The Social Security Administration has resumed mailing notifications to employers identified as having at least one name and Social Security Number combination submitted on the wage and tax statement (Form W-2) that do not match SSA’s records.
Fredrikson & Byron’s Immigration Group offers complete services in all areas of immigration law, with special emphasis on business, arts and family immigration.
What We Do
The lawyers in the Immigration Group are experienced practitioners, many of whom speak frequently at national and international conferences in their areas of expertise as well as volunteer their time for various immigrant organizations. All of the individuals currently working in the Immigration Group share a common philosophy of wanting to provide the best, most personal representation available. Members of the Immigration and International Groups are fluent in written and spoken English, Spanish, French, German, Chinese, and Vietnamese.
We offer counsel on the following immigrant-related areas: Artists, Entertainers and Athletes; Deportations and Removal; Employment/Temporary; Employment/ Permanent; Expatriates; Family Immigration; Foreign Students; I-9 Compliance for U.S. Employers; Lottery; Naturalization; and Refugees and Asylees.
- B-1/B-2 Visitors: B-1 visas are available for business visitors who are entering the U.S. for a short period and who are not engaged in local employment. B-2 visas are for non-business visitors for pleasure.
- E-1/E-2 Treaty Traders and Investors: Certain countries have treaties with the U.S. regarding trade and/or investment that allow such individuals and their employees to receive visas to engage in business in the U.S.
- H-1B Specialty Occupations: Professional workers with at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field (or its equivalent in work experience) may be eligible for an H-1B visa if the job requires a degree in that field and the employer can demonstrate that it will be paying at least the prevailing wage to the foreign employee. This is a two-step process involving both the Department of Labor and the USCIS.
- H-2A and H-2B: Occasionally non-professional workers can obtain temporary work permission either for agricultural or non-agricultural labor that is in short supply in the U.S. These categories require a labor certification from the Department of Labor. The procedure is quicker than for immigrant-based labor certifications, but it is still unwieldy and should be reserved only for those cases that truly warrant it.
- H-3: An employer may be able to set up a temporary training program to bring over experienced individuals for the purpose of training them further in their field with the intention that they will return to their countries after such training.
- J-1 Trainees: Occasionally individuals may come to the U.S. under an approved exchange program for the purpose of business training, teaching, providing research, or even serving as camp counselors and au pairs. Depending on the country the individual is from and the program requirements, some J-1 visa holders will be subject to a requirement that they spend at least two years outside of the U.S. before being permitted to change to another nonimmigrant visa or even adjust status to permanent residence. There are waivers available to remove this requirement which are more or less difficult to obtain depending on a number of variables, including the program sponsor and the country of origin.
- L-1 Intra-Company Transferees: L-1 visas are available to executives, managers and employees with specialized knowledge (both professional and non-professional) who are transferring to the U.S. from an overseas affiliate. The foreign and U.S. companies must have the requisite legal affiliation to be eligible. L-1 executives and managers may qualify for permanent residence in the Employment-Based First-Preference (EB-1) category and therefore do not need a labor certification.
- O-1 Extraordinary Ability Workers: O-1 visas are available for individuals with extraordinary ability, including artists, entertainers, athletes, scientists, and business people. The standard for eligibility is higher for all those except artists and entertainers, who need show only “distinguished ability.” Most Os in the arts and entertainment field require advisory opinions from applicable labor unions.
- P-1, P-2, P-3 Artists and Athletes: These categories cover artists, entertainers, athletes and coaches. P-1 is for entertainment groups (not individuals) and individual or group athletes that are internationally recognized. P-2 is a category for artists and entertainers engaged in established reciprocal exchange programs. P-3 is for artists, entertainers and coaches who are culturally unique. Most P visas require advisory opinions from a related union indicating that there is no objection to the grant of a visa.
- Q-1: Q-1 visas are for a unique classification of individuals participating in international cultural exchange programs. These visas can be very useful for temporary culture or language teachers and certain camp counselors.
- TN Status: The TN category is a special one set up for nationals of Canada and Mexico under the provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Despite the similarities, it is considerably easier to get TN status for a Canadian than a Mexican. To qualify, one must fit the specific TN job classification, and the U.S. employer’s job duties must conform to the job classification.
Employment-based immigration is divided into the following five preference categories:
- EB-1 Foreign Nationals of Extraordinary Ability, Outstanding Professors and Researchers, and Multinational Executives and Managers: All of the above individuals are eligible for permanent residence without having to obtain a labor certification. The applications for the first two groups of individuals require substantial documentation establishing their national and/or international renown and expertise. Multinational executives and managers are only able to apply if they have worked for at least one year for companies with the appropriate ownership relationships and affiliations.
- EB-2 Workers With Advanced Degrees or Exceptional Ability: Individuals in this category normally must have a job offer and an approved labor certification. The labor certification process is comprehensive and involves demonstrating that the foreign worker will not be taking a job away from a U.S. worker. If individuals in this category can show that their entry is in the U.S. national interest, both the labor certification and job offer requirements can be waived.
- EB-3 Skilled Workers and Professionals: Individuals in this category typically must have a job offer and approved labor certification. While there is also an EB-3 unskilled labor category, it is so backlogged that it really makes no sense to proceed with a labor certification for an unskilled laborer.
- EB-4 Special Immigrants: Ministers and other religious workers are eligible for permanent residence in this classification provided they have worked for the past two years in that same occupation for the same religious denomination.
- EB-5 Investors: 10,000 visas per year have been set aside for investors who either invest at least $500,000 in “targeted employment areas” (rural areas or those experiencing high unemployment) or those who invest $1,000,000 anywhere else. There are numerous restrictions and regulations regarding this category and anyone proceeding is strongly advised to seek immigration counsel before doing so.
Through contacts developed out of our Mexico and China offices, as well as our affiliates throughout the world, we are able to advise our clients on consular visa processing issues, which have become progressively more complex in recent years. Obtaining H-1B or L-1 approvals from CIS is only the first step for foreign workers entering the U.S. from abroad. Being able to provide critical and timely information on visa processing is a vital service that many smaller practitioners cannot provide.
Through our close membership in the 20-firm Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers (www.abil.com) we have developed a private consortium of immigration attorneys in forty-six countries world-wide. Much more than a network, we work hand in hand with these attorneys in a cooperative effort to obtain visas for our multi-national corporate clients’ employees coming from or to any part of the world. We meet and collaborate with these foreign-licensed attorneys on a regular basis, making them a part of our immigration team in bringing favorable results to our clients. A select group of attorneys from this alliance have been invited to join ABIL Global, which is a team of attorneys we collaborate with even more closely and whom we give preferred provider status. For more see http://www.abil.com/global_immigration.cfm.
I-9 Compliance for U.S. Employers
As most of us are by now very well aware, all employers in the U.S. are required to have their employees fill out I-9 forms indicating eligibility to work. These documents should be carefully filled out and maintained by the employer in case the USCIS ever decides to audit the employer’s records. There are severe penalties for both technical and willful I-9 violations, so it is essential that employers thoroughly understand the I-9 process, especially as there are many different types of documents that can be provided by foreign nationals to establish work eligibility. It should be noted that even if employers do not hire a single foreign worker, they can be fined for serious technical I-9 violations. Further, employers have to take care that they do not discriminate against individuals on the basis of their nationality by asking for documentation that is not required. Employers have to walk a fine line between avoiding penalties for failure to properly document all of their hires and penalties for discrimination against foreign nationals.
