House Republican leaders on Wednesday blocked any votes on immigration legislation, raising doubts about the prospects for election-year action on overhauling the nation’s laws.

The Rules Committee voted early Wednesday against allowing votes on a measure offering citizenship to immigrants here illegally who serve in the military. The panel also rejected legislation that would have opened the U.S. military academies to young immigrants brought to the country illegally.

Predictably, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reached the H-1B cap for fiscal year 2015 in the first week of April. For those who need new work visas, but were shut out, there may be a “Plan B” under other visa categories.

The H-1B program, which allows employers to seek to hire nonimmigrant aliens as workers in specialty occupations, provides 65,000 visas for the general category and 20,000 under the advanced degree exemption.

The Department of Homeland Security announced two new proposed rules Tuesday morning aimed at attracting and holding onto highly skilled immigrants. It’s the latest effort by the Obama administration to change immigration policy while Congress continues to stall on passing comprehensive reform legislation.

The rules, presented on a call with reporters by DHS Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, will remove obstacles to remaining in the U.S. for certain temporary workers and offer employment visas for some of those workers’ spouses.

Beginning Thursday, May 1st, 2014 at 12pm EDT, entrants for the DV-2015 (Green Card lottery) can check at the U.S. State Department’s “Electronic Diversity Visa” Entrant Status Check (ESC) website to see if they won.

The following information is needed to check if your application won the lottery;
1. Confirmation Number that was given when applying
2. Last/family name of the primary applicant
3. Year of Birth of the primary applicant

Entrants from last year’s 2013 green card lottery “DV-2015” can check on-line at the U.S. State Department’s “Electronic Diversity Visa ”Entrant Status Check (ESC) web site to see if they won. Entrant Status Checking for the calendar year 2013 lottery will be available beginning May 1, 2014.

Applicants need three key pieces of information from their green card lottery registration: Confirmation Number, Family Name (Last Name), and Birth Year.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley

Gov. Martin O'Malley announced today that the Baltimore City Detention Center will no longer automatically honor requests from the federal government to hold immigrants for deportation — making it one of only a handful of jurisdictions in the country to take a more discerning approach on the issue.

Four Kenyan nationals residing in Houston have been sentenced for conspiracy to commit marriage fraud, marriage fraud and visa fraud, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Herman Ogoti, 53, Alfonso Ongaga, 36, Andrew Mokoro, 36, and Rebmann Ongaga, 33, were all convicted following a seven-day trial on Nov. 14, 2013. Ogoti and Alfonso Ongaga were also convicted of unlawful procurement of naturalization.

A Kenyan woman, convicted for her role in a major multi-state marriage fraud ring, was sentenced Tuesday to one year in prison.

30-year-old Margaret Kimani, formerly of Massachusetts, was one of 28 defendants from Maine convicted for their participation in a scam that paid American citizens to marry African immigrants so they could become legal citizens.

A press conference at the U.S. attorney’s office in Bangor marked the end to an investigation that began in 2005.

More than 40 sham marriages were found to have taken place in the Lewiston/Auburn and Newport areas.

African Immigrant Caucus (AIC) is an advocacy group recently founded by immigrants from the African continent living in the United States. AIC was started to champion for among other issues the inclusion of African immigrants’ views in political and economical matters.

Laverah Olukune, one of the AIC founders and goodwill ambassadors, spoke to about the group’s mission and on how others can join the advocacy group:

Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the fiscal year (FY) 2015 cap on April 1, 2014. Cases will be considered accepted on the date that USCIS receives a properly filed petition with the correct fee. USCIS will not rely on the date that the petition is postmarked.

The congressionally mandated cap on H-1B visas for FY 2015 is 65,000. The first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of individuals with a U.S. master's degree or higher are exempt from the 65,000 cap.

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