On January 20, 2021, President Biden sent The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 (the Bill) to Congress for consideration. This legislation is considered groundbreaking and takes into consideration the last 25 years of efforts by Congress to update and change U.S. immigration law.
With the new Biden administration at the helm, we note that the H-1B final midnight regulations promulgated Friday, January 15, 2021, by the former administration have been rescinded. Those regulations, which set up a priority system based on higher wages levels according to the U.S. Department of Labor OES (Occupational Employment Statistics) guidelines will not take effect and we await further guidance in this area. The Final Rule regarding the selection process, entitled “Modification of Registration Requirement for Petitioners Seeking To File Cap-Subject H-1B Petitions,” which was to take effect on March 9, 2021, has been withdrawn.
On December 31, 2020, the outgoing President signed a Proclamation extending the suspension of entry into the United States to certain nonimmigrant visa holders to March 31, 2021. The visa categories affected continue to include H-1B, H-2B, J-1, L-1 and their dependents. The Proclamation only affects individuals seeking to enter the United States in one of these visa categories on or after June 24, 2020.
Foreign nationals who find themselves in the United States during the holiday season who wish to return abroad for family visits during the time of COVID-19 must keep in mind the travel restrictions and bans to ensure their uninterrupted and smooth return to the United States.
On January 20, 2021, after Joe Biden is inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States, he is expected to take immediate action in the immigration arena. On the campaign trail, Biden indicated that he will issue executive orders to roll back the current Administration’s policies and that he might be somewhat slower to have immigration action introduced and passed by the U.S congress.
Friday, October 16, 2020, brought an unexpected announcement from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Effective Monday, October 19, 2020, USCIS will increase fees for premium processing as required by the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act (the Act), Pub. L. No 116-159, signed into law on October 1, 2020.
Recent developments which are likely to have a dramatic effect on certain foreign workers seeking entrance to the United States occurred earlier this week with the introduction of dual regulatory changes by the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) and the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ).
With the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing now for close to six months, U.S. permanent residents and conditional permanent residents caught outside the United States due to COVID-19 are experiencing significant challenges in making return travel plans home to the United States.
A settlement decree in the case of Subramanya, et al. v. USCIS, Case No. 2:20-cv-3707 (S.D. OH, Eastern Div., 2020), resulted in permission for foreign nationals to present an approval notice (Notice of Action) alone to evidence employment authorization in the United States until December 1, 2020. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has been experiencing a backlog of tens of thousands of employment authorization cards and was sued in federal court to enforce administrative regulations. Employers should be aware that this is a temporary departure from standard I-9 compliance rules.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Ombudsman's office disclosed in an alert on July 21, 2020, that the agency was experiencing card production delays. In addition, the Administration recently reversed its February 2020 decision to bar New York residents from participation in the Trusted Traveler programs, including Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST.
An executive order further limiting entry for nonimmigrant workers in H-1B, H-2B, L-1 and J-1 status (and their dependents) will take effect on June 24, 2020, at 12:01 am and will remain in effect through December 31, 2020.
On June 18, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision delivered by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, ruled that the administration was barred from terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Premium processing, the vehicle utilized by many U.S. petitioners filing for nonimmigrant and immigrant-based benefits is being resumed by U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) with a phased-in approach commencing June 1, 2020. USCIS notified the public on May 29, 2020, that the suspension of premium processing originally announced on March 20, 2020, would be lifted and a resumption of the popular 15-calendar day ”fast track” turnaround would be implemented as outlined below.
U.S. Department of Labor changes regulations relating to H-1B, H-1B1 and E3 workers transferred to locations outside the intended metropolitan statistical area ("MSA").
On March 18, the President ordered that by mutual consent, with the government of Canada, our country will close its northern border to non-essential traffic. The President confirmed that trade will not be affected. Details will be forthcoming.
On March 14, due to concerns related to COVID-19, President Trump added the United Kingdom and Ireland to the list of countries whose nationals are barred from entry to the United States.
On the evening of March 11, the President announced that commencing at midnight on Friday, March 13, all travel from Europe will be suspended for thirty days.
Last week, Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad F. Wolf announced that New York state residents will no longer be eligible to apply for or to renew their enrollment in Trusted Traveler programs, including Global Entry.
The Public Charge Rule, denying permanent residence status to immigrants who may use public benefits, will be implemented by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on February 24.
As we start a new year, we would like to share with you some of our most popular legal alerts from 2019. Our top-read alerts range from construction, labor & employment, tax, immigration, trusts & estates, cooperatives & condominiums, real estate, corporate & securities, litigation and intellectual property, reflecting the broad array of our full-service practice. We hope that our alerts have been valuable to you and your colleagues, and demonstrate our commitment to providing helpful information to you.
U.S. employers are gearing up for H-1B cap season, which has traditionally commenced on April 1 each year. This year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has introduced an unprecedented procedure - an electronic preregistration requirement. The preregistration period will run from March 1 to March 20 and USCIS will select through a random lottery those petitions which may be filed in the 90-day filing period.
