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Amendments to H-1B Visa Regulations Proposed

The Department of Homeland Security has published a much-anticipated notice of proposed rulemaking affecting the H-1B visa process. Public comments must be submitted by January 2, 2019. DHS proposes: Adding a free electronic pre-registration process; and Changing the random selection process in a way that would likely benefit holders of U.S. master’s degrees. The pre-registration … Continue Reading

F-1 Student Visa, Optional Practical Training Risks Continue

Although there have been discussions for some time that the Trump Administration would change the rules regarding Optional Practical Training (OPT), OPT did not show up in the most recent “regulatory agenda.” Nevertheless, the Administration has been putting limits on F-1 students in other ways. Those changes, at least in part, are responsible for a … Continue Reading

Department of Homeland Security Fall 2018 Agenda Portends Big Changes for H-1B Visa, Other Programs

The Department of Homeland Security’s latest Regulatory Agenda promises some big changes, especially for the H-1B visa program. Many of these changes have been proposed before, but have not yet made it to the rulemaking stage. Among what to expect are the following: USCIS is planning to release a notice of proposed rulemaking to create a … Continue Reading

Increased Unannounced Site Visits from USCIS Fraud Detection Arm

Historically, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has been the primary auditor of companies using H-2B visa to hire temporary, seasonal workers. But amid debates over the cap on H-2B visas and an expressed need for more H-2B workers  the USCIS’ Fraud Detection and National Security unit (FDNS) is getting into the … Continue Reading

USCIS Explains New Policy on Discretionary Application Denials

Beginning September 11, 2018, USCIS immigration officers will have more discretion to issue petition and application denials without first issuing Requests for Evidence (RFEs) or Notices of Intent to Deny (NOIDs). On September 6, 2018, the Ombudsman’s Office provided further details on the new policy change. The following was noted: The new policy takes effect … Continue Reading

USCIS Raises Premium Processing Fee: Effective October 1, 2018

On October 1, 2018 the premium processing fee for all Forms I-129 (Non-Immigrant Worker) and Forms I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) will be raised from $1,225 to $1,410.  USCIS announced this almost 15% increase on August 31, 2018. According to USCIS, this is the first adjustment in premium processing fees since 2010.  The agency … Continue Reading

New Foreign-Student Work Restriction Has Outsourcing and Staffing Firm Suing

The Trump Administration is continuing its assault on outsourcing and staffing firms. The latest Administration focus is on the STEM OPT program. In April 2018, without notice, USCIS made certain changes to its website. It declared, among other things, that a STEM OPT employer “may not assign, or otherwise delegate, its training responsibilities to a … Continue Reading

Haitian TPS Update: USCIS Backlog Results in Automatic 6-Month Work Authorization Extensions

USCIS will be issuing Notices of Continued Evidence of Work Authorization for certain Haitian TPS beneficiaries who applied for new EADs, but still have not received them. In November 2017, DHS announced that Haitian Temporary Protected Status would terminate on July 22, 2019. At that time, individuals with TPS EADs that expired on January 22, … Continue Reading

USCIS Requests for Evidence to Petitioners Before Application Denials to Become Discretionary

As of September 11, 2018, immigration officers will have more discretion to issue petition and application denials without first issuing Requests for Evidence (RFEs) or Notices of Intent to Deny (NOIDs). This is yet another of the new policies in the wake of the Buy American, Hire American Executive Order (BAHA) that are making it harder … Continue Reading

New USCIS Policy Guidance Emphasizes Initiating Removal, Deportation Cases

USCIS may be issuing Notices to Appear (NTAs) in business immigration cases due to a new policy guidance. NTAs are the initial charging documents in a removal or deportation case. USCIS grants and denies immigration benefits, but it will be more directly involved in enforcement now. NTAs are served on immigrants or their attorneys. They … Continue Reading

Is Israel B-5 Investor Visa for U.S. Citizens Equivalent to E-2 Visa? U.S. to Determine

In 2012, then-President Barack Obama signed legislation allowing nationals of Israel to apply for E-2 treaty investor status, but benefit would not be available until Israel provided similar status to U.S. nationals. In March 2014, the Israeli government passed such a bill creating B-5 status for American investors. Further enabling regulations were necessary, however, because … Continue Reading

USCIS-DOJ Memorandum of Understanding Means Employers Can Expect Enforcement Action Increase

USCIS and the Department of Justice are teaming up and collaborating to “better detect and eliminate fraud, abuse, and discrimination by employers bringing foreign visa workers to the United States.” They have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will increase their ability to share information about cases and training and make referrals. Last … Continue Reading

Requirements for H-1B Petitions Involving Third-Party Worksites Are Unlawful, Lawsuit Alleges

USCIS has exceeded its authority in issuing additional requirements on H-1B petitions involving third-party worksites, a suit filed in New Jersey seeking a temporary restraining order alleges. Just before the 2019 H-1B filing deadline, USCIS issued a memorandum clarifying that petitioners who send employees to third-party worksites must provide significantly more evidence to show that … Continue Reading

Major Change in USCIS Policy on Accrued Unlawful Presence Likely to Impact F, M and J Status Holders

USCIS has posted a policy memorandum that will radically change current policy for students and exchange visitors.  The policy makes it much more likely that those in F, M or J status will find themselves accruing unlawful presence and becoming subject to three and ten-year bars to admission. Under current policy there is a distinction between … Continue Reading

USCIS Releases Improvements to E-Verify System

After gathering feedback and extensive testing, USCIS has unveiled an updated and modernized E-Verify system to improve the user experience, efficiency, and reduce errors. Enhanced features include: Expanded helper text and visuals; Real-time feedback on errors; Auto-scroll feature that takes the user to the next section; Streamlined case creation and case closure; Modernization to reduce … Continue Reading

USCIS Introduces Onsite Training Restriction on Staffing Agencies Hiring OPT STEM Students

The 2016 STEM regulations made it more difficult for staffing agencies and consulting companies to sponsor graduating F-1 OPT employees for the two-year STEM OPT extension. According to the regulations, the training plan must be signed by the entity that has a bona fide employment relationship with the student and the bona fide employer must … Continue Reading

L Intracompany Transfers Pilot Program for Canadian Citizens

USCIS and CPB at the Blaine, Washington, Port of Entry (POE) have formally announced that from April 30, 2018, until October 31, 2018, the agencies jointly will implement a pilot program for Canadian citizens seeking entry in L status pursuant to NAFTA. L-1 admission is for intracompany transfers into the U.S. of managers, executives, and … Continue Reading

Update on Deferred Enforced Departure for Liberians

Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberians will terminate on March 31, 2019. USCIS has now published filing instructions in the Federal Register for those Liberians affected who wish to extend their employment authorization through the DED termination date.  Employment authorization is automatically extended until September 30, 2018 for Liberian DED beneficiaries who have employment authorization documents … Continue Reading

Deferred Enforced Departure for Liberians to End

Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberians, a humanitarian relief program similar to TPS (Temporary Protected Status), will terminate on March 31, 2019 according to a formal memo released by President Donald Trump. Liberian DED was set to expire on March 31, 2018. President Trump announced that there will be twelve-month wind down period to ease the transition … Continue Reading

ALERT: Possible Change in Processing of L-1 NAFTA Applications

According to CBP personnel, a pilot program is being developed that would eliminate “instant” border adjudications of L-1 NAFTA applications. The pilot program is expected to be introduced at the Blaine, Washington port of entry.  At this time, processes and procedures are still under review and consideration but it appears that the current CBP border … Continue Reading
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