News Excerpts From the March 15 Bender's Immigration Bulletin

EOIR Releases Statistics for FY2012

                The Executive Office for Immigration Review has released its statistical yearbook for fiscal 2012. As expected, the backlog of cases before EOIR continued to grow, with 326,255 pending proceedings before immigration courts and 24,824 pending cases at the BIA at the end of the fiscal year. Immigration courts received 410,752 matters in fiscal 2012, a slight decrease from 431,231 matters received the previous fiscal year. While the overall receipts fell, the number of bond requests to immigration judges (78,065) reached a new high. Immigration courts completed 289,934 matters last fiscal year, also a slight decrease from 2011. Notably, only 65% of completed matters involved decisions on the merits. The rest consisted of "other completions," such as changes of venue, transfers of detained aliens between facilities, and administrative closures.

                Other interesting findings include:

  • § The nationwide prosecutorial discretion initiative resulted in the administrative closure of 9,207 cases through the end of fiscal 2012.
  • § The number of "in absentia" removal orders (20,691) dropped for the third consecutive year, reaching its lowest total since at least 1998.
  • § Approximately 28% of cases completed by immigration courts involved applications for relief.
  • § The asylum grant rate from immigration judges reached a new high of 56%. Chinese nationals accounted for nearly 45% of all granted asylum cases in immigration courts nationwide.
  • § Immigration courts granted relief under the Convention Against Torture in 643 cases.
  • § Approximately 36% of matters completed by immigration courts involved detained aliens.
  • § The BIA received 31,489 appeals, 5,390 from DHS decisions and 26,099 from IJ decisions.

The Yearbook can be viewed in its entirety at http://www.justice.gov/eoir/statspub/syb2000main.htm.

 U.S. to Streamline Nonimmigrant Visa Application Process in China

                Starting March 16, nonimmigrant visa applicants in China will enjoy a new streamlined process. Going forward, applicants will be able to schedule visa appointments and check the status of their applications online. They will also be able to make appointments by phone at no extra charge and retrieve their passports at any one of more than 800 branches of CITIC Bank.

                Applicants will be required to pay only the existing $160 processing fee for most nonimmigrant visa applications, and not any additional costs associated with the scheduling of appointments or arranging the return of passports. Applicants will be able to submit payments online using any debit card issued in China, with a Union Pay ATM card at any CITIC automated teller machine, or in cash at any branch of CITIC Bank.

                "Anything that helps streamline the exchange between our two countries is good for our peoples, our bilateral relationship, our economies, and most importantly, our cultural understanding," said Gary Locke, U.S. Ambassador to China, in announcing the effort.

Connecticut Settles Lawsuit over Immigration Detainers

                On February 2, the Connecticut Department of Corrections issued a new directive to state law enforcement agencies as part of a settlement of a lawsuit challenging the use of immigration detainers (Form I-247). As part of the settlement, the DOC will determine whether to honor detainers on a case-by-case basis, depending on whether the arrestee in question poses an unacceptable risk to public safety. Prior to the lawsuit, which was filed by the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School, the DOC was reportedly turning over more than thirty individuals to ICE each month. Since the suit was filed on February 13, 2012, approximately ten people have been transferred to ICE each month. The case was Brizuela v. Feliciano, No. 12-0226 (D. Conn.).

DOL Allows Re-use of Labor Certification Applications

The Department of Labor announced in February that employers and their authorized attorneys may reuse previously filed labor certification applications under the H-1B, H-1B1, and E-3 programs. The new capability is integrated in the iCERT System's LCA Electronic Filing Module, and is expected to reduce the time and cost necessary to prepare and submit ETA Form 9035E. The announcement is reprinted at Appendix A.

Bender's Immigration Bulletin

[This is an excerpt from the March 15, 2013, issue of Bender's Immigration Bulletin.] 

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