Other Regulatory Compliance
We have assisted our corporate clients in navigating audits by the Department of Labor and the USCIS. Employers can be assessed serious fines and penalties for failure to comply with immigration regulations, and we carefully ensure that companies’ compliance files (for H-1B’s and labor certifications) are in good order should an audit ever occur.
Artists, Entertainers, and Athletes
This is a unique area of immigration law with special visa types which require unique strategies. Laura Danielson is known on a national level for her representation of artists/entertainers and athletes. Depending on circumstances, these individuals may be eligible for a variety of temporary visas, including B-1, H-1B, J-1, O-1, P-1, P-2, P-3, or Q-1. (Described below under Employment-Temporary) Permanent options for such individuals range from Employment-Based First Preference for Extraordinary Ability, Employment-Based Second Preference and traditional Labor Certifications.
Most foreign students are in the U.S. on an F-1 visa which allows them to reside in the U.S. for the duration of their study program as long as they are maintaining a full course of study and are not working unlawfully. There are various types of practical training permits that foreign students may be eligible for, but as a general rule, they are not allowed to work except on campus or with this special permission. Some students are also in the U.S. on J-1 visas, which are for scholars, teachers and others. While J programs and program sponsors vary widely, students in J status are similar to F-1 students in that they are ineligible for outside employment. Spouses of J-1s (J-2s) are eligible for work authorization from USCIS, but spouses of F-1s are not. Many individuals in J status are subject to a requirement that they return to their country of origin for two years before being eligible for a change of status or adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence. While waivers are sometimes available, students should carefully consider their long term plans before agreeing to J-1 status over F-1 status.
Family immigration is divided into immediate relatives and preference relatives. Immediate relatives include spouses, children under age 21 and parents of U.S. citizens. These individuals are immediately eligible for permanent residence in the U.S., although the application process can typically take quite awhile. Preference relatives are divided into the following categories: First preference – unmarried adult children of U.S. citizens; second preference – spouses and children of U.S. permanent residence; third preference – married children of U.S. citizens; and fourth preference – brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens. These are the only family relationships which allow immigration to the U.S. USCIS has very specific definitions of what constitutes “children” (including step children and adopted children) and “parents.” Family relationships are typically proven with birth certificates, marriage certificates and other legal documentation. The USCIS scrutinizes family relationships closely to ensure that relationships were not entered into merely for the purpose of obtaining immigration benefits.
Individuals who have resided in the U.S. as lawful permanent residence for 5 years (or in the case of spouses of U.S. citizens, 3 years) are eligible to apply for naturalization as U.S. citizens. These individuals must also establish that they have been physically present in the U.S. for at least half of the time during the past 5 years, and that they have not been outside the country for more than one year at any given time without obtaining a waiver. The naturalization process requires that individuals be of good moral character, not be removable from the U.S. for any reason, including past criminal activity, and can pass a test in U.S. government and written and spoken English skills. There are certain exceptions regarding these testing requirements for individuals of a certain age or with certain disabilities. Once interviewed and approved, individuals will be sworn in as U.S. citizens and asked to take an oath of allegiance. Acquiring U.S. citizenship in the U.S. through naturalization does not automatically revoke one’s native citizenship provided that dual citizenship is allowed by that country.
Refugees and Asylees
Refugees and Asylees are individuals who have been granted protection by the U.S. government on account of having established a well-founded fear of persecution by their foreign government on account of their:
- Political opinion;
- Religious beliefs;
- Membership in a particular social group.
Social group membership includes such areas as gender and sexual preference persecution. The main difference between refugees and asylees is that refugees establish this well-founded fear while outside the U.S., typically in a refugee camp, and are then relocated to the U.S. to reside here. Asylees are individuals who have come to the U.S. with visas or as illegal entrants and then file for asylum. Their application must establish their well-founded fear of persecution on account of one of the five grounds. The asylum and refugee process is not an easy one; simply because a country is war torn or in extreme turmoil does not mean its citizens are eligible to reside in the U.S. as refugees or asylees. Proving a well-founded fear of persecution is a very difficult process that is best done with legal counsel. Individuals with strong claims can sometimes qualify for assistance from a human rights organization that helps prepare applications on a pro bono basis. One such organization is the Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, located at www.theadvocatesforhumanrights.org/.
Deportation and Removal
Fredrikson & Byron’s immigration services include comprehensive representation in the area of deportation and removal. Our attorneys are highly regarded in this area with many years of experience. As a result of recent changes in the law, many more individuals are now subject to deportation and removal, even for committing the most minor offenses. We are capable of handling these matters both in Immigration Court and U.S. Federal Court.
Once a year, most typically around October, the U.S. State Department runs a visa lottery for individuals from certain countries that are under-represented in U.S. immigration. Simple applications must be filed within a narrow window of time and approximately 9 or 10 months later the winners are announced. Even though these applications are very simple, it should be noted that many are rejected for failure to follow exact directions. The visa lottery winners are eligible for lawful permanent residence in the U.S. and must adjust to that status or obtain a visa from a consulate abroad by the end of the next fiscal year. As the State Department issues considerably more approvals than it can grant, it is essential that individuals who win the lottery take immediate steps to make their applications. Otherwise, they may end up in the unfortunate position of being denied because the quota has been reached.
News & Articles
Enforcement of Unlawful Presence Memo Targeting International Students Temporarily Blocked by Federal Judge
A federal judge issued a nationwide order requiring USCIS to temporarily suspend the enforcement of a policy under which F-1/M-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors would begin to accrue unlawful presence as soon as they violate the terms of their visa status.
Effective May 1, 2019, the E-2 investor visa program has opened to Israelis under a reciprocal treaty investor agreement signed between the United States and Israel.
The letter asked the agency to explain the reasons for backlogged cases and how certain policies such as “extreme vetting” affect processing times and contribute to the backlog.
Regarding EB-1 for China and India, the bulletin notes a continued “extremely high rate of demand” that may require temporary retrogression until October.
Certain marijuana-related activities generally bar naturalization even if they are decriminalized under applicable state laws
USCIS Completes H-1B Cap Random Selection Process for FY 2020, Reaches Advanced Degree Exemption Cap
On April 10, 2019, USCIS used a computer-generated random process to select enough H-1B petitions to meet the congressionally mandated regular cap and the U.S. advanced degree exemption for FY 2020.
New Study Shows Companies Pay Billions in Job Training, Scholarships for U.S. Students Through H-1B Fees
The study by the National Foundation for American Policy also details how expensive it has become to petition for an H-1B professional.
The data hub allows the public to search for H-1B petitioners by fiscal year, NAICS code, employer name, city, state or zip code.
A goal is to limit in-person support to those who truly need assistance that can be provided only in person, the agency said.
Immigration Attorney Loan Huynh Receives Hennepin County Bar Association’s Excellence Award for Advancing Diversity and Inclusion
April 29, 2019
Loan T. Huynh receives the 2019 Excellence Award for Advancing Diversity and Inclusion.
April 5, 2019
Various U.S. Customs and Border Protection ports of entry and Preclearance locations have implemented a policy of refusing to process L-1 extension petitions presented by Canadians pursuant to the North American Free Trade Agreement.
A new Field Assistance Bulletin reiterates an H-1B petitioner’s obligations when using electronic means to make the required notice to all affected employees.
The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for April 2019 notes that Final Action Date movement in many employment-based preference categories continues to be greater than might ordinarily be expected. This is anticipated to continue for at least the next few months.
