LawQuest Immigration Alerts - October 2017

Indian IT Companies are the Biggest Consumers of L-1 Visas

According to data of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Indian IT giants became the biggest consumers of the non-immigrant work visa - L-1 visa - for the fiscal years 2015 and 2016. 

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USCIS Changes Deference Policy – Raises the Standard for Visa Extension Approvals

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a new binding memo on October 23rd rescinding earlier policy that required officers to give deference to prior decisions, in processing nonimmigrant visa extension applications.  This new policy affects all employment extension petitions (I-129), including H-1B, L-1, O-1 and more.

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Trump’s Third Travel Ban Blocked Yet Again

President Trump’s latest travel ban which was set to take effect on October 18th, was blocked yesterday by a federal judge in Hawaii.  The latest ban imposed travel restrictions on citizens of Chad, North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.  The federal judge’s order stops it, at least temporarily, with respect to all the countries except North Korea and Venezuela.

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Premium Processing Service Now Available for All H-1B Visa Petitions

On October 3, 2017, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it had resumed Premium Processing Services, for all type of H-1B petitions, including the extension of stay petitions for the fiscal year 2018. The USCIS had temporarily suspended the Premium Processing Service for all H-1B visa petitions filed on or after April 3, 2017.  

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Indian Investors Rush to Apply as the EB-5 Program Extended to December 8, 2017

Under the EB-5 program, increasing number of Indian nationals are shelling out half a million US dollars in order to get themselves and their families permanent residence status in the US, and eventually American citizenship.  The EB-5 is an investment program which allows foreign nationals to obtain US green cards through investment.  The investment amount is between $500,000 and $1 million in qualified projects in the US. 


New Citizenship Residence Criteria in Canada from October 2017

Recent amendments by the Government of Canada to the Citizenship Act which came into effect on June 19, 2017 has confirmed that additional alterations regarding criteria for Canadian citizenship will come into effect as on October 11, 2017. The new changes will aim at reducing the age requirement for meeting the language and knowledge criteria as well as the physical presence requirement for getting Canadian citizenship. 

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Wives Deserted or Harassed by an NRI Spouse to Receive Aid of Up to USD 6,000

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) constituted a high-level committee headed by retired judge Arvind Kumar Goel to consider the legal challenges faced by women who are harassed or deserted by their Non – Resident Indian (NRI) spouses. 

To assist overseas Indian nationals in times of distress and emergency in the most deserving cases, the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) was set up in 2009. The ICWF underwent a recent expansion and as of October 1, 2017, Indian women deserted by their husbands in 13 countries are to receive financial aid of up to USD 6,000 to help the women avail of legal services and counselling if they have been abandoned, cheated or abused by their spouses and have no means of livelihood.

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Changes in Hong Kong Visa Rules Make Travel Regulations Stricter for Indian Nationals
Due to increase in the number of foreign nationals seeking economic asylum in Hong Kong, Immigration Department’s Assistant Director, Ma Chi-Ming introduced an online registration platform for all Indian nationals planning to travel to Hong Kong from January 23, 2017. This online platform will require all Indian passport holders to obtain a prior approval from the Immigration Department before applying for their visas. The main objective of this scheme is to curb Indian nationals from seeking refugee status in Hong Kong. 

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Indian Immigration Update

Effective October 2018, Only Machine Readable OCI Cards will be accepted


The International Civil Aviation Organization will now only accept machine readable travel documents with effect from October 2018. Therefore, the existing PIO cards will become invalid. It is thus advisable to obtain machine readable OCI cards in lieu of existing hand written PIO cards before December 31st, 2017.



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