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Posts Tagged ‘Department Of Homeland Security (DHS)’

DACA Update and Advisory for Employees and Employers

Sunday, 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

 

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

Wednesday, 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

Monday, 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

I-9/E-Verify: Q&A – AILA Verification Committee Mtg w/USCIS Verification & ICE Homeland Security Investigation

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-questions-answers-image5665970

Clarification between Hiring site and worksite (page 5 at link)
E-Verify defines a “hiring site” as “the location where employees are hired and where they complete Form I-9.”

E-Verify further states that a “participating hiring site means that an employer will create an E-Verify case for every newly hired employee who is hired and
completes a Form I-9 at that site.”

Lastly, when an employee is hired remotely and visits a third party employer agent to complete Form I-9, for E-Verify purposes, the “hiring site” is the location of the third party employer agent where the Form I-9 was completed, not the home of the employee.

For all Q&A, refer here

 

Changes to Business-related Immigration Under Trump’s Administration

Saturday, November 19th, 2016

By:  Allison McDonnell, ICG Content Coordinator

The US President's home at 1600 Pennsylvania Av, Washington DC.

President-elect, Donald Trump, will take office as the United State’s 45th president on January 20, 2017.  Trump ran his presidential campaign from a clear anti-immigration platform.  His ten-point plan, which includes limiting legal immigration, could have substantial effects on business immigration in the U.S.  However, it is still too soon to tell exactly which stances Trump’s administration will, or will be able to, follow through on.  Changes on the business-related immigration side are likely to come in incremental stages and later on, as his first priority will be undocumented immigrants with criminal records.

H-1B Visa Program

Throughout his campaign, Trump spoke out against the H-1B visa program, arguing that it is an abused process used to replace American workers with cheap labor.  He claimed several times that his intentions are to end the program completely.  However, experts say that the program will more than likely not be eradicated, but simply reformed.  For one, Trump, himself, understands the value of high tech global talent.  In addition, the fact that he desires a strong relationship with India, whose tech workers are among the largest group of beneficiaries of the H-1B program, will likely keep him from abolishing the program all together.  With popularity of reform from several congressmen and Trump’s base, it is likely that smaller caps and more stringent qualifications will be imposed.

E-1 and E-2 Treaty Trader and Investor Visas

Trump has been less vocal about planned changes to employment-based visas outside of the H-1B visa.  While it is likely that Trump will make major reforms to the H-1B program, we could also see some changes to the E-1 and E-2 visa classifications, given that they are increasingly the second-best option behind the H-1B visa for many immigrants.  For one, a tougher application of legal standards in immigration court and in consular processing may be applied to all visa categories.  In addition, caps could be implemented, which may be country-specific.  However, since a key part of the E-2 visa program is job creation, it could quite possibly go the other way, with the category growing in number.

Employment Eligibility Verification:  I-9 and E-Verify Programs

Considering employment draws immigrants to the United States, it is likely that we will see stricter enforcement of the Form I-9 verification process under Trump’s presidency.  Starting next year, there will likely be more ICE officers and immigration judges hired to expedite cases.  This increase in staff may lead to an increase in the number of worksite inspections for I-9 compliance.  It is also possible that there will be an increase in penalties and fines for any violations uncovered.  Therefore, it is important for employer’s to ensure that their paperwork, policies, and practices are in order in case of an audit.  Given that Trump may overturn President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA), employers also need to be aware of which of their current foreign-born employees may become immediately undocumented and take proper action.

Trump has consistently applauded the E-Verify process for its systematic ability to filter out unauthorized employment.  In his position paper on immigration, he would mandate that the E-Verify process be used across the U.S.  Although, Trump will likely meet the same resistance as Congress has in the past, when it tried and failed several times to implement mandatory E-Verify.  That being true, Trump may still be able to strengthen or increase the program through unilateral executive orders.

In Closing

Although it is still too soon to tell precisely which of Trump’s campaign promises he will have the time, resources, or support to follow through on, it is a good idea to be informed and alert to the timing and the next steps required concerning your immigration matters and remain proactive, both as an employer and employee.  If you haven’t moved forward on a viable case, we would recommend that you meet with immigration counsel to prepare for the upcoming months under the new administration.  You can contact our office here.

 

Breaking News! Obama’s DAPA Appeal to Take Center Stage in Supreme Court

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

Supreme Court_dreamstime_xs_7835804The Obama administration took the battle over immigration to the Supreme Court on Friday, formally asking the justices to review a federal court decision that left in place a nationwide injunction against President Barack Obama’s sweeping initiative to grant quasi-legal status and work permits to millions of immigrants here illegally.

DAPA would grant deferred action status to those who have lived in the United States for at least 5 years and have not committed felonies or repeated misdemeanors, and have children who are US citizens or lawful permanent residents. Deferred action is not full legal status, but in this case would come with a three-year, renewable work permit and exemption from deportation. The Court will hear arguments in April and rule by June.

Read more here    From Politico here

 

Employment-Based Immigration Proposals Open for Public Comment

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

USA_shutterstock_modified_worldandflags(2)USCIS is seeking public comments on a proposed rule that would modernize and improve certain important aspects of employment-based nonimmigrant and immigrant visa programs. USCIS is also proposing regulatory amendments to better enable U.S. employers to hire and retain certain foreign workers who are beneficiaries of approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions and are waiting to become lawful permanent residents (LPRs).

