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USCIS annually disposes of E -Verify records that are 10 years old or older

December 14th, 2017

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USCIS must dispose of E-Verify records that are over ten years old – those dated on or before December 31, 2007.  E-Verify encourages you to record the E-Verify case verification number on the relating Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, and to retain the Historic Records Report with Form I-9. For more information and guidance on downloading the Historic Records Report, see the Fact Sheet and Instructions to Download the Report. For more information on Form I-9 compliance, please refer to our Employer Resource Center.

 

 

 

 

Judge Rules that Foreign Entrepreneurs can come to USA to Build and Grow Innovative Businesses

December 2nd, 2017

Breaking News_iStock_000029532972Large (2)Foreign entrepreneurs who want to build innovative companies in the United States received good news on Friday, when federal judge James E. Boasberg of the U.S. District Court ruled in favor of a lawsuit brought by the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), entrepreneurs, and startup companies on September 19, 2017.

DHS must now cease the delay and begin accepting applications of foreign entrepreneurs who wish to grow their companies in the United States. This will no doubt provide a significant boost to the U.S. economy, as it has long thrived on the contributions and innovations of foreign entrepreneurs.

We link to the International Entrepreneur Final Rule

Our office is available to assist you should you be interested in exploring this opportunity.

 

 

USCIS Provides FAQs on Rejected DACA Requests; White House Releases Guidance to Include in DACA Legislation

December 1st, 2017

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USCIS announces that it will release specific guidance soon about the steps that a DACA recipient must take to resubmit his or her renewal request to USCIS if the filing was rejected due to US Postal Service delays.
We link to the FAQs posted on the ILW.com website:
http://discuss.ilw.com/content.php?8994-News-USCIS-Provides-FAQs-on-Rejected-DACA-Requests

 We are updating this post 12/2/2017 with guidance released by the White House providing an outline of the Trump administration’s proposals on immigration. The principles were sent to Congressional leadership with a cover letter demanding these reforms be included in any legislation that addresses protection for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. The seven-page document includes an expansive list of legislative demands that cover the border, interior of the country, and an overhaul of the U.S. immigration system. The principles, however, read like a wish list of ways to drastically curtail immigration and target immigrants.  It remains to be seen what the end result will resemble when Congress gets involved.  We will keep you posted as the wheels start to churn in the House and Senate.

DACA Update and Advisory for Employees and Employers

September 10th, 2017

Immigration Rally in Washington(From ILW.com) On September 5, 2017, President Trump announced via a statement from Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he is winding down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The DACA program, including associated travel and work benefits, will not terminate immediately. The attached advisory will help you determine how your being in the DACA program is affected by this news.

What if Congress Doesn’t Act?

If Congress does not pass a measure protecting DACA recipients in the next 6 months, nearly 300,000 people could begin to lose their status and be at risk for deportation in 2018. And more than 320,000 would lose their status from January to August 2019. President Trump indicated that he would revisit the issue if Congress does not pass DACA legislation. Here is a review of three Bills under consideration that address DACA Legislation.

The ILW Advisory states:  Employers need to be cautious about taking adverse actions against DACA recipients. In general, employers are not permitted to “look behind” a valid work card and while an employee has a valid employment authorization document, an employer cannot terminate them or otherwise discriminate against them based on assumptions regarding the ability to continue working for the employer for the long term. Employers who have been told by their employees already that they are in the DACA program should be able to talk to them about subjects like helping the employee with green card sponsorship, transfers abroad, helping with getting access to an immigration lawyer, etc.

Here is a statement from USCIS  DACA Has Changed!

  • We are no longer accepting initial requests for DACA, but we will adjudicate initial requests for DACA accepted by Sept. 5, 2017.
  • We will no longer approve advance parole requests associated with DACA.
  • We are only adjudicating DACA renewal requests received by Oct. 5, 2017, from current beneficiaries whose benefits will expire between Sept. 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018.

