About Us |  Contact Us |  Membership |  Mailing List |  Home



Dear Clients:

Following is a brief update on immigration news and also on the current immigration debate in Congress and in the State of Iowa. This is a critical time for advocacy for people who care about immigrants and their family members and employers. I urge you to read that part of the update and act on it, especially the national call-in day tomorrow. Senator Grassley is key to this debate, so all calls from Iowa will make a huge difference. If you received this email in error or would like to be removed from our mailing list, please let us know.

Reminder: H-1Bs open April 1

The new H-1B "season" opens April 1, when applications may be submitted for work to commence October 1. Last year these ran out in July for regular H-1Bs and January for persons with U.S. master's degrees. Given the economy's fairly fast pace, we would expect a similar timeline this year, or perhaps shorter. Note that people who are already on H-1B and counted toward the cap, those working in higher education institutions, and doctors in underserved areas pursuant to state waivers are exempt and can apply at any time.

New E-3 visas for Australians

Nationals of Australia who would otherwise qualify for H-1B may now instead apply for an E-3 visa, a new category created by the REAL ID Act (the only good thing that law did!). Applications may be made directly at the U.S. consulates in Australia (after an LCA is obtained and with proof of meeting the requirements) or if the person is in the U.S., a change of status application may be filed. The "cap" on E-3s is 10,500 per year.

DOL backlog anticipated to be cleared by September 2007

The Department of Labor has announced that it will clear its backlog of "old" labor certification cases by September 2007. We have been seeing significant movement in both "RIR" and regular cases.

DOL PERM interpretations still questionable

As we get more decisions on PERM cases, we are still seeing several logic errors in the computer program and unexpected interpretations of the form. We are watching these decisions carefully, and adjusting our applications accordingly. However, there are still plenty of traps for the unwary and even the wary. DOL does not have a process in place for adjudicating appeals as yet, although we have heard of a few decisions being "reconsidered" by the Certifying Officer. We will keep you updated on any major developments.


Despite valiant efforts of many people, the House of Representatives passed the Sensenbrenner Bill (HR 4437) in December. This bill is "enforcement-only" - meaning that it does NOT address the many problems with our immigration system, but focuses only on criminalizing immigration violations. Under this bill, if it would become law, anyone violating immigration status would become a federal felon. Anyone "assisting" or "transporting" an undocumented alien would be subject to the same penalties as an alien smuggler (federal felony, including jail time). Employers would be subject to drastically increased sanctions for employing anyone unauthorized to work. These are just a few "highlights" of this bill.

The Senate is now considering immigration reform. The Judiciary Committee (of which Iowa's Senator Grassley is a member) will be taking up Committee Chair Arlen Specter's proposal tomorrow. This proposal, while flawed, does contain provisions for guest workers, increased immigrant visa numbers, increased H-1B numbers and some other good provisions. It does also have some bad provisions, and its proposed solutions to the undocumented immigration situation are not workable.

We are very concerned about the current political climate. If a bill passes the Senate, it will go to conference with the House bill. Unless the Senate bill contains some very strong provisions for positively changing the system, the House bill provisions will likely be enacted. Therefore, it is critical that a strong reform bill with comprehensive solutions be passed.

To get this done, your Senator needs to hear from you! Anti-immigrant groups are very vocal. One Senator's office alone received 300 anti-immigrant calls last week. We need to make our voices heard.

March 9, is the first national call-in day for pro-immigration forces. A sample script is attached. If you are more comfortable writing, I have attached a sample letter that can be FAXED (do not mail) instead.

Senator Grassley has been very reluctant on this issue, despite a large turn-out at his town meetings by a variety of people in favor of comprehensive reform. If you have any particular contacts or ties to his office, please use them now. He needs to hear that Iowa needs the U.S. government to fix this problem and to make our system workable.

He may be reached at:

Senator Grassley
Web Site: grassley.senate.gov
E-mail: Contact Via 'Web Form.'
Phone: (202) 224-3744
Fax: (202) 224-6020

Senator Harkin met with a group of immigration advocates on Saturday in Des Moines, and appears to be very receptive to fighting for us on this issue. But he asked why he was not hearing from the business community. More contacts with his office will also be helpful.

He may be reached at:
Senator Harkin:
Web Site: harkin.senate.gov
E-mail: Contact Via 'Web Form.'
Phone: (202) 224-3254
Fax: (202) 224-9369

Iowa Legislature also takes up immigration issues

Perhaps positioning certain members for their campaigns, the Iowa legislature is considering two bills that proport to "get tough" on undocumented immigration. Unfortunately, since this is a federal issue, the Iowa bills appear to be ill-considered and if they become law, could have a damaging affect on Iowa industries and individuals.

These bills are:

HF 2446 - would provide additional sanctions for employers hiring "unauthorized aliens", prohibit certain housing funds to be used by charitable groups to help "unauthorized aliens" and prohibit Iowa financial institutions from servicing residential mortgage loans for person that are not a U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

SF 2280 - would criminalizes anyone who drives a motor vehicle with an "illegal" immigrant as a passenger for the purpose of that immigrant seeking or maintaining employment in Iowa.

Among the many problems with these bills is the fact that it is very hard to know who is "unauthorized" or "illegal" or what those terms will mean. As to the provisions restricting residential mortgages, if passed as currently written it would prevent someone here legally on a temporary visa from buying a house.

To contact your Iowa legislator go to: http://www.legisstate.ia.us/aspx/Legislators/LegislatorInfo.aspx

Thank you for all your efforts and let us know if we can assist in any way.

Lori Chesser

Copyright © Chinese Association of Iowa.All rights reserved.
Last Modified: October 30, 2007