Hot Topics

March 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

Ok..so the month of February went by quickly with no postings made. To make up for lost time, a little recap is necessary: (1) Litigation continues against the Government by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). In late February, AILA received a small victory when the Government backed down from its initial stance in a lawsuit concerning the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that was filed by AILA to compel greater transparency in the H-1B program. The Government has requested for additional time to gather some of the requested documents that it now maintains would not be exempt under FOIA. The goal of this lawsuit is to compel the Government to explain how U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) evaluates H-1B petitions of businesses wishing to temporarily employ high-skilled foreign workers. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the Government denied two previous FOIA requests by AILA. (2) Meanwhile, flashback to last summer when yet another lawsuit involving H-1B workers was filed by private companies, challenging the government’s authority to have issued policy guidelines that essentially conflicted with long-standing and existing immigration laws, and in particular affects employers in the Information Technology and Healthcare industries. The Government maintains that it has not sought to change existing regulations but rather continues to provide guidance for the adjudicators when reviewing H-1B visa applications. The Court ruled in favor of the Government, and so the policies stand and will continue to allow adjudicators a considerable amount of discretion when reviewing H-1B visa applications. For more information on the background of this litigation, read the history on the Legal Action Center’s website. Filing H-1B petitions on behalf of IT companies that seek to employ highly-skilled workers, for example, will remain a daunting challenge as the struggle for balance continues between private interests and the Government’s attempts to regulate immigration and the U.S. labor force.

A highlight for what’s to come in the month of March. This week in DC the House will be debating Fiscal 2011 Continuing Resolution,” (H.R. 1) introduced Friday, by Harold Rogers (R-KY), Chairman of the Appropriations Committee. Also drawing significant news coverage is the President’s budget proposal, released on Monday, which sets forth his spending priorities for fiscal year 2012 which begins this October 1. Overall, the 2011 continuing resolution (CR) cuts $58 billion from the government’s actual spending levels. For immigration, this actually means major cuts to spending on border security, including technology improvements, border patrol stations and other infrastructure. The CR is a different legislative process from the 2012 Obama proposal. Immediate actions are required for the CR, while the President’s proposal for fiscal year 2012 will be debated later in the spring. If the House and Senate cannot reach a consensus on the CR, the federal government will reach a serious impasse unless an extension for more time is granted to submit a proposal to the President. The current deadline is March 4.

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