Black Immigration to the U.S.

A new Pew Research study sheds light on recent migration of the worldwide Black population to the U.S. Some of the key findings include:

-The number of black immigrants from African nations has rapidly grown. Between 2000 and 2013, the black African immigrant population grew from 570,000 to 1.4 million, an increase of 137%.

-When compared with U.S. immigrants overall, foreign-born blacks are less likely to be in the U.S. illegally, more likely to be U.S. citizens and more likely to speak English at a higher rate.

-Overall, black immigrants earn college degrees at a slightly lower rate than Americans in general, but the share of foreign-born blacks from Africa with a college degree is higher than that of the overall U.S. population.

To read more about the study, refer to the following link.

Undocumented Tax Contributions

A new 50-state study, Undocumented Immigrants’ State and Local Tax Contributions, by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy finds that undocumented immigrants’ tax contributions would increase significantly under the Obama Administration’s executive actions and even more substantially under comprehensive immigration reform granting all undocumented immigrants lawful permanent residence.

The 11.4 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States collectively paid $11.84 billion in state and local taxes in 2012. ITEP’s analysis finds their combined nationwide state and local tax contributions would increase by $845 million under full implementation of the administration’s 2012 and 2014 executive actions and by $2.2 billion under comprehensive immigration reform.

Read more here.

Visa Bulletin for May 2015

This bulletin summarizes the availability of immigrant numbers during May. Consular officers are required to report to the Department of State documentarily qualified applicants for numerically limited visas; U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security reports applicants for adjustment of status. Allocations were made, to the extent possible, in chronological order of reported priority dates, for demand received by April 13th. If not all demand could be satisfied, the category or foreign state in which demand was excessive was deemed oversubscribed. The cut-off date for an oversubscribed category is the priority date of the first applicant who could not be reached within the numerical limits. Only applicants who have a priority date earlier than the cut-off date may be allotted a number. If it becomes necessary during the monthly allocation process to retrogress a cut-off date, supplemental requests for numbers will be honored only if the priority date falls within the new cut-off date announced in this bulletin. If at any time an annual limit were reached, it would be necessary to immediately make the preference category “unavailable”, and no further requests for numbers would be honored.

To review a priority date or learn more, click here.

District Court Grants DOL an Extension for H-2B Program

On April 15, 2015, the federal district court in the Northern District of Florida issued an order effectively permitting the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to continue issuing temporary labor certifications under the H-2B visa program through May 15, 2015. As a result, DOL will continue to process temporary labor certification applications under its 2008 H-2B regulations through May 15, 2015.

On March 4, the court vacated DOL’s 2008 H-2B regulations on the grounds that DOL lacks authority to issue regulations in the H-2B program. DOL and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are working to publish regulations to minimize future interruptions to the H-2B program.

DIY Immigration

At Agarwal Law Offices, we try hard to understand our clients. While some clients prefer a more traditional attorney-client relationship, others prefer basic guidance and review from a licensed practitioner for a discounted price. For that reason, we offer interested clients the opportunity to purchase a packet for the applicable petition, which includes the following:

• Checklist of necessary documents, forms, and evidence;
• Breakdown of the application process;

In addition, this approach includes the following one-on-one interaction with Attorney Agarwal. Such review is done either in person or remotely, based on the individual client’s needs:

• Mid-point review with feedback and
• Final review/interview preparation (if applicable).

The following packets are available:

• Family-Based Green Card: $1,000.00
• Fiance Visa: $1,500.00
• Battered Persons Petitions: $1,500.00
• Citizenship Application: $300.00
• Visitor Visa: $250.00

To begin the process, contact us at or 978-905-9992. We will then schedule a free consultation in person or via phone to determine eligibility for the applicable petition.

