Federal Laws/Legislation

Unemployment insurance, as described in a recent blog post by our Labor and Employment colleagues, is a “joint federal-state program, administered separately by each state following guidelines established by federal law.”  While the requirements of these programs vary from state to state, eligibility criteria generally exclude nonimmigrants whose work authorization is tied to a specific position with a specific employer (e.g., TN, H-1B, and L-1 workers).

Continue Reading COVID-19: Are Nonimmigrants Eligible for Unemployment Benefits?

President Trump signed the eagerly awaited Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27, 2020.  What does it mean for people who are affected by COVID-19 and living here on work-authorized visas?  They, like their colleagues who are US citizens and permanent residents, have also been furloughed without pay, laid off, and affected by university closures.  But, unlike their colleagues, nonimmigrant workers are also at risk of involuntarily violating or even losing their US immigration status during COVID-19.  To understand why, see our earlier blog, COVID-19: How Do Furloughs Affect Nonimmigrant Workers?  Unfortunately, the Act is silent on the fate of these workers.  While it provides general relief that may also aid nonimmigrants, their eligibility for that relief is not entirely clear.

Continue Reading COVID-19: CARES Act Offers No Specific Relief to Nonimmigrant Workers, But May Help Them Anyway

As reported in the Hunton Labor & Employment blog, COVID-19 has disrupted the global economy and employers may soon face the need to reduce expenses associated with exempt employees. Employers can place exempt employees on furlough, or, in some cases, reduce salaries and hours, without jeopardizing the FLSA exemption, but exceptions may need to be

On January 13, 2020, the Trump administration filed an emergency appeal with the Supreme Court to lift a nationwide temporary injunction on the DHS “public charge” rule that was upheld by the Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit) last week.  The public charge rule, published in August 2019, expands the grounds on which the government can deny immigration benefits to various applicants seeking permanent residence (green card) status or work authorization to include those who have received certain public benefits, such as Medicaid, CHIP, and SNAP (see article, “DHS Reinterprets Public Charge”).  The rule gives the government broad discretion to deny an applicant if “at any time”, the applicant would “likely” become a public charge.  A medical condition alone could be enough for an immigration officer to exercise discretion to deny the application.

Continue Reading Trump Files Emergency Appeal with SCOTUS to Lift Public Charge Injunction

In 2019, the large policy and enforcement shifts signposted in 2017 and 2018 continued to play out with stricter immigration enforcement across the board. While we don’t expect to see seismic shifts in the coming year, there are a few issues to watch for in 2020.

(1) H-1B “Specialty Occupation” Definition Change Likely to Stall in Court

USCIS has indicated it will be announcing an official change to the definition of “specialty occupation.” While we have already seen a detrimental shift in the H-1B adjudication process, this would be an official regulatory change. We expect that any attempt to re-interpret the H-1B statute as narrowly as possible will face a lengthy court battle.


Continue Reading The Year Ahead: 10 Things to Watch for in US Immigration

On September 19, 2019, Congress tried and failed to eliminate the per-country limit for employment-based green cards. This latest effort, a bill known as the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019 (HR 1044) easily passed in the House 365-65, but stalled in the Senate where it has been blocked by Senator David

In what seems to be a continuing effort to limit legal immigration, DHS issued a final rule that reinterprets “public charge” as a ground of inadmissibility. The new interpretation is scheduled to take effect October 15, 2019, but has already been challenged in several federal courts, which may delay the effective date.

Continue Reading DHS Reinterprets “Public Charge” in New Rule Designed to Limit Legal Immigration

Even though the United States ended the compulsory military draft on January 27, 1973, it maintains a database of eligible men used to provide “trained and untrained manpower to the Department of Defense in a national emergency.” The agency that manages this database, the “Selective Service System”, is alive and well, as is the requirement

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court granted the Trump administration two victories in connection with Executive Order No. 13780, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” commonly known as the “Travel Ban.”
Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Grants Certiorari and Partially Allows Some Provisions of Executive Order No. 13780 (the “Travel Ban”)