A seemingly benign application form known as the DS-160 nonimmigrant visa application form is completed online by all applicants seeking to work in temporary visa status in the United States. The form, available on the Consular Electronic Application website, may seem like an easy undertaking but in fact, there are traps that the unwary applicant must be aware of as they move through the form and answer the questions solicited. Specific areas of concern relate to the coordination of activity and background checks between the DS-160 U.S. State Department form, the U.S. Citizenship Services petition process, which prompts a foreign national to complete the form, the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC) and U.S. consular posts abroad and how each of these agencies interact and share information with each other.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a final rule requiring employers to pay a $10.00 non-refundable fee for each H-1B cap registration submitted, once the electronic system is implemented. This final federal rule becomes effective on December 9, 2019 and will affect H-1B cap-subject petitions filed in the April 2020 cap season.
For foreign nationals working in the United States on temporary work visas, it is best to plan well in advance for international travel. Verify all immigration documents are in order prior to your departure for that long-anticipated holiday visit to friends and family to assure that the return trip is not bumpy!
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments regarding the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) ability to lawfully terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy (DACA).
On Monday, November 11, Poland became the newest country admitted to the Visa Waiver Program, which was authorized by Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin K. McAleenan on November 6. Inclusion in the program requires that foreign countries meet certain criteria, including completing bilateral security agreements and meeting the mandatory B1/B2 (tourist and business visitor) visa refusal rates. The B1/B2 visa refusal rate for Poland was just under 3 percent at the end of fiscal year 2019. The approval of Poland’s entry to the Visa Waiver Program appears to have been expedited as the vetting process can take several months.
New regulations proposed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are slated to take effect for the 2021 H-1B cap filing period, which starts on April 1, 2020. Proposed in January 2019, the new regulations mandate that U.S. petitioning companies register their company and the name and background information of an intended foreign national beneficiary online with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). DHS has proposed a fee of $10.00 per each electronic registration. This registration process is not mandated for cap-exempt H-1B petitions, which encompass institutions of research and universities, colleges and some hospitals, which might be affiliated with institutions of research and some other limited exceptions.
The Public Charge Rule, which had been scheduled to be implemented on October 15, 2019, was halted by U.S. District Courts in New York, California and Washington state late last week. The preliminary injunctions issued in New York and Washington were nationwide and the California injunction covers the states included in the San Francisco-based Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge George Daniels of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan issued his nationwide preliminary injunction stating that the government did not adequately explain why it was changing the definition of a public charge or why a change was needed.
On Friday, October 4, President Trump issued an unexpected proclamation ordering consular officials to bar immigrants seeking to live in the United States unless they "will be covered by approved health insurance" or can evidence they have the financial resources to pay for "reasonably foreseeable medical costs," expected to take effect on November 3.
On October 2, this year's Diversity Lottery Registration Program (DV lottery) becomes available to applicants from eligible countries. You can enter the DV lottery here. Entries can only be submitted electronically. All entries must be submitted between noon on Wednesday, October 2, 2019 EDT through noon on Tuesday, November 5, 2019 EST. There is no cost to apply.
Recent figures disclosed by the U.S. State Department show that the number of F-1 and J-1 foreign student and exchange visitor visas issued annually fell by 42.5 percent between 2015 and 2018, prompting the American Immigration Council (AIC) to note that the United States has become a less welcoming destination for international students.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released its final rules for public inspection, vastly constricting the number of immigrants who might be deemed eligible for lawful permanent residence. As previously detailed in our October 2018 article, applicants for permanent residence must prove under current law that they would not likely become public charges to the United States and rely on public benefits. Now, the grounds for determination will be expanded to include those with limited income, lack of education and skills, age or health-related issues.
On June 17, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it is embarking upon a strategy to decrease processing times based on location for applications for U.S. citizenship and applications for adjustment of status.
The EB-5 immigrant investor program, first introduced in the early 1990s, has not had an overhaul since its inception. Major changes will apply to all I-526 petitions filed on or after the Effective Date of November 21, 2019. Anyone filing during the next four months, therefore, would be eligible to file immigrant petitions at the current investment level. It is expected that with the rush to filing, the wait times for high volume countries including China and India will be prolonged by many years. Some of the larger Regional Centers that attract most of the EB-5 capital typical for their projects will likely no longer qualify under the new regulations and there is some question whether the new rule will become law. Lawsuits or congressional action could stymie implementation of the new regulations.
As is the case with most countries, foreign nationals are generally required to have a passport valid for six months beyond the period of their intended stay to be admitted to the United States. Foreign nationals planning to stay for more than 90 days generally also need to have a valid visa. Visa requirements can be waived under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) if the foreign national is a citizen of an eligible country or are lawful permanent residents of the United States or Canada.
The Department of Homeland Security released its Spring 2019 Regulatory Agenda, announcing the agency's priorities and how it plans to continue furthering the current administration's immigration-related goals.