DOL announced an annual update to: (1) the allowable charges that employers seeking H-2A workers in occupations other than herding or production of livestock on the range may charge their workers when the employer provides three meals per day; and (2) the maximum travel subsistence meal reimbursement that a worker with receipts may claim under the H-2A and H-2B programs.
President Trump has extended the wind-down period for Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for certain eligible Liberians for an additional 12 months, through March 30, 2020.
USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna told senior staff that the agency’s International Operations Division, which operates in more than 20 countries, will be closed down. The duties of those offices will be transferred to U.S. embassies and consulates and to domestic U.S. offices.
March 29, 2019
On May 8, 2019, Fredrikson & Byron’s Immigration Group hosted a half-day in-person seminar and live webinar on the latest immigration updates and best practices.
March 13, 2019
USCIS resumed premium processing on Tuesday, March 12, for all H-1B petitions.
March 12, 2019
On February 20, 2019, the Trump administration sent a proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget for review that would halt work authorization for H-4 spouses of H-1B visa holders in the United States.
According to statistics released by USCIS, the percentage of H-1B cases with requests for evidence has greatly increased.
86 Democratic members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to the USCIS Director expressing their “grave concerns about the alarming growth in processing delays” and requesting “prompt and detailed” responses to a series of related questions.
The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for March 2019 shows modest progress for EB-1 for all chargeability areas as well as EB-2 for China and India; EB-3 and Other Workers China, India and the Philippines; and EB-5 China and Vietnam, with the remainder of the priority dates remaining Current.
The USCIS Ombudsman reported that the agency has resolved a discrepancy in the application of policy concerning persons with advance parole who recently filed renewal applications and then left the United States.
USCIS announced that it has revised Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, and is introducing a new Form I-539A, effective March 11.
February 27, 2019
This article focuses on options available to Postdoctoral Scholars to attain permanent residence based on their professional skills. While U.S. immigration law contains various pathways to permanent residence, such as family-based (largely, but not exclusively marriage to a U.S. citizen), fear of persecution (laws of asylum and refugee) and miscellaneous programs (the most common of which is the Diversity Lottery program), this article is limited to strategies available to Postdocs leveraged off of their employment skills.
February 19, 2019
USCIS will resume premium processing on Tuesday, February 19, for all H-1B petitions filed on or before December 21, 2018.
February 7, 2019
Employers should assess their need for H-1B employees and begin working on their H-1B petitions now.
The Online Fee Calculator will determine the exact filing and biometric fees to include with forms and “will always have the most up-to-date fee information,” the agency said.
The Visa Bulletin for February 2019 includes information on employment-based visa number availability on a monthly basis through May.
The new guidance addresses when officers may consider interview waivers.
The Department of State warned U.S. citizens to exercise increased caution when traveling to China due to “arbitrary enforcement of local laws as well as special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese nationals.”
December 11, 2018
It is time to start preparing for H-1B cap season once again! This year, USCIS has proposed a new rule to implement a registry program requiring the sponsoring employer to electronically register online prior to formally submitting an H-1B petition with USCIS.
Lawsuit Challenges New USCIS Policy on ‘Unlawful Presence’ for Foreign Students and Exchange Visitors
November 29, 2018
Several institutions of higher education have challenged a recently announced Trump administration policy, effective August 9, 2018, changing the calculation of the number of days of “unlawful presence” for nonimmigrant foreign students.
Employers may not terminate, suspend, delay training, withhold or lower pay, or take any other adverse action against an employee because of a Tentative Nonconfirmation until it becomes a Final Nonconfirmation.
USCIS has sent a draft regulation to the Office of Management and Budget that would require employers, beginning in April 2019, to pre-register for the H-1B lottery.
The updated policy requires applicants to submit a Form I-693 that is signed by a civil surgeon no more than 60 days before filing the underlying application for an immigration benefit.
USCIS and CBP are extending the joint agency pilot program for Canadian citizens seeking L-1 nonimmigrant status under the North American Free Trade Agreement through April 30, 2019.
The Department of Labor announced several revisions to Form ETA-9035, the Labor Condition Application (LCA) for H-1B, H-1B1, and E-3 employment. A new LCA form incorporating these revisions will be fully implemented on November 19, 2018.
November 19, 2018
Please be advised that as of Monday, November 19, 2018, employers who sponsor foreign nationals for H-1B, E-3 or H-1B1 status will be required to use a new version of ETA Form 9035/9035 to file Labor Condition Applications with the U.S. Department of Labor.
October 31, 2018
The Department of Homeland Security has announced that it will soon publish a controversial proposed rule that would make it much more difficult for many who have lower incomes or less education, or who have received public benefits, to become permanent residents.
According to reports, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is conducting site visits to H-2B employers nationwide in a variety of industry sectors.
The E-Verify, Conrad State 30 J-1 waiver program for certain foreign physicians, EB-5 regional center and special immigrant non-minister religious worker programs have been extended past the September 30 deadline by late-breaking legislation.
The Department of Justice investigation determined that a company failed to consider applications from qualified U.S. workers for its housekeeper positions.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has begun accepting copies of negative consultation letters directly from labor unions relating to a current or future O nonimmigrant visa petition request.
As of October 1, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services could start removal proceedings against some foreign nationals without underlying immigration status if their applications are denied and they do not leave the United States.
The judge said in his ruling that there was “evidence that this [termination] may have been done in order to implement and justify a pre-ordained result desired by the White House.”
State Department Announces Oversubscription of September Employment-Based Second and Third Preference Categories
September 24, 2018
The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for September 2018 announced oversubscription of employment-based visa numbers in several categories.
USCIS Extends, Expands Suspension of Premium Processing for Certain H-1B Petitions – Increases Premium Processing Fee
USCIS announced that it is extending the temporary suspension of premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions and, beginning September 11, 2018.
The Department of State (DOS) announced recently that the worldwide limits on the highest-preference green cards, EB-1s, were reached for the fiscal year.
USCIS has published a revised final policy memorandum related to unlawful presence after considering feedback received during a 30-day public comment period.
USCIS has begun accepting copies of negative consultation letters directly from labor unions relating to a current or future O nonimmigrant visa petition request.
August 29, 2018
Beginning September 11, 2018, USCIS has announced that it will be expanding the temporary suspension of premium processing beyond cap-subject H-1B petitions to include certain additional H-1B petitions.
August 22, 2018
USCIS has published a revised final policy memorandum related to unlawful presence after considering feedback received during a 30-day public comment period.
The worldwide backlog for EB-1 visas is expected to continue through at least October and potentially into 2019.
A controversial DHS draft rule leaked to the media would make more immigrants inadmissible or deportable for receiving public benefits.
USCIS announced that issuance of operational guidance is pending for its recent memorandum on notices to appear.
On June 26, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld 5-4 the Trump administration’s third travel ban order.
June 5, 2018
I-9 audits are up significantly in 2018 from recent years, continuing to be a cornerstone of the worksite enforcement strategy of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.
April 2, 2018
Fredrikson & Byron’s Immigration attorneys presented a half-day seminar on immigration updates and best practices for employers on May 9.
March 16, 2018
The U.S. Supreme Court let stand without comment a ruling by a federal judge to block the Trump administration’s plan to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals by March 5, 2018.
USCIS has published a policy memorandum clarifying that USCIS may request detailed documentation to ensure that a legitimate employer-employee relationship is maintained while an employee is working at a third-party worksite.
