philippines are current if they have a priority date of December 15, 2006 or earlier (no change from October bulletin).

A person whose priority date is current under the November 2013 Visa Bulletin is eligible to apply for an adjustment of status during the month of November 2013, meaning that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) must receive the adjustment of status application during that month.  Additionally, persons whose priority dates are current under the November 2013 Visa Bulletin are eligible to adjust status or receive their green cards during the month of November 2013 as long as USCIS has adjudicated their adjustment of status application and a visa number is available to them.

The November 2013 Visa Bulletin and an explanation of the immigrant visa categories can be found at: http://travel.state.gov/visa/bulletin/bulletin_6168.html


Schengen Member Countries Implement Changes to Short-Stay Visa Calculation Methods

Under the Schengen Agreement, non-European nationals, including visa-waivered nationals, are permitted to visit the Schengen Area for 90 days in any 180-day period.  Effective October 18, 2013, border officials will calculate the 180-day period by counting backwards from the date the traveler enters a Schengen country.  Before this calculation method was standardized, the rule had been subject to varying interpretations and inconsistent application across Schengen countries and ports of entry.

The new calculation will not impact most travelers; however, frequent business travelers who hold Schengen C visas or are traveling on a short-stay visa waiver could be affected, and whether the impact is positive or negative depends on the individual’s particular travel history.

The new rules do not apply to third-country nationals who hold residence permits in Schengen Area member countries. They also do not apply to EU nationals traveling in EU countries that have implemented freedom-of-movement agreements.  Additionally, although short-stay rules have been consolidated throughout the Schengen Area, rules for extended stays and employment activities are still governed by each country’s specific laws.