Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Won the Lottery

Won the Lottery! by Roger McCrummen

“yayayyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!! You just made my day!!!!!!! what a relief!!!!! time for party!!!! yayyy yayyy!! “ 

This is a verbatim quote from a highly skilled master’s degree foreign graduate of a U.S. engineering program, wanting to start his professional life in the US.  He just found out he had won the lottery.  No, he’s not referring to the Powerball, but the H-1B visa lottery.  For most of us, the hard part would be doing well in school, getting accepted into a top flight engineering academic program in the US, completing the master’s degree, and getting a job offer from one of the top engineering companies in the world, all of which he did.  But the really hard part for foreign professionals in the U.S. is just getting an opportunity to apply for a work visa.

The H-1B visa is for professional, high-skilled temporary foreign workers in the U.S., those with at least bachelor’s degrees in specialty fields, like engineering, math, computer science, etc.   Congress limits the number of new H-1B approvals each year to 85,000 (with 20,000 reserved for persons with U.S. Master’s degrees).  April 1 of each year, employers can start filing for these visas for the upcoming fiscal year.  If more than 85,000 petitions are received in the first week after April 1, a lottery is held to determine which applications will be adjudicated by the USCIS.  This year, 172,500 petitions were received in the first week -- for 85,000 slots.  This means that employers who typically spent thousands of dollars for each H-1B petition will have less than ½ of them selected for adjudication.  And what are the criteria for selection?  Is preference given to shortage occupations?  STEM fields?  Scientists?  No, it is a lottery.  No wonder the engineer celebrated.  Maybe for the first time in his life, success wasn’t based on merit and hard work, but pure chance.  Is this any way to conduct immigration policy and provide best for the needs of the country?

If the foreign professional is not selected in the lottery, then he will have little choice but to return abroad, possibly to work for a foreign company or government competing with the U.S.  The U.S. employer that can’t hire the professional, has little choice but to scale back on projects, or outsource work abroad because the employer can’t get the skilled workforce they need in the U.S.   The lottery may take place in April, but the impact lasts throughout the year, as the next opportunity to hire will be October 1, 2015.

Economic evidence abounds for the value of retaining highly skilled foreign professionals in the U.S.  Matthew Slaughter, an Economist at Dartmouth, estimates to Compete America that because of the limits on H-1B visas, the U.S. loses about 500,000 jobs every year.  This is because not only do we lose scientists, engineers, etc. who could fill open vacancies by utilizing an H-1B visa, but we lose jobs that would have been added due to the increased economic activity.  In other words, adding highly skilled immigrants to the job market doesn’t take jobs from Americans – it creates jobs.  Beth Ann Bovino, the U.S. Chief Economist for Standard & Poor's in a recent new report indicated that  immigration reform targeting skilled foreign workers could add 3.2 percentage points to real GDP in the U.S. over the next 10 years, and cut $150 billion from the deficit. 

Congressional failure to act to increase the number of H-1Bs available continues to hurt the economy.  This is just one aspect of the complex immigration debate, but it should be the impetus for a comprehensive reform of this outdated system.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Business Wins with Immigration Reform

Martinez AndreaBusiness Wins with Immigration Reform

Andrea C. Martinez, associate attorney for the McCrummen Immigration Law Group, was a guest writer for the Kansas City Business Journal on March 14, 2014.  A link to the published article is below.

Friday, November 22, 2013

ICYMI: Immigration Reform News This Week

This week has been tough for immigration advocates as House Republicans have repeatedly announced reasons to stall and turn down the opportunity to take up immigration reform in the U.S. House of Representatives before the end of the year.  President Obama has come forward stating that he is open to the idea of piecemeal reform—i.e. take the Senate Bill and “chop that thing up into five pieces.”  Despite the lack of progress on immigration reform, this week has been full of great immigration news stories, Op Eds, and articles.  So, in case you missed it, here is a wrap-up of some of this week’s media:

Deportation for Minor Crimes.  The Atlantic published an article about immigrants who have been deported for minor crimes but do not pose an active public safety threat, stating, “[D]eportation is no longer a mere administrative matter; it is being used as a punitive measure for the sorts of crimes that are usually accompanied by due process.”

Detention Bed Mandate.  NPR investigated immigration detention facilities and brings light to a “detention bed mandate” that “calls for filling 34,000 beds in some 250 facilities across the country, per day, with immigrant detainees” and explains the financial and social costs of such mandates.

Immigration Hackathon.  Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and a group of 20 immigrant software programmers who came to the U.S. without documentation took part in a “hackathon” to come up with new applications that support immigration reform and activism.,0,5953575.story#axzz2lFThzSJD

Immigration and Women:  Several media outlets have featured Op Eds and articles on women’s role in immigration reform and the need for woman leadership in the movement.
The Seattle Times:
The Washington Post:

David Leopold’s Op Ed.  Immigration Activist David Leopold concisely sums up the House Republicans position on moving on immigration reform and sums up his piece with:  In other words, the GOP is refusing to perform its Constitutional duty to legislate in good faith.”