The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for March 2018 discusses visa availability in the coming months in several categories.
In what may be a sign of the times, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has revised its mission statement to remove the term “nation of immigrants,” among other changes.
A coalition of business leaders, investors and organizations sent a letter on February 8, 2018, to President Donald Trump in support of the International Entrepreneur Rule, which is in effect following a court order.
Immigration Bills Fail in Senate, Including DACA; House Bill’s Prospects Appear Dim; Second Court Enjoins DACA Rescission
February 22, 2018
Four immigration bills failed in the U.S. Senate, and a House bill appears doomed. Also, a second court enjoined DACA rescission, with a nationwide preliminary injunction while lawsuits proceed. The decision included certain limitations.
President Donald Trump signed a National Security Presidential Memorandum to establish a National Vetting Center “to coordinate the efforts of departments and agencies to better identify individuals seeking to enter the country who present a threat to national security, border security, homeland security or public safety.”
State of the Union Speech Outlines Immigration Reform Proposal; White House Releases ‘Framework’ on Immigration and Border Security
President Donald Trump outlined several immigration-related themes during his State of the Union address on January 30, 2018. Also, the Trump administration released its “Framework on Immigration Reform & Border Security” on January 25, 2018.
Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) introduced the “Immigration Innovation (I-Squared) Act of 2018” in the U.S. Senate on January 25, 2018. The bill (S. 2344) would authorize additional visas for “well-educated aliens” to live and work in the United States.
Temporary protected status (TPS) for El Salvador will be terminated effective September 9, 2019. The 60-day re-registration period began January 18, 2018, and runs through March 19, 2018.
USCIS Automatically Extends EAD Validity for Certain Haitians With TPS; Re-Registration Period Now Open
The designation of Haiti for TPS will expire on July 22, 2019. Current beneficiaries of TPS under Haiti’s designation who want to maintain that status through the program’s termination date must re-register by March 19, 2018.
The DOL’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification alerted employers and other interested stakeholders about a process change “to better assure fairness regarding the issuance of H-2B temporary labor certifications due to the unprecedented volume of applications received on January 1, 2018.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a memorandum providing guidance and standard operating procedures for border searches of electronic devices.
Federal contractors and subcontractors with an E-Verify Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) requirement must enroll in and use E-Verify.
February 6, 2018
In 2015, Congress passed 26 U.S.C. Section 7345, entitled “Revocation or Denial of Passport in Case of Certain Tax Delinquencies.” Although this law was passed in 2015, the IRS did not begin coordinating with the State Department immediately. However, it has announced that it will begin that process in January 2018.
January 26, 2018
After a tumultuous, difficult year in 2017 with respect to immigration and border issues, we share our thoughts on what employers can expect in 2018.
Former DHS Secretaries Michael Chertoff, Jeh Johnson and Janet Napolitano sent a letter to Republican and Democratic congressional leaders urging swift passage of legislation to allow the 690,000 “Dreamers” under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to continue to live and work in the United States. Also, USCIS resumed accepting renewal applications for DACA based on a federal court order.
As of January 22, 2018, passengers with driver’s licenses issued by a state that does not yet comply with the REAL ID Act and that has not received an extension will need to show an alternative form of acceptable identification for domestic air travel. Passengers who have licenses issued by a state that is complying or that has an extension to become compliant with REAL ID requirements may continue to use their licenses as usual.
The new measures include requiring VWP countries “to use counterterrorism information to better screen travelers,” assessing VWP countries “to ensure they implement safeguards against the aviation sector” and requiring certain VWP countries “to initiate public information campaigns to reduce overstays.”
Temporary protected status TPS designation for El Salvador will be terminated on September 9, 2019. DHS suggested the possibility of a legislative solution in the meantime.
New policy guidance states that financial analysts, marketing analysts and market research analysts are not eligible for classification as a TN economist.
January 23, 2018
On January 9, 2018, the U.S. District Court in the 9th Circuit issued an order directing the government to partially maintain the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which on September 5, 2017, the Trump Administration had rescinded.
January 22, 2018
On Friday, January 20, 2018, Congress failed to pass a budget, shutting down the federal government except for certain “essential” functions.
January 5, 2018
USCIS will start accepting H-1B petitions for fiscal year 2019 (October 1, 2018-September 30, 2019) on April 1, 2018.
The Supreme Court Lifted a Temporary Hold on the Most Recent Version of President Trump’s “Travel Ban”
December 13, 2017
On Sunday, September 24, the president issued a proclamation that replaced his prior executive orders regarding a travel ban (to the U.S.) of people from mostly Muslim nations.
USCIS has designated two Administrative Appeals Office decisions as Adopted Decisions.
Haitians with TPS must reapply for employment authorization documents to continue working legally in the United States until the end of the extension period.
A federal court granted two California counties’ motions for summary judgment and permanently enjoined the defunding and enforcement provisions of the Trump administration’s executive order with respect to “sanctuary jurisdictions.”
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke is terminating TPS for Nicaragua with a delayed effective date of 12 months, to January 5, 2019.
USCIS recently announced that employers have received scam emails requesting Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9) information.
E-Verify employers can now request authorization from USCIS to post the trademarked E-Verify logo on their websites, presentation materials, and brochures “to let everyone know they are committed to maintaining a legal workforce.”
December 11, 2017
As the holidays approach, our office has received an increase in questions regarding travel abroad. Employers and their foreign national employees should take precautions to ensure smooth travels over the holiday season.
November 29, 2017
Fredrikson & Byron shareholder Laura J. Danielson has been elected president of the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers (ABIL). ABIL is an invitation-only organization with 38 global law firm members employing more than 1,000 immigration law professionals.
November 21, 2017
USCIS recently announced that employers have received scam emails requesting Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, information.
Under updated policy guidance, USCIS is instructing its officers to apply the same level of scrutiny to both initial petitions and extension requests for certain nonimmigrant visa categories.
November 20, 2017
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke is terminating TPS for Nicaragua with a delayed effective date of 12 months, to January 5, 2019.
Senator Grassley’s letter noted that “[g]iven President Trump’s willingness to reevaluate—or reject—any and all of the NAFTA agreement, in the interest of protecting American workers, I recommend that you specifically include temporary workers in the ongoing NAFTA review.”
USCIS recently changed the direct filing addresses for certain petitioners using Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.
October 18, 2017
The cable advises posts on revised guidance regarding the 90-day rule, formerly known as the “30/60 day rule.”
OFLC said new easy-to-understand steps and instructions “will serve to clarify regulatory filing requirements and improve the quality and consistency of H-2A and H-2B applications received for processing.”
USCIS resumed premium processing on October 3, 2017, for all H-1B visa extension-of-stay petitions. Premium processing is now available for all types of H-1B petitions.
Foreign nationals in certain categories can now apply for work authorization and a social security number using a single form.
October 9, 2017
The Trump administration has announced travel and visa restrictions with respect to the countries of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen, subject to “categorical exceptions and case-by-case waivers.”
A lawsuit has been filed challenging the postponement of the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER). The rule would have permitted foreign entrepreneurs to travel to or stay in the United States to grow new businesses.
USCIS No Longer Accepting Petitions for One-Time Increase to H-2B Temporary Nonagricultural Visa Program Cap
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is no longer accepting petitions from U.S. employers seeking to hire temporary nonagricultural workers under the one-time increase to the FY 2017 H-2B cap announced in July 2017.