Boston Bombing & Immigration Flaws

“The Boston Marathon bombing will forever taint any talk of immigration reform because it is a stark reminder than the primary obligation of the federal government is to protect United States soil. The explosion that left five dead and 100 injured proves there was a flaw somewhere that allowed this tragedy to occur and those flaws need to be corrected in any future immigrant legislation to ensure the safety of all Americans.”

Read more:

H-1B Cap Premium Processing to Begin April 27

On April 27, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions requesting premium processing, including petitions seeking an exemption for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher. USCIS first announced in a news release that it would temporarily adjust its premium processing practice due to the historic premium processing receipt levels, combined with the possibility that the H-1B cap will be met in the first 5 business days of the filing season.

For H-1B petitions that are not subject to the cap and for any other visa classification, the 15-day processing period for premium processing service begins on the date that USCIS receives the request. However, for cap-subject H-1B petitions, including advanced degree exemption petitions, the 15-day processing period set by 8 CFR 103.7(e)(2) will begin on April 27, 2015, regardless of the date on the Form I-797 receipt notice, which indicates the date that the premium processing fee is received.

Immigration Issues Affecting the LGBT Community

Perhaps the greatest challenge affecting the LGBT community with regards to U.S. immigration is the fact that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) expressly prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. Accordingly, same-sex individuals cannot sponsor their partners for marriage-based petitions even with a legal state marriage. While there are proposed bills to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate such discrimination, none have been approved or passed.

However, relief is still available for undocumented LGBT individuals who fear persecution if they were to return to their native country. The Board of Immigration Appeals has set precedent in the landmark case of Matter of Toboso-Alfonso where persecution based on sexual orientation is deemed a potential basis upon which to apply for asylum. Further, LGBT individuals are not barred from receiving other relevant green cards or visas for which they are eligible. These include a variety of employment and special immigrant status green cards and visas.

While there are extensive challenges to the LGBT community, progress with regards to deportation of LGBT individuals has recently been made through a written guidance by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano clarifying that long-term lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender relationships be taken into account when determining hardship for purposes of deportation. Secretary Napolitano has extended “family relationships” to include not just heterosexual relationships, but also same-sex relationships – the first time the government has formally recognized same-sex relationships as a positive factor in an immigration case.

Accordingly, while challenges remain such as acquiring family-based petition benefits for same-sex marriages, other forms of relief for the community remain such as political asylum based on sexual orientation, and various employment-based and special immigrant status green cards and visas. Further, same-sex relationships are considered and recognized for purposes of deportation decisions. With such recent progress, hope remains that the LGBT community will experience more equal treatment with regards to immigration in the coming years.

Advocates Requesting Appellate Court to Reverse Blocking Deferred Action

Recently, advocates are submitting amicus briefs defending the deferred action initiatives with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. One of these briefs will be filed on behalf of more than 150 civil rights, labor, and immigration advocacy groups, led by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), American Immigration Council (AIC), and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Briefs also expected to be submitted to the court include 15 states and the District of Columbia, 73 mayors, county officials from 27 states, 181 members of Congress, and educators, law enforcement, faith and business leaders. These briefs discuss the economic and community benefits that result from expansion of the successful DACA program and the new DAPA initiative for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.

Check back for updates.

Deferred Action Updates

On June 15, 2012, President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would not deport certain undocumented youth who came to the United States as children. Under a directive from the secretary of DHS, these youth may be granted a type of temporary permission to stay in the U.S. called “deferred action.” The Obama administration called this program Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced an expansion of the DACA program. However, on February 16, 2015, a federal district court in Texas issued an order that puts the “expanded DACA” program on hold temporarily. People cannot apply for expanded DACA at this time. However, people who believe they are eligible for DACA under the pre-expansion guidelines may still apply for DACA under those guidelines.

Currently, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is accepting applications both from people who were previously granted DACA and now want to renew it and from people applying for DACA for the first time under the pre-expansion guidelines. USCIS is not yet accepting applications from people who do not qualify under the pre-expansion guidelines but who may qualify under expanded DACA.
Please check back for updates.