As we head into summer, we would like to share with you some of our most popular legal alerts from the first half of 2019. Our top-read alerts range from construction, labor and employment, tax, corporate and securities, immigration, cooperatives and condominiums, commercial leasing, real estate, litigation and intellectual property, reflecting the broad array of our full-service practice. We hope that our alerts have been valuable to you and your colleagues, and demonstrate our commitment to providing helpful information to you.
The U.S. Department of State has added a new social media question to its immigrant and nonimmigrant visa application forms. Effective June 1, applicants filling out Forms DS-160 and DS-260 must provide the government with a list of all phone numbers, email addresses, international travel and deportation statuses from the last five years, as well as to the usernames for each social media platform (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) they have used in that time frame.
Recent developments regarding the U.S. Department of State’s policy relating to children born abroad to same-sex couples are slowing making their way through the U.S. federal courts for final determinations regarding the continued viability of current citizenship rules. It remains to be seen whether these challenges will result in these cases reaching the Supreme Court. The challenges have arisen due to state-of-the-art technology facilitating the birth of children to surrogates, the status of the noncitizen parent sperm donor who might be married to a U.S citizen and the immigration status of that parent and where the child is born.
On May 3, 2019, a Federal District Court in North Carolina granted a preliminary injunction preventing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) from enforcing its August 9, 2018 policy memorandum, which expanded situations in which international students might commence accruing unlawful presence, thus subjecting them to three- and ten-year bars from reentry to the United States.
Unannounced changes at the Canadian border have disrupted Canadian L-1 intra-company transferee visa applicants' admission to the United States. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) appears to have shifted its longstanding policy of adjudicating L individual or blanket L petitions for intra-company Canadian citizens applying for admission at U.S. ports of entry from Canada when presenting renewals of L visa requests.
Updated news from USCIS this spring includes final H-1B lottery selection news and a boon for Israeli investors who will be eligible to apply for E-2 treaty investor visas at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv.
On April 5, USCIS announced that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet the Congressionally mandated 65,000 H-1B regular "bachelor's degree" cap cases for this fiscal year. USCIS will next determine if it has received a sufficient number of petitions to meet the 20,000 H-1B advanced degree exemption petitions, known as the "master's cap," which USCIS is expected to announce soon.
On March 19, USCIS made a surprise announcement - it will be phasing in a new two-tiered premium processing procedure and establishing a new H-1B data hub on its website. On April 1, USCIS will commence accepting cap-subject H-1B petition filings for employment start dates effective October 1, 2019 - the start date of the 2020 fiscal year. Recently, USCIS suspended premium processing for all H-1B cap cases. It has slowly resumed premium processing for H-1B filings as its resources permit.
In this alert, Immigration partner Roxanne Levine reports on two business immigration updates - 1.) On March 11, USCIS announced that it would resume premium processing for all H-1B petition filings. 2.) The administration announced this week that it intends to shut down its USCIS international division, which services U.S. citizens, permanent residents and refugee applicants in its worldwide locations in order to furnish more staff with resources to handle lengthy backlogs in asylum applicants from tens of thousands of migrants crossing the southern border. Learn more about the implications of these developments.
USCIS recently provided updated data showing there has been a decline in approvals and higher rates of requests for evidence (RFE) for several key employer-sponsored non-immigrant visa categories.
USCIS announced that, as of Tuesday, February 19, it has resumed premium processing for all H-1B petitions filed on or before December 21, 2018. An expedited process for facilitating swift adjudication of non-immigrant petitions, premium processing had been suspended in the H-1B context. USCIS further advised that if a transfer notice was received from the agency, premium processing submissions should be submitted to the service center where the petition has been transferred.
Changes in the business immigration arena continue to affect non-immigrants in significant ways. By March 18, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is expected to publish a proposed regulation rescinding employment authorization documentation (EAD) for the H-4 spouse of H-1B visa holders.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has updated its H-1B pre-registration policy for the upcoming cap season and clarifies new developments related to H-1B processing. In this alert, we explore how each of these impacts business immigration today.
The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act reserves a first preference employment-based immigrant visa category for foreign nationals who qualify as aliens of extraordinary ability, outstanding professors, researchers, multinational executives or managers. These individuals have historically benefited from a fast-track path to securing lawful permanent resident status in the United States, known colloquially as the EB-1 immigrant visa category.
We welcome 2019 with the anticipation of yet another H-1B lottery filing season, this one filled with some major changes. Traditionally, the H-1B visa category has been utilized by U.S. companies to hire international talent and it is unlikely that will change given the low unemployment rate in the United States and the desire of U.S. corporations to remain competitive in the global workplace.
On October 30, USCIS announced that it will expand its Information Services Modernization Program to more field offices because it believes that most inquiries at local district offices can be accomplished through online email submissions or calls to its 800 number rather than at in-person appointments. The goal of the program is to require that a person speak to the USCIS National Customer Center by phone before being able to schedule an in-person appointment, known as an InfoPass appointment, at a field office.