USCIS 09/05/2017 Announcement

How  to inquire about a pending DACA Case

 

BREAKING NEWS ——Those who were blocked from entering US in 1st Travel Ban, can now reapply for visas to enter the USA

August 31st, 2017

USA_shutterstock_modified_worldandflags(2)The legal challenge that helped to free scores of travelers who were detained at airports around the country in the confusing early days of President Trump’s travel ban, prompting thousands of demonstrators to demand their release, was quietly settled on Thursday in a Brooklyn courtroom. Those who were   blocked from entering the United States can now reapply for visas to enter the US, according to a settlement reached in the case that temporarily blocked the travel ban back in January.

About 2,000 people were detained during the almost 24-hour time period from when the first travel ban went into effect to when the temporary stay blocked the travel ban from being implemented. Roughly 140 people were denied entry and sent back to their country of origin in that time period based on documents the ACLU obtained from a Freedom of Information Act request.

Under the settlement, the government is required to send letters to notify those who were denied entry under the first travel ban that they are now eligible to reapply for a visa — using the most current information from their visa applications.  Approval is not guaranteed, but the government agreed to process their applications in good faith.

The agreement did not provide any damages or monetary compensation for those affected by the ban, nor any award of legal fees to the groups who fought it in court. People who never reached an American airport because they were kept from boarding flights are not covered by the settlement.

For more on this refer here:  CNN:  http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/31/politics/trump-travel-ban-settlement/index.html and the NY Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/31/us/trump-travel-ban-lawsuit-settlement.html?mcubz=0

 

USCIS to Expand In-Person Interview Requirements for all Employment-based Applicants, Asylees & Refugees

August 30th, 2017

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As of Oct. 1, 2017, applicants that have filed to adjust their status in the USA to permanent residency will undergo an in-person interview.   This is pursuant to Trump’s E.O. 13780, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorists Entering the US” and part of the Trump plan to apply “extreme vetting” to immigrants and visitors coming to the USA.

USCIS states that the categories of visas that require interviews will expand in the future, calling it “an incremental expansion.” Although the in-person interview is not a new procedure, the USCIS has been waiving the interview requirement for many employment-based adjustment of status applicants because the interviews tended to cause a backlog in processing and waste valuable resources (personnel, time and funding).

USCIS is already taking a very long time to process several types of petitions and applications.The mandatory interview requirement will almost certainly lengthen the already long wait times for green cards. The result will likely be over a hundred thousand more USCIS in-person interviews per year.   Here is a link to the Press Release

We encourage all applicants to discuss the timing of their cases with their immigration provider before deciding to adjust to permanent residency (green-card) status inside the USA.

Expressing our point of view, for more on this.

New I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form, Effective Sept. 18, 2017

July 17th, 2017

I-9+Website+High+res+Logo_x625[1]USCIS released a revised version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, on July 17. Instructions for how to download Form I-9 are available on the Form I-9 page. On Sept. 18th, employers must use the revised form with a revision date of 07/17/17N. Employers must continue following existing storage and retention rules for any previously completed Form I-9s.

Revisions to the Form I-9 instructions:

  • USCIS changed the name of the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices to its new name, Immigrant and Employee Rights Section.
  • They removed “the end of” from the phrase “the first day of employment.”

Revisions related to the List of Acceptable Documents on Form I-9:

  • Added the Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240) to List C. Employers completing Form I-9 on a computer will be able to select Form FS-240 from the drop-down menus available in List C of Sections 2 and 3. E-Verify users will also be able to select Form FS-240 when creating a case for an employee who has presented this document for Form I-9.
  • Combined all the certifications of report of birth issued by the Department of State (Form FS-545, Form DS-1350, and Form FS-240) into selection C #2 in List C.
  • Renumbered all List C documents except the Social Security card. For example, the employment authorization document issued by the Department of Homeland Security on List C changed from List C #8 to List C #7.

USCIS included these changes in the revised Handbook for Employers: Guidance for Completing Form I-9 (M-274), which is also easier for users to navigate.

