The Year in Review: Immigration in 201424 Dec 2014
With President Obama’s announcement last month that he will be using his executive power to usher in sweeping immigration reform, 2014 will undoubtedly be remembered as a watershed year for immigrants pursuing the American Dream. Although his announcement garnered national attention, those following MurthyDotCom know that immigration trends, laws, and regulations are constantly in flux, even if many of these changes don’t make front-page headlines.
One issue of note came in February of this year, when the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a public notice confirming that unpaid internships are a permissible form of employment for F-1 students involved in an initial period of optional practical training (OPT). This was in response to an erroneous interpretation of the regulations by the Nebraska Service Center, which resulted in numerous denials of OPT STEM applications.
There were some key developments related to nonimmigrant petitions. For instance, earlier this year, we received confirmation that foreign nationals applying for L1B status have been experiencing much greater pushback from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); what’s more, the situation has been especially grim for Indian nationals, who were issued a disproportionate number of L1B denials. On the H1B front, news arrived that the USCIS received a substantial increase in the number of H1B petitions during this year’s random selection lottery filing period in April than during the previous year.
At a few key points throughout the year, federal courts have made their presence felt in the world of immigration law. This was illustrated in March, when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear appeals filed by small towns in “Pennsylvania and Texas, defending their attempts to impose local immigration laws.” This helped reinforce the understanding that federal authority over immigration law trumps local enforcement efforts. A ruling in November by a federal appeal’s court also provided some welcome news to foreign nationals, finding that the “beneficiary of an approved I-140 had legal standing” to respond to a notice of intent to revoke (NOIR) issued by the USCIS on said document. It was not all good news from the courts, however. In June, the Supreme Court dealt a blow to the immigrant community, ruling that the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) had the right to narrowly interpret protections offered by the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA).
As 2014 draws to a close, the immigration community is poised for an exciting period of change as Obama’s reforms begin implementation next year. MurthyDotCom will remain a valuable resource in 2015 by providing timely, accurate updates on important topics during this thrilling time of transition.
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