In November 2018, USCIS issued an updated policy memorandum clarifying the terms of visa eligibility for L-1 visa designates who may have worked abroad for a qualifying entity overseas and, in the interim, held a different nonimmigrant status in the United States. The USCIS policy memo clears up confusing, inconsistent and conflicting language in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) regarding the L-1 visa, which is reserved for executives, managers and specialized knowledge personnel transferred to the United States from overseas affiliated offices.
On December 3, 2018, USCIS proposed a rule removing the current requirement for U.S. employers to file cap-subject H-1B petitions commencing April 1 each year. USCIS plans to introduce a new online registration system, which would become effective in 2019 and would require that employers file an online registration form at least two weeks in advance of the April 1 traditional filing date.
On November 8, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals blocked the Trump administration's attempt at ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In response, the Department of Justice asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case, which, if the court agrees, could settle as soon as June 2019.
All applicants for U.S. permanent residence who apply through adjustment of status proceedings or immigrant visa processing at U.S. consular posts abroad must undergo a medical examination as part of the prerequisite requirements to qualify for this benefit.
With the legalization of cannabis in Canada comes a new wave of uncertainty at U.S. ports of entry. In response to Canada's legalization of cannabis, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency released a statement on October 9, 2018 clarifying the U.S. position on Canadian citizens "working in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in Canada, coming to the U.S."
A group of U.S. colleges and universities, including The New School in New York City and Haverford College in Pennsylvania, have sued the Trump administration this week regarding the issuance of a new regulation affecting the status of foreign students and their ability to maintain lawful presence in the United States.
On October 10, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a proposed rule in the Federal Register suggesting changes to the "public charge" rules and how these rules would affect nonimmigrants and immigrants seeking admission to the United States.
The United States, Mexico and Canada recently reached a trilateral agreement on September 30, 2018 as part of the renegotiation of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Known going forward as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the immigration provisions in the agreement appear not to have suffered any significant changes and have been rearranged somewhat, to the relief of many on all sides of the border.
This year's Diversity Lottery Registration Program (DV lottery) becomes available to applicants from eligible countries on October 3, 2018. Entries can only be submitted electronically. You can enter the DV lottery here. All entries must be submitted between noon on October 3, 2018 EDT and noon on November 7, 2018 EDT. There is no cost to apply.
The International Entrepreneur Rule (IE Final Rule) was created to allow international entrepreneurs to temporarily stay in the United States for up to 30 months (potentially renewable for another 30 months) to enable them to grow their businesses here in the United States. The IE Final Rule applied to international entrepreneurs who could show, through evidence of "substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid business growth," that they would be able to provide significant public benefits to the United States.
U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that effective October 1, it will increase the premium processing fee charge for I-129 nonimmigrant worker petitions and I-140 immigrant petitions. Premium processing fees will increase to $1410.00 per petition. This is close to a 15 percent increase in the filing fee, which was last raised in 2010. Here's what the change means for employers.
On August 28, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the temporary suspension of premium processing (expedited processing) for H-1B cap petitions. This process has permitted a U.S. petitioner to secure fast-track processing of H-1B filings for a fee of $1410.00, effective on October 1, 2018. This is the first time USCIS has increased the fee since 2010. USCIS will adjudicate premium processing requests within 15 calendar days. The suspension, which was expected to terminate on September 10, will now likely last until February 19, 2019. Many of the H-1B cap visa applicants are foreign students in F-1 status. This new USCIS policy signals that foreign students will no longer be permitted to be eligible to work in the United States as of October 1, 2018.
On Friday, August 3, U.S. District Court Judge John Bates upheld his prior order to continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), delivering another blow to Trump administration efforts to end deportation protections for young undocumented immigrants, ordering the government to continue the Obama-era program. However, he won't require the administration to process new applications while it appeals his ruling.
While the Trump administration continually vocalizes its intolerance of illegal immigration, it has been quietly and effectively working to build an "invisible wall" to block legal immigration. One major avenue of legal immigration this invisible wall has hit is employment-based immigration.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently issued a new policy memorandum, dated June 28, 2018, in which it updated its guidelines for issuing Notices to Appear (NTAs). Due to concerns of the economic impact of the guidelines, USCIS announced a postponement to the memorandum's implementation on July 30, 2018.
Clients often ask us what specific documents they should carry with them while they are in the United States, whether they find themselves in their hometown or have need for domestic U.S. travel. In addition, highways and roads located on the U.S./Canada and U.S./Mexico border have traditionally been monitored up to 100 miles inland. Here's what you should know.
On July 13, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a new guidance memo for its adjudicators indicating that commencing on September 11, 2018, adjudicators may deny any and all applications or petitions without first issuing requests for evidence or notices of intent to deny if the original submission filed with the agency lacks initial evidence to establish eligibility for the specific benefit sought.