Should you have any questions or would like to discuss how your company can establish a culture of compliance, please contact us at info@immigrationcompliancegroup.com

What to Know About the H-1B Cap Gap

March 22nd, 2017

Visa_iStock_000016934361_ExtraSmall (2)By:  Allison McDowell, Content Coordinator

Current federal regulations allow for the automatic extension, if certain circumstances are met, of Optional Practical Training (OPT) time for F-1 students who have a pending or approved H-1B petition.  These “Cap Gap” provisions require that the beneficiary’s petition is subsequently selected and approved in the H-1B lottery.  If approved, Cap Gap helps cover the gap that may otherwise disrupt an employee’s employment authorization, which would occur between when the OPT EAD expires through September 30th, in other words, after the OPT ends and before an approved H-1B petition takes effect.  Any F-1 student with a timely filed H-1B petition and request for change of status will be allowed to extend the duration of F-1 status and any current employment authorization until the first day of the new fiscal year, October 1 st.  If the petition is not selected for processing, the student will have the standard 60-day grace period from the date of the rejection notice or their program end date, whichever is later, to prepare for departing the USA.

Major Criteria

To be eligible for Cap Gap extension, the employer must file the H-1B Change of Status petition with USCIS and have it received prior to the post-completion OPT expiration date.  Or, if received by USCIS after the post-completion OPT expires but during the following 60 day grace period, the beneficiary’s F-1 status and permission to remain in the U.S. are extended, but there is no work authorization.

Effects of Premium Processing Suspension

 USCIS has suspended premium processing for all H-1B petitions for six months, starting April 3, 2017.  This also applies to H-1B quota cases, or “cap cases.”  This suspension could have major effects on those who have a status expiration date earlier than October 1, 2017.  For F-1 OPT beneficiaries, whose employment authorization is only extended until September 30, 2017, there would be a period of lack of employment authorization until the H-1B case is approved.  Similarly, L-1 visa, or other employment visa holders, may have their work authorization set to expire shortly after October 1, 2017 and the H-1B cap case may remain pending past October 1st, therefore leaving a gap in work authorization until USCIS completes processing of the case.

STEM OPT Extension

 Stem Extension could be available to bridge the gap in employment authorization for those that qualify.  Any F-1 nonimmigrant student with a degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) can apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion OPT employment authorization.  Students who are eligible for Cap Gap extension of their post-completion OPT can apply for a STEM OPT extension during the Cap Gap.  In order to be eligible, the employer must be enrolled in and in good standing with E-Verify, and the initial grant of post-completion OPT employment authorization must also have been related to the STEM degree.  Note that an application cannot be submitted once the H-1B petition is rejected, denied, revoked, or withdrawn and the 60-day departure prep period has begun.

Additions have recently been made to the list of STEM degrees and can be found at STEM Designated Degree Program List.  Additional information for F-1 students regarding STEM OPT extensions can be found at USCIS’s Optional Practical Training Extension for STEM Students (STEM OPT) page or the STEM OPT Hub.

Travel Outside U.S.

While USCIS is processing the H-1B visa petition, beneficiaries should not travel outside the U.S.  Doing so would void the Change of Status H-1B petition, subsequently turning it into an outside the U.S., Consular Processing H-1B petition.  Similarly, if the practitioner selects consular processing, the H-1B petition will not process under the Cap Gap regulations, which would be disastrous to the case.  Leaving the U.S. while employment authorization is based on Cap Gap voids the Cap Gap authorization.  Therefore, the employee will only be able to re-enter the U.S. up to 10 days prior to the effective date of a subsequently approved H-1B petition.

Practitioners need to be aware of the effects of foreign employees traveling abroad, as many attorneys who are not skilled in business immigration are not aware of the major consequences of visa beneficiaries doing so.

Dependents

The H-1B Cap Gap authorization also applies to dependents of the visa beneficiary that are in valid F-2 status, including spouses and children.  Keep in mind, however, that the travel restrictions also likely apply to dependent visa holders, whose foreign travel may void the Change of Status petition.