Among other things, the legislation extends the Religious Worker, Conrad State 30, EB-5 and E-Verify programs until December 8, 2017.
Several developments in employment-based categories were announced in the Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for the month of October 2017.
Registration for the Diversity Visa Program for fiscal year 2019 (DV-2019) began at noon ET on October 3, 2017, and will end at noon ET on November 7, 2017. For FY 2019, 50,000 diversity visas will be available.
The Department of State recently updated the Foreign Affairs Manual with a new 90-day rule on misrepresentation.
October 6, 2017
On October 31, 2017, Fredrikson & Byron’s Immigration Group hosted a webinar to provide updates and details on immigration topics impacting employers.
September 18, 2017
On July 17, 2017, USCIS issued a revised version of the I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification Form.
USCIS Denies Pending Advance Parole Applications for H-1B, L Applicants Traveling Outside the United States
September 14, 2017
According to reports, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has been denying pending advance parole applications for abandonment when applicants travel outside the United States in H-1B or L status.
President Donald Trump announced on August 25, 2017, that he has pardoned controversial former Maricopa County, Arizona, sheriff Joseph Arpaio. Reaction was swift and widespread.
USCIS announced that effective October 1, 2017, it will begin expanding in-person interviews for certain immigration benefit applicants.
Pursuant to a June news release calling for proposed form changes “to better protect American workers, confront fraud, and increase transparency,” the Department of Labor published a notice announcing its intent to revise its information collection for the H-1B, H-1B1 and E-3 programs.
What’s Next for the Dreamers? The Administration Rescinds Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
September 7, 2017
For years, the United States has struggled to find an appropriate policy for the Dreamers, which refers to children who were brought to the United States without immigration status.
August 31, 2017
On August 25, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will be implementing across the board in-person interviews at local field offices for a broadened range of permanent residence applications.
June 28, 2017
On June 26, 2017, the Supreme Court of the United States allowed parts of the Trump Administration’s travel ban to go into effect.
June 20, 2017
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth and Ninth Circuits have upheld a nationwide preliminary injunction rejecting a substantial portion of the Trump administration’s revised executive order barring entry into the United States of people from certain countries.
USCIS assisted in several recent investigations leading to convictions in immigration fraud cases.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017, passed by Congress and signed May 7, extends the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program through September 30, 2017.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on May 3, 2017, that it had completed data entry of all fiscal year 2018 H-1B cap-subject petitions selected in a computer-generated random process.
State Department Announces Continued High Demand for Visa Numbers in Several Employment-Based Categories
The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for the month of June 2017 notes that continued high demand is resulting in cut-off dates being established in several categories.
May 10, 2017
Several visa categories are due to expire or become unavailable soon.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced a redesign of the Permanent Resident Card (“green card”) and the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) as part of the “Next Generation Secure Identification Document Project.” USCIS began issuing the new cards on May 1, 2017.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on April 17, 2017, that employers who used Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, downloaded between November 14 and November 17, 2016, should review the forms to ensure that their employees’ Social Security numbers appear correctly in Section 1.
On April 18, 2017, President Donald Trump signed a “Buy American and Hire American” executive order. The order sets the policy of the executive branch as, among other things, rigorously enforcing and administering laws governing entry into the United States of workers from abroad.
April 21, 2017
On April 7, 2017, USCIS reached the H-1B cap for FY 2018. USCIS also received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet the 20,000 visa U.S. advanced degree exemption.
Attorneys are expecting an increase in requests for evidence challenging eligibility and in denials of applications for H-1B computer programmers, although some say this approach has been going on for some time.
Among other things, USCIS said it “will take a more targeted approach” when making site visits across the country to H-1B petitioners and the worksites of H-1B employees.
Visa applicants, especially those coming from India, may experience processing delays due to heightened scrutiny over the busy summer season and beyond.
March 21, 2017
The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for March 2017 estimates potential monthly movement in several categories in the coming months.
New fees for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) forms took effect in December, and updated versions of those forms have been published. These new versions are updated with the new fees and have an edition date of December 23, 2016. As of February 21, 2017, USCIS is no longer accepting previous editions of these forms.
According to news reports, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been conducting a series of targeted enforcement actions and has removed hundreds of people. ICE’s focus reportedly includes immigrants with criminal convictions, fugitives and those who reentered the United States after removal. Others with no criminal histories but who had removal orders were included. ICE said the actions were routine and were planned before an executive order on interior security was issued. President Trump issued that executive order, “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” on January 25, 2017.
John Kelly, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has signed two new memoranda that implement two of President Trump’s recent immigration executive orders. The DHS memos call for, among other things, strict enforcement of immigration laws, stepped-up detentions and enhancement of expedited removal. As part of the new enforcement efforts, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will seek funding to hire 10,000 new officers and agents and the Border Patrol will seek funding to hire 5,000 new agents.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently reminded employers that the agency must dispose of transaction records that are more than 10 years old in April 2017. Employers that have been using E-Verify for more than 10 years can down their Historic Records Reports through March 31, 2017. A Historic Records Report contains transaction records dated on or before December 31, 2006.
President Donald Trump signed a new “travel ban” executive order on March 6, 2017, that was scheduled to take effect March 16. Among other things, the new order revokes a previous order signed on January 27, 2017, and reduces to six, from the previous seven, countries whose nationals are suspended from entry under a “temporary pause.” The order exempts permanent residents and valid visa holders as of certain dates and times, and provides for case-by-case discretionary waivers. The order also suspends refugee travel to the United States for 120 days for those not previously admitted, subject to waivers in certain circumstances. The new order includes explanations of President Trump’s rationale for the order’s provisions.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that starting April 3, 2017, the agency will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions. The suspension may last up to six months. While H-1B premium processing is suspended, petitioners will not be able to file a Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker that requests H-1B nonimmigrant classification. If the petitioner submits one combined check for both the I-907 and I-129 H-1B fees, USCIS said it will reject both forms.
February 13, 2017
On March 13, 2017, attorneys from Fredrikson & Byron’s Immigration Practice presented an online program addressing employment immigration topics.
February 8, 2017
Last week, we sent a travel alert on the January 27, 2017 executive order, generally referred to as the “Travel Ban,” that limited the ability of citizens and nationals from seven countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – to enter the U.S. under either nonimmigrant or immigrant visas for at least 90 days, or even to receive visas from U.S. consulates abroad; suspended for at least a 120-day period of time the entire refugee program; disqualified Syrians entirely from refugee eligibility; and pledged to reassess the entire security clearance process for foreign nationals coming to the U.S.
January 30, 2017
President Trump signed an executive order on Friday, January 27, 2017, which has caused great concern worldwide on new travel restrictions to the U.S. The order entitled “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Entry into the U.S. by Foreign Nationals,” has stirred public protests, federal litigation and a confusion over who this order impacts.
January 19, 2017
On November 14, 2016, USCIS issued a revised version of the I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification Form. USCIS provided a transition period which ends on January 22, 2017. As of January 22, all employers must begin using the revised Form I-9, with a revision date of “11/14/2016 N.” Additional changes were designed to streamline certification for certain foreign nationals and to make completion of the form more computer friendly.
