Bowing to threats of lawsuits and pressure from legislators and foreign professionals, the U.S. government has once again reversed direction in its policy on employment-based permanent resident visas.
“The public reaction to the July 2 announcement made it clear that the federal government’s management of this process needs further review,” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Emilio Gonzalez said in statement Tuesday.
In the new CIS announcement, the government said that it would revert to the policy outlined in the State Department’s June 12 visa bulletin, which said that applications from skilled workers with any priority date would be considered “current” for the entire month of July.
And it did not stop there. To give back the month it took away, CIS will also consider current any applications filed up until Aug. 17, 30 days after the new announcement.
The announcement was “as close to an apology as the government gets, I think,” said Scott Titshaw, chair of the Atlanta chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
Mr. Titshaw is doubtful that any lawsuits addressing the July visa numbers–like the one proposed by the American Immigration Law Foundation–will now be filed.
“The government gave us the relief that any attorney, especially those who would have filed the lawsuit, could have hoped to get,” Mr. Titshaw said.
The June bulletin sent foreign workers clamoring to file in July, only to be informed on the first business day of the month that some 60,000 visa numbers had been quickly processed and that all slots in every category had been exhausted, rendering all visa numbers unavailable.
Outrage ensued among immigrants, many of whom had paid medical expenses and booked expensive plane tickets to prepare to file. Many immigration lawyers kept filing applications, hoping to put their clients in the best possible position if the government flip-flopped again, as it did Tuesday.
Even workers who did not file because of the July 2 update will have time to file within the government’s newly allotted time frame.
“They’re giving us a whole month to file the cases, just like they would have given us a whole month without the announcement on July 2,” Mr. Titshaw said.
Those who file under the July 2 visa bulletin until Aug. 17 will avoid the higher filing fees, which were set to go into effect on July 30.
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