Just over a year ago, President Trump signed his "Buy American, Hire American" executive order which has since reshaped American immigration law. As part of this directive, the Department of Justice (DOJ) began an aggressive site visit program to ensure employers of foreign nationals are in total compliance with H-1B and L-1 visa requirements. These visits by the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) are typically unannounced. As such, it is important to be prepared in advance. Here is some general information on what to expect and how to prepare.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion of Trump v. Hawaii, the case on the third iteration of President Trump’s travel entry ban. This version of the ban was issued as a presidential proclamation in September of last year. It prohibits emigration and restricts travel to America from seven countries, most of which are predominantly Muslim. This case has been highly controversial since Mr. Trump issued his first travel ban a week after he took office. This is the first time the Supreme Court has considered the merits of a policy so controversial and political that it has essentially consumed the administration since day one.
On May 11, 2018, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) announcing an increase in their collaboration to "better detect and eliminate fraud, abuse and discrimination by employers bringing foreign visa workers to the United States." This new MOU expands the ongoing partnership established in 2010 between the USCIS and the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. Now, the DOJ’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) and the USCIS’s Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) will "collaborate to identify the types of information” relevant to each other’s investigations and “promptly share that information” with each other.
In December 2017, the White House released a new National Security Strategy aimed at reducing “economic theft by non-traditional intelligence collectors” and protecting American intellectual property by tightening visa procedures. On May 29, 2018, as part of the new strategy, the State Department released plans for new visa restrictions on Chinese students studying STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). These new restrictions are expected as early as June 11, 2018.
A new policy memo governing accrual of unlawful status is poised to impact students staying in the United States on F, J and M visas (academic, vocational and exchange students and their dependents) with significant immigration consequences if they fail to comply with new, punitive rules. Accrual of unlawful status has significant consequences – it can impact a student or exchange visitor's ability to receive future U.S. immigration benefits. Indeed, an overstay can result in bars of U.S. reentry lasting three years, ten years or possibly forever. Here’s what employers (and those on the affected visas) need to know.
On May 4, 2018, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that it will terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for immigrants from Honduras. The effective date will be January 20, 2020.
The H-1B visa category has been modified many times over the past 65 years. H-1B visas facilitate the entry of foreign national professionals, while also providing safeguards that maintain the integrity of the U.S. labor market. The H-1B is considered to be a major workhorse among non-immigrant visa options - it allows U.S. companies to avail themselves of global talent to ensure that they and our country remain competitive in the world market.
In September 2018, the Canadian government is slated to pass the Cannabis Act which will amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act that is currently in effect in Canada. The Act will legalize the possession of cannabis in small amounts and will permit Canadians to grow and purchase cannabis.
A Federal District Court Judge recently ordered that DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program protections must stay in place and that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which administers the program, must resume accepting new applications. The judge characterized the Trump administration's decision to phase out DACA as "arbitrary and capricious because the department failed to adequately explain its conclusion that the program was unlawful".
The frenzy of H-1B preparation and filing has finally ended. H-1B petitions will be reviewed by officers at one of the two United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Service Centers accepting petitions. USCIS has announced that it has received in excess of the maximum 85,000 petitions by the fifth business day of April. What is next?
On February 22, 2018, L. Francis Cissna, the Director of U.S. Citizenship Services (USCIS) announced a significant change to the agency's mission statement that aligns with the Trump Administration's "Buy American, Hire American" directives designed to protect American workers. This change will go into effect immediately.
States, counties and municipalities are all passing legislation opposing the Trump administration's crackdown on the undocumented. The latest includes Westchester County, New York, which approved a bill on March 12 protecting the undocumented, but stopped short of calling it a sanctuary law.
President Trump has communicated his desire to cut down on family-based immigration, or what he calls "chain migration,” a longstanding pillar of the American immigration system that enables citizens and permanent residents to bring their relatives to the United States.
U.S. immigration news continues to make headlines. Here are some updates on how your business could be affected by them.
On December 3, 2015, the "Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act" (FAST ACT) was passed by Congress and signed into law on December 4, 2015. An important, but widely overlooked provision of the law, which went into effect on January 1, 2018, is the provision by which the U.S. government may revoke or deny the U.S. passport of an individual with a "seriously delinquent tax debt."
On December 20, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) publicized a policy memorandum it originally released on November 20, 2017, narrowing the scope of those eligible for the TN Economist visa classification. The memorandum stated that applicants qualifying for the profession of Economist must "engage in activities consistent with the profession of economist," which marks a departure from how occupations that fell under this visa category were interpreted until the release of this guidance.
On April 1, 2018, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting cap subject H-1B petitions for professional workers who will start employment on October 1, 2018. In past years, the high demand for these visas – and the limited supply of them – has resulted in an oversubscription of petition filings. There are only 65,000 visas available per fiscal year, with an additional 20,000 set aside for those who have graduated from master’s degree programs in the United States.
