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Immigration News

Immigration News
January 2006

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! As we all prepare to celebrate the holidays with loved ones, family and friends, I am prompted to think of those among us who cannot be with their loved ones, family and friends because of immigration laws. This year, I refrained from material excess, and made an effort to spend time with friends, old and new. I feel extremely lucky to be able to do so. Thank you for supporting our office this year, and we look forward to serving you next year!

H-1B Cap 2006 for US Graduate Degrees
As of December 15, 2005, the USCIS has received 17,436 petitions for H-1B beneficiaries who have US graduate degrees, of which 15,420 have been approved, with the remaining 2,016 pending. Total available H-1B’s available in this category are 20,000. Individuals who are qualified for this sub-group of H-1B’s are encouraged to file under this sub-group because there appears to be more availability for these H-1B’s than for H-1B’s as a whole, and they are still available for FY 2006. FY 2006 cases are expected to be exhausted before the end of the fiscal year.

H-1B Cap 2006 for all degrees and equivalents
The H-1B cap has been exhausted for fiscal year 2006.

Current and Potential Legislation
The House of Representatives passed the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 (H.R. 4437) on December 16 at the end of the day. Representative Sensenbrenner proposed this enforcement-only bill, criminalizing unlawful presence. The bill increases criminal penalties and strips rights of those not in the US legally. The most significant aspect of this bill is that it broadens the definition of alien smuggling to include those who employ or provide services to those who are not in the US legally. The bill will go to the Senate after Congress returns to session in January.

The Violation Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2005 was passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and cleared for the President’s signature. It’s expected to be signed by the President shortly.

The most positive immigration legislation currently is the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act, introduced on May 12, 2005 by Senators John McCain and Edward Kennedy in the Senate (S. 1033), and Representatives Jim Kolbe, Jeff Flake, and Luis Gutierrez in the House of Representatives (H.R. 2330). This legislation provides comprehensive immigration reform solutions. They are stuck in committees, and have not been voted on yet. Hopefully, after the Congress returns in January these bills will get out of committee for voting.

Another piece of positive immigration legislation is the Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits, and Security (AgJobs) Act of 2005, introduced February 10, 2005 by Senators Larry Craig and Edward Kennedy in the Senate (S. 359), and Representatives Chris Cannon and Howard Berman in the House of Representatives (H.R. 884). This legislation provides earned legalization for agricultural workers, among other things. They are also stuck in committees, and have not been voted on yet. Hopefully, after the Congress returns in January, they will also work on these bills to get them out of committee for voting.

Priority dates and processing times
Nebraska Service Center
Priority dates for some common petitions and applications filed through the Nebraska Service Center, as of December 15, 2005. Please note that some categories have moved very slowly for the last several months, advancing only days in that time, and others have regressed. Dates marked with an asterisk * reflect categories that have retrogressed. Dates marked with two asterisks ** reflect categories that have experienced no change. Many categories have not progressed for several months. Since November 2004, preference cases and all new I-130 petitions are being handled by California Service Center. H-1B cases that are part of the extra 20,000 cap are filed at the Vermont Service Center.
Case type Date pending initial adjudication
I-129 Petition (H-1B) extension of stay in US September 12, 2005
I-129 Petition (H-1B) other October 27, 2005
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancee (K-1/K-2) October 5, 2005
I-131 Advance Parole November 8, 2005
I-131 Reentry Permit September 1, 2005
I-140 Immigrant Worker (skilled worker) September 10, 2005
I-140 Immigrant Worker (unskilled worker) September 10, 2005
I-140 Immigrant Worker (Sched. A nurses) September 12, 2005
I-485 Adjustment of Status (employment-based) April 29, 2004*
I-539 Change/Extend Nonimmigrant Status September 5 – November 1, 2005
I-751 Remove Conditions on Immigrant Status September 8, 2005
I-765 Employment Authorization (C9 adjustment) November 8, 2005
I-824 Action on Approved Applications, petitions August 11, 2005

California Service Center (as of December 20, 2005)
I-130 Petition for Immediate Relative June 18, 2005
I-130 Petition (other) April 2001 – February 2005**

Vermont Service Center (as of December 20, 2005)
I-129 Petition (H-1B with US. graduate degree) August 6 - 13, 2005

National Benefits Center (as of December 20, 2005)
All K-3 and K-4 petitions filed on behalf of spouses of US citizens are processed at the National Benefits Center.
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancee (K-3/K-4) November 15, 2005
I-131 for advance parole October 17, 2005
I-765 for employment authorization (C-9) October 3, 2005

Chicago District Office (as of December 16, 2005)
One-stop applications (I-130/I-485 immediate relative) filed on August 1, 2004 or before are being processed currently. Applicants who have already submitted their Form I-693, Medical Examinations endorsed by a designated civil surgeon do not need to get another medical examination if the Form I-693 is pending beyond the one year validity. BCIS has instituted a policy of extending the validity of the medical examination until the adjustment of status can be adjudicated. This policy applies to individuals who do not have a Class A or B medical condition. N-400 naturalization applications filed June 13, 2005 and before are being processed currently. In my office, applications filed for naturalization in July 2005 have already been interviewed, so they may actually be ahead of that reported date. Some applications are being held up because of delays in the FBI fingerprint replies or IBIS security checks. Some cases scheduled for oathtaking in December 2002 remain to be cleared for rescheduling. Some cases have been rescheduled, and Naturalization asserts their officers check every week for cases that can be rescheduled. If your case is pending due to fingerprint or security checks, please contact myself or any other AILA attorney so that we can notify our liaison and have them follow up on your case.

National Visa Center
Priority dates for Family-based and Employment-based Immigration for nationals of the Philippines for January 2006. If anyone is eligible for these priority dates, please try to apply as soon as possible as priority dates are subject to regressing as well as advancement. Dates marked with an asterisk “*” have retrogressed from last month. Dates marked with two asterisks ** reflect categories that have experienced no change since last month.
Family-based Immigration
Preference category Priority date
1 (unmarried sons, daughters of US citizens) August 22, 1991 or before**
2A (spouses and children of permanent residents) January 15, 2002 or before
2B (unmarried sons, daughters of PR) June 22, 1996 or before
3 (married sons, daughters of US citizens) February 8, 1991 or before**
4 (brothers, sisters of adult US citizens) October 1, 1983 or before
Employment-based Immigration
Preference category
First Current
Second Current
Third (Skilled) April 1, 2001
Third (Unskilled) April 1, 2001
Schedule A Current
Fourth Current
Certain Religious Workers Current
Fifth Current
Targeted Employment Areas/Regional Centers Current

Visa Wait Times at Manila Consulate
By the following average wait times for example, it takes an average of 24 calendar days from the date of scheduling to the date of the interview for a Visitors visa in Manila. Student or Exchange Visitors visas have a 1 day waiting period, as measured from the date of scheduling the appointment to the date of interview. All other Nonimmigrant visas have an average 24 day waiting period. Then it takes an average of 3 working days for the visa to be adjudicated. This information was updated December 23, 2005.

If you have questions about the above material, comments, or would like to see other features, please contact my office at 847-768-9998 or by email at rhk@rachelkao.com Thanks!