Volume Five, Number Nine
SHUSTERMAN’S IMMIGRATION UPDATE is the Web’s most popular e-mail newsletter regarding U.S. immigration laws and procedures with over 40,000 subscribers located in more than 150 countries. It is written by a former INS Trial Attorney (1976-82) with over 30 years of experience practicing immigration law.
Published by the Law Offices of Carl Shusterman, 600 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 1550, Los Angeles, California, 90017. Phone: (213) 623-4592 x0.
Subscribers to SHUSTERMAN’S IMMIGRATION UPDATE: 35,129
Newsletter US Immigration Update September 2000
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- 1. October 2000 State Department Visa Bulletin
- 2. Immigration Government Processing Times
- 3. Physicians: INS’s NIW Regulations Rewrite Physician Law
- 4. Labor Department Issues H-1C Nurse Regulations
- 5. Immigration Trivia Quiz: New Americans Go For The Gold
- 6. A Guide To Hiring Foreign-Born Health Care Professionals
- 7. LegalElite: Calendar of Free Immigration Discussions
- 8. INS Web Site’s 1st Birthday: What’s Been Done, What’s To Come
- 9. Chat Schedule and Online Transcripts
- 10. National Visa Center: General Information and FAQ
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- EOIR – The agency, using its recently-issued regulations (6-27-00) suspended five attorneys from practice. See
and scroll down to “Board of Immigration Appeals” and then to “EOIR Takes First Disciplinary Actions Against Immigration Practitioners (8-18-00)”.
- Expedited Removal Studies -The Expedited Removal Study has posted its third annual report on how expedited removal is working and its effect on asylum seekers. The 2000 study may be downloaded as a PDF file at
http://www.uchastings.edu/ers/reports/2000/2000%20Report.pdf (Link no longer operational)
The General Accounting Office (GAO) has posted their study (all 112 pages) regarding how to make expedited removal a more efficient law enforcement tool as a PDF file at
- Form I-485 – The INS will only accept the latest Application for Permanent Residence (form I-485) after September 30, 2000. The most recent version of form I-485 may be downloaded (as a PDF file) from
- H-1B Cap – Although Congress has not acted upon any major immigration issues since it returned from its August recess, ComputerWorld magazine has published a number of informative stories about the shortage of H-1B visas for the new fiscal year, including one which predicts that the cap may be reached before the end of the calendar year.
- Lottery – The DV-2002 Green Card Lottery begins on noon, October 2, 2000.
- Refugees – Imagine that war breaks out in Los Angeles or New York… With few possessions and little warning, you flee to escape danger. Soon you could find yourself in a refugee camp. Find out how 39 million people are forced to live together by clicking on
- State Department To Charge $50 For Reviewing Form I-864 – Remember that old Graham Nash lyric, “immigration form, big enough to keep me warm”? Well, whether you do or not, the forms do seem to keep getting bigger and bigger. The biggest is the Affidavit of Support form (I-864) which must be submitted with every family-based application for an immigrant visa and for adjustment of status. The State Department has announced that as of October 1, both they and the National Visa Center (See topic #10.) will be charging $50 each time that they have to review one. At present, the INS still processes the form for free.
On September 13, we posted the October 2000 Visa Bulletin before the State Department posted the dates on their web site.
Considering this is the beginning of the new fiscal year, the “advances” were all somewhat disappointing. (We do not yet have all the family-based numbers for persons born in the Philippines and Mexico, or the EB numbers for natives of mainland China. We hope to post these numbers tomorrow.)
For the Family categories, the movement of priority dates was slow, but contained no regressions. Worldwide numbers advanced between two and four weeks. India 4th (brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens) failed to advance even one day.
On the Employment side of the ledger, all worldwide numbers, with the exception of unskilled workers, remained current. The major disappointment was the lack of any forward movement whatsoever in the Indian EB-2 and EB-3 categories. To us, this signifies a growing problem which requires immediate legislative attention.
The priority date for unskilled workers advanced three months to November 1, 1995.
The October Visa Numbers can be found at
For an explanation of what the categories, dates and symbols listed below mean, see
Check the State Department’s official version to see complete information about the movement of family, employment and lottery numbers, at
http://travel.state.gov/visa_bulletin.html (Link is no longer operational.)
We link to the most recent immigration waiting times for each of the four USCIS Service Centers, the National Benefits Center and the Administrative Appeals Office. We also link to the processing times of all of the 83 USCIS District Offices and Sub-offices. We link to the Labor Department’s page entitled “Processing dates for labor certification applications”. Finally, we link to the State Department’s “Visa Wait Times” page.
