U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced today that it has now completed returning all petitions that were not selected in the Fiscal Year 2018 H-1B lottery.  Employers who filed petitions should now have received either a Form I-797 receipt notice indicating the petition was assigned a receipt number, or the original rejected petition including filing fees.  USCIS will take inquiries if employers believe they filed during the required period – April 3 to April 7, 2017 – and have not received either the receipt notice or the rejected petition by July 31, 2017.

 

U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (“USCIS”) is scheduled to release a revised Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, on July 17, 2017. The previous version, dated 11/14/16 N, remains valid, but only through September 17, 2017. On September 18, 2017, employers must use the new form.

The new form changes the name of the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices to its new name, the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section.  In addition, several key changes have been made to the List C, Acceptable Documents to Prove Employment Eligibility:

  1. The Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240) is now acceptable and is included on the drop-down menus in “smart” Form I-9 and in E-Verify.
  2. All certifications of report of birth that are issued by the U.S. Department of State (Forms FS-545, DS-1350 and FS-240) are now listed at #2 of List C.
  3. List C documents are now renumbered, except the Social Security card; for example, the EAD is now at #7 instead of #8

USCIS plans to update its “Handbook for Employers: Guidance for Completing Form I-9” (Form M-274) to include these revisions in the near future.  Additional information is available at What’s New | USCIS.

The Trump Administration’s April Executive Order, “Buy American, Hire American,” puts the H-1B visa program under increased scrutiny, but is not likely to have significant, if any, impact on the program for the foreseeable future.
Continue Reading “Hire American, Buy American” Executive Order Not Likely to Change H-1B Landscape Significantly

On, March 31, 2017, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services rescinded a 17-year-old memorandum issued by the Nebraska Service Center regarding computer-related positions as H-1B “specialty occupations.”  For the last 10 years, all H-1B petitions have been processed at the Vermont and California Service Centers, so the memo has not been in use.  Since NSC recently began accepting H-1B extension petitions again, USCIS has rescinded the memo, stating it is outdated and inconsistent with the agency’s current approach to H-1B petitions for computer jobs.

Continue Reading USCIS Rescinds Old Guidance on H-1B Computer Programmers and Announces Targeted Scrutiny of IT Contractors

The Ninth Circuit has just issued a unanimous opinion upholding the Temporary Restraining Order against the Trump Administration’s Executive Order known as the “Travel Ban.” The 3-judge panel unanimously recognized that without the TRO, the states of Minnesota and Washington were likely to be harmed as parens patriae (i.e., legal protector) for their citizens, and also by damage inflicted on “operations and missions of their public universities and other institutions of higher learning,” and their “operations, tax bases, and public funds.”

Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Unanimously Rejects Reinstatement of Travel Ban

We have learned that, as of the evening of January 27, 2017, all U.S. embassies and consular posts have been instructed to immediately suspend the issuance of both nonimmigrant and immigrant visas and cancel currently scheduled visa interviews for nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Some diplomatic visa categories are exempt.

Continue Reading UPDATE: Visa Issuance Now Suspended for Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen

The Administration has now signed the Executive Order entitled, “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Entry into the United States by Foreign Nationals,” with immediate effect. Individuals from the designated countries should strongly consider not traveling outside the United States during the periods mentioned below. Key provisions are as follows:

1. The Order prohibits the “immigrant or nonimmigrant entry” into the United States by nationals of Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Libya for the next 90 days – until April 27, 2017.

Continue Reading UPDATE: Trump Signs Executive Order Banning/Restricting Refugees and Other Nationals of Muslim-Majority Countries

A draft of President Trump’s Executive Order banning Muslims and Refugees has surfaced.  While the final Order may be different, we expect most of what is in the draft to remain.  The draft Order provides for:

  • 120-day suspension and “realignment” of the refugee admissions program to determine what additional procedures are necessary to ensure the security and welfare of the United States
  • Indefinite suspension of the Syrian refugee program
  • 30-day suspension of visa issuance to nationals of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen
  • 30-day suspension of “other” immigration benefits for nationals of those countries

Continue Reading Executive Order to Ban Muslims/Refugees is Imminent

On December 27, 2016, the Administrative Appeals Office of U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a far-reaching decision, Matter of Dhanasar, that sets a new legal framework for approval of National Interest Waiver (NIW) petitions and is likely to greatly increase the value of this green card category.  The newly designated precedent decision also vacates Matter of New York State Department of Transportation, a 1998 case that has severely limited the usability of the NIW petition for almost 20 years.

Continue Reading USCIS Issues Precedent Decision Revising Legal Standard for National Interest Waiver Petitions

The Department of Homeland Security has announced it will negotiate with 11 airports, located in Bogotá, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Edinburgh, Milan, Rome, Keflavik, Osaka, and St. Maarten, to open preflight inspection offices.  At these “preclearance” locations, Customs & Border Protection agents inspect travelers for immigration, customs and agriculture requirements before they board U.S.-bound flights.  With successful preflight screening, a foreign traveler normally avoids all screening at his or her U.S. destination airport.  In 2015, DHS opened preclearance negotiations, which are still underway, with 9 European countries and the Dominican Republic.  See our earlier blog entry.  Only 15 preclearance locations currently exist:  in Canada, the Caribbean, Ireland, and the United Arab Emirates.