Compromising on a Path to Citizenship.  The New York Times highlights the path to citizenship debate.  Should immigration advocates compromise on a path to citizenship for overall immigration reform?

By Kelli Stout
Attorney, McCrummen Immigration Law Group, LLC

Monday, October 21, 2013


We have received a lot of questions lately about how immigrants can obtain driver licenses in the states of Missouri and Kansas.  Specifically, there has been a lot of confusion about rumored “new driver license rules” in the state of Kansas for undocumented immigrants.  Here are a few tips about who can (and who can’t) obtain a driver license in Kansas and Missouri:

  • Kansas -The Kansas Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan recently announced that Kansas “no longer plans to require people renewing drivers’ licenses to produce proof that they live in the U.S. legally.”  The key word to note here is: renewing.  People who are applying for a Kansas driver license for the first time will have to prove legal status in the United States.  But those who are applying to renew a driver license already obtained in the state of Kansas will be able to do so without proving legal status in the United States.  A comprehensive list of who can apply for driver licenses in Kansas- and the documentation required- can be found at:
  • Missouri - An interesting tip for immigrants living in Missouri is that persons in removal proceedings are eligible to apply for a Missouri driver license.  In fact, “Persons in Removal or Deportation Proceedings” is a category specifically noted in the Missouri Department of Revenue’s list of immigrants eligible for driver licenses.  Immigrants living in Missouri who are in removal proceedings should bring the following documents when applying for a driver license: (1) Notice to Appear; (2) immigration court future hearing notice (or Employment Authorization Document); and (3) the applicant’s non-expired foreign passport.  A comprehensive list of immigrants who are eligible to obtain driver licenses in Missouri-and the documents they need to provide the DMV- can be found at:   A final tip: if the applicant needs assistance in     Spanish, many McCrummen Immigration Law Group clients have had success working with a bilingual customer service agent at the Liberty, MO DMV office.
Although we are immigration attorneys and not driver license specialists, we understand how important driver licenses are to our clients and we empathize with the plight of immigrants who are unable to navigate this complicated process on their own.  In extreme circumstances, we communicate with DMV supervisors in Jefferson City and Topeka on behalf of our clients.  Providing our clients with driver license information is just one of the many ways we provide “comprehensive immigration solutions” to the immigrants we represent.  For more information about the services we provide at the McCrummen Immigration Law Group, visit

By: Andrea Comfort Martinez
Associate Attorney
McCrummen Immigration Law Group, LLC

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Obamacare and Immigration

Over the past few weeks, the public has been inundated with information about Obamacare.  We have heard of new health care exchanges, tax credits, tax penalties, changes to Medicaid, but it is difficult to understand exactly how Obamacare works—especially how it works for immigrants. 

What is Obamacare?

Obamacare, or more formally, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), is a health care reform law enacted in 2010.  The changes under the law to the current U.S. health care system come in stages—some parts of the law were implemented right away and some will be implemented years after the law was enacted.  The most recent news coverage about Obamacare refers to the implementation of the new health insurance marketplace or the “exchange.”  The exchange offers health insurance plans of various coverage levels (labeled bronze, silver, gold, and platinum) for those individuals who do not receive health coverage through employment or Medicaid.  The health insurance plans offered on the exchange will vary from state to state. 

Obamacare will also offer a tax credit in 2014 to those individuals and families with incomes between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level (about $23,000 to $94,000 for a family of four).  This tax credit will help cover monthly premiums and may be used towards the purchase of any plan sold on the exchange. 

Additionally, Obamacare will offer two types of cost-sharing subsidies in 2014.  The first is available to those individuals and families with incomes between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level, who purchase silver-level insurance through the exchange.  This first type of subsidy is meant to reduce out-of-pocket exposure by reducing the maximum cap set for consumer out-of-pocket spending under a health care plan and is paid directly to the insurer.  Obamacare also provides a second cost-sharing subsidy to individuals and families who earn up to 250% of the federal poverty level (about $58,875 for a family of four) and purchase silver-level insurance through the exchange that will help reduce their deductible and co-pays even if they do not come close to reaching the maximum expense cap.  

In 2014, those who do not have health insurance coverage may have to pay a tax penalty.  The tax penalty could be as low as $95 in 2014 but may be more depending on the uninsured’s income.  The minimum tax penalty will increase each year until 2016.  This tax penalty is also referred to as the individual mandate.  Certain exceptions apply, including exceptions for those who are uninsured for less than 3 months, those who do not have to file a federal tax return, or those who would have qualified for Medicaid but their state did not expand the program.