On December 4, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the administration’s current travel ban targeting people from six Muslim-majority countries to go into effect. The ban, which is the third iteration of travel restrictions introduced by the administration, will remain in effect while legal challenges continue in lower courts. The nine justices, with two justices dissenting, granted the administration’s request to lift two injunctions imposed by lower courts that had partially blocked the ban, implemented by the administration after the inauguration of President Trump in January.
In this alert, Roxanne Levine explores the impact on businesses of sweeping U.S. immigration changes over the past year under the Trump Administration. The policy changes she discusses include: increased worksite enforcement by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, increased challenges in the H-1B visa petition area, the increase in personal interviews related to adjustment of status applications, the implications of the USCIS’s rescinding its policy of giving deference to previously adjudicated nonimmigrant petitions where parties, facts and circumstances of the case remained the same and the State Department’s change in policy to issuance of timing of activities in the United States.
U.S. Citizenship Services (USCIS) rescinded its long-honored policy guidelines that were instituted in April 2004, and were in effect until October 23, 2017 regarding giving deference to the adjudication of prior nonimmigrant petitions on behalf of new petition filings.
The Trump administration proposes to make sweeping changes to U.S. immigration policies. On October 8, 2017, the White House issued an Immigration Principles and Policies Statement, which was followed by separate supporting statements from the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Justice.
On September 28, 2017, the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) Ombudsman hosted a stakeholder call that offered more details about the new personal interview requirements for employment-based adjustment of status applicants. USCIS confirmed that only cases filed before March 6, 2017 will be adjudicated by the USCIS Service Centers under prior procedures without requiring an interview.
On September 24, President Trump issued the "Presidential Proclamation Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats." This proclamation serves to update and expand the preexisting immigration order that was signed in March 2017 and expired on September 24, 2017.
The U.S. State Department administered DV Lottery Program awards immigrant visas (green cards) to individuals hailing from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. This year there are 50,000 DV visas available. The dates established for electronic DV Lottery applications are between noon on October 3, 2017, and noon on November 7, 2017, Eastern Standard Time.
On September 5, 2017, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program, which was created by Executive Action in June 2012 will be terminated in six months.
Two longstanding policies adhered to by U. S. Citizenship Services have been reversed by the Trump administration and the U.S. Department of Justice.
U.S. immigration law practitioners are expecting a turbulent fall ahead with upcoming H-1B adjudications challenges by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, a suspension of nonimmigrant visa applications in Russia and closer scrutiny in general for nonimmigrants applying for temporary work visas at U.S. consular posts abroad.
On August 2, President Trump unveiled the RAISE Act, a Republican-sponsored bill, co-authored by Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton and Louisiana Senator David Purdue. According to The Washington Post, the bill's proposed changes could reduce annual legal immigration by 50 percent of today's roughly one million new green card holders down to 500,000. The bill would also reconfigure the current employment-based immigration system and institute a skills-based point system that would give certain immigrants priority based on such factors as age, educational level, offered annual salary, entrepreneurial investment and English language proficiency.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced a revised and updated version of Form I-9 that employers must use to verify identity and employment authorization of all new hires, effective September 18, 2017. Each employer that recruits, hires or refers employees for a fee in the United States is required to complete the Form I-9 within three days of the hiring of a new employee.
It has been a year of major policy shifts in U.S. immigration. In this alert, we provide an update on recent developments in business immigration in the United States.
On June 6, 2017, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta announced that the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) will conduct increased enforcement efforts encompassing all of the foreign visa worker programs administered by the USDOL, including the H-1B specialty occupation nonimmigrant visa, H-2A and H-2B seasonal and agricultural worker visa programs as well as the permanent foreign labor certification program.
On May 4, 2017, the U.S. Department of State issued a notice in the Federal Register evidencing that it intends to carry out President Trump's goal of "extreme vetting."
On April 18, 2017, President Trump signed a new executive order, "Buy American, Hire American." With the stated goals of promoting economic and national security, strengthening the middle class and protecting the economic interests of American workers, the new executive order focuses on promoting and protecting American goods and workers. The order specifically highlights the H-1B visa program as a target for reforms.
On March 21, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released new restrictions on electronic devices carried on U.S.-bound direct flights from 10 airports in primarily Muslim countries.
On March 6, 2017, President Trump signed a follow-up Executive Order (EO) revoking the original travel ban of January 27, 2017.
On March, 3, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it was suspending premium processing for all H-1B petitions commencing April 3, 2017.
On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) dramatically reshaping the current state of immigration in the United States.
On April 3, 2017, the filing period will begin for new H-1B petitions to be counted against the annual H-1B quota (H-1B cap) for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2017. We strongly encourage employers to begin determining now which of their current or future employees will require H-1B status.
During his campaign, President-elect Trump had promised to place the issue of immigration at the top of his agenda once sworn in as president in January 2017.
