Astonishingly High Visagate Numbers, Conspiracy Theory By Conservatives On Latest Enforcement Efforts Being Administration Goad For Amnesty, And Encouragement For Early Filing Of Expired Green Card Replacement Applications
The NY Times reported on August 19, 2007, that USCIS received about 300,000 applications for high skilled employment visas since July 1, 2007. As readers may recall in this colloquially named "Visagate" affair, the USCIS used extraordinary means to have the Department of State revoke its July 2007 visa bulletin which had shown current availability for employment based cases categories 1 through 3 by claiming to have approved enough cases to fill up those categories for the rest of the fiscal year. By doing so, USCIS could prevent the filing of I-485 applications to adjust status to permanent residence for these classes and force applicants to pay its expanded I-485 fee which would only come into effect a month later on July 30, 2007. After much public pressure, USCIS relented and established a one month filing period from July 17, 2007-August 17, 2007 for individuals in these classes to file I-485 applications. The 300,000 was only an estimate as the agency was still receiving applications when the article was written, but this number is astonishing given that the annual employment based quota is only 140,000. Congress should now be petitioned to allot sufficient visa numbers to accommodate these applicants not only for their sake but for others behind them who will otherwise have to wait many years before their cases can be approved. It should also be noted that retention of such applications by USCIS for years would drive up the costs of each case for the agency.
Alan Lee is a 25+ year practitioner of immigration law based in New York City. He was awarded the Sidney A. Levine prize for best legal writing at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in 1977 and has written extensively on immigration over the past years for the ethnic newspapers, World Journal, Sing Tao, Pakistan Calling, Muhasha and OCS. He has testified as an expert on immigration in civil court proceedings and was recognized by the Taiwan government in 1985 for his work protecting human rights. His article, "The Bush Temporary Worker Proposal and Comparative Pending Legislation: an Analysis" was Interpreter Releases' cover display article at the American Immigration Lawyers Association annual conference in 2004, and his victory in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in a case of first impression nationwide, Firstland International v. INS, successfully challenged INS' policy of over 40 years of revoking approved immigrant visa petitions under a nebulous standard of proof. Its value as precedent, however, was short-lived as it was specifically targeted by the Administration in the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004.
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