January 5, 2017
USCIS will start accepting H-1B petitions for fiscal year 2018 (October 1, 2017-September 30, 2018) on April 1, 2017. Only 65,000 H-1B’s are issued each fiscal year, with an additional 20,000 H-1B’s for graduates of U.S. master’s degree programs.) As in recent years, we expect the H-1B cap to be reached within a week. Last April, USCIS received approximately 236,000 H-1B petitions in the first week. There will likely be a lottery for those applications received within seven days of April 1, 2017, once USCIS receives more than 65,000 applications. The lottery is a random selection process of the H-1B applications received to determine which applications will be assigned an H-1B cap number and adjudicated.
Matter of Dhanasar: New and Expanded Standards for Permanent Residence Under National Interest Waivers
December 30, 2016
One of the most productive, oftentimes time-efficient pathways to permanent residence is through a National Interest Waiver, under which a foreign national can attain permanent residence by showing that his/her employment will serve to the nation’s benefit. There are two immense advantages to this immigration strategy: 1) a foreign national can self-petition for permanent residence rather than having to be sponsored by an employer; and 2) the submission is made directly to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, thereby avoiding entirely the recruitment and advertising requirements that are the backbone of the labor certification application process through the Department of Labor. Despite its advantages, however, over these past years immigration examiners have operated under somewhat vague guidance on the adjudication standards for National Interest Waiver cases.
December 28, 2016
President Barack Obama signed H.R. 2028 (Pub. L. 114-254), a short-term bill passed by Congress, into law on December 9, 2016.
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced on December 9, 2016, that they have introduced S. 3542, a bipartisan bill “to protect undocumented individuals should the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program be discontinued.” Cosponsors include Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Jeff Flake (R-AZ). The legislation, dubbed the “Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy (BRIDGE) Act,” would provide temporary relief from removal and work authorization to young undocumented persons who were brought to the United States as children.”
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is reminding all EB-5 regional centers with a designation letter dated on or before September 30, 2016, that they must file Form I-924A, Supplement to Form I-924, for fiscal year 2016 by December 29, 2016. Regional centers must submit an I-924A every year to demonstrate continued eligibility for the regional center designation.
The U.S. Supreme Court denied rehearing of United States v. Texas on October 3, 2016. The Court’s refusal to reconsider the case, on which it was deadlocked 4-4 in June, means that several Obama administration deferred action programs remain blocked by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s order. The programs include Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The original DACA program is unaffected and has continued since 2012.
Australia has announced changes to certain temporary activity visas effective November 19, 2016. Also, in South Africa, there are several options for the divorcing foreign spouse.
December 7, 2016
On January 24, 2017, attorneys from Fredrikson & Byron’s Immigration Practice presented an online overview of the revised I-9 and related compliance issues, including E-Verify, I-9 audits and preparation for increased worksite investigations/enforcement under the incoming Trump Administration.
Sens. Grassley, Leahy Oppose Reauthorization of Unaltered EB-5 Regional Center Program; Rep. Goodlatte Introduces EB-5 Reform Bill
October 17, 2016
A lot has been happening the last few days in the EB-5 world. Sens. Grassley and Leahy wrote a letter to Senate leadership opposing a straight reauthorization of the EB-5 regional center program without any changes. Also, Rep. Goodlatte introduced an EB-5 reform bill. The 123-page bill would make significant changes to the EB-5 program
All Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization) applicants, except those who reside overseas, no longer need to submit two passport-style photographs.
The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for October 2016 provided an overview of potential visa number availability.
The Immigration-related programs extended by the bill include E-Verify, EB-5 regional centers, EB-4 non-ministerial religious workers and Conrad 3 for J-1 medical workers.
Working With Foreign Nationals: Employment Sponsorship, Immigration Compliance and Community Integration
August 17, 2016
Fredrikson & Byron’s Immigration attorneys presented a half-day seminar on the latest immigration updates and best practices on September 22, 2016. Our speakers outlined recent executive actions, provide strategies for hiring and retaining foreign nationals, explain the new OPT STEM provisions for extending practical training, update you on immigration compliance, and discuss how to assist your foreign employees with community integration.
July 7, 2016
The Supreme Court in United States v. Texas essentially upended the President’s Executive Order that provided limited benefits to parents of U.S. citizens or permanent resident children and an expanded class of “Dreamers” who were brought to the U.S. in unauthorized status as children. In a split 4:4 decision, that was issued without discussion, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Court below, effectively finding that the President had exceeded his executive authority by issuing a blanket reprieve from deportation and expanding the right of long-term, otherwise law-abiding residents to work. This decision ended the President’s initiative to address a burgeoning population of unauthorized foreign nationals in the U.S., thereby throwing the entire issue back to Congress or perhaps setting the stage for renewed court action following the appointment of a ninth justice who could break the tie.
May 13, 2016
USCIS has finalized guidance on determining whether a new job is in the “same or similar” occupational classification with respect to job portability.
USCIS announced it has received a sufficient number of petitions to reach the H-2B cap for the first half of FY 2016. March 15, 2016, was the final receipt date for new H-2B worker petitions requesting an employment start date before April 1, 2016.
USCIS will accept comments until April 27, 2016, on the revised Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9.
DHS published a final rule amending regulations to expand optional practical training (OPT) for students with U.S. degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) and create new obligations for F-1 students and F-1 employers starting May 10, 2016.
May 5, 2016
The U.S. government has recently announced an expanded program that provides many foreign STEM graduates with an extended employment period. This new program, while expanding the period of allowable employment, also imposes some new responsibilities on employers.
April 18, 2016
A number of important immigration-related issues are coming up in 2016 for the United Kingdom (UK).
Turkey announces a New Online Visa Filing System for Consular-Issued Visas as well as proposed changes in Turkish Visa and Immigration Policy.
Various developments have been announced such as; Restrictions on Visas and Employment of Turkish Workers, Medical Insurance Minimum Requirements have gone into effect; Foreign National Passport Validity Requirements, Salary Payment Rules for Highly Qualified Work Permit Holders and Fines for Violating the Requirement to File for Work Permit Amendment Due to Passport Change.
Amendments to the entrepreneur visa schemes and other important changes have been announced.
Italy has announced a new annual quota decree, the conversion of existing permits into work permits, a mandatory employment notification procedure and a self-certification of foreign legal residents data in public offices.
April 8, 2016
The European Union (EU) and Colombia have signed a short-stay visa waiver agreement.
Companies filing for work permits in Beijing must receive preapproval.
A new Normative Resolution (No. 118) has been published.
Belgium sets new 2016 salary thresholds for some fast track work permits B and the Blue Card.
This article provides an overview of recent immigration developments in security measures in several countries implemented in response to terror attacks and related concerns.
March 17, 2016
On April 1, 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the fiscal year (FY) 2017 cap. U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in occupations that require highly specialized knowledge in fields such as science, engineering, and computer programming.
Almost three dozen technology and business executives petitioned the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate to repeal new visa provisions restricting visa-free travel to the United States for certain travelers under the Visa Waiver Program. The petitioners say the new rules are discriminatory and bad for the U.S. economy.
DHS Implements VWP Changes in Response to Terrorism Concerns, Announces Further VWP Travel Restrictions
In January, the United States began implementing changes to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) under a new law. Travelers in several categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the VWP. DHS subsequently added Libya, Somalia, and Yemen as three countries of concern with respect to new limits on VWP travel for certain individuals who have traveled to these countries.
Among other things, ABIL members urged USCIS to delay implementing the “smart I-9” until it is fully functional in both English and Spanish.
The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for March 2016 includes estimates of visa number availability (potential monthly movement) in the coming months.
