We just got a positive result in an I-140 petition for an Outstanding Researcher from India. The petition was approved in five weeks. We pushed for an EB-1, so that a visa would be immediately available for her, and so she and her family could immediately file to adjust status to permanent resident (green card). This also allowed her to forego the lengthy labor certification process, where employers have to prove there are no minimally qualified U.S. workers to take the job - being a high-level researcher, this seems unlikely and a poor use of time and resources. Additionally had she applied for a National Interest Waiver, EB-2, she would have had to wait roughly five years before applying for permanent residence.
The key to her case was the nature of her work in biophysics. We were able to effectively communicate to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) the nature and importance of her research. I reviewed her publications, presentations and citations to her work, and conducted independent research to help explain her work to the laymen at USCIS. Despite not having a background in biology, my background in science and math (see below) made it quite a bit easier and faster to process the concepts and importance of her research so that US CIS can understand it. In this case, the researcher had one year as a research professor, four years as a post-doctoral researcher, co-author articles in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Nature, but no easily recognizable or internationally-known awards. Despite a lack of high-profile awards or first-author publications, this case was still approved without a Request for Evidence (RFE), which contributed to its fast adjudication.
Today the Attorney General issued an opinion vacating and remanding an order for removal (deportation) to the Board of Immigration Appeals, so that the BIA can consider for the first time, the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), its applicability to New Jersey family law, etc. This appears to be another step in the direction of eradicating the unjustifiable distinction between legal heterosexual and legal same-sex marriage under the immigration laws of this country. I welcome Attorney General Holder's decision in this case, and hope that the BIA acts bravely to determine that DOMA will no longer be followed in immigration cases. This would have a profound impact on same-sex married couple's ability to immigrate to and live together in the United States.
We recently received a decision from the Kansas City Immigration Court granting our clients request for asylum in a hard-fought case. The clients are from Zimbabwe and are white. They and their family have suffered a great deal of discrimination and abuse in Zimbabwe because of their race and political opinion. Whatever one may think of the colonization and eventual independence of that area, this case was not about the government of Zimbabwe seeking justice for perpetrators of violence against the majority blacks in the country during the Rhodesian era. Instead, it was about former Rhodesians facing death threats, physical violence, and discrimination on account of their race, and membership in a dissident political party (comprised of both blacks and whites).
Come see us speak at one of the following upcoming presentations:
1. April 19, 2011, International Trade Council of Greater Kansas City. "Legal Hazards and Compliance" at the Kauffman Foundation Center, Kansas City, Missouri.
2. May 13, 2011, Missouri Bar Spring Committee Meetings. "Ethical Dilemmas of Immigration Law Issues Surrounding Family Law and Adoption Issues." Jefferson City, Missouri.
3. June 17, 2011, AILA Annual Conference. "Issues in Abandonment of LPR Status," San Diego, California.
Late last year, I posted this entry on the issue of same-sex marriage in the immigration context. Recently, there have been a few updates that I think warrants a new look at the issue.
First, the Obama administration has indicated that they will not defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in federal court. However, Speak of the House Boehner has said that where the administration will not act, the House will.