USCIS Reminds Filipino Nationals Impacted by Typhoon Haiyan of Available Immigration Relief Measures
In light of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines (named “Yolanda” by Philippine authorities), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) would like to remind Filipino nationals that they may be eligible for certain immigration relief measures if requested.
USCIS understands that a natural disaster can affect an individual’s ability to establish or maintain lawful immigration status in the United States. Therefore, Filipino nationals impacted by Typhoon Haiyan may be eligible to benefit from the following immigration relief measures:
- Change or extension of nonimmigrant status for an individual currently in the United States, even when the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired;
- Extension of certain grants of parole made by USCIS;
- Extension of certain grants of advance parole, and expedited processing of advance parole requests;
- Expedited adjudication and approval, where possible, of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship;
- Expedited processing of immigrant petitions for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs);
- Expedited adjudication of employment authorization applications, where appropriate; and
- Assistance to LPRs stranded overseas without immigration or travel documents, such as Permanent Resident Cards (Green Cards). USCIS and the Department of State will coordinate on these matters when the LPR is stranded in a place that has no local USCIS office.
For more information on USCIS humanitarian programs, visit www.uscis.gov or call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.
Preview of President Obama’s immigration reform plan: nothing yet planned for STEM workers or Employment/Family Based Immigrants waiting in line
USA Today’s preview of the President’s Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) plan indicates that it presently includes proposals for increased border security funding, a reworking of the employment verification protocol and, most importantly, an eight year legalization path for undocumented immigrants along with criminal checks, exams and back taxes. Unfortunately, no word yet on relief for legal immigrants in the queue or STEM/Professional Workers.
Undocumented immigrants would wait eight (8) years to get a green card – the later of 1. eight years from the date the Immigration Reform passes or 2. until all legal immigrants currently waiting in line receive a green card (as the President had previously announced). This would essentially mean the maximum wait time would be eight years, as plenty of legal immigrants are currently waiting up to 24 years for a family based green card (F4 Preference: U.S. Citizen filing for a brother/sister born in the Philippines) or 11 years for an employment based green card (EB3 Preference – U.S. Employer filing for an Indian skilled/professional worker).
While no one begrudges relief for undocumented immigrants, Comprehensive Immigration Reform will not be “Comprehensive” unless additional visa numbers are added for the family and employment based immigrants waiting patiently in line.
- President Obama’s immigration reform resembles Sen. Marco Rubio’s plan (miamiherald.com)
- Obama’s backup plan: Maximum 13-year wait for citizenship (news.yahoo.com)
Controversial STEM Jobs Act Proposes to transfer 55,000 visas from Diversity Visa Lottery to Masters and Ph.D. Graduates in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
The controversial H.R. 6429, otherwise known as the “STEM Jobs Act” (Rep. Smith, R-TX & 68 cosponsors) proposes to create new “V” visa categories for families awaiting reunification as well as visas for Ph.D and Masters graduates in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The Act would, however, eliminate the (poorly implemented) Diversity Visa Lottery program that makes green cards available to certain individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. The STEM Jobs Act has made it through the House, but will be almost certainly defeated in the Senate, where Democrats hold both a majority and a soft spot for the Lottery.
The White House, despite having repeatedly highlighted the substantial deficiency the nation faces in the STEM fields, has quickly declared its opposition to the STEM Jobs Act, indicating that it “does not support narrowly tailored proposals that do not meet the President’s long-term objectives with respect to comprehensive immigration reform.” In other words, the Administration wants immigration reform on an ‘all or nothing’ basis. This is more than a little puzzling given that during the latest election cycle, President Obama repeatedly raised the issue of the many difficult decisions necessitated in the short-term so as to invigorate the U.S. economy. This is not one of those difficult decisions.