A FEW DO'S AND DON'T'S DURING THE RNC CONVENTION
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.