USCIS Announces List of Countries Eligible for Participation in

H-2A and H-2B Visa Programs.

Jan 16, 2011: USCIS announced last week that the Departments of

Homeland Security and State have identified a total of 53 countries

whose citizens may be eligible to participate in the United

States' H-2A and H-2B visa entry programs. The H-2A program

enables U.S. employers to offer employment to foreign nationals for

temporary agricultural positions. The H-2B program enables U.S.

employers to offer employment to foreign nationals for temporary

nonagricultural positions. With just a few exceptions, USCIS will

approve visa petitions for people from countries designated by the

Secretary of Homeland Security as eligible to participate in these

two visa programs.

Effective January 18, 2011, people from the following countries may

be eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B visas

programs:

Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada,

Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El

Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary,

Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Latvia, Lithuania,

Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Nauru, The Netherlands, Nicaragua, New

Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland,

Romania, Samoa, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South

Africa, South Korea, Tonga, Turkey, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United

Kingdom, Uruguay, and Vanuatu. Of these countries, the following

were designated for the first time this year: Barbados, Estonia,

Fiji, Hungary, Kiribati, Latvia, Macedonia, Nauru, Papua New

Guinea, Samoa, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and

Vanuatu.

Please note that Indonesia is no longer a country applicable for

these two visa programs. This new list will not affect the

immigration status of any individuals currently in the U.S. with

valid H-2A or H-2B visas.

Latest Updates on H-1B and H-2B Visa Counts.

Jan 11, 2011: USCIS has just released the latest numbers for the

amount of petitions received for the cap-subject H-1B and H-2B visa

programs. According to USCIS, as of January 7, 2011, roughly 58,700

H-1B cap-subject petitions have been receipted by the federal

agency. A total of 65,000 H-1B visas are available each year,

according to current federal regulations. USCIS has also receipted

20,000 H-1B petitions for foreign workers with advanced degrees,

leaving no additional available visa under that exemption.

USCIS also noted that it has receipted 2,129 H-2B petitions for the

first half of the fiscal year, including 1,452 approved petitions

and 677 pending petitions. A total of 33,000 H-2B cap-subject visas

are available for each 6-month period.

USCIS Implements Help HAITI Act of 2010.

Jan 05, 2011: USCIS has officially implemented the Help HAITI

Act of 2010. This new law will give USCIS the power to grant lawful

permanent resident status to certain orphaned children from Haiti,

who came to the U.S. under the Haitian Orphan Parole Program after

Haiti's devastating earthquake on January 12, 2010. The public

is invited to comment on interim guidance until January 14,

2011.

The Haitian Orphan Parole Program, introduced on January 18, 2010,

was a humanitarian policy that allowed orphaned children from Haiti

to temporarily enter the U.S. to ensure they received the care they

needed. Children legally confirmed as orphans eligible for

intercountry adoption by the Haitian government and in the process

of being adopted by Americans prior to the earthquake and those

that were matched to prospective American adoptive parents were

allowed to apply for the parole program, as long as other

eligibility requirements were met.

Record Number of Undocumented Aliens Deported in 2010.

Dec 30, 2010: According to public records, a record number of

immigrants were deported from the U.S. this year. In addition, this

year marked the pronounced expansion of the USCIS Secure

Communities program, a program aimed at identifying undocumented

aliens imprisoned in the U.S.

According to ICE, nearly 400,000 undocumented aliens were deported

in 2010. Of those, over 195,000 were convicted criminals. Much of

this increase came from the Secure Communities program, which uses

biometric data to compare the fingerprints of people imprisoned in

local jails to those in ICE and FBI databases. The Secure

Communities program is currently in place in 891 jails in 35 states

across the U.S.

USCIS Announces Transformation to Web-based Environment.

Dec 27, 2010: Earlier this month, USCIS announced that it is

undertaking an agency-wide effort to shift their immigration

services from a paper-based system to an electronic system. This

effort, known as USCIS Transformation, will utilize a simplified,

web-based system for applicants to submit and track their

applications online.

The new system, which will be account-based, will improve customer

service and will enable USCIS to process cases with more precision,

security and timeliness.

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