On September 6, the INS published harsh new regulations to implement the law enacted on November 12, 1999 which compels the agency to grant National Interest Waivers to certain physicians who are employed either by the Veterans’ Administration or in medically underserved areas for an aggregate of five years.
The regulations make the following significant changes in the law:
A. They limit the law’s coverage to primary care physicians;
B. They prohibit a letter for a municipal, county or regional health department from serving as a basis for finding that a physician’s employment is in the public interest; and
C. They provide that a physician must, in all cases, satisfy the five-year requirement within six years after his or her National Interest Waiver is approved.
The regulations were issued in “interim” form, and will become effective on October 6, 2000. Written comments must be submitted on or before November 6, 2000, in triplicate, to the Director, Policy Directives and Instructions Branch, Immigration and Naturalization Service, 425 I Street, NW, Room 5307, Washington, DC, 20536. To ensure proper handling, please reference the INS number 2048-00 on your correspondence.
We posted the new regulations on our web site the same day that they were issued. see
We read the regulations that evening, and e-mailed our analysis to each of our subscribers shortly before midnight. see
We also posted a FAQ on the new regulations, see
And updated our FAQ on the November 1999 law, see
Then, on September 11, we conducted a free online chat regarding the new regulations, see
Link to chat no longer availableThe transcript of the chat should be posted online soon.
Frankly, we are exhausted! However, should you require further information on the law, the new regulations, and what this all means to you, you may schedule a consultation with me by following the instructions at
On August 22, 2000, the Labor Department issued interim final regulations to implement the “Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas Act of 1999”. This law was originally introduced two years earlier as “The Health Professional Shortage Area Nursing Relief Act of 1997”.
When the legislation was introduced in 1997, there was general agreement among the witnesses testifying before the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims that no national shortage of registered nurses existed. see
under “Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas Act of 1999” and scroll down to “Hearing Before the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims Regarding ‘The Health Professional Shortage Area Nursing Relief Act of 1997’.”
Since 1997, the fact that the U.S. is experiencing a national shortage of nurses has become widely known. see
and scroll down to “National Shortage of Nurses” and click on “Fact Sheet on Hospital Nursing Shortage (May 2000)”, “RN’s: Older and Fewer” and “Survey Reveals Early Warning Signs Of Impending Nurse Shortage”. The last is a press release based on a national survey of 388 acute care hospitals conducted in November 1998 by the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE), a subsidiary of the American Hospital Association (AHA) in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Nursing, the American Nurses Association, and the AHA’s American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration (ASHHRA).
Yes, things have changed since 1997. For example, the August 29, 2000 issue of AHA News reports that “Maryland is facing its most serious nursing shortage crisis in more than a decade, according to a new study by MHA, An Association of Maryland Hospitals and Health Systems. The average vacancy rate for hospital nurses fell to 14.7% in the first quarter this year. Hospitals would need to hire 1,629 full-time registered nurses to remedy the situation. Rising dramatically since 1997’s 3.3% vacancy rate, the last time numbers approached the current level was in the late 1980s. Compounding the problem, say those who conducted the study, is that the shortage hits harder today due to patients being older, sicker and requiring more intense nursing care. For more information, see the MHA Web site at
Especially timely and troubling is reporter Michael Berens’ front-page article in the Chicago Tribune dated September 10, 2000 entitled “Nursing Mistakes Kill, Injure Thousands”. Mr. Berens details how the nurse shortage has contributed to the accidental deaths of at least 1,720 hospital patients and 9,584 injuries since 1995. This article should be required reading for all members of Congress.
In light of today’s national shortage of nurses, the enactment of the recycled 1997 law in 1999, now due to be implemented on September 21, 2000, will do little to alleviate the program. The law allows only 14 of the hundreds of nurse-starved hospitals across the U.S. to obtain temporary “H-1C” visas for up to 500 nurses annually. It’s our view that this is tantamount to telling a cancer patient to “take two aspirins and see me in the morning”.
A more realistic approach to the problem would be to add a few words to the H-1B legislation currently pending before Congress to restore the ability of hospitals to obtain temporary visas for registered nurses. This was a widely utilized safety valve for U.S. hospitals until 1997. To do less shows contempt for the health of the American people.
