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  1. Our immigration courts are drowning, expedited removal can bring relief. By Nolan Rappaport


    © Getty

    Trump has acknowledged that the immigration court’s enormous backlog cripples his ability to remove illegal immigrants in a timely manner, but his plan to deal with the backlog isn’t going to work.

    This chart from the Executive Office for Immigration Review's (EOIR) FY2016 Statistics Yearbook shows that the immigration judges (IJs) have not been making any progress on reducing the backlog.




    At a recent Center for Immigration Studies panel discussion on the backlog, Judge Larry Burman said, “I cannot give you a merits hearing on my docket unless I take another case off. My docket is full through 2020, and I was instructed by my assistant chief immigration judge not to set any cases past 2020.”

    By the end of September 2016, the backlog was up to 516,031 cases. A year later, it had grown to 629,051.



    Even if the IJs did not get any new cases, it would take them more than two years to clear the backlog. Double the number of IJs and it would take a year, that is, if the backlog doesn’t increase while the new IJs are being recruited, hired, and trained.

    Trump’s backlog reduction plan.

    Read more at http://thehill.com/opinion/immigrati...n-bring-relief

    Published originally on The Hill.

    About the author. Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an executive branch immigration law expert for three years; he subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years.





  2. H-1B Site Visits Will Be Increasing

    By: Bruce R. Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law PLLC

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    Due to a report by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the USCIS plans to substantially increase their H-1B site visits. On October 27, 2017, the OIG issued a report - “USCIS Needs a Better Approach to Verify H-1B Visa Participants” where it made four recommendations, all which USCIS said it would strive to achieve.

    The OIG report made these findings:
    1. USCIS does not track their site visits as to the type of visa category the visit pertains;
    2. USCIS does not assess the information it collects from site visits;
    3. USCIS is to conduct site visits, that will target – a) employers where basic business information cannot be verified; b) employers who are H-1B dependent; and c) employers who place beneficiaries offsite;
    4. USCIS should deny new petitions for an employer, which has recurring violators;
    5. USCIS should revoke petitions, where site visits are unverified; and
    6. Immigration Officers are not all trained and site visits are not conducted on a uniform basis.
    OIG’s four recommendations are:
    1. USCIS should develop a process to collect and analyze all data collected from an H-1B site visit, including tracking the information and the program costs. USCIS also needs to analyze adjudicative actions for unverified site visits, and use the data collected to develop performance measures to assess the effectiveness of the site visit program;
    2. USCIS should identify data and assessments through the site visits and share it with external stakeholders;
    3. USCIS needs to identify where resources need to go for the site visit program, including adjusting the number of required site visits and time and effort spent; updating policies, procedures, and training so that site visits are conducted efficiently and uniformly; streamlining the employers visited and applying a risk-based approach; providing Immigration Officers a career path so that they do not leave; and
    4. USCIS should develop comprehensive policies to ensure that adjudicative action is prioritized on fraudulent or noncompliant petitions.
    Employers should be ready for more H-1B site visits. To be ready, an employer should:
    1. Have a system in place if USCIS shows up for site visit, which includes calling their attorney;
    2. Designate a contact or contacts to handle USCIS site visits;
    3. Ask for and record the credentials and contact information of the USCIS official;
    4. Keep copies of the public access files in a location where they can be accessed quickly;
    5. If unsure of an answer to a question posed by the USCIS official, ask for additional time and offer to follow-up; and
    6. At the end of the site visit, write down a detailed report, including questions USCIS asked.
    For more information on other immigration compliance topics I invite you to read my new book, The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, which is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.
  3. Letters of the Week: November 13 - November 19

  4. REUTERS: NURSING CRISIS STRAINS U.S. HOSPITALS

    by , 11-13-2017 at 10:54 AM (Chris Musillo on Nurse and Allied Health Immigration)
    by Chris Musillo

    Reuters reports that health care facilities all across the US are facing dire nurse staffing shortages, which are leading to increased expenses related to staffing. They interviewed over 20 hospitals across the US and found nearly universal concerns tied to a lack of nurses.

    Reuters cites a Staffing Industry Analysts report that says that the “cost nationwide for travel nurses alone nearly doubled over three years to $4.8 billion in 2017”. For instance, “university-affiliated J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown is spending $10.4 million in 2017 compared with $3.6 million a year earlier to hire and retain nurses.”

    The article highlights the classic reason for the shortage, which have long been on the industry’s radar. For instance:

    Baby Boom Generation Demand. The US Baby Boom generation, those born 1946-1964, has reached an age where they will increasingly demand nursing services. As The Atlantic points out:

    Today, there are more Americans over the age of 65 than at any other time in U.S. history. Between 2010 and 2030, the population of senior citizens will increase by 75 percent to 69 million, meaning one in five Americans will be a senior citizen; in 2050, an estimated 88.5 million people in the U.S. will be aged 65 and older.

    Aging Nursing Workforce. Out of the 3 million US nurses, one million are over age 50 and will be expected to retire in the next 10-15 years.

    Few Nurse Educators. Nursing Ph.D. programs have been unable to attract nursing faculty. These nurses Ph.D’s have traditionally made up large numbers of nursing school faculty. Part of the reason for this is that a Bachelor nursing graduate is usually offered a job at graduation, thus reducing that graduate’s incentive to seek out graduate nursing education. Without a dramatic increase in nurse faculty, it will be impossible for the US to supply enough nurses to meet the demand.

