Following is a brief update on immigration news and also on the
current immigration debate in Congress and in the State of Iowa.
This is a critical time for advocacy for people who care about immigrants
and their family members and employers. I urge you to read that
part of the update and act on it, especially the national call-in
day tomorrow. Senator Grassley is key to this debate, so all calls
from Iowa will make a huge difference. If you received this email
in error or would like to be removed from our mailing list, please
let us know.
Reminder: H-1Bs open April 1
The new H-1B "season" opens April 1, when applications
may be submitted for work to commence October 1. Last year these
ran out in July for regular H-1Bs and January for persons with U.S.
master's degrees. Given the economy's fairly fast pace, we would
expect a similar timeline this year, or perhaps shorter. Note that
people who are already on H-1B and counted toward the cap, those
working in higher education institutions, and doctors in underserved
areas pursuant to state waivers are exempt and can apply at any
New E-3 visas for Australians
Nationals of Australia who would otherwise qualify for H-1B may
now instead apply for an E-3 visa, a new category created by the
REAL ID Act (the only good thing that law did!). Applications may
be made directly at the U.S. consulates in Australia (after an LCA
is obtained and with proof of meeting the requirements) or if the
person is in the U.S., a change of status application may be filed.
The "cap" on E-3s is 10,500 per year.
DOL backlog anticipated to be cleared
by September 2007
The Department of Labor has announced that it will clear its backlog
of "old" labor certification cases by September 2007.
We have been seeing significant movement in both "RIR"
and regular cases.
DOL PERM interpretations still questionable
As we get more decisions on PERM cases, we are still seeing several
logic errors in the computer program and unexpected interpretations
of the form. We are watching these decisions carefully, and adjusting
our applications accordingly. However, there are still plenty of
traps for the unwary and even the wary. DOL does not have a process
in place for adjudicating appeals as yet, although we have heard
of a few decisions being "reconsidered" by the Certifying
Officer. We will keep you updated on any major developments.
Despite valiant efforts of many people, the House of Representatives
passed the Sensenbrenner Bill (HR 4437) in December. This bill is
"enforcement-only" - meaning that it does NOT address
the many problems with our immigration system, but focuses only
on criminalizing immigration violations. Under this bill, if it
would become law, anyone violating immigration status would become
a federal felon. Anyone "assisting" or "transporting"
an undocumented alien would be subject to the same penalties as
an alien smuggler (federal felony, including jail time). Employers
would be subject to drastically increased sanctions for employing
anyone unauthorized to work. These are just a few "highlights"
of this bill.
The Senate is now considering immigration reform. The Judiciary
Committee (of which Iowa's Senator Grassley is a member) will be
taking up Committee Chair Arlen Specter's proposal tomorrow. This
proposal, while flawed, does contain provisions for guest workers,
increased immigrant visa numbers, increased H-1B numbers and some
other good provisions. It does also have some bad provisions, and
its proposed solutions to the undocumented immigration situation
are not workable.
We are very concerned about the current political climate. If a
bill passes the Senate, it will go to conference with the House
bill. Unless the Senate bill contains some very strong provisions
for positively changing the system, the House bill provisions will
likely be enacted. Therefore, it is critical that a strong reform
bill with comprehensive solutions be passed.
To get this done, your Senator needs to hear from you! Anti-immigrant
groups are very vocal. One Senator's office alone received 300 anti-immigrant
calls last week. We need to make our voices heard.
March 9, is the first national call-in day for pro-immigration forces.
A sample script is attached. If you are more comfortable writing,
I have attached a sample letter that can be FAXED (do not mail)
Senator Grassley has been very reluctant on this issue, despite
a large turn-out at his town meetings by a variety of people in
favor of comprehensive reform. If you have any particular contacts
or ties to his office, please use them now. He needs to hear that
Iowa needs the U.S. government to fix this problem and to make our
He may be reached at:
Web Site: grassley.senate.gov
E-mail: Contact Via 'Web Form.'
Phone: (202) 224-3744
Fax: (202) 224-6020
Senator Harkin met with a group of immigration advocates on Saturday
in Des Moines, and appears to be very receptive to fighting for
us on this issue. But he asked why he was not hearing from the business
community. More contacts with his office will also be helpful.
He may be reached at:
Web Site: harkin.senate.gov
E-mail: Contact Via 'Web Form.'
Phone: (202) 224-3254
Fax: (202) 224-9369
Iowa Legislature also takes up
Perhaps positioning certain members for their campaigns, the Iowa
legislature is considering two bills that proport to "get tough"
on undocumented immigration. Unfortunately, since this is a federal
issue, the Iowa bills appear to be ill-considered and if they become
law, could have a damaging affect on Iowa industries and individuals.
These bills are:
HF 2446 - would provide additional sanctions for employers hiring
"unauthorized aliens", prohibit certain housing funds
to be used by charitable groups to help "unauthorized aliens"
and prohibit Iowa financial institutions from servicing residential
mortgage loans for person that are not a U.S. citizens or permanent
SF 2280 - would criminalizes anyone who drives a motor vehicle with
an "illegal" immigrant as a passenger for the purpose
of that immigrant seeking or maintaining employment in Iowa.
Among the many problems with these bills is the fact that it is
very hard to know who is "unauthorized" or "illegal"
or what those terms will mean. As to the provisions restricting
residential mortgages, if passed as currently written it would prevent
someone here legally on a temporary visa from buying a house.
To contact your Iowa legislator go to: http://www.legisstate.ia.us/aspx/Legislators/LegislatorInfo.aspx
Thank you for all your efforts and let us know if we can assist
in any way.