DOL Issues FAQs On H-2B Processing After Perez v. Perez

On March 20, 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor issued new FAQs providing more details on the latest developments in the ongoing federal court case challenging DOL's authority to issue and implement regulations for the H-2B temporary worker program.

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DOL and USCIS Resume H-2B Processing

On March 17, 2015, the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services announced it will resume H-2B processing, but will continue to suspend premium (expedited) processing until further notice.

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DOL and DHS Announce Next Steps for the H-2B Program

On March 16, 2015, the U.S. Departments of Labor and Homeland Security jointly announced that they intend to release a joint Interim Final Rule by April 30, 2015, to resolve the agencies’ suspension of H-2B processing following a Florida federal court decision in Pérez v. Pérez.  See our blog entry of March 9, 2015, for details on that decision.  DOL also announced it will seek interim relief from the decision so that it may continue H-2B processing in the interval before the Interim Final Rule is promulgated.

In the joint statement, DOL and DHS acknowledged that “hardship” has resulted from the halt in H-2B processing and committed to “moving as quickly as possible” to issue new regulations that will be consistent with the decision in Pérez v. Pérez.

USCIS and DOL suspend H-2B Processing Following Florida Court Order

As of March 5, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has temporarily shut down its processing of H-2B petitions and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has stopped accepting or processing applications for H-2B prevailing wages and temporary labor certifications due to a Florida federal court’s decision in Pérez v. Pérez.

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USCIS Announces that Certain Spouses in H-4 Status May Apply for Employment Authorization

USCIS announced today that a new regulation permitting certain spouses of H-1B nonimmigrant workers to apply for employment authorization will go into effect on May 26, 2015.  The new rule permits H-4 spouses to submit an application for employment authorization (Form I-765) on or after that date, if they are married to an H-1B worker who meets one of the following requirements:

  • Is the principal beneficiary of an approved Form I-140 Immigrant Petition; OR
  • Has been granted H-1B status under sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act (AC21) relating to H-1B extensions in the case of lengthy adjudications
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DHS Extends TPS for El Salvador

DHS announced that it is extending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nationals of El Salvador who already hold TPS. TPS allows qualifying individuals to remain and work lawfully in the United States until conditions in their home countries improve. The new extension allows qualifying individuals from El Salvador to reapply for TPS and work authorization that will be valid until September 9, 2016. The re-registration period is now open and ends on March 9, 2015.  Employment authorization documents held by qualifying individuals already set to expire on March 9, 2015 (and endorsed “A-12” or “C-19” under “category”), are automatically extended for an additional six months, through September 9, 2015. Employers can rely on the DHS announcement or Federal Register Notice for I-9 employment verification and reverification purposes.

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DHS Designates Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone for TPS Protection

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may designate a country for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) when conditions make it unsafe for citizens of that country who are in the United States to safely return.  TPS is usually granted when there is ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions.  Due to the recent Ebola outbreak in western Africa, DHS has designated Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone for TPS.

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National Visa Center Will No Longer Collect Original Civil Documents for Immigrant Visa Applications

The U.S. Department of State has announced that, as of November 12, 2014, the National Visa Center ceased collecting original civil documents – birth and marriage certificates, police clearance certificates, etc. – from applicants for immigrant visas.  From now on, applicants will submit only photocopies of these documents to the NVC and take the originals to their visa interviews at U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide.

The NVC’s practice of requiring original documents is a long-standing one that has caused applicants additional stress, worry and expense in the already demanding and difficult process of applying to immigrate permanently to the United States.  The State Department’s announcement suggests that the change will “reduce customer wait times, and improve the customer experience overall.”

DHS Extends TPS for Honduras

DHS announced that it is extending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Honduran nationals who already hold TPS. TPS allows qualifying individuals to remain and work lawfully in the United States until conditions in their home countries improve. The new extension allows qualifying individuals from Honduras to reapply for TPS and work authorization that will be valid until July 5, 2016. The re-registration period is now open and ends on December 15, 2014. Employment authorization documents held by qualifying individuals already set to expire on January 5, 2015 (and endorsed “A-12” or “C-19” under “category”), are automatically extended for six months, through July 5, 2015. Employers can rely on the DHS announcement or Federal Register Notice for I-9 employment verification and reverification purposes.

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State Department Diversity Visa Lottery Begins October 1

The State Department has announced the registration period for the Congressionally mandated 2016 Diversity Visa (DV) lottery. The DV lottery allows nationals from certain countries to apply for immigrant visas ("green cards") outside of the normal immigrant visa process. Individuals already being sponsored for immigrant visas by family members or employers may participate as well. Requirements include being a national of an eligible country (although an applicant may qualify based on his or her spouse's nationality) and high school education or work experience. The online registration period begins on Wednesday, October 1, 2014, at noon EST, and ends on Monday, November 3, 2014, at noon EST. Complete eligibility requirements and filing instructions will be posted on October 1, 2014, at http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english.html (click on “Diversity Visas”).