Updated April 25, 2019​ 

Sri Lanka Express

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Will Trump's "extreme vetting" impact Lankans?

H-1b Visas Get New Guidelines To Fight Fraud, Abuse As Annual Lottery Begins

The Trump administration made it harder for tech companies to import foreign workers just as the annual lottery for visas began Monday. Guidelines issued Friday by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) affect the H-1B visa process...

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Transporting an illegal immigrant could land you in jail
US to pay $1m to family of illegal immigrant
March 26,. 2017
SLE News

Since the end of the LTTE war in 2009, the number of Sri Lankans traveling to the United States on non-immigrant visas has been steadily increasing, from 8,512 in 2009 to 14,881 in 2016.  

 Will that trend take a hit with President Trump’s campaign promise of “extreme vetting” that’s now taking shape?

As reported by Reuters, diplomatic cables sent last week from Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson to all American embassies will make it tougher for tourists, business travelers, and relatives of American residents to enter the United States. The new guidelines require consular officials to increase scrutiny by gathering additional information from each applicant.

The new rules include mandatory reviews of social media accounts of any applicant who’s been in territory controlled by the Islamic State. 

“Consular chiefs must immediately convene post’s law enforcement and intelligence community partners” to develop what Mr. Tillerson described in the cable as “sets of post-applicant populations warranting increased scrutiny.”

People targeted for increased scrutiny, Mr. Tillerson said in his cable, may be subject to a decision made only after more rigorous screening.

The March 15 cable suggests areas of inquiry during a required interview, including: the applicant’s travel history, addresses and work history for 15 years; and all phone numbers, email addresses and social media handles used by the applicant in the past five years.

 “Consular officers should not hesitate to refuse any case presenting security concerns... All officers should remember that all visa decisions are national security decisions. A consular officer should refuse under §214(b) of the INA any nonimmigrant visa applicant whom the consular officer believes may fail to abide by the requirements of the visa category in question,” the guidelines say.

Virginia Elliott, a spokeswoman for the state department’s bureau of consular affairs, said in a statement to Reuters it was working to execute the president’s ban “in accordance with its terms, in an orderly fashion, and
in compliance with any relevant court orders, so as to increase the safety and security of the American people.”
The new rules do not apply to citizens of 38 countries, including Singapore, most of Europe and longstanding allies like Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea, which come under the  US  visa waiver program.
New Immigration Policy Could Preclude Computer Programmers From Securing A Visa
Over the weekend, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) quietly slipped in new guidelines that preclude computer programmers from securing an H-1B visa. For workers in specialty occupations, the H-1B visa allowed US companies to employ...

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Immigration Dragnet Gains Support After Migrants Are Arrested For Crimes

A double murder allegedly committed in San Antonio by an immigrant in the country illegally is gaining attention. President Trump has pointed to similar crimes as justification for more deportations.

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Transporting an illegal immigrant could land you in jail

March 20, 2017
SLE News

Albany, NY - Harpushpinder Singh, of Queens, NY,  was sentenced on March 17 to
time served (nine months in jail) by US District Judge Mae A D’Agostino.

 An Indian citizen, Singh will also serve one year of post-imprisonment supervised release.

The announcement was made by United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian and
Chief Patrol Agent John C. Pfeifer, United States Border Patrol, Swanton Sector.

46-year-old Singh was convicted in October 2016 for transporting two Indian citizens
who were in the country illegally. Apparently, Singh was transporting the illegal aliens
from Champlain, New York, until he encountered the Border Patrol immigration checkpoint
on Interstate 87 in North Hudson, New York.  During his three-day trial in 2016, it was found
that Singh was in knowledge that the aliens were illegal residents in America.

Singh had been incarcerated since his arrest on June 12, 2016. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the US Sentencing Guidelines, and other factors.

This case was investigated by the United States Border Patrol and was prosecuted by Assistant US Attorney Douglas Collyer.
Richard S. Hartunian

US to pay $1m to family of illegal immigrant teen who died in custody

March 23, 2017

The U.S. government has agreed to pay $1 million to the family of a Mexican teenager who died after drinking liquid methamphetamine when U.S. Border Protection officers told him to prove it was apple juice as the teen claimed.

A legal complaint said Cruz Velazquez Acevedo, 16, died in November 2013 after being stopped by officers on the U.S. side of the border while he was going through San Diego’s San Ysidro Port of Entry.

Cruz was carrying two bottles of liquid he claimed were filled with apple juice. Court documents said U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers Adrian Perallon and Valerie Baird told Cruz to drink the liquid to prove he was not lying.

Cruz took four sips and shortly began sweating profusely and started screaming and clenching his fists, court documents said. Within minutes, his temperature jumped to 105 degrees and his heart beat at a rate of 220 beats per minute, more than twice the normal rate for adults.

He died about two hours after ingesting the liquid.

Relatives of the deceased boy brought a wrongful death lawsuit against the two Border Protection officers and the U.S. government, alleging the officers “coerced and intimidated” Cruz into drinking the liquid even they suspected it was a controlled substance.

Drug smugglers often use children and pregnant women in attempts to transport idrugs and other llicit substances into the United States.

 EB-5 Greencards could cost as much as $1.8m 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)  has propsed  a dramatic increase in the minimum investment needed for an EB-5 visa.

The earlier minimum $500,000 to $1 million investment – depending in which state and area investors put in money – will soon go up to $1.35 million to $1.8 million, respectively.

Under the EB-5 program, individuals are eligible to apply for lawful permanent residence and get a Green Card for him/her and their immediate family members if they make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States and create or, in certain circumstances, preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified US workers.
The $500,000 minimum at present is eligible only in areas and states which need to be economically developed.

DHS directed USCIS to conduct a comprehensive fee review, which concluded in 2015 with a determination that USCIS's filing fees do not fund its operational expenses entirely. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) tasks DHS with securing all of the costs USCIS incurs to provide its services through application fees. Based on this authority and USCIS's comprehensive fee review, DHS final fee schedule increases USCIS's fees on a weighted average of 21 percent.

DHS's final rules institute the following new fee and increased fees, effective as of December 23, 2016:
  • a filing fee of $3,035 to file a regional center's Annual Certification of Regional Center on Form I-924A, which previously could be filed at no cost
  • an increased filing fee from $6,230 to $17,795 to file an Application for Regional Center Designation Under the Immigrant Investor Program on Form I-924;
  •  an increased filing fee from $1,500 to $3,675 to file an Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur on Form I-526; and
  • an increased filing fee from $635 to $750 to file an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status on Form I-485 and an increased filing fee from $985 to $1,140 to file a Form I-485 for certain applicants under the age of 14 years.

These EB-5 Program fee increases range from 145 percent for the Form I-526 to 186 percent for the Form I-924. In contrast, across the USCIS's many programs as a whole, DHS's new fees increase current fees significantly less, with increases ranging between 8 and 60 percent.
Applicantions filed prior to December 23, 2016 have no retroactive fees due from these increases.