The State Department will be accepting online registrations for the 2018 Diversity Visa (DV) Program commencing at noon on Tuesday, October 4, 2016 and closing on Monday, November 7, 2016 at noon EST.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is amending its regulations regarding Optional Practical Training (OPT) for F-1 nonimmigrant students with qualifying degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from accredited U.S. colleges or universities.
On January 21, 2016, the U.S. implemented a long-expected change to the Visa Waiver Program. The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) permits visitors of certain countries to enter the U.S. without having to first obtain a B-1/B-2 visitor visa at a U.S. consular post abroad. Currently, 38 countries participate in the program.
On April 1, 2016, the filing period will begin for new H-1B petitions to be counted against the annual H-1B quota (H-1B cap) for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2016.
On September 9, 2015, USCIS announced a major change to its process for accepting adjustment of status applications submitted by foreign nationals in the US.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that they are experiencing delays in producing employment authorization and permanent resident cards.
On April 1, 2015, the filing period will begin for new H-1B petitions to be counted against the annual H-1B quota (H-1B cap) for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2015. We strongly encourage employers to begin determining now which of their current or future employees will require H-1B status.
In his speech to the nation on November 20, President Obama announced a number of initiatives that will significantly change the immigration process.
The State Department is now accepting online registrations for the 2016 Diversity Visa (DV) Program. The registration period will close on Monday, November 3, 2014 at noon EST.
On April 1, 2014, the filing period will begin for new H-1B petitions to be counted against the annual H-1B quota (H-1B cap) for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2014. We strongly encourage employers to begin determining which of their current or future employees will require H-1B status.
In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. This ruling will pave the way for same-sex spouses to be sponsored for family based permanent residence and included as derivatives in employment-based green card and nonimmigrant cases.
On April 1, 2013, the filing period will begin for new H-1B petitions to be counted against the annual H-1B quota (H-1B cap) for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2013. We strongly encourage employers to begin determining which of their current or future employees will require H-1B status.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that commencing August 15th, it will begin to accept applications for deportation relief from young persons without immigration status who were brought to the USA as children.
More significant news occurred on June 15, 2012 when President Obama, by Executive Order, announced that, effective immediately, individuals brought to the United States as children who do not pose a risk to national security or public safety and meet other key criteria will be eligible to receive “deferred action.” On June 8, the President also signed a bill into law allowing Israeli investors to apply for the E2 visa, which lets beneficiaries live and work in the USA for an extended period of time in order to oversee a major investment in the United States. The bill was approved in Congress on May 31.
On April 1, 2012, the filing period will begin for new H-1B petitions to be counted against the annual H-1B quota (H-1B cap) for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2012. We strongly encourage employers to begin determining which of their current or future employees will require H-1B status.
On April 1, 2011, the filing period will begin for new H-1B petitions to be counted against the annual H-1B quota (H-1B cap) for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2011. We strongly encourage employers to begin determining which of their current or future employees will require H-1B status.
In a Twitter announcement on October 15, the White House announced that the U.S. will introduce a new travel policy that will begin on November 8, permitting foreign nationals access to the United States provided they have been fully vaccinated with ‘very limited exceptions’ to its vaccination requirements.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has mandated that all green card applicants for adjustment of status in the United States and immigrant visa applicants applying abroad at consular posts be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Congress has mandated that in a given calendar year, 140,000 employment-based green cards will be awarded to companies sponsoring foreign nationals for permanent employment in the United States.
It appears that Presidential Proclamation 10143, which suspended direct travel to the U.S. from the Schengen countries, UK, Ireland, South Africa, Brazil, Iran, China and India will remain in place for the time being, according to the administration.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a recent change to its policy related to rescheduling biometrics appointments.
On July 6, 2021, the U.S. Department of State announced that it was extending the validity of National Interest Exceptions (NIE) for 12 months from the date of approval, and for multiple entries, as long as they are used for the purpose under which they were granted. NIE affects travelers subject to Presidential Proclamations pertaining to the spread of COVID – 19.
On May 10, 2021, USCIS revived the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER), announcing it was withdrawing a 2018 proposed rule to eliminate the IER in response to President Biden’s Executive Order (EO 14102, “Restoring Faith in our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans”).
On May 24, 2021, the U.S. Department of State announced that it was working together with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to facilitate the return from abroad of those U.S. citizens holding expired passports.
On April 27, 2021, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated the USCIS Policy Manual in a Policy Alert to reinstate its policy of giving deference to prior determinations when adjudicating extension-of-stay requests relating to nonimmigrant visa petitions. This policy update generally restores the USCIS 2004 deference policy, which was rescinded in 2017.
The temporary work travel ban implemented by the prior administration in the summer of 2020 expired on Wednesday, March 31.
In August 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) introduced the Public Charge Final Rule, which required applicants for adjustment of status in the United States to submit Form I-944, ‘Declaration of Self-Sufficiency’, with supporting evidence.