 

 

 

Filing H-1Bs Under the US Master’s Cap

March 7th, 2017

By:  Allison McDonnell | Content Coordinator

Guide to USA_shutterstock_47911780 Converted (2)Non-Profit Institution

Recently, there has been a misunderstanding of the nuances concerning the US master’s cap eligibility.  In order for a graduate to qualify for the additional slots allotted for the US master’s cap, the institution must be either a public or a private non-profit university.  Therefore, if the institution issuing the advanced degree is a for-profit school, one usually in business to make money or turn a profit and pay taxes on those profits, that degree will not meet the master’s cap statutory requirement.

If a school is recognized as proprietary, it is a for-profit institution and, therefore, not eligible under the H-1B master’s cap criteria.  The IRS is the agency that permits qualifying nonprofit organizations to receive 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status and is a reliable source for information.

Accredited Institution

 Those applying for the US master’s cap must also ensure that the advanced degree they received was from a US institution that has national accreditation by a recognized agency or association.  Students should not only verify the accreditation directly with his/her school, but also independently verify these qualifications.  It is not sufficient that the school is SEVP certified.  Generally, state-operated colleges and universities meet the accreditation criteria.  Private institutions’ authorization to operate can be checked with the educational authorities of the state where the institution operates.  Most importantly, the Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Post-secondary Institutions and Programs should be used to verify whether the school is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency.

Currently, USCIS will issue a denial for such cases filed under the master’s cap without a qualifying degree according to the above criteria, rather than consider them under the regular H-1B cap.  Therefore, if the issues were not discovered until after the regular cap is met, the graduate would need to wait an entire year to re-file under the regular H-1B cap.

A word to the wise — do your due diligence carefully before filing under the US Master’s Cap.  Please contact us should you have questions or wish to retain our services to handle your H-1B case filing.

New Administration Indicates Trump is Placing DACA on Backburner for Now

January 26th, 2017

Jobs_iStock_000016785771XSmall (2)By:  Allison McDonnell, Content Coordinator

Despite repeated campaign promises to take immediate action upon taking office, the new administration has now indicated that Present Donald Trump will not be immediately dismantling the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program instituted by Barack Obama in 2012.

The administration has been tight-lipped about their intentions with DACA since Trump took office a short time ago.  When asked about when Trump will take action on DACA at a recent press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer sidestepped the question and placed little emphasis on DACA as an action item.  Spicer went on to state that the President and administration’s main focus and priority is on immigrants with criminal records and will “prioritize the areas of dealing with the immigration system — both building the wall and making sure that we address people who are in this country illegally.”

Similarly, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus failed to clearly expound on the President’s intentions for DACA recipients, known as DREAMers.  Although during the presidential campaign Trump vehemently claimed that he would immediately overturn Obama’s executive action on DACA, Priebus indicated that DACA might not be addressed with a quick fix.  While Priebus failed to make any exacting commitments on the topic, he strongly indicated that Trump will not be signing any executive actions on DACA in the week following his inauguration.

Instead, Trump seems to have pledged to work with Congress to assist DREAMers.  Chief of Staff Priebus has suggested that the administration will work with the House and Senate leaders to build a long-term solution.  This seems to match a statement Trump made late last year during a Time Magazine interview that, while he does intend to overturn Obama’s executive action, he will also be looking for a compromise that will not disadvantage young immigrants.

On a similar positive note, a resolution for immigration reform was approved last week by The United States Conference of Mayors.  This resolution calls for the continuation of programs protecting DREAMers and the need to adopt an approach that welcome immigrants, stating “…we stand united as mayors through the United States Conference of Mayors in calling on Congress to fix our broken immigration system and immediately begin working toward the enactment of comprehensive immigration reform legislation.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has articulated enforcement priorities that mirror what Spicer and Priebus have stated – that national security threats and criminals will be priority number one for the time being. And, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) continues to process DACA applications without change.  For now, over 741,500 DREAMers who benefit from the DACA program will have to continue to wait to see what their future may hold.