Finally, the ACA permits states to expand their Medicaid programs to cover all people making up to 138% of the federal poverty level (about $33,000 for a family of four). 

But how do these changes in the U.S. health care system affect immigrants?  Below I have outlined the eligibility requirements—both those that have changed and those that remain unchanged by the ACA—for immigrants and naturalized citizens.

Who is covered?

Naturalized Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents for 5 Years or More

·       Eligible to purchase insurance through exchange

·       Subject to tax penalty if do not have health insurance coverage, unless exception applies

·       Low-income individuals eligible for tax credit and cost-sharing subsidies*

·       Low-income individuals eligible for Medicaid*

Lawful Permanent Resident for 5 Years or Less

·       Eligible to purchase insurance through exchange

·       Subject to tax penalty if do not have health insurance coverage, unless exception applies

·       Low-income individuals eligible for tax credit and cost-sharing subsidies*

·       Not eligible for Medicaid until have held green card for more than 5 years

o   Individual states may eliminate the 5-year waiting period for eligible children and pregnant women but not for other adults


·       Eligible to purchase insurance through exchange

·       Subject to tax penalty if do not have health insurance coverage, unless exception applies

·       Eligible for tax credit or cost-sharing subsidies*

·       Low-income individuals eligible for Medicaid*

Non-immigrant Visa Holders

·       Eligible to purchase insurance through exchange for coverage extending through period of authorized stay

·       Subject to tax penalty if do not have health insurance coverage, unless exception applies or if not present in the U.S. for whole period of enrollment

·       Eligible for tax credit or cost-sharing subsidies*

·       Not eligible for Medicaid

Undocumented Immigrants and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Recipients

·       Not eligible to purchase insurance through the exchange

·       Not subject to tax penalty

·       Not eligible for Medicare, nonemergency Medicaid, CHIP (assistance for children and pregnant women)

*Other eligibility requirements apply.

Other individuals who are eligible to purchase insurance through the exchange and whp are subject to the tax penalty include:  asylum applicants who have work authorization, applicants for temporary protected status (TPS) who have work authorization, applicants for adjustment of status, applicant for withholding of deportation or withholding of removal under CAT, those granted a U visa or status through VAWA, and those who have an administrative order staying removal.  Immigration status will be verified with the USCIS before any benefit is granted. 

For more information about how the ACA affects you and how to access the exchange, please visit or for Spanish speakers, 

By: Kelli Stout
Associate Attorney
The McCrummen Immigration Law Group, LLC

Monday, October 7, 2013

Cierre del Gobierno – ¿qué es lo que esto significa para mi caso migratorio?

Como probablemente usted ya escucho toda esta semana, el gobierno federal se encuentra en un cierre parcial. Esto es debido a que el Congreso fracasó en pasar un presupuesto para el siguiente año fiscal o una resolución para mantener todo al nivel de gasto anterior. Por lo cual, todas las partes del gobierno que dependen del gasto “discrecional” no fueron financiadas a partir del 1º de octubre. Muchas agencias gubernamentales, parques nacionales, programas de ventaja, aún la Panda Cam están actualmente cerradas debido a que no tienen dinero para mantener sus puertas abiertas. Incluidas en este cierre están diversas agencias, las cuales directa e indirectamente afectan casos migratorios.

Oficina Ejecutiva para la Revisión Inmigratoria (“EOIR”) – Corte Migratoria

La Corte Migratoria está actualmente sesionando casos de detenidos. Cualquier extranjero que es detenido tendrá aún el derecho de hablar ante un Juez Migratorio en cuanto a apelaciones de casos, mociones, casos que han sido enviados al juzgado federal, y fianzas.

Todas las otras audiencias (audiencias preliminares, así como audiencias individuales) están canceladas. En el pasado, cuando la Corte Migratoria de Kansas City cerró debido a las inclemencias del tiempo, la Corte envió por correo nuevas fechas de audiencia por las audiencias que fueron canceladas. Debido al alto volumen de casos y el calendario que de por sí está tan lleno, es muy probable que las nuevas audiencias serán programadas en el 2015.

La línea directa del EOIR esta, asimismo, cerrada.

Servicios de Inmigración y Ciudadanía de los EEUU (“USCIS”)

El USCIS sigue funcionando debido a que es un servicio basado en cuotas y no depende de las apropiaciones del gobierno para su financiamiento. Esto significa que podemos aún entregar aplicaciones, obtener recibos, tener citas de biométricas, tener entrevistas, y hacer citas de Infopass. No obstante, el FBI no está procesando chequeos de historial criminal por el momento.

Sin los chequeos de historial criminal del FBI, el USCIS no puede completar la autorización de seguridad requerida para cada aplicación. Sin una autorización de seguridad, el USCIS no podrá adjudicar casos en su totalidad. Así que, aun que el USCIS sigue funcionando, no pueden expedir aprobaciones. Si su caso está pendiente, este preparado para esperar por más tiempo por una decisión.

