For nationals of Kazakhstan US visa validity periods have increased for several nonimmigrant visa categories. As of August 1, 2013, qualified applicants applying for diplomatic, official, tourist, business, student/exchange, and media visas will be issued US visas with a maximum validity of 5 years on a reciprocal basis with the Government of Kazakhstan. more »
Same-sex couples are now eligible to petition for marriage-based green cards and dependent visas on the same basis as opposite-sex couples. On June 26, 2013, in United States v. Windsor, the US Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which had prohibited the US federal government from providing federal benefits to same-sex couples. Since US immigration law is federal (national), prior to Windsor, DOMA prevented same-sex couples from seeking US immigration benefits based on marriage. more »
Beginning April 26, 2013, US Customs & Border Patrol (CBP) will be eliminating the paper-based Form I-94 arrival/ departure admissions record in four phases across US airports and pre-flight inspections stations nationwide. Form I-94 admissions record is the white card that individuals receive on a US-bound flight, and which is then stamped by border officers and stapled to your passport upon entry to the United States. more »
For the first time since 2008, USCIS reached the statutory FY-2014 H-1B cap of 65,000 and the FY-2014 H-1B cap on advanced degree H-1B petitions within the first week of the H-1B filing period (starting April 1, 2013). On April 7, 2013, USCIS conducted the FY-2014 H-1B lottery to determine which of the cap-subject FY-2014 H-1B petitions would be eligible for further processing for the coming fiscal year (beginning October 1, 2013). more »
On April 5, 2013, USCIS announced that they had received enough H-1B petitions to reach the FY-2014 H-1B cap for cap-subject H-1B petitions with an employment start date of October 1, 2013. In addition, USCIS also announced that they had received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of persons exempt from the cap under the advanced degree exemption. more »
USCIS will begin accepting FY2014 H-1B petitions Monday, April 1, 2013, for employment beginning October 1, 2013. The Service anticipates that it may receive more petitions than the H-1B cap allows between April 1, 2013 and April 5, 2013. In that case, USCIS will hold a lottery to determine which cap-subject FY2014 H-1B petitions they accept for consideration. Note that those who do not file a cap-subject FY2014 H-1B petition before the annual quota is exhausted may be locked out of the H-1B program until the start of the following fiscal year (FY2015), which begins October 1, 2014. more »
The US Embassy Beijing and all US Consulates in China that issue visas are implementing a new US visa appointment, fee payment and document delivery system starting March 16, 2013. This new US visa system, already in use in several countries, will make it easier for US visa applicants to schedule visa interview appointments, pay visa processing fees, and check on the status of their issued visas. more »
The edited text of the US Department of State’s first ever LGBT Travel Advisory is below.
Some countries provide legal protections to LGBT individuals. But, others do not, and a significant number even criminalize consensual same-sex sexual relations. Individuals convicted in these countries could be sentenced to prison, and/or be punished by fines, deportation, flogging, or even sentenced to death. Before choosing an international destination, LGBT travelers should carefully consider the laws and biases of their international destination and decide how open one can be regarding one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Personal judgment and knowledge of local laws and customs before one goes will help ensure your safety. more »
A group of US Senators introduced a Bipartisan Framework for Immigration Reform 2013 January 29, 2013, closely followed by the White House’s Blueprint for Immigration Reform 2013 (Full Text; Fact Sheet), introduced January 30, 2013. In addition, another group of US Senators have introduced the Immigration Innovation Act of 2013–I2– (I2 summary; full text of I2 Bill), a complementary plan for immigration reform that includes fixes for various legal immigration issues, including an H-1B cap increase, and changes in temporary visa and green card opportunities for those with STEM backgrounds, among other things. more »
The US Mission to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), including the US Embassy Abu Dhabi and the US Consulate Dubai, is making the transition to a new appointment service for anyone applying for a nonimmigrant visa to the US.
Beginning January 6, 2013, US visa applicants will work online or via telephone with a service provider to schedule an interview, pay the visa application fee, and arrange for the delivery of documents and passports. The new appointment service will also allow US visa applicants to schedule a visa interview, pay the visa application fee and arrange for delivery of documents and passports. This new service will also allow applicants to schedule a visa interview with more flexibility and up to 6 months in advance of travel plans. more »