UPDATE: Supreme Court Allows Revised Travel Ban To Take Full, but Temporary, Effect

On December 4, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court issued two orders (available here and here) that allow the Presidential Proclamation of September 24, 2017, otherwise known as the “Travel Ban,” to go into effect while appeals continue in the lower courts.  The practical effect of SCOTUS’s actions is to reinstate this version of the Travel Ban fully.  See our earlier blog entry, New Presidential Proclamation Modifies Travel Ban; SCOTUS Reacts, for a full explanation of which countries are targeted in the revised Ban and which citizens of those countries are subject to U.S. travel restrictions under the Ban.

In October, a federal judge in Maryland granted a temporary injunction preventing the revised Ban from going into effect against those who have a bona fide relationship with a U.S. person or entity.  Another federal court, in Hawaii, also blocked implementation of the Ban.  However, the government appealed those rulings to the federal appellate courts for the Fourth and Ninth Circuits, respectively, where the issues remain pending.  In November, the government went higher still, asking the Supreme Court to allow full enforcement of the Ban while the Fourth and Ninth Circuits consider the government’s appeals of the lower courts’ injunctions.  SCOTUS has now granted that request, although, as each order specifies, Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor were not in favor of granting.  Both federal appellate courts will hold oral arguments this week, and both have agreed to expedite their decisions so that the Maryland and Hawaii cases may move forward quickly.

If either or both Circuits eventually rule against the government, thereby leaving the lower courts’ injunction in place, the government could ask the Supreme Court to review those rulings.  If that happens and SCOTUS refuses to hear the government’s request for review, then SCOTUS’s orders will automatically terminate, thereby putting the Travel Ban on hold yet again, until final decisions are made in the Maryland and Hawaii federal courts.

Thousands of “Late” DACA Renewal Applications to be Accepted by USCIS

Following reports that DHS rejected 4,000 timely-filed DACA renewal applications for being late due to USPS delays, DHS Secretary Elaine Dukes directed the USCIS to accept the applications, provided that the resubmissions include “individualized proof” that the applications were originally mailed in a timely matter and that the delivery delay was because of USPS error.  Secretary Dukes did not define what constitutes proof of timely filing; however, those who do not have such documentation can contact USPS to review their cases.  USPS will provide applicants with letters to submit to USCIS with the resubmissions, if appropriate.

USCIS also discovered that it rejected some timely-filed applications in error, and will reach out to those applicants to advise them to resubmit their applications.  Those not contacted by the USCIS who believe their applications were erroneously rejected may also resubmit their applications with proof that their applications were received timely at the designated filing location.

December 2017 Visa Bulletin – EB-2 China and India Inches Forward

The Visa Bulletin is released monthly by the Department of State and is used to determine when a sponsored foreign national can submit the final step of the green card process. The complete visa bulletin can be found here.

Below is a summary of the December Visa Bulletin, including Final Action Dates and changes from the previous month:

  • China: EB-1 remains current, EB-2 creeps forward two weeks to July 1, 2013, and EB-3 advances five weeks to March 8, 2014
  • India: EB-1 remains current, EB-2 advances 3 weeks to November 1, 2008, and EB-3 remains frozen at October 15, 2006 for the fourth month in a row
  • Philippines: EB-2 remains current and EB-3 stalls at January 15, 2016
  • All Other Countries: All EB categories are current

PLEASE NOTE:  USCIS has not yet announced if it will accept I-485 applications in December based on the Department of State’s Dates for Filing chart. However, the trend over the last several months has been to NOT honor the Dates for Filing chart, and instead only accept I-485 applications based on the Final Action Dates as listed above.

Employers Should Take the Necessary Steps to Prepare for Increased Worksite Inspections

This week, Tom Homan, acting Director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), announced that he has instructed Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the investigative branch of ICE, to quadruple the number of worksite inspections.  Danielle Bennett, spokeswoman for the agency, confirmed this directive and added “ICE’s worksite enforcement strategy continues to address both employers who knowingly hire unauthorized workers and the workers themselves.”