Departamento de Estado (“DOS”) – Servicios Consulares

DOS sigue adelante con muchas “operaciones normales como les es posible” y no ha hecho ninguna declaración oficial en cuanto si las citas o servicios consulares serán retrasados o suspendidos. Las operaciones de pasaporte, operaciones de visa, y asistencia crítica a Ciudadanos Americanos continuarán.  Si usted tiene una cita en el consulado, planee en atender a esa cita. No obstante, es posible que el retraso del chequeo de historial criminal del FBI afecte la expedición de las visas en el extranjero.

Departamento de Trabajo (“DOL”)

Para los casos basados en el empleo, el DOL ha actualmente suspendido todos los procesos de PERM y LCA. Esto significa que las aplicaciones PERM no pueden ser entregadas y no están siendo procesadas por el momento. Las Aplicaciones de Condición Laboral, o LCAs, no pueden ser entregadas para nuevos casos H-1B no están siendo procesadas en la actualidad.

Entonces esto significa… ¿qué?

El cierre del gobierno está retrasando casos migratorios. La realidad frustrante es que esto no tenía que pasar. No tiene que seguir pasando. Cada año el Congreso decide cómo financiar al gobierno. Cada año la fecha límite es la misma. Este año la Casa de Republicanos, después de exhaustar sin éxito cada manera legal de revocar la Ley de Cuidado Accesible (“Obamacare”), se negó a pasar el presupuesto a menos que el Obamacare no fuese financiado. Haciendo la politica a un lado, ésta simplemente no es la manera de revocar una ley. El costo de esta acción ostentosa está realmente sobre miles de personas que están actualmente navegando en el proceso migratorio.

Para más información:

Por: Valerie Tarbutton
Abogada Asociada
The McCrummen Immigration Law Group, LLC

Friday, October 4, 2013

Government Shutdown – what does this mean for my immigration case?

As you have probably heard about all this week, the federal government is in a partial shutdown.   This is because Congress failed to pass a budget for the next fiscal year or even a continuing resolution to keep everything at the previous spending level.  Therefore, all parts of the government that rely on “discretionary” spending were not funded as of October 1st.  Many government agencies, national parks, head start programs, even the Panda Cam are currently closed because they have no money to keep their doors open.  Included in this shutdown are several agencies which directly and indirectly affect immigration cases.

Executive Office for Immigration Review (“EOIR”) – Immigration Court

Immigration Court is currently only hearing detained cases.  Any alien who is detained will still have the right to speak to an Immigration Judge regarding case appeals, motions, federal court remands, and bonds. 

All other hearings (master calendar hearings as well as individual hearings) are canceled.  In the past, when the Kansas City Immigration Court was closed due to inclement weather, the Court mailed out new hearing dates for the canceled hearings.  Because of the high volume of cases and the already crowded dockets it is extremely likely that the new hearings will be scheduled in 2015.
The EOIR hotline is also closed. 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”)

USCIS is still up and running because they are a fee-based service and don’t rely on government appropriations for their funding.  This means that we can still file applications, get receipts, have biometric appointments, have interviews, and make Infopass appointments.  However, the FBI is not currently processing background checks.
Without the FBI background checks, USCIS cannot complete the security clearance required for every application.  Without a security clearance, USCIS will not fully adjudicate cases.  Therefore, even though USCIS is still functioning, they are unable to issue approvals.  If your case is pending, expect to wait longer for a decision.

Department of State (“DOS”) – Consular Services

DOS is continuing as many “normal operations as possible” and has not made an official statement as to whether appointments or consular services will be delayed or suspended.   Passport operations, visa operations, and critical assistance to U.S. Citizens will continue.  If you have an appointment at the consulate, plan on attending that appointment.  However, it is possible that the FBI background check delay could affect the issuance of visas abroad.

Department of Labor (“DOL”)

For employment-based cases, the DOL has currently suspended all PERM processing and LCA processing.   This means that PERM applications cannot be filed and are not currently being processed.  Labor Condition Applications, or LCAs, cannot be submitted for new H-1B cases and are not currently being processed. 

So this means…what?

The government shutdown is delaying immigration cases.   The frustrating reality is that this didn’t have to happen.  It doesn’t have to continue to keep happening.  Every year Congress decides how to fund the government.  Every year the deadline is the same.  This year the House Republicans, after unsuccessfully exhausting every lawful way to repeal the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), refused to pass a budget unless Obamacare was defunded.  Politics aside, this is simply not the way to repeal a law.  The cost of this grandstanding is taking a very real toll on thousands of people currently navigating the immigration process. 

For more information:


By: Valerie K. Tarbutton
Associate Attorney