Visas

Watch out for Diversity Visa Scams

By | Uncategorized, Visas | No Comments

Every year the Department of State conducts a “Diversity Visa Lottery,” where people from all over the world who wish to become lawful permanent residents of the United States enter their information online, and several thousand are selected.  The only “real” requirement is that the applicant have a high school diploma (and not be a criminal, etc., etc.).  Every year, the Department of State database gets hacked (surprise, surprise).  And every year, many people are taken in by scams, believe they have been selected, and send money to the hackers.  Finally, every year, we hear from at least one victim, telling us they have paid the fee, and now need our help to proceed.  PLEASE don’t fall victim to this scam.  As of today, there are no “slots” left in this fiscal year’s lottery, which ends October 1, 2015.  That is, if you have not heard from the Department of State by now, you were not selected.  If you get an email that you think is “legit” for the 2015-2016 lottery, you are welcome to contact our firm.  We do not charge to check whether you have been scammed or not.

For those who are trying for the 2015-2016 lottery, good luck, but be careful!

John Oliver Blasts Immigration Bureaucracy

By | Politics, Visas | No Comments

John Oliver recently did a feature about the Kafka-esque difficulties faced by translators who have served the US in Iraq and Afghanistan, at the risk of their lives, when trying to obtain visas to the United States.  The video speaks for itself.  As a PS, the State Department changed its procedures about a week after this show.  Coincidence?  We’ll never know.  Warning:  the video contains language unsuitable for children.

Your electronic I-94, Travel History could be full of errors

By | CBP, Clients, Visas | No Comments
Screenshot of Online I-94 Retrieval Form

Screenshot of Online I-94 Retrieval Form

 

While you no longer have to worry about replacing a lost or damaged paper I-94, you still have to make sure CBP is doing its job. And you need to worry about more than just your I-94; you also need to make sure that your travel history log is complete and correct!

Recently I had a client go through what I will call ‘the CBP Nightmare.’ Multiple lessons were learned in the process but they all boil down to this: don’t assume CBP is doing their job right.

The CBP Nightmare

It all began with the officer who stamped my client’s passport at the port of entry. According to the stamp, he was approved for a 7-month stay on a B2 visa. The client, having flown multiple times on a B2 since he was a child, concluded this was just a discretionary grant and left it at that.

When my client had a little less than a month of authorized stay (based on the passport stamp), he went online and checked his I-94. The first mistake he saw was the ‘Most Recent Date of Entry.’ The date shown was from 5 trips ago; that is, my client had flown in and out of the U.S. on his B2 five times after the date that was shown! After looking at the Travel History, it was confirmed that CBP had failed to enter my client’s last five entries. This lead to the next mistake: according to the ‘Admit Until Date,’ my client was out of status!

And now, the next episode of the CBP Nightmare: Deferred Inspection.

I have now shown up with my client at the CBP Deferred Inspection Office in Chicago, a small and empty waiting room with a service window. The officer shows up–you have to ring a bell so that an officer will show up at the window–and, without giving us an opportunity to explain why we are there, she immediately tells us that they are no longer giving out paper I-94s and that we need to go online to print them out. Ok, good to know. I handed the officer a full set of copies of my client’s passport, as well as the passport, and printouts of the I-94 and Travel History. I offered the itineraries for all five trips after the one shown in the record, and explained that the last trip that was booked was changed and that my client did not leave the country as scheduled. The officer refused to even look at the itineraries, then she disappeared with passport and copies. We were eventually given back our documents and an updated printout of just the I-94. To our horror, the I-94 indicated that my client was authorized for the standard 6-month period and that he had fallen out of status just a few of days before, which was inconsistent with the information on the passport stamp. We pointed this out to the officer. The officer called her supervisor, and the supervisor instructed the officer to manually correct the stamp on the passport, writing in the previous month, and placing the mark “CWOP” (cancelled without prejudice). They shrugged their shoulders and told us to talk out the rest with CIS. Without prejudice indeed…

But it gets worse. When we get back to the office and check the Travel History, the record shows that my client left the country when he actually didn’t. Apparently, CBP taps only into airlines’ booking records, rather than their boarding records. Then I look through the passport copies that were handed back to me. They kept the page with the original passport stamp! Thankfully, I had made another copy for my records.

Based on the above experience, I have come up with the following:

Tips for the Travelling Nonimmigrant

  1. Check your I-94 and Travel History as soon as possible after your last entry and make sure it’s correct;
  2. Don’t rely on the information on your passport stamp–always check it against the information in your electronic record;
  3. CBP can change official travel documents on the spot with no record of the change–keep good copies of every original document you give them;
  4. Also make sure to keep copies/printouts of the I-94 and Travel History versions you are trying to correct;
  5. Hire an immigration attorney to help you navigate the Deferred Inspection process and help you file a complaint against CBP if necessary.