March 11, 2016
The F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) program provides foreign students one year of work authorization in their field of academic studies. The post-completion program not only provides foreign students with an opportunity to work for a limited period of time, but gives U.S. employers access to educated professionals. This program includes all areas of academic discipline, but graduates in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) are granted additional time. This is because these professional areas are not only in short supply, but are also of pronounced importance to the competitiveness of U.S. businesses.
February 22, 2016
Fredrikson & Byron shareholder Loan T. Huynh was named member of the 2016 class of Fellows, participating in a landmark program created by the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD) to identify, train and advance the next generation of leaders in the legal profession.
Health Law Webinar: What Hospitals, Physicians, Therapists and SNFs Need to Know about Medicare’s Comprehensive Joint Replacement Program and Gainsharing Too
February 16, 2016
On March 2, 2016, please join our Health Care group for its next Health Law Webinar: What Hospitals, Physicians, Therapists and SNFS Need to Know about Medicare’s Comprehensive Joint Replacement Program and Gainsharing Too.
February 15, 2016
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to rule on a challenge to President Obama’s “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA)” program, in U.S. v. Texas, No. 15-674. Most recently, in November 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld an injunction based on insufficient notice and opportunity for public comment, preventing the program from proceeding until the legal matter could be addressed. The appeals court also said that President Obama had exceeded his statutory authority.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has posted an update to Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service. The new edition is dated 12/11/15. The 01/29/15 version will also still be accepted.
The Department of Justice’s Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) recently responded to an attorney who asked how to advise her client following an internal audit of the client’s I-9 employment authorization verification forms. The attorney asked specifically what steps the client should take with respect to permanent resident cards (Forms I-551) that the attorney found doubtful, and whether the attorney was obligated to train the client on what to look for in a valid green card or whether such training would be outside the scope of what the employer should be trained to do, since that could take the employer beyond the “reasonable person” standard.
DHS persuaded the court that it was working diligently to evaluate more than 50,000 comments and promulgate a final rule, but was unable to do so in time for a new rule to be effective by February 12, 2016. The court modified its order to leave the current STEM OPT rule in effect until the new May 10, 2016, deadline.
In a final rule effective February 16, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is amending its regulations affecting highly skilled workers in the nonimmigrant classifications for specialty occupations from Chile, Singapore (H-1B1), and Australia (E-3); the immigrant classification for employment-based first preference (EB-1) outstanding professors and researchers; and nonimmigrant workers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)-Only Transitional Worker (CW-1) classification.
January 12, 2016
The guidance notes that although not required by law, an employer may conduct an internal audit of I-0 forms to ensure ongoing compliance with the employer sanctions provision of the INA. An employer may choose to review all or a sample of I-9 forms selected based on neutral and nondiscriminatory criteria.
Following recent terror attacks in Paris, France and San Bernardino, California, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to tighten restrictions on travelers under the VWP. Also, President Barack Obama announced new security measures for the VWP, including gathering more information from travelers about visits to Syria and Iraq.
The office of Foreign Labor Certification has provided emergency guidance to employers seeking to employ nonimmigrant workers in H-2B temporary or seasonal nonagricultural employment. The guidance is for employers seeking to obtain prevailing wage determinations and temporary labor certifications.
Omnibus Bill Includes Hefty Fee Increase for L-1 and H-1B Visas, H-1B Regional Center Extension, Other Immigration-Related Provisions
The combined omnibus bill that Congress passed on December 18, 2015, includes several immigration measures.
USCIS seeks public comments on a proposed rule published on December 31, 2015, “Retention of EB-1, EB-2, EB-3 Immigrant Workers and Program Improvements Affecting High-Skilled Nonimmigrant Workers,” that would change certain aspects of employment-based visa programs.
January 5, 2016
The H-1B deadline to file cap-subject H-1B petitions is again drawing close. Employers subject to the H-1B quota must file petitions immediately prior to April 1, 2016, to have any realistic chance of receiving approvals for this coming fiscal year.
December 16, 2015
The recent, relevant changes of the Immigration Rules are summarized with a focus on Tier 2 sponsors.
Fines for illegal employment have decreased from 12,000 to 8,000 Euros.
Italy approved amendments to current Italian citizenship law and clarified the assessment procedure of the Integration Agreement. Italy also announced updates on the study to work permit conversion and new electronic residence permits with microchips.
France restores land border controls until December 13. Also, businesses convicted of illegal labor may be blacklisted.
This article provides an overview of recent developments in dual nationality and its effects on diplomatic protection.
December 15, 2015
The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for December 2015 included information on visa number availability in the coming months.
The court found, among other things, that the states have shown that the threatened injury if the injunction were denied outweighed any harm that would result if the injunction were granted.
USCIS recently updated the paper version of Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Representative.
The memo provides additional guidance on determining whether one job is in “the same or a similar occupational classification” as another job.
November 19, 2015
Registration is open until noon, eastern time, on November 3, 2015.
Congress has extended the EB-5, E-verify, Conrad state 30 (physician J-1 waiver), and religious workers programs until December 11, 2015, as part of congressional passage of a continuing resolution to fund the government.
More than 93 percent of applicants who filed for a replacement green card online had a positive experience, and more than 95 percent would recommend online filing to others.
Final Rule on Temporary Employment of H-2A Workers in Herding or Production of Livestock on the Range Published
Among the issues addressed are the qualifying criteria, preparing job orders, program obligations of employers, filing H-2A applications requesting temporary labor certification for range occupations, recruiting U.S. workers, determining the minimum offered wage rate, and meeting minimum standards for housing used on the range.
Among other things, the proposal would allow F-1 STEM students who have elected to pursue 12 months of OPT in the United States to extend the OPT period by 24 months.
November 11, 2015
This article provides an overview of common-law and same-sex marriage issues and requirements with respect to immigration in several countries.
On September 17, 2015, the United Kingdom government published its latest immigration bill, which contains several provisions to tackle illegal migration.
The Dutch government introduced the Startup Visa in 2015; requirements and early experiences are discussed.
China has removed the visa and residence permit requirements for Taiwan residents, and implemented new immigration policy measures in Shanghai.
October 28, 2015
The new agreement outlines the first steps toward the creation of a North American Trusted Traveler network. The agreement is expected to make it easier for eligible travelers in the United States, Mexico, and Canada to apply for expedited screening programs.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection launched a redesigned Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) website for Visa Waiver Program (VWP) participants on September 10, 2015.
USCIS Resumes Final Adjudications of Employment-Based Adjustment Applications After Brief Suspension
USCIS resumed final adjudication of employment-based adjustment applications on October 1, 2015, when visa numbers were again available.
State Department Moves Many Filing Dates Back From Previously Released October Bulletin; Lawsuit Filed
By moving many filing dates back, the update radically changed the recently announced benefit offered by a revised procedure for determining immigrant visa availability and filing adjustment of status applications.
September 11, 2015
The Department of State and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced jointly that certain individuals who are stuck in family and employment-based immigrant visa backlogs can start their immigrant visa paperwork or apply for adjustment of status before their priority dates become current.
July 16, 2015
Several companies have been in the spotlight recently due to hiring H-1B workers and laying off U.S. workers in similar positions.
On April 2, 2015, USCIS announced that it had accepted and approved a sufficient number of H-2B petitions to meet the congressionally mandated annual cap of 66,000 H-2B visas. From June 3, 2014, through March 26, 2015, USCIS accepted about 3,900 petitions (about 77,000 beneficiaries) toward the H-2B FY 2015 cap.