Read a FAQ on the H-1C law at
https://www.shusterman.com/h1cfaq.html (Link no longer operational)
the complete text of the law at
https://www.shusterman.com/hr441.html (Link no longer operational)
all 55 pages of the new Labor Department regulations (Comments are being accepted until September 21, 2000.) at
https://www.shusterman.com/h1cregs.html (Link no longer operational)
and a list of the names and locations of the 14 hospitals affected by the new law at
https://www.shusterman.com/h1chosp.html (Link no longer operational)
The IT industry has made such a strong case for increasing the H-1B cap that many people think that this visa category is reserved exclusively for computer professionals.
It is less-well known that the beleaguered health care industry is having troubles of it’s own in recruiting physicians and nurses. Substantial parts of the U.S. are listed as medically underserved by the Department of Health and Human Services, enough to fill a 100-page book with a small-print listing of underserved localities. Since fewer and fewer U.S. students are pursuing medical and nursing educations, health care providers must look abroad to fill their vacancies.
Unfortunately, U.S. immigration laws dealing with foreign-born health care providers are urgently in need of an overhaul. Canadian physicians who are already licensed in the U.S. cannot obtain H-1Bs without passing exams which would be unnecessary if they were applying for permanent residence, a much longer process. Registered nurses, traditionally considered professionals, are all but locked out of the H-1B category because a four-year university degree is not a generally-accepted minimal educational requirement to enter their profession.
Interestingly enough, Congress amended the law to allow foreign fashion models to qualify for H-1B status without passing an exam or earning a four-year degree. Don’t get me wrong, I like fashion models as much as the next guy, but if I had to have bypass surgery, I wouldn’t want Claudia Schiffer to be my surgeon with Naomi Campbell handing her scalpels, scissors and sutures!
A fantasy? The Dallas Business Journal quoted us extensively in an article entitled “Foreign Nurses Face A Green Card Nightmare”, see
(PDF File – 1.1 MB)
We have written a step-by-step “Guide for Hiring Foreign-Born Health Care Professionals” for Human Resource Directors of hospitals, nursing homes, physician recruiters and others describing how to comply with the I-9 laws, and obtain temporary and permanent visas for various types of health care professionals. see
In late August, one of our legal assistants accompanied a large health care provider to the Philippines to help recruit nurses. If you are a foreign-born RN who has passed either the CGFNS or the NCLEX, and would like both a well-paying job in the U.S. and a green card, please e-mail your resume to me at
On March 16, we announced that Carl Shusterman had been chosen by LegalElite.com as the first attorney in the U.S. to lead a free online discussion on immigration laws. See
https://www.shusterman.com/legalelite.html (Link is no longer operational.)
The first discussion, entitled “Compliance With Immigration Employer Sanctions Laws” was held from April 28 to May 5, 2000.
The second discussion, held August 4-11, 2000, “Immigration Issues That Every Physician Should Know”, generated more questions than any topic ever posted on LegalElite.com
Together with LegalElite.com, we have established a page on our web site with links to transcripts of past immigration discussions, and a calendar of upcoming discussions. see
https://www.shusterman.com/toc-le.html (Link is no longer operational.)
Topics for further discussions include how to obtain temporary working visas, permanent residence and U.S. citizenship. Also, for attorneys, we will be discussing “Marketing: Ten Commandments for Marketing Your Law Firm” in October.
On September 7, I received the following message from Gregg Beyer, INS’s hard-working Web Master. It contains a lot of useful information about what’s been going on with the ever-more-popular, ever-more-useful web site, and details INS’s future plans:
I write this on the occasion of the first anniversary of your September 1999 review of our then still new Internet Website: INS Online. If you recall, our revamped Website debuted on August 12, 1999.
At the time, we were averaging about 500,000 user visits per month to our Website. One year later, for August 2000, we recorded an all time high of one million — yes, one million — visits. That is a 100% increase from a year ago!! We hope it means that more and more people are finding the Website useful — and consulting it more often for basic immigration information and forms. We further hope that it will increasingly come to serve people as their first stop for immigration information and forms, before having to write, telephone or visit an INS office, perhaps unnecessarily.
In terms of the number of visits per month, our Forms feature continues to be the all time winner. Literally millions of copies of our forms have been downloaded over the past year. Our second, third and fourth most popular features are, respectively, those for:
Immigration Services and Benefits —
“How Do I …?”s —
INS field offices —
Since last September, we have added a lot of new features to the Website, including the section on Teacher and Student Resources, and a series on “This Month in Immigration History.” We also beefed up the What’s New? so people can get quickly to information and updates on what is new in INS Public Information documents, in the Federal Register and on the INS Website.
