By Alan Lee, Esq.

As we look out from our law office at the Republican National Convention on the next block in Madison Square Garden with its accompanying headaches of the NYPD cordoning off the area, making us show identification at checkpoints just to get to the office, and making a mess of our ride in and out of Penn Station, our negative thoughts look to turn to other topics, and so I have written a column of "Dos" and "Don’ts" for immigration.

1. Apply for permanent residence now under the employment based categories now rather than later if you are able to do so and are not barred from adjusting status to permanent residence. Because of the large number of cases which are being held in the service centers of the U.S.C.I.S., the employment based categories may seriously backlog when the service centers begin to adjudicate cases faster in accordance with the agency's backlog reduction plan.

2. Apply for naturalization now rather than later, as becoming a citizen insulates individuals from the threat of deportation for later misdeeds. In addition, it is rumored that a new naturalization test is being prepared for 2006 which will ask individuals to describe what is in two photographs, write a description about another photo, read a paragraph and answer 4-5 multiple choice questions about it. (This is not supposed to be a harder test, ha ha).

3. Apply for H-1B petitions at this time rather than later if you are in another status and wish to work under H-1B status in fiscal year 2005. (October 1, 2004-September 30, 2005). For first-time H-1B's, the U.S.C.I.S. announced that H-1B filings have reached 45,900 as of August 18, 2004. Unless changed by Congress, the number of available H-1B visas for FY 2005 is 58,200. That leaves 12,300 H-1B numbers. Looking at the H-1B usage for the two month period from 6/1/04-8/4/04 - 23,900 – and 8/5/04 – 8/18/04 – 5,900 - it is difficult to see how the H-1 numbers will extend past September. It is possible, though, that unused H-1B numbers from the 6,800 assigned to the Singapore/Chile Free Trade Agreement may allow the H-1B quota to stretch into October. Such numbers (if any) are to be used in the first 45 days of the new fiscal year.

4. If planning to visit local offices of the U.S.C.I.S., you should make an InfoPass appointment if the district office that you are visiting uses InfoPass. InfoPass is a new system by which the U.S.C.I.S. hopes to eliminate lines outside of its offices by having members of the public make on-line appointments to speak with immigration officers in the district offices by appointment time. Thus far, the program has met with praise from the public and from members of the bar. However, the downside is that individuals who appear at the district offices without either appointment letters from the U.S.C.I.S. or InfoPass appointment receipts are generally turned away unless there is an emergency. A further hint for readers is that if seeking to speak with the district office on two separate applications, eg., I-765 employment authorization and I-131 advance parole, obtain two InfoPass appointments instead of one.

5. Do not trace your family based I-130 relative petition cases with the service centers any longer even if the time range indicated on the I-130 receipt for adjudication has been exceeded. Because the agency is attempting to deal with its backlog of I-130 petitions in which the priority dates have already been reached, it recently announced a new policy that it will not adjudicate I-130 petitions until the priority dates are reached. In the future, therefore, it is entirely possible that permanent residents filing for unmarried sons and daughters under the F-2B category might not hear from the U.S.C.I.S. for another 8-9 years after receiving the receipt of I-130 filing. The U.S.C.I.S. now wishes its customers to check the filing date of the petition with the current processing times of the service center for the petition's category. This can be done by accessing the U.S.C.I.S. website directly or through a website such as ours, which contains the latest processing times of the agency at http://www.alanleelaw.com/english/processingtimes.htm.

As I end this column, I recall that the Ringling Brothers Circus often plays at Madison Square Garden and muse that perhaps Ringling Brothers should join the RNC in the Garden and bring forth the elephants, the beloved symbol of the GOP.

The author is a 26 year practitioner of immigration law based in New York City. He was awarded the Sidney A. Levine prize for best legal writing at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in 1977 and has written extensively on immigration over the past years for the ethnic newspapers, World Journal, Sing Tao, Pakistan Calling, Muhasha and OCS. He has testified as an expert on immigration in civil court proceedings and was recognized by the Taiwan government in 1985 for his work protecting human rights. His article, "The Bush Temporary Worker Proposal and Comparative Pending Legislation: an Analysis" was Interpreter Releases' cover display article at the American Immigration Lawyers Association annual conference in 2004, and his victory in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of first impression nationwide, Firstland International v. INS, successfully challenged INS' policy of over 40 years of revoking approved immigrant visa petitions under a nebulous standard of proof.

This article 2004 Alan Lee, Esq.


Copyright © 2003-2012 Alan Lee, Esq.
The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any particular set of facts or circumstances. It should not be construed as legal advice and does not constitute an engagement of the Law Office of Alan Lee or establish an attorney-client relationship.