H-1B cap and denials have prevented job creation and wage growth for US-born tech workers

By | Employment-Sponsored Immigration, Politics, Tech Workers, USCIS, Visas | No Comments

it office

The Partnership for a New American Economy’s new report, Closing Economic Windows: How H-1B Visa Denials Cost U.S.-Born Tech Workers Jobs and Wages During the Great Recession, shows how existing H-1B visa lottery caps disproportionately hurt American-born tech workers by slowing job and wage growth in more than 200 metropolitan areas across the United States. H-1B visa denials in 2007 and 2008 caused these areas to miss out on creating as many as 231,224 tech jobs for American-born workers in the years that followed and cost U.S.-born, college-educated workers in computer-related fields as much as $3 billion in aggregate annual earnings.

Key report findings include:

  • The high number of H-1B visa applications that were eliminated in the 2007-2008 visa lotteries represented a major lost opportunity for U.S.-born workers and the American economy overall. The rejection of 178,000 H1-B visa applications in computer related fields in the 2007 and 2008 H-1B visa lotteries caused U.S metropolitan areas to miss out on creating as many as 231,224 often highly-sought after tech jobs for U.S.-born workers in the two years that followed. The total number of U.S.-born workers with computer-related jobs would have exceeded 2 million by 2010 with that additional employment.
  • The U.S. tech industry would have grown substantially faster in the years immediately after the recession if not for the large number of visas that didn’t make it through the 2007 and 2008 H-1B visa lotteries. The number of jobs for U.S.-born workers in computer-related industries would have grown at least 55 percent faster between 2005-2006 and 2009-2010, if not for the applications eliminated in the recent H-1B visa lotteries. Computer firms could have added as many as three times more jobs for U.S.-born workers than they actually did during that period without all the unsuccessful H-1B visa applications.
  • U.S.-born workers without bachelor’s degrees were disproportionately hurt by the H-1B visa lotteries in 2007-2008. Because less-educated tech workers often play valuable roles supporting the work of high-skilled engineers, programmers, and others, they were particularly impacted by recent H-1B trends. By 2009-2010, U.S. metropolitan areas lacked as many as 188,582 computer-related jobs for U.S.-born workers without a college degree as a direct result of the large number of applications that were eliminated in the 2007 and 2008 H-1B visa lotteries. The number of positions missing from the economy for U.S.-born, college-educated tech workers, in contrast, was between 24,280 and 42,642.
  • The H-1B visa lotteries in 2007 and 2008—and the denials resulting from them—greatly slowed wage growth for workers in computer-related industries. In 2009, the 1.1 million U.S.-born, college-educated workers in computer-related fields missed out on as much as $3 billion in aggregate annual earnings as a direct result of the large number of applications that were unsuccessful in the H-1B visa lotteries in the 2007-2008 period. From 2005-2006 to 2009-2010, wages for college-educated, U.S.-born workers with computer-related jobs grew by 1.7 percent. Without the earlier visa lotteries, their wages could have grown by as much as 4.9 percent during that period.
  • For some cities, the H-1B visa lotteries in 2007 and 2008 had a particularly large impact.  In New York City and Northeast New Jersey, the large number of H-1B visas that didn’t make it through the lottery for workers in computer-related fields caused the local economy to miss out on creating as many as 28,005 jobs for native-born workers in those industries by 2009-2010. The Washington, DC metropolitan area, including parts of Virginia and Maryland, lost the opportunity to create as many as 30,222 computer-related jobs for U.S.-born workers during that period; Chicago and Dallas Forth Worth passed up the opportunity to create as many as 27,329 such positions together.

This report was prepared for the Partnership for a New American Economy by Giovanni Peri, University of California, Davis and the National Bureau of Economic Research; Kevin Shih, University of California, Davis; and Chad Sparber, Colgate University.

No more FOIAs to get your I-94 history for last 5 years

By | CBP, USCIS, Visas | No Comments

 

I-94AOn April 30, 2014, CBP announced that you will no longer need to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request to obtain your arrival/departure history and records for the last five years from the date the request is made. Through the I-94 website, you will be able to retrieve your most recent I-94 information. Specifically, the website will show you the following:

  • I-94 number
  • most recent date of entry
  • class of admission
  • admit-until date

All you need to get access to your I-94 records is:

  • your name
  • your date of birth
  • your passport information

Those who entered the U.S. in the last 5 years and had their I-94 lost or destroyed can now save big bucks thanks to the I-94 website. The filing fee for an I-102, Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Document is $330! With the recent transition to electronic I-94s, the I-102 will  eventually become completely obsolete.