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Exciting Developments & Key Takeaways from the Annual Immigration Conference

pic-two---chicago Attorneys Petula McShiras and Andrea Sweeney attending the AILA Conference in Chicago, June 2024.

Last week, from June 12-15, 2024, Kolko and Casey, P.C. Senior Associate Attorneys Petula McShiras and Andrea Sweeney, attended the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s (AILA) Annual Conference in Chicago, Illinois where they attended various panels on business immigration, family immigration, and humanitarian immigration.

They also participated in open forums with the U.S. government agencies, such as U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Department of State (DOS), and U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).

In addition to listening to renowned experts from across the country and getting updated on changes in immigration law, Petula also presented on Naturalization: When to File, When to Wait, and When not to File. The room was packed with standing room only!

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During the conference, AILA also closed its elections for its Executive Committee and Elected Directors. Petula is honored to announce that she was elected to a one-year term as Elected Director to the Board of Governors for AILA.  Congratulations Petula!  

Other highlights from the conference include:

1) The Department of Labor announced it has about 5000 Labor Certification applications left in its legacy system and then will begin processing the Labor Certifications filed in FLAG. They currently have approximately 160,000 applications pending in FLAG. They are hoping to reduce the processing times for these applications but need more staff to do so.
2) The Department of Labor also announced that its transitioning wage information is now available in the FLAG stems. The Foreign Labor Certificate Data Center, where wage information was previously found, will be retired on June 30, 2024. Beginning July 1, 2024, wage information will only be available on FLAG, which will have similar functionality as the older system. The system is already live, so we can start using it! Education, Wage, and Job Zone level plus Appendix A occupations will all be available on the FLAG website
3) USCIS announced that in April 2024, they issued internal guidance to all field offices to create a more uniform policy for telephonic appearances for interviews at the local field office. Their communications need to continue, but they the goal is that attorneys will be able to appear telephonically at all offices.
4) USCIS also reported that they are working on reducing their backlogs, especially for I-601A waiver application, I-730 Follow-to-Join for asylee derivatives, and I-360 self-petition cases. They are starting to see a reduction in the backlogs, especially for I-601As and have processed more so far this fiscal year than they have done in a full year last year.
5) USCIS reported that they are improving their myuscis online account functionality.  We will start to see the online accounts link with client accounts as soon as the attorney initiates the process. The linking process will start before the attorney links the forms and provides clients some visibility that a form is being started via email. Kolko & Casey, P.C. advises clients not to do anything with the forms if or when they see them until given further instructions by their attorney. The system will allow communication directly to client informing them of form being ready to review and file.
6) H-1B registration process – USCIS will not know if they will do a second lottery until after June 30, 2024 because 50% of cases get filed at the end of the filing season. They did say that the H-1B Registration process went more smoothly, but are not ready yet to share the data on the number of registrations, duplicates, and rejections.
7) The Department of State confirmed that their consolidated Immigrant Visa interviews to Frankfurt, Germany from other posts that have fewer cases has been going well and they will continue with this system. 
8) Visa Bulletins – The Department of State said to expect some bounce back in the priority dates at the beginning of the next fiscal year
9) Department of State confirmed that some Embassy websites are showing processing wait times for immigrant visa interviews and that they are hoping to bring this to more embassy websites.
10) Customs & Border Protection confirmed that people entering on Advance Parole will often go to secondary inspection because it takes longer processing for the officers than the 60-90 seconds that are allowed with the first-tier officer.

Attorneys Petula McShiras and Andrea Sweeney both learned a lot during the conference and are energized to serve the Kolko & Casey, PC clients. Please contact our office for any of your immigration needs.  You can call our office at (303)371-1822 to make a consultation with one of our skilled attorneys.  

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Kolko & Casey, P.C. is a full service immigration and naturalization law firm providing professional legal services to individuals and businesses throughout Colorado, the Rocky Mountain West, the United States, and the World. Our professional staff speaks English, Spanish, Korean, and Portuguese and we can arrange for translators in any other language.