USCIS Processing Times Released
USCIS has released its most recent processing times for all of the kinds of cases it adjudicates. The data are broken down by the specific Service Center. For example, E-2 visa applications are adjudicated by the California Service Center. The processing time listed is two months. Both the Vermont and California Service Centers adjudicate O and P visa petitions. The California Service Center is adjudicating these petitions in two weeks, which is their stated goal. Vermont Service Center is taking over two months. Of note are that the Vermont Service Center is working on U Visa applications filed in May of 2014. It seems that most Employment Authorization applications are on track to be adjudicated within the regulatory mandated 90 days.
Premium Processing is available for the following kinds of cases. Premium processing requires a $1,225 fee. In exchange, the Service Center will render a decision within 15 days and communicate by email for faster correspondence.
Asylum Interview Dates
The backlong continues for the eight asylum offices in the United States. Affirmative asylum is when someone applies for asylum in the United States without being in immigration court. Defensive asylum is applying for asylum in the United States in immigration court. That happens in front of a judge. The affirmative asylum process demands that an application is filed within one year of the applicant’s arrival in the United States, unless there is a qualifying exception for why the application was not filed in time.
USCIS publishes its waiting times for asylum interviews. If you are in Pittsburgh, you belong in the jurisdiction of the Arlington office. The waiting times give an indication of how long it takes for your case to be heard by an Asylum Officer, who is responsible for making the decision on whether the application is granted asylum or not.
State of the Union: President Obama’s Final SOTU
President Obama is delivering his final State of the Union address tonight. Immigration was an important topic in his last State of the Union address. At that time, the executive orders for the deferred action programs were announced but not yet in effect. They were also not blocked in the federal court. The executive orders contained substantive measures to improve various aspects of the immigration system: L-1 visas, hardship waivers, the visa bulletin process.
Here are quotes from previous States of the Union.
“And we should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system — to secure our borders and enforce our laws, and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nation.” — 2010
“Now, I strongly believe that we should take on, once and for all, the issue of illegal immigration. And I am prepared to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, enforce our laws, and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows.” — 2011
“I believe as strongly as ever that we should take on illegal immigration. That’s why my administration has put more boots on the border than ever before. That’s why there are fewer illegal crossings than when I took office. The opponents of action are out of excuses. We should be working on comprehensive immigration reform right now. … Send me a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship. I will sign it right away.” — 2012
“Our economy is stronger when we harness the talents and ingenuity of striving, hopeful immigrants. And right now leaders from the business, labor, law enforcement, faith communities, they all agree that the time has come to pass comprehensive immigration reform. … we know what needs to be done. … Send me a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next few months, and I will sign it right away. And America will be better for it.” — 2013
“Finally, if we are serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders and law enforcement — and fix our broken immigration system. … So let’s get immigration reform done this year.” — 2014
“Yes, passions still fly on immigration, but surely we can all see something of ourselves in the striving young student, and agree that no one benefits when a hardworking mom is snatched from her child, and that it’s possible to shape a law that upholds our tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. I’ve talked to Republicans and Democrats about that. That’s something that we can share.” — 2015
Visa Bulletin News: Annual Report and February 2016 Bulletin
The Department of State released the February 2016 Visa Bulletin. It also published the Immigrant Visa Waiting List Report, which is an annual publication of the number of visa applicants on the waiting list in the preferences and subcategories. There is a wait list because of statutory numerical restrictions. For example, 28.7% of immigrant visas may come from Employment-Based 1 (EB-1) preference. EB-2 and EB-3 preferences for the China and India chargeabilities are the perpetually oversubscribed categories. Oversubscribed means that there are more people applying than spots available for immigrant visas.
One encouraging sign is movement in the EB-2 India category. It jumped 6 months from February 1, 2008 for the final action date to August 1, 2008. The visa bulletin continues to employ the filing and final action date system. The filing date for EB-2 India is July 1, 2009.
The data from the Department of State shows that over half of petitions are filed Family-Based 4 (FB-4), which is US citizens filing for their siblings. This category for all chargeabilities has an excruciating long wait period. On the Employment-Based side, there was a major increase in EB-5 petitions filed and considerable increases in the number of EB-1 and EB-2 petitions filed in 2015 as opposed to 2014. The agency’s report also includes a per country list. This is important because there is a per country limitation of no more than 7% of all immigrant visas issued for one country.
Immigration on TV: Bordertown
Characters of Bordertown
On January 3, 2016 a new show, Bordertown, debuted on FOX’s Sunday Night Animation Domination. There are some famous voice over actors voicing the characters (such as Hank Azaria, Judah Friedlander, Alex Borstein) and Seth McFarlane is an executive producer. The show’s name conveys the setting and the subsequent storylines. It is set in the fictional town of Mexifornia, and it portrays the lives of people living in a town that is on the border of the United States and Mexico.
Given the show’s focus and name, the storylines revolve around immigration issues. In the pilot episode, the main conflict was that an American individual of Mexican descent (American born and American citizen) was deported to Mexico. The federal government passed a law, SB 7010. This is a play on the Arizona law from 2010, SB 1070, which was subsequently defeated in the US Supreme Court. The law in reality allowed for law enforcement to demand immigration paperwork proving legal status from persons they believed to be suspicious and not with legal status. That same conflict played out in the show and represented a main tension of the episode.
Another interesting twist to the show is that one of the main characters, Bud, is an American man who works for the Border Patrol. He is dedicated to protecting the border from smuggling and unauthorized migrants. Bud lives next door to Ernesto, a Mexican man, and his family. Their neighborliness can be tense, given their beliefs and circumstances.
The show probably will not be an accurate depiction of immigration laws and enforcement. However, it does provide an interesting narrative with a unique setting of Mexifornia. The main characters have backgrounds and situations that will place them in differing camps on immigration views. They will likely give voice to various views on immigration, many of which are likely to be politically relevant. The show is certainly timely and its views and portrayal of immigration in the United States are a small but important sliver of the immigration system.