On November 20, 2017, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) issued a policy memorandum restricting TN nonimmigrant classification under the profession of Economist, to those who will primarily engage in activities consistent with the profession of Economist and specifically excluding those employed as Financial Analysts, Market Research Analysts, and Marketing Specialists. USCIS explains that the policy memorandum was necessary, because the lack of an in-depth description of the Economist profession in the North American Free Trade Agreement, which created the TN nonimmigrant classification, has led to inconsistent adjudications regarding which positions are encompassed under the Economist profession.

In its memorandum, USCIS explains that Economists generally specialize in either the analysis of individuals or firms to better understand the relationship between supply and demand or in the analysis of aggregated indicators to determine how different sectors of the economy are related to each other.  USCIS adds that Economists may apply economic analysis to issues in a variety of fields including labor, international trade, development, econometrics, education, health, and industrial organization.

Continue Reading USCIS Issues New Guidance Restricting who Qualifies as a TN Economist

On March 16, 2015, the U.S. Departments of Labor and Homeland Security jointly announced that they intend to release a joint Interim Final Rule by April 30, 2015, to resolve the agencies’ suspension of H-2B processing following a Florida federal court decision in Pérez v. Pérez.  See our blog entry of March 9, 2015, for details on that decision.  DOL also announced it will seek interim relief from the decision so that it may continue H-2B processing in the interval before the Interim Final Rule is promulgated.

In the joint statement, DOL and DHS acknowledged that “hardship” has resulted from the halt in H-2B processing and committed to “moving as quickly as possible” to issue new regulations that will be consistent with the decision in Pérez v. Pérez.

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.

In recent months there have been multiple reports that some H-1B workers arriving at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey have been questioned extensively by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers about their employment in the United States.  In some cases H-1B workers have been refused entry and/or had their visas cancelled.  CBP headquarters has since confirmed that most of these incidents occurred as part of an enforcement action involving companies that are under investigation for immigration violations, presumably involving fraudulent H-1B petitions or inadequate documentation.  Based on the types of questions being asked by CBP, there are also indications of increased scrutiny of H-1B workers who are employed by consulting firms, based on the January 2010 Neufeld memo discussed in our previous blog entry Indian nationals who are employed by consulting firms appear to be the primary targets of these enforcement efforts.

Continue Reading Some H-1B Visa Holders Face Additional Scrutiny Arriving at Newark International Airport