In mid-June, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) issued its Visa Bulletin for July 2007, listing all employment-based categories as current. This meant that any beneficiary with a certified PERM or with a pending or approved Immigrant Petition would become eligible to file an I-485 Application to Adjust Status as of July 1. Then, on July 2, the DOS issued an updated July 2007 Visa Bulletin announcing that it would not make immigrant visas available for any employment-based immigrant visa categories starting July 2, 2007. Further, that the immigrant visas will remain unavailable until October 1, 2007, which is the start of the DOS 2008 fiscal year.
Unfortunately, visa categories that were current prior to July 2007, are also now unavailable. In addition, we received confirmation that as of July 2, 2007, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) would start rejecting and returning all employment-based Adjustment of Status Applications filed in July. Nonetheless, we can report that the USCIS has not yet returned any Adjustment Applications filed in July, and we continue to file Adjustment Applications. In response to what is being termed "VB Gate," the American Immigration Lawyers Association is preparing to file a class action lawsuit against the federal government. We will provide an update as soon as we have more information.
The attached link to the DOS website contains the revised July Visa Bulletin: http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/bulletin_3263.html
DOL Final Rule
DOL has issued a final rule that goes into effect on July 16, 2007 and will apply to all alien labor certification and PERM Applications pending on or after July 16. Some highlights include:
DOL has established a validity period for PERM Applications. A certified PERM Application granted on or after July 16, 2007, will expire if not filed in support of an Immigrant Petition with the USCIS within 180 calendar days of the date DOL granted the certification. If granted before July 16, 2007, a certified PERM application expires if not filed in support of an Immigrant Petition with USCIS within 180 calendar days of July 16, 2007.
The final rule requires that employers pay all costs of preparing, filing, and obtaining PERM certification. The final rule prohibits the sale, barter, or purchase of PERM Applications and includes procedures for debarment of employers and their representatives from the PERM program for violation of these provisions.
Effective July 30, 2007, USCIS filing fees will increase significantly. In some instances, the fees will be double or triple. The following link lists the fees effective as of July 30, 2007:
For those employers who frequently file petitions for nonimmigrant workers, please note that while the nonimmigrant (I-129) filing fee increases from $195 to $320, the supplemental fees and fraud prevention fees for H and L visas will not increase.