    Distribution Challenges. Some of the American nursing problem stems from the lack of mobility ion the nursing force. Nurses are often unwilling to leave their hometowns for jobs in rural areas or high-nurse demand areas, even if those positions pay better.

    Lack of Foreign-Nurses. Because of a terribly though-out US immigration policy, it takes a nurse from the Philippines many years to legally obtain a visa, in spite of the nursing shortage. The Philippines has traditionally been the greatest supplier of US nurses. The story is even worse for India, which would certainly be able to supply the US with many nurses if it did not take 10 years for a fully-qualified nurse to obtain a US visa. As a result of the lack of US nursing visa options, foreign-trained nurses have declined sitting for the US licensing exams.


    Please read the Musillo Unkenholt Healthcare and Immigration Law Blog at www.musillo.com and www.ilw.com. You can also visit us on Facebook, Twitter and LinknedIn.
  5. The Perils and Pitfalls of Applying for a Green Card

    In the past few weeks, we’ve had two former asylum clients return to our office for help after USCIS denied their applications for citizenship. The applications were denied due to mistakes the former clients made on their I-485 forms (the application for a green card). These cases illustrate the danger of incorrectly completing the I-485 form, and this danger is particularly acute for people with asylum.


    The new Green Card application process.

    Let’s start with a bit of background. After a person receives asylum, she must wait for one year before applying for her lawful permanent resident (“LPR”) status (her green card). The form used to apply for the green card is the I-485. In the good old days (a few months ago), this form used to be six pages. Now it is 18 pages. The old I-485 form contained 32 yes-or-no questions; the new form contains 92 such questions.

    Many of these questions are difficult for me to understand, and I am a trained lawyer who speaks reasonably decent English. So you can imagine that people with more limited English, who are not familiar with the complicated terms and concepts contained in some of the questions, might have trouble answering.

    In my clients’ cases, two questions in particular caused them trouble (these are from the old I-485). The first question was, “List your present and past membership in or affiliation with every organization, association, fund, foundation, party, club, society, or similar group in the United States or in any other place since your 16th birthday.” Both clients had been involved with political parties, but were no longer members of those parties in the United States. The clients did not carefully read the question, and instead of listing their “past membership,” they instead answered “none” (because they are no longer members).

    The second question asked whether the clients had ever been “arrested, cited, charged, indicted, fined, or imprisoned for breaking or violating any law or ordinance, excluding traffic violations.” In fact, my clients had never been arrested for “breaking or violating any law or ordinance.” They were arrested for exercising their supposedly-lawful political rights, and they were correct to answer “no” to this question. Nevertheless, USCIS viewed their answers as deceptive.

    My clients’ problems were compounded by the fact that they were never interviewed for their green cards, and so a USCIS officer never went over the questions with them and gave them an opportunity to correct the errors.
    The result of all this—confusing questions, carelessness, and no interview—was that my clients obtained their green cards, but also sowed the seeds for future problems. Five years later, these problems appeared when the clients tried to naturalize, and USCIS went back and carefully reviewed their prior applications.

    To me, my clients’ errors were clearly honest mistakes. Indeed, in their asylum applications, the clients had already informed USCIS about their party memberships and about their arrests, and so they had nothing to gain—and everything to lose—by failing to mention these issues in the I-485 form. But that is not how USCIS sees things. To them, the errors were “misrepresentations,” which disqualified my clients for citizenship.

    To solve the problem, my clients will likely need to apply for waivers (an expensive application to seek forgiveness for making misrepresentations). Given that they are asylees, and that the misrepresentations were relatively minor, I suspect the clients will ultimately qualify for waivers and—eventually—become U.S. citizens. But between now and then, they will face a lot of unnecessary stress and expense. Unfortunately, this is the reality now-a-days for all applicants: If you leave yourself vulnerable, USCIS will bite you.

    So what can be done? How can you protect yourself when completing the form I-485?

    The key is to read each question carefully and make sure you understand what it means. This is time consuming and boring, but given that USCIS is looking for excuses to deny cases and cause trouble, you have little choice if you want to be safe.

    Even using a lawyer is no guarantee. Until recently (when USCIS started looking for reasons to deny cases), I had a tendency to gloss over some of these questions. I am more careful now, but it’s not easy. Many of the questions are ridiculous: Are you a prostitute? Did you gamble illegally? Were you a Nazi in WWII? But intermingled with these questions are others that require closer attention: Did you ever have a J visa? Have you ever received public assistance? Have you ever been denied a visa? It’s easy to skim over these, but the consequences of an erroneous answer can be serious.

    Also, some questions are tricky, and can’t easily be answered with a “yes” or a “no.” For example, my clients indicated that they had not been arrested for a crime, and this was correct, but they had been arrested for their (lawful) political activities, and USCIS took their answers as misrepresentations. What to do? When we complete I-485 forms and we encounter questions like this, we normally check “no” (or “yes” if that seems more appropriate) and circle the question. Next to the question, we write, “Please see cover letter,” and on the cover letter, we provide an explanation (“I was never arrested for a crime, but I was arrested by my home government for political reasons”). At least this avoids the problem of USCIS labeling your answer a misrepresentation.

    In the end, the only real solution here is to read each question carefully, make sure you understand the question, and answer it appropriately. If the question is not amenable to a yes-or-no answer, or if you think an explanation is required, circle the question and provide an explanation. If you don’t understand something or are not sure, ask for help. It’s best to get the form correct now, even if that involves extra time or money, than to make mistakes that will cost you later on.

    Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.
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