Teacher and Student Resources can be found at
This Month in Immigration History can be found at
http://uscis.gov/graphics/aboutins/history/histmnth.htm (Link is no longer operational)
What’s New? can be found at http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.eb1d4c2a3e5b9ac89243c6a7543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=04db32802cbc8210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=04db32802cbc8210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD
We are also in the process of adding even more content. By about the end of September, all of the public use forms on our Website will have been redone electronically specifically for the Internet. They will be crisper, clearer and easier to download. If they are not, please let us know. An example of one of these new Internet versions is the I-134 at:
Some Internet versions of the forms are already online, and have received a new edition date, while previous editions usually remain acceptable. By the way, the edition date for each form has been added to the “Forms, Fees and Filing Locations Chart” on the INS Website. We show the latest date; information on acceptable dates is also given.
In some cases, where the information on an existing INS form may need further discussion or clarification, we are adding this new/clarifying information to the “Forms Entry Pages” (FEPs) of these forms. The FEP is the page that people must pass through to get to the form itself. People should be cautioned to read any such messages on these FEPs — especially those colored in red — before going to the forms. For instance, see the FEP for the I-485 at
and the FEP for the I-131 at
As an added convenience to all, including our external customers and our internal INS data entry clerks, all of these forms will also be fillable online by the end of October! This will be done in JetForms Fillable, and people can fill them out on the computer before printing them off and mailing them to INS. The first fillable form should be online in about two weeks. Forms that are fillable will be marked with a little icon — of a form and a little mouse.
By the end of September, we intend to have home pages online for each INS Border Patrol sector, and all INS overseas districts and sub offices. This will then complete our Field Offices section: we will have home pages for over 150 INS field offices online. Under the INS Field Offices button, a sector map and an INS World Map have already been added to the Website. The list of Border Patrol Sectors and INS Overseas Offices will be online shortly. And the first of these new home pages should appear within two weeks. Our Field Offices section is found at
Within a couple of months, we intend to have all the scripts used by the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) online — that way, people do not have to call to get that basic information. Instead, they can look up the information on the Website, read it, download it to take to a friend to translate or explain if necessary, and then, if the customer still has a question, s/he can call NCSC for live assistance and ask specific and informed questions to a Customer Service Representative.
And finally, by the end of September, customers will be able to email comments, compliments and complaints about the INS Website to us via the Feedback section on our Website. While we cannot answer each and every one of these, I do assure everyone that we will read all of them and take action on improving our Website whenever we can. We also appreciate hearing about any problems people may be having with the Website. PLEASE ALL NOTE: Due to security and privacy considerations, people should NOT — repeat NOT — email us information about their particular case or situation, including any request for information on the status of their case. These requests should still be sent through existing channels to the appropriate INS field office. Once revised, the Feedback section will still be available at
Recalling your fine wine aging analogy of last year, we hope you and your readers can agree that the INS Website, like your fine wine (is it still Californian?), has indeed improved with age. And the best is still to come.
Among the many further improvements will hope to make in 2001 is the ability of people to obtain online the status of their cases if filed and adjudicated at an INS Service Center. And remembering your plaint from last year, we still DO intend to get INS processing times on our Website so you and your wife and your family can spend some more quality time together. But that will be then, and this is still now …
We are really pleased with the development of our Website over the past year.
And, with more readers and more information on our Website comes more responsibility on us to ensure that the information we publish on our Website remains useful by being accurate and timely — and used throughout the Service and with the public to foster consistency of policies and procedures and interpretations and adjudications.
The more information we make available, the more we want to make available. We hope that people can rely on the INS Website — and we greatly appreciate the support and the comments (including the critical ones) we have received to date about the Website. Certainly, 1 million visits per month seems to indicate that we may be doing something right, and providing some kind of a basic service to our customers. Thank go to you and your readers for this support, and for your ideas and feedback. While we have won several awards over the past year, the most satisfying award is the 1 million visits for this month! Of course, we are also proud of our Awards, which can be found at
http://uscis.gov/graphics/aboutins/wehavedone/awards/recent.htm (Link is no longer operational)
INS Acting Web Manager
Prior to 1991, when a visa petition (I-130, I-140, etc.) was approved by the INS, it was sent to the U.S. consulate abroad designated by the petitioner.
In October 1991, the State Department established the Transitional Immigrant Visa Processing Center (TIVPC) near Washington, D.C. to handle approved visa petitions and to assist U.S. consulates abroad in processing immigrant visa applications.
