On Sunday, September 24, 2017, the White House identified eight countries as inadequately managing identity and security risk information for their citizens who seek admission to the United States or other U.S. immigration benefits and established the following restrictions for those countries:

  • North Korea / Syria:  All immigrant and nonimmigrant visas are suspended.
  • Chad / Libya / Yemen:  All immigrant visas and all B-1 business and B-2 tourist visas are suspended.
  • Iran:  All immigrant visas are suspended, as well as all nonimmigrant visas except F and M student visas and J exchange visitor visas, for which additional screening is required.
  • Venezuela:  All official and B-1/B-2 visas for employees of certain government agencies and their dependents are suspended.  These agencies include the Ministry of the Popular Power for Interior, Justice and Peace; Administrative Service of Identification, Migration and Immigration; Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigation Service Corps; Bolivarian National Intelligence Service; and Ministry of the Popular Power for Foreign Relations.  Additional screening is required for all other types of visas.
  • Somalia:  All immigrant visas are suspended.  Additional screening is required for all other types of visas.
  • Iraq:  No suspensions, but additional screening is required for all visas and entries.

The proclamation exempts the following classes of individuals, among others, from the above restrictions:

  • Those who seek, or have already been granted, asylum or withholding of removal
  • Those who seek admission, or have already been admitted, as refugees
  • Those who already held valid visas on September 24
  • Those who hold other travel documents – such as transportation letters, boarding foils, or advance parole documents – that were valid on September 24 or are issued after that date
  • Those whose visas were marked canceled or revoked under the initial Travel Ban (January 27, 2017)
  • Nationals of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a U.S. person or entity, but only until October 18, 2017
  • Dual nationals who are traveling on a passport from a non-designated country

Individual waivers are available if the restrictions cause “undue hardship,” if the waiver is in the national interest, and if the iindividual poses no national security or public safety risk.  Subject to those criteria, the proclamation lists examples of potential waiver-worthy cases, including individuals who happened to be outside the United States on September 24, but had previously been admitted on long-term work or study visas and seek reentry to resume those activities; individuals who seek entry to visit or reside with an immediate relative who is a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or lawful nonimmigrant; infants, young children, adoptees, or individuals who need urgent medical care; dual nationals who hold Canadian permanent residence and apply for admission or visas inside Canada; and others.

Reacting to the proclamation on September 24, the Supreme Court announced that oral arguments on the Travel Ban cases, scheduled for October 10, 2017, were canceled.  SCOTUS also set a deadline of October 5 for the parties in those cases (primarily the state of Hawaii and the International Refugee Assistance Project) to file legal briefs addressing the question of whether their challenges are now moot because of (a) the new travel ban; and (b) the upcoming expiration, on October 24, of the total refugee ban.  SCOTUS could hear oral arguments at a later date or could decide the case on briefs only.

Despite earlier hints that the “Dreamers” – undocumented youth who were brought to the United States illegally or lost their status while they were underage – might be allowed to retain their work permits and reprieve from deportation, Attorney General Sessions announced today that the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will end on March 5, 2018.  The six-month lag time is intended to allow Congress to codify DACA-like provisions into law.

Continue Reading DACA Dreamers on Life Support

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