Articles Posted in Business Immigration

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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.

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pass-2530813_640-300x200US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on August 28, 2018 that it will extend the temporary suspension of premium processing for H-1B petitions subject to the annual cap, as well as expand the suspension’s coverage to include other H-1B petitions.

About the H-1B

The H-1B program allows foreign workers in highly specialized fields to enter and work in the United States, as provided by section 101(a)(17)(H) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The visa is available to workers who are experts in technology, accounting, academic research, and other fields “requiring specific theoretical and technical expertise.”

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woman-792162_640-300x200U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has published a final immigration memorandum updating its newly implemented unlawful presence policy, which changed how USCIS determined whether foreign students and participants of student exchange programs were lawfully in the country.

According to the memo, F- and M-visa holders will not be deemed as being in the country unlawfully while waiting for their visas to be reinstated, so long as they file their reinstatement applications no longer than five months after their status expires.

If, however, their reinstatement application is denied, they will automatically begin accruing unlawful presence the day after being notified of their denial. Likewise, J-1 visa holders with reinstatement applications that are approved will not accrue unlawful presence.

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visa-3109800_640-300x169The Visa Control and Reporting Division of the US Department of State (DOS) announced last week that it will be cutting back on processing immigrant visas for certain “priority workers” due to their unmanageable worldwide demand.

Priority workers, also known as “EB-1” (employment-based first preference workers), include “persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, business, arts or sports; outstanding professors and researchers; and multinational executives and managers.”

In light of this announcement, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the DOS have, since August 1 of this year, ceased issuing both immigrant visas and lawful permanent residence status to at least 137,000 highly in-demand workers.