Then, in 1994, the State Department replaced TIVPC with the National Visa Center (NVC) in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The NVC is located on the site of an Air Force base which was closed down by the Pentagon. It is operated by a private contractor.
To the public, and to new immigration practitioners, the operations of the NVC are somewhat of a mystery.
The following information on the operations of the NVC is provided by Donna Kane of INS’s Vermont Service Center in order to help demystify the process and to assist persons who need to make inquiries regarding their cases.
The National Visa Center (NVC) processes all approved immigrant visa petitions after they are received from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and retains them until the cases are ready for adjudication by a consular officer abroad. Petitions may remain at NVC for several weeks or for many years depending on the visa category and country of birth of the visa applicant. When an applicant’s case is about to become current (a visa number is likely to be available within the year) the petition is forwarded to the appropriate U.S. embassy or consulate overseas. If an applicant is adjusting status in the U.S. the case will be forwarded to the appropriate INS office upon request by that office. NVC receives thousands of telephone and written inquiries from applicants, congressional offices, U.S. embassies and consulates, INS offices, and the White House. An automated recorded message can answer many of these inquiries 24 hours a day, seven days a week (603) 334-0700. Status of case information can only be accessed by entering your NVC case number or INS receipt number on a touch-tone telephone. NVC only has information on petitions it has received. If our automated service does not recognize the INS file or receipt numbers you entered, most likely we have not yet received your petition.
Operators are available to respond to more difficult inquiries from 8:00 AM to 3:45 PM (EST) Monday through Thursday. NVC also holds a customer service feedback day so that the public can talk to operators about the information we provide.
The telephone number and customer service dates are provided at the end of some of the messages.
Written inquiries, changes of address and requests to upgrade petitions due to naturalization of the petitioner should be sent to: The National Visa Center, 32 Rochester Avenue, Portsmouth NH 03801-2909. Please note that NVC is not open to the public. Unfortunately, some people have traveled long distances to inquire about their case in person, only to discover that we are not able to meet with them.
When an applicant’s priority date is close to becoming current NVC will mail a packet of forms and information (Packet 3) to the beneficiary (applicant). If requested to do so we will send this Packet 3 to the applicant’s lawyer or to the petitioner instead of the beneficiary. The exact contents of the Packet 3 will depend on where the applicant will be interviewed for a visa. For instance, the Packet 3 we send to people applying in China is different from the one we send to applicants in France.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
A. Why don’t you have my case at NVC yet?
When you complete a petition (I-130, I-140, etc.) for an immigrant visa you send it to the Immigration and Naturalization for approval. If the INS approves the petition they will send you a Notice of Approval (I-797) and then they will send the petition to NVC. Sometimes there is a delay between when you get the Notice of Receipt and the Notice of Approval from the INS and also between when you get the Notice of Approval and when NVC receives the petition. After NVC receives the petition, it will send a letter to the principal applicant (your beneficiary) regarding the status of the case. We recommend that you wait at least three weeks after you get your Notice of Approval before calling NVC if you have not heard from the Center by that time. Please remember that unless instructed to do otherwise, we notify the beneficiary (the applicant) – NOT the petitioner– regarding the status of the case.
B. I am the beneficiary (applicant) and my case is at NVC. Now what happens?
This depends on whether or not your case is current. If your visa category is an immediate relative category (spouse, parent or child of a U.S. citizen) then your case is automatically current. If your visa category is one of the family preference or employment categories, there are legal limits on the numbers of visas that can be issued in each category and in most categories, the demand is higher than those limits. In these categories, waiting lists have been established based on your priority date, which is the date your sponsor filed your petition with the INS. Cutoff dates established by the Visa Office determine when your petition will be reached for processing. Your petition can only become current and thus ready to further processing when the cutoff date in your visa category has advanced up to your priority date.
If your case is about to become current we will send you, the beneficiary, a Packet 3 containing information and forms. You should complete all the necessary forms and follow the instructions to continue with the visa application process. Your sponsor (petitioner) should complete the Affidavit of Support (I-864) form, which will be sent directly to the petitioner by NVC.
- The above information has been added to our web site at
Certified Specialist in Immigration Law, State Bar of California
Former U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Service Attorney (1976-82)
Board of Governors, American Immigration Lawyers Association (1988-97)
Phone: (213) 623-4592 Fax: (213) 623-3720
Law Offices of Carl Shusterman, 600 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1550
Los Angeles, California 90017
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September 13, 2000
- EOIR – The agency, using its recently-issued regulations (6-27-00) suspended five attorneys from practice. See