News Excerpts From the May 15, 2014, Bender’s Immigration Bulletin

News Excerpts From the May 15, 2014, Bender’s Immigration Bulletin

USCIS Issues New Guidelines on Credible Fear Interviews

On February 28, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issued new guidelines for asylum officers charged with determining whether applicants possess credible fears of persecution or torture in their home countries.

According to a memorandum issued by USCIS Asylum Division Chief John Lafferty, applicants must demonstrate a “substantial and realistic possibility” of succeeding on a subsequent application to merit a referral to immigration court, not a minimal or mere possibility. The memorandum also states that asylum officers screening for claims under the Convention Against Torture must take additional considerations into account, such as whether an act was specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering, and whether internal relocation is possible.

The memo states that the guidelines were revised due to the increasing number of credible fear referrals in recent years. According to the memo, referrals in fiscal 2013 increased more than 250% over the previous year, and surpassed the combined total from fiscal 2007 to fiscal 2011.

The memorandum is reprinted at Appendix A. The related forty-seven-page lesson plan is available at http://goo.gl/gNhbVD.

Labor Department Releases FAQs on Staggered Crossings of H-2B Seafood Workers

On April 16, the Office of Foreign Labor Certification in the Department of Labor announced the release of a series of answers to frequently asked questions regarding the staggered crossing of H-2B workers in the seafood industry under the most recent appropriations act. Under §113 of Division H (covering the Department of Labor) of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014, Pub. L. No. 113-76, 128 Stat. 5, employers in the seafood industry may, under certain conditions, bring H-2B workers into the country any time within a 120-day period.

According to the FAQ, which are reprinted at Appendix B, employers must prepare and provide to H-2B workers seeking entry a signed attestation demonstrating compliance with all statutory conditions. (The official attestation, which cannot be modified, is available at http://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/form.cfm and is reprinted at Appendix C.) Employers must also conduct additional recruitment between forty-five and ninety days after the certified date of need, and are required to retain proof of the additional requirement for three years.

The FAQs define seafood as “finfish, crustaceans, other forms of aquatic animal life, including, but not limited to, alligator, frog, aquatic turtle, jellyfish, sea cucumber, and sea urchin and the roe of such animals, and all mollusks.”

The staggered-crossing provision expires on September 30, 2014.

EOIR Releases Annual Statistical Yearbook

On April 16, the Executive Office for Immigration Review released its statistical yearbook for fiscal 2013. It can be viewed in its entirety at http://www.justice.gov/eoir/statspub/fy13syb.pdf. Recent statistical yearbooks are available at http://www.justice.gov/eoir/statspub/syb2000main.htm.

The backlog of cases before immigration courts continued to grow, with 350,330 pending proceedings at the end of fiscal 2013. However, immigration courts received 271,279 new matters in fiscal 2013, down from more than 310,000 the previous year. Meanwhile, the backlog at the Board of Immigration Appeals continued to decline, with 22,940 cases pending at the end of the fiscal year, down from more than 30,000 in fiscal 2011.

Other interesting findings include:

  • In fiscal 2013, immigration judges ordered removal in approximately 105,000 cases, terminated proceedings in more than 24,000 cases, granted relief in more than 27,000 cases, and administratively closed more than 32,000 cases. 
  • As during each of the past four fiscal years, the most subjects of “initial case completions” in removal proceedings were from Mexico, followed by Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and China. 
  • Nearly 60% of all respondents in removal proceedings were represented in fiscal 2013. 
  • The asylum grant rate from immigration judges was 53%, down from 56% the previous year. Affirmative applications were granted in 74% of cases, while defensive applications were granted in 30% of cases. Chinese nationals accounted for 45% of all granted asylum cases in immigration courts nationwide.
  • The BIA completed 34,790 cases in fiscal 2013, including 16,486 appeals from IJ decisions, and 7,685 motions to reopen or reconsider a prior BIA decision. 

2014 Edition of Global Business Immigration Practice Guide Ships 

Dozens of members of the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers co-authored and edited the Global Business Immigration Practice Guide, published by LexisNexis.™ The Practice Guide is a one-stop resource for dealing with questions related to business immigration issues in immigration hotspots around the world. The 2014 edition is shipping this month. It adds a chapter on Singapore. Other chapters cover Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chine, Costa Rica, the European Union, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Latchi Delchev, a global mobility and immigration specialist for Boeing, called the guide "first-rate" and said the key strong point of the book is its "outstanding usability." She said she highly recommends the book and notes that it "is helpful even to seasoned professionals, as it provides a level of detail which is not easily gained from daily case management."

Mireya Serra-Janer, head of European immigration for a multinational IT company, says she particularly likes "the fact that the [guide] focuses not just on each country's immigration law itself but also addresses related matters such as tax and social security issues." She noted that the India chapter "is particularly good. The immigration regulations in India have always been hard to understand. Having a clear explanation of the rules there helps us sort out many mobility challenges."

This comprehensive guide is designed to be used by:

  • Human resources professionals and in-house attorneys who need to instruct, understand, and liaise with immigration lawyers licensed in other countries;
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  • Attorneys interested in expanding their practice to include global business immigration services.

This publication provides:

  • An overview of the immigration law requirements and procedures for each country;
  • Practical information and tips for obtaining visas, work permits, resident status, naturalization, and other nonimmigrant and immigrant pathways to conducting business, investing, and working in each country;
  • A general overview of the appropriate options for a particular employee; and
  • Information on how an employee can obtain and maintain authorization to work in a target country.

Each chapter follows a similar format, making it easy to compare practices and procedures from country to country. Useful links to additional resources and forms are included. Collected in this Practice Guide, the expertise of ABIL's attorney members across the globe will serve as an ideal starting point in your research into global business immigration issues.

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Bender's Immigration Bulletin

[This is an excerpt from the May 15, 2014, issue of Bender's Immigration Bulletin.]

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