On March 2, 2021, the U.S. Department of State announced further tightening of its COVID-19 restrictions for foreign nationals present in the Schengen areas of Europe, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. Anthony Blinken, the Secretary of State rescinded prior guidance by the State Department granting “national interest exceptions” to the travel restrictions for senior level managers and executives, technical experts, professional athletes, and E visa treaty traders and investors.
Effective March 9, 2021, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has temporarily conferred Venezuelan citizens with eligibility to file for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) through September 5, 2021. TPS designation runs through September 9, 2022. The Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) program for eligible Venezuelans expires July 20, 2022.
On February 24, President Biden issued a Proclamation revoking the immigrant visa ban that suspended foreign nationals’ entry to the United States in immigrant visa categories. Immigrant visas are issued exclusively at consular posts abroad to foreign nationals immigrating permanently to the United States. These individuals might be sponsored by family members or U.S. employers. In addition, the revocation also affects the thousands of Diversity Lottery applicants located outside the United States.
As we start a new year, we would like to share with you some of our most popular legal alerts from 2020. Our top alerts range from bankruptcy, construction, COVID-19, labor & employment, immigration, trusts & estates, corporate & securities, litigation and intellectual property, reflecting the broad array of our full-service practice. We hope that our alerts have been helpful to you and your colleagues, and demonstrate our commitment to providing important information to you.
On Friday, December 4, 2020, a federal judge ordered the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to reopen the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to new applicants for the first time since 2017. This ruling follows other decisions affecting DACA applicants including a November 2020 federal court decision which found that DHS Secretary Chad Wolf violated the Homeland Security Act of 2002 by suspending DACA.
On October 7, this year's Diversity Lottery Registration Program (DV lottery) becomes available to applicants from eligible countries. You can enter the DV lottery here. Entries can only be submitted electronically. All entries must be submitted between noon on Wednesday, October 7, 2020 EDT through noon on Tuesday, November 10, 2020 EST. There is no cost to apply.
On July 16, 2020, the U.S. Department of State (State Department) issued an update on its website which clarified the exceptions available to bans on entry to the United States for foreign nationals imposed by Presidential Proclamations 10014 and 10052.
On Sunday May 24, 2020, the White House issued a Presidential Proclamation (Proclamation) suspending the entry of travelers who have recently been to Brazil. This will become effective on May 26, 2020 at midnight. This travel ban is in addition to the ban currently in force for certain travelers from China, Europe, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Iran. The United States, Canada and Mexico also recently extended travel restrictions and crossing borders except in the case of "essential travel" until June 21, 2020.
Commencing May 1, 2020, employers verifying identity and employment authorization for their employees must use the October 21, 2019 edition of Form I-9: Employment Eligibility Verification. All U.S. employers must properly complete Form I-9 for each person they hire, regardless of whether the individual is a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or non-citizen.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced its intention to begin reopening its nationwide district offices on or after June 4th. District offices generally handle adjustment of status interviews for family and employment-based immigrant visa applicants, citizenship interviews and swearing-in procedures, as well as biometrics processing related to these applications.
On April 22, 2020, an Executive Order entitled "Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak," outlined a 60-day pause for immigrants entering the United States for the first time. This is a narrow order affecting employment-based immigrants only.
On April 1, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that H-1B cap-subject petitions selected in the electronic pre-registration lottery procedure could be filed if based on a valid selected registration. The pre-registration H-1B filing period concluded on March 20, 2020.
On June 11, 2018, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions overturned an immigration appeals court decision granting asylum to a Salvadoran woman, Ms. A.B., fleeing domestic abuse. This decision rejects nearly two decades of precedent and is the latest development in defining asylum eligibility.
On March 30, 2018, the U.S. Department of State issued a notice of request for public comment in the Federal Register regarding a new rule it intends to apply to all visa applications by foreign nationals for visitor visas, temporary work visas and immigrant visas. This rule includes a proposal that an estimated 14.7 million people annually will be asked to submit their social media usernames for the past five years prior to submitting their visa application.
On April 12, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it had completed the H-1B cap lottery selection process.
On Monday, October 16, the U.S. Department of State announced that due to a technical issue, the DV-2019 entry period that commenced on October 3 has been closed. The Department of State further advised that all entries submitted between October 3 and October 10 would be voided and excluded from the system.
In December 2015, President-elect Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” This idea of a Muslim ban has taken many iterations with the latest being an “extreme vetting” on Muslims entering the United States.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced that as of June 11, 2012, it had reached the statutory cap for both Regular and Master’s Degree H-1Bs for Fiscal Year 2013. The current annual cap on the H-1B category is 65,000 and 20,000 for the Master’s Degree. The USCIS will reject cap-subject petitions for H-1B specialty occupation workers seeking an employment start date in Fiscal Year 2013 that arrive after June 11.
In the wake of the financial meltdown and subsequent signs of economic recovery, opportunities are becoming more prevalent for those looking to diversify and expand their investments. Luckily, there are various ways to acquire funding for development projects that are both available and underutilized. The Employment-Based visa program is one such tool, particularly the EB-5 visa category.