Articles Posted in Business Immigration

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office-614273_640-300x199Tens of thousands of foreign nationals from countries under Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a temporary immigration status, can continue seeking employment authorization until January 2, 2020. This status extension specifically applies to nationals from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan. It does not, however, not include countries not covered in the Ramos v. Nielsen suit, namely Honduras and Nepal.

Temporary Protected Status is provided by the Department of Homeland Security to nationals from foreign countries (or parts thereof) that have extraordinary conditions threatening the safety and lives of its people. These conditions include civil unrest, a natural calamity, an epidemic, or other temporary conditions. Nationals from these countries may be allowed to stay, work in, and travel from and to the United States for humanitarian reasons, until the conditions in their home countries have passed, at which point they should ideally return.

This was the rationale behind the Trump administration’s move to terminate the TPS designation for the five aforementioned countries announced in 2017, an order that took effect last year.

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office-3295556_640-300x182With the H-1B cap season in full swing, the Trump administration continues make a number of policy updates and changes that will substantially affect this year’s H-1B processing flow and, in particular, the family members of migrant workers applying for H-1B visas.

H-1B Processing Will Begin with “General” Pool Before “Master’s”

U.S. employers can fill positions by sponsoring H-1B visa applications with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of foreign workers who meet the requirements of these roles.  Only 65,000 H-1B visas are issued every fiscal year with an additional 20,000 slots specifically allotted to migrant workers with graduate degrees (or their equivalent) acquired from institutions in the United States. These limitations, known as the “cap,” are set by Congress.

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police-869216_640-300x200The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has published a final rule that will change the process for choosing H-1B visa petitions that are subject to the annual “cap” on applications. The immigration rule is set to take effect in April 1, 2019 and will see the DHS changing the order by which it allocates available cap-subject slots

Specifically, the DHS will soon allocate H-1B visa petitions in reverse, first running the random selection process for the 65,000 slots against all cap-subject cases, then allocating the 20,000 slots against the pool of foreign nationals with advanced degrees from American educational institutions. The agency predicts that this will lead to an increased selection of up to 5,340 petitions filed by foreign nationals who possess U.S. postgraduate degrees.

H-1B visas allow U.S. employers to hire foreign nationals qualified in highly specialized fields like biotechnology, computer science, and the like. Being subject to an annual cap, only a limited number of visas are approved every year. This cap is set at 65,000 with an additional 20,000 H-1B slots available to foreign nationals with advanced degrees acquired from U.S. universities and colleges. Before the rule change, the advanced degree slots were allocated first, followed by the rest of the applicants.

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law-1991004_640-300x196Former state and federal judges banded together to write a public letter addressed to federal immigration authorities, urging them to end the practice of waiting for and arresting immigrants at courthouses, published Wednesday.

The judges called out Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for carrying out enforcement activities like apprehensions, arrests, interviews, surveillance, and searches at courthouses, pointing out that courthouses should be added to the agency’s list of “sensitive locations.”

ICE has an established list of sensitive locations where agents are instructed to avoid conducting enforcement activities at unless “exigent circumstances” are present. At present, the list discourages making arrests at education institutions like schools and even daycares, health care facilities, places of worship, religious or civil ceremonies, and during public demonstrations.

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login-570317_640-300x196United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued announced plans to bring back a modified version of a 2011 proposal that uses an electronic pre-registration system for H-1B visa petitions subject to the cap, as published in the Federal Register on Monday.

The H-1B visa, provided by the Immigration and Nationality Act, is reserved for foreign skilled workers in highly specialized fields including, but not limited to, medicine, biotechnology, physiotherapy, and engineering among several others. At present, only a Bachelor’s degree is necessary to prove one’s expertise in a specific field. USCIS’s proposed rule, however, seeks to increase the number of H-1B recipients with Master’s or higher degrees acquired specifically from a U.S. higher education institution (HEI).

Existing laws state that the issuance of new H-1B visas must be capped at 65,000 annually for those possessing only Bachelor’s degrees (Regular cap) and an additional cap of 20,000 new visas for those with higher degrees from U.S. HEIs (U.S. Masters cap).

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police-869216_640-300x200The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently published a notice of proposed rule-making that would rescind employment authorization for certain H-4 visa dependent spouses of H1-B immigrant workers.

Provided under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the H-1B visa allows employers in the United States to hire foreign nationals to occupy highly specialized positions in fields such as medicine, engineering, and other sciences. Dependents of H-1B holders, including spouses and children, may also come to the U.S. and acquire work authorization through the H-4 visa.

The DHS, however has proposed revoking employment authorization for certain H-4 visa holders under Proposed Rule (RIN 1514-AC15). This rule change, according to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Lee Francis Cissna, was supposed to take effect as soon as February 2018 but was held off as other regulatory agenda items were up for review.

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time-273857_640-300x200US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that it would be accepting new cap-subject petitions for H-1B visas for 2020 beginning April 1, 2019. The agency called on employers with existing H-1B employees and employers looking to hire migrant workers in the future to begin processing the necessary paperwork to ensure their employees can work legally in the United States.

In addition, individuals with F-1 student visas, as well as those who are looking to shift to H-1B status from another visa, such as the E-3, L-1, O-1, or TN visa, may need their prospective employers to file their H-1B petitions on their behalf.

About the H-1B Visa Program

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agenda-3704352_640-300x200Petitioners pursuing employment-based immigration into the United States can breathe easy for now as US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced it will be focusing on deporting immigrants who are unlawfully in the country through other channels first.

USCIS recently published an update to its policies surrounding the issuance of NTAs, claiming that it will be expediting the process of deportation by authorizing its officers to send out these notices when an immigrant is found to be unlawfully present. The agency announced the policy as early as July 2018 but held off its implementation until it could work out the finer details of its application.

The rollout of this policy change is set to disproportionately affect immigrants who apply for and are subsequently denied lawful presence in the US on various bases.

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letter-of-application-3685417_640-300x199US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that I-485 applications for adjustment of status will be open as soon as October 2018 in both the family-based and the employment-based categories according to the cutoff dates outlined in the “Dates for Filing” Chart of the State Department’s monthly Visa Bulletin.

Form I-485, or the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, offers lawful permanent residence to immigrants who entered the country legally and can prove their eligibility. An applicant must meet all the requirements in certain categories like family relationship or employment.

According to current immigration policy, employment-based I-485 applicants can only file their applications once they reach their priority date as dictated in the Visa Bulletin’s Final Action Chart. As such, the recent announcement that USCIS will be receiving applications before the priority date came as a pleasant surprise.

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visa-3653492_640-300x184In June this year, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released Policy Memorandum with the subject: Updated Guidance for the Referral of Cases and Issuance of Notices to Appear (NTAs) in Cases Involving Inadmissible and Deportable Aliens in responsive to a Trump EO (Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States) issued last year, which ordered USCIS to prioritize the removal of unlawfully present immigrants in the country.

The memo targets all delinquent immigrants, including holders of EB-5 visas who are overstaying in the country. At present, USCIS can at any moment file an NTA on an immigrant when they meet certain criteria, initiating removal proceedings.

A foreign investor under the EB-5 may now be issued an NTA when they are found to have made an immigration violation, abused public benefit programs, or have fallen out of legal status. They can also be removed for being arrested for a criminal offense whether or not the case has been resolved and regardless of its outcome.