On May 18, 2018, after receiving a notice from the Government of Ecuador terminating that country’s bilateral investment treaty with the United States, the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Trade Representative announced the termination in the Federal Register.  The treaty has been in force since 1997.

Continue Reading Termination of U.S.-Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty Affects E-2 Visa Eligibility for Ecuadorean Nationals

According to the January 2016 edition of “All Aboard,” the National Labor Relations Board’s in-house newsletter, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has recently granted U status for the first time to victims of unfair labor practices in cases in which the NLRB’s General Counsel served as law enforcement certifier.

Continue Reading USCIS Approves First U Petitions Certified by National Labor Relations Board for Victims of Unfair Labor Practices

The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City has announced that, as of July 1, 2012, individuals seeking to renew their visas at the embassy and consulates in Mexico no longer must attend a visa interview appointment, as long as their current visas are still valid or expired within the past 48 months. Previously, only those whose visas had expired within the past 12 months were exempt from interview.

Note that even those applicants who are exempt from interview under the new policy must still attend an appointment at the Applicant Service Center (“ASC”) for biometrics and fingerprinting. Additional details and qualification requirements may be be found at the websites of the embassy and each consulate, including this link for the consulate general in Cd. Juarez.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced recently that US employers who petition for foreign workers in the H-1B, H-1B1 (Chile/Singapore), L-1, and O-1A categories will not be required to complete Part 6 of Form I-129 until February 20, 2011.  Part 6 contains the employer certification regarding licensing requirements under export controls and ITAR, recently discussed in this blog. USCIS received a number of inquiries from stakeholders requesting that the agency delay implementation of this requirement in order to give petitioners time to establish the necessary internal processes to properly satisfy the attestation requirements.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recently issued a new Form I-129, effective December 23, 2010.  Part 6, “Release of Controlled Technology or Technical Data to Foreign Persons in the U.S.,” requires an employer to certify it will not “release” controlled technology or data to an H-1B, L-1 or O-1 worker without the appropriate “export license,” if one is required.  Under the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), a “deemed export” occurs when controlled technology or technical data is “disclosed” or “transferred” to a foreign person, whether in the United States or abroad.  This can occur when a foreign-national employee reads technical specifications, plans or blueprints or has direct access to source code; or when technology is indirectly exchanged with the employee verbally or under the guidance or supervision of others who have knowledge of the technology.  To comply with the law and properly complete the new form, an employer must first classify its technology or technical data to determine if an export license is required.  The EAR’s Commerce Control List may be found here and the ITAR’s U.S. Munitions List here.  Employers who are not certain if their technology requires an export license should consult with legal counsel who has expertise in export control law.

The U.S. Department of State has confirmed that contractors on a pre-approved list at the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC) are now auditing approved nonimmigrant petitions — including H-1B and L-1 petitions — in order to verify that information contained in the petitions is correct.  The audits are creating significant delays for petition-based visa applicants at embassies worldwide.

Continue Reading New Fraud-Related Audits Are Delaying Visa Issuance at US Embassies Abroad

On August 11, 2010, the State Department published its final revised rule on J-1 Interns and Trainees.  The revised rule makes 3 key changes.  First, host companies no longer must provide a Dun & Bradstreet report  Second, program sponsors may interview candidates by phone rather than only in person or by videoconference.  And third, both interns and trainees may participate in unlimited J-1 programs as long as they will develop more advanced skills or train in a different field of expertise in each new program.  Interns must still be enrolled full-time in a foreign college or university or have graduated within the 12 months just preceding the new J-1 program.  Trainees (and interns who do not meet the preceding criteria) must reside outside the United States for at least 2 years before they are eligible for any additional J-1 program.

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has announced that, as of June 4, 2010, nonimmigrant visa fees have increased at its U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide.  In the Federal Register notice announcing the move, DOS explained that increases are necessary because an independent study from August 2007 to June 2009 concluded the agency “is not fully covering its costs … under the current cost structure.”  Petition-based visa fees for temporary workers — such as H-1B, L-1 and O-1 — increased from $131 to $150.  E-1 (treaty trader) and E-2 (treaty investor) visa fees increased almost 300 percent, from $131 to $390.  For additional detail, please consult the Federal Register notice.

Since 2009, the Department of State has been phasing in a new, online visa application form at embassies worldwide.  The new DS-160 combines all previously used forms (DS-156, DS-157 and DS-158) for all nonimmigrant visa applications except Ks and Es.  DOS’s goal is to use the DS-160 exclusively worldwide by April 30, 2010.

Continue Reading Errors on New Electronic Visa Application (DS-160) Can Have Serious Consequences

On August 21, 2009, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a bulletin discussing the interaction between the H-2B visa program and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  After an extensive review, and under its wage and enforcement authority, the DOL has concluded that employers are responsible for paying both transportation and visa expenses of their H-2B workers, since these are “primarily for the benefit of the employer”.  A copy of the bulletin can be found here.