What does this mean for U.S. employers? This means that employers should expect to see increased HSI visits during which HSI will conduct not only I-9 audits to ensure that employers are complying with established employment eligibility verification requirements, but also other investigations related to compliance with immigration and labor regulations.

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November 2017 Visa Bulletin – Very slow forward movement in most categories

The Visa Bulletin is released monthly by the Department of State and is used to determine when a sponsored foreign national can submit the final step of the green card process. The complete visa bulletin can be found here.

Below is a summary of the November Visa Bulletin, including Final Action Dates and changes from the previous month:

  • China: EB-1 remains current, EB-2 moves ahead 24 days to June 15, 2013, and EB-3 only advances one month to February 1, 2014
  • India: EB-1 remains current, EB-2 advances 23 days to October 8, 2008, and EB-3 remains stalled at October 15, 2006
  • Philippines: EB-2 returns to current and EB-3 moves ahead one month to January 15, 2016
  • All Other Countries: All EB categories are current

PLEASE NOTE:  USCIS has announced that in November it will accept employment-based I-485 applications based only on the Department of State’s Final Action Dates chart.  As in past months, USCIS will NOT honor the Dates for Filing chart

Diversity Visa Update – New DV-2019 Entry Period Announced; Resubmissions Required

The Department of State has announced that due to technical issues the initial DV-2019 entry period of October 3, 2017, to November 7, 2017, has been closed.  The new DV-2019 entry period will begin at noon (EST) on October 18, 2017, and will remain open until noon (EST) on November 22, 2017. All entries received prior to October 18, 2017 will be cancelled and excluded from the system.  Applicants who submitted entries during that timeframe are advised to submit new entries to be considered in the DV 2019 lottery.

Temporary Protected Status for Sudan to End

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that because the conditions in Sudan no longer support its designation for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), the designation set to expire on November 2, 2017, will terminate on November 2, 2018.  TPS allows qualifying persons inside the United States to remain and work lawfully in the United States until conditions in their home countries improve following civil war, natural disaster or similar extraordinary situations.  The final year of designation gives those unable to acquire another legal status time to prepare to depart the United States by the TPS termination date.

Nationals of Sudan holding TPS status have until December 11, 2017, to re-register to extend their status through the designation end date of November 2, 2018.   Employment authorization documents held by qualifying individuals already set to expire on November 2, 2017, are automatically extended through May 1, 2018. Employers can rely on the DHS announcement for I-9 employment verification and re-verification purposes.

Nonimmigrant Visa Issuance Suspended at US Consular Posts in Turkey; Turkey Responds

Following the arrest of a US consular employee by Turkish authorities, the United States has suspended the issuance of nonimmigrant visas at the US Embassy in Ankara and the US Consulate General in Istanbul.  This is not a travel ban on Turkish nationals, as those with nonimmigrant visas can continue to use them, and those wishing to apply for nonimmigrant visas can do so at other US consular locations outside of Turkey.  The processing of immigrant visas will continue without interruption.

In response, the government of Turkey announced the immediate suspension of visa services to US citizens.  This suspension includes the issuance of physical sticker visas issued at border posts, as well as the online “e-visa”.  US citizens planning to visit Turkey should contact the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or a Turkish Embassy or Consulate in the United States, before travel.

UPDATE – USCIS Reinstates Premium Processing for All H-1B petitions

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has announced that premium processing has been reinstated for all H-1B cases.   As of today, petitioners may file H-1B petitions requesting premium processing and may upgrade currently pending H-1B petitions to premium processing.

USCIS Expects to Reinstate Premium Processing for All H-1B petitions on or Before October 3, 2017

Although no official statement has been issued, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced during a call with the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Service Center Operations Liaison Committee that it expects to resume premium processing for all H-1B cases on or before October 3, 2017.   We will update this post as soon as USCIS makes an official announcement.

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