USCIS seeks public comments on proposed changes to E-Verify.
We note that in June the U.S. Supreme Court decided two important immigration cases with potentially far-reaching implications.
April 14, 2015
On April 13, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) conducted a random, computer-generated lottery to determine which H-1B cap-subject petitions would be formally received for adjudication by the service center. USCIS has begun the process of issuing receipt notices for those petitions that were selected and returning the petitions that were not.
The United States and China Reach Agreement to Extend Visas for Short-Term Business Travelers, Tourists, Students, and Exchange Visitors
February 27, 2015
During his visit on November 8-10, 2014, to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Beijing, U.S. President Obama announced that the U.S. and China have reached an agreement to extend the visa validity of short-term business, tourist, student and exchange visitor visas.
On January 1, 2015, Handling Procedures Related to Entry of Foreigners for Short-term Work Tasks (for Trial Implementation) (the “Procedures”) took effect. The Procedures provide guidelines for implementing the 90-day work permit rule under China’s new exit-entry law and regulations. The Procedures define “short-term work” and clarify the visa, work permit and residence permit application requirements and procedures for foreign nationals entering China for short-term employment purposes.
February 25, 2015
The National Visa Center (NVC) has begun handling all domestic email and telephone inquiries from the public on nonimmigrant and immigrant visa cases.
Starting on May 1, 2015, USCIS will accept only the October 23, 2014, edition of the I-129.
Forward movement is possible in some employment-based categories in the coming months.
DHS expects to launch a pilot by late 2015 to test the program.
The 2015 AEWRs, broken down by state, range from a low of $10 (Alabama) to a high of $13.59 (Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota).
The Czech Republic, Denmark, Madagascar, Portugal, and Sweden were added to the list of countries whose nationals are eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B visa programs for the coming year.
The measures President Obama announced included, among other things, initiating discussions to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba, and facilitating an expansion of travel.
Employment Authorization Granted to Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses of H-1B Nonimmigrants Seeking Employment-Based Lawful Permanent Residence
February 24, 2015
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on February 24, that effective May 26, 2015, employment authorization will be granted to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. The regulations were amended to allow these H-4 dependent spouses to accept employment in the U.S.
January 20, 2015
USCIS will start accepting H-1B petitions for fiscal year 2016 (October 1, 2015-September 30, 2016) on April 1, 2015. Only 65,000 H-1Bs are issued each fiscal year, with an additional 20,000 H-1Bs for graduates of U.S. master’s degree programs.) As in recent years, we expect the H-1B cap to be reached within a week. Last April, USCIS received approximately 172, 500 H-1B petitions in the first week. There will likely be a lottery for those applications received within seven days of April 1, 2015, once USCIS receives more than 65,000 applications. The lottery is a random selection process of the H-1B applications received to determine which applications will be assigned an H-1B cap number and adjudicated.
December 23, 2014
On November 12, 2014, the United States began issuing visas in accordance with a new reciprocal arrangement with China, the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs announced. Chinese applicants who qualify for a B nonimmigrant visa (NIV) may now be issued multiple-entry visas for up to 10 years for business and tourist travel. Qualified Chinese students and exchange visitors and their dependents who qualify for F, M, or J visas are now eligible for multiple-entry visas valid for up to five years or the length of their program. U.S. citizens eligible for Chinese short-term business and tourist visas should also receive multiple-entry visas valid for up to 10 years, while qualified U.S. students may receive student residence permits valid up to five years, depending on the length of their educational programs.
President Obama Provides Relief to Select Undocumented Immigrants and Outlines Framework for Future Administrative Actions to Improve Immigration System
November 21, 2014
On November 20, 2014, President Barack Obama announced significant changes and fixes to our broken immigration system. These administrative and regulatory actions implement new enforcement measures, provide immediate relief to certain individuals, and push us closer to modernizing our current immigration system.
October 30, 2014
The Department of State’s Visa Office announced that the China employment-based fifth (EB-5) category became unavailable on August 23, 2014, and remained unavailable for the remainder of fiscal year 2014. The category again became current on October 1, 2014.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is optimizing processing for first-time Canadian TN (Trade NAFTA) and L applicants seeking entry into the United States under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on September 26, 2014, that it will automatically extend employment authorization documents (EADs) for Liberian nationals covered under deferred enforced departure (DED). DED Liberia EADs that had an expiration date of September 30, 2014, are now valid through March 30, 2015. This automatic extension of EADs follows President Barack Obama’s decision to extend DED through September 30, 2016, for qualified Liberians and those individuals without nationality who last habitually resided in Liberia.
On September 24, 2014, the Department of State (DOS) released instructions on how to apply for the diversity visa (DV) 2016 program. Entries for the DV-2016 DV program must be submitted electronically at http://www.dvlottery.state.gov by noon EST (GMT-5), Monday, November 3, 2014.
August 13, 2014
By Fredrikson’s Immigration Group
On August 8, 2014, Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), through the Office of Rural Health and Primary Care, announced new procedures for health care facilities wishing to apply for a J-1 waiver on behalf of prospective international physician employees through the Conrad 30 program.
April 8, 2014
On April 7, 2014, USCIS announced the H-1B cap for fiscal year 2015 (October 1, 2014-September 30, 2015) had been reached as it received more applications than the number of available H-1B visas.
February 4, 2014
By Fredrikson’s Immigration Group
Employers may submit cap-subject H-1B petitions again on April 1, 2014, for the fiscal year (FY) 2015 H-1B program.
October 17, 2013
By Fredrikson’s Immigration Group
Now that the federal government shutdown has ended, all E-Verify features and services are now available.
October 1, 2013
By Fredrikson’s Immigration Group
As of today, October 1, 2013, the government began a partial shutdown of its agencies. Read more for a list of several agencies that will be affected.
July 1, 2013
By Fredrikson’s Immigration Group
As of July 1, 2013, employers participating in E-Verify are required to enter an employee’s email address into E-Verify if that employee voluntarily provided the information in Section 1 of Form I-9. This new data field was added to E-Verify to bring it in line with the new version of the Form I-9, which went into effect in March 2013 and added data fields for employees’ emails and telephone numbers in Section 1.
We are delighted to report that bi-national same-sex couples no longer have to choose between separation from their spouse or separation from the United States.
May 1, 2013
By Fredrikson’s Immigration Group
As of April 30, 2013, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) began phasing out the paper Form I-94 cards at airports and seaports in the U.S. and U.S. territories.
April 1, 2013
By Fredrikson’s Immigration Group
The H1B cap (bachelor’s and master’s) for fiscal year 2014 was reached on April 5. This means USCIS will not accept any new H1B cap subject petitions received or filed after April 5, 2013. USCIS will use a computer-generated random selection process (commonly known as the “lottery”) for all FY 2014 cap-subject petitions received through April 5, 2013.
March 8, 2013
By Fredrikson’s Immigration Group
On March 8, 2013, USCIS released its newly revised Employment Eligibility Verification Form, Form I-9.
January 1, 2013
By Fredrikson’s Immigration Group
Employers may submit cap-subject H-1B petitions again on April 1, 2013, for the fiscal year (FY) 2014 H-1B program.
Living Under the H-1B Cap – Alternative Visa Options and Strategies for Employing Foreign Nationals in the U.S.
March 1, 2012
The H-1B visa is commonly known as the “workhorse” of U.S. work visas as U.S. companies rely on it more than any other visa to employ foreign workers in the U.S.