Read the notice of proposed rulemaking published in the Federal Register on December 31, 2015: Retention of EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 Immigrant Workers and Program Improvements Affecting High-Skilled Nonimmigrant Workers. The public has until February 29, 2016 to comment.

Among other things, the DHS proposals to amend its regulations entail the following:

…  To clarify and improve longstanding agency policies and procedures implementing sections of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (AC21) and the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act (ACWIA) related to certain foreign workers, which will enhance USCIS’ consistency in adjudication.
…  To better enable U.S. employers to employ and retain certain foreign workers who are beneficiaries of approved employment based immigrant visa petitions (I-140 petitions) while also providing stability and job flexibility to these workers. The proposed rule will increase the ability of such workers to further their careers by accepting promotions, making position changes with current employers, changing employers, and pursuing other employment opportunities.
…  To improve job portability for certain beneficiaries of approved I-140 petitions by limiting the grounds for automatic revocation of petition approval
…  To clarify when individuals may keep their priority date to use when applying for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence, including when USCIS has revoked the approval of their approved I 140 petitions because the employer withdrew the petition or because the employer’s business shut down.
…  To allow certain high-skilled individuals in the United States in E-3, H-1B, H-1B1, L-1, or O-1 nonimmigrant status to apply for one year of unrestricted employment authorization if they:

1.         Are the beneficiaries of an approved I-140 petition,

2.         Remain unable to adjust status due to visa unavailability, and

3.         Can demonstrate that compelling circumstances exist which justify issuing an employment authorization document.

Such employment authorization may only be renewed in limited circumstances.

…  To clarify various policies and procedures related to the adjudication of H-1B petitions, including, among other things, extensions of status, determining cap exemptions and counting workers under the H-1B visa cap, H-1B portability, licensure requirements, clarification concerning which H-1B nonimmigrants are exempt from the statutory cap to ensure that those who are contributing to US research and the education of Americans may remain in the USA; and protections for whistleblowers.
…  To establish a one-time grace period during an authorized validity period of up to 60 days for certain high-skilled nonimmigrant workers whenever their employment ends so that they may more readily pursue new employment and an extension of their nonimmigrant status.

These proposed changes do not take effect with the publication of the notice of proposed rulemaking. Instead, they would take effect on the date indicated in the final rule when the final rule is published in the Federal Register.  Here is the proposed rule.  To submit comments, follow the instructions.  You may submit comments, identified by DHS Docket No. USCIS-2015-0008, by one of the following methods:

Federal eRulemaking Portal: You may submit comments to USCIS by visiting http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.  By email: You may submit comments directly to USCIS by emailing them to: USCISFRComment@dhs.gov. Please include DHS Docket No. USCIS-2015-0008 in the subject line of the message.

The Department of Labor:  Modernizing the Permanent Labor Certification Program (PERM)

DOL is engaging in rule making that will consider options to modernize the PERM program to be more compatible to changes in the US workforce, to further align the program design with the objectives of the US immigration system and the needs of workers and employers, and to enhance the integrity of the labor certification process.  This is not expected to be proposed until April 2016.

 

 

OSC & ICE Publish Guidance to Employers on Internal I-9 Audits

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image12707143

The Department of Justice’s Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have issued a six-page joint Guidance for Employers Conducting Internal Form I-9 Audits that can be viewed here:  http://www.justice.gov/crt/file/798276/download

This guidance is a result of a six-month intra-agency initiative to foster greater cooperation across government agencies in the I-9 audit space. The group overseeing this initiative, entitled the Interagency Working Group for the Consistent Enforcement of Federal Labor, Employment and Immigration Laws, is tasked with improving the effectiveness of investigations by ICE and the OSC.

For more

 

 

Details on the Proposed STEM OPT Rule

Sunday, October 25th, 2015

Passport immigration stampReports are that DHS has begun circulation of one of Obama’s employment-based executive actions which is also in response to a judge’s order that struck down the existing STEM OPT program for a lack of a notice & commenting period with the issuance of the 2008 interim rule.  The public will have 30 days (until November 18) to comment on the proposed rule.  You can view the notice in the Federal Register here

The Rule will make several changes to the F-1 STEM OPT program.  Most importantly, the STEM OPT extensions would increase from 17 to 24 months.

The new rule adds both additional benefits and employer requirements for all individuals and companies utilizing OPT.  Here is an excellent summary of the proposed changes as posted on ILW.com.

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Immigration Compliance Group provides US inbound immigration services to individuals and employers throughout the USA and abroad. We specialize in business immigration and have a depth of experience in the IT, healthcare, arts, entertainment and sports industries, among others. Our services include complex business visas for investors, multinational managers, skilled professionals, outstanding individuals of high achievement (O-1, P visas, EB-1 and EB-2 Exceptional Ability cases) and PERM Labor Certification. Our doors are always open for new clients — we extend a 20% discount on the first case with our firm.  Contact us at info@immigationcompliancegroup.com or call 562 612.3996.  Follow up on Twitter (@immigration_biz) Google Plus and check out our groups on LinkedIn:  I-9E-Verify: Smart Solutions for Employers and Immigration InFocus News.

DOS/USCIS’ Lame Attempt at ‘streamlining'(?) the Immigrant Visa Process

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

Immigration_dreamstime_xs_5361678 (2)Stakeholders are outraged by the most recent development with the so-called streamlining of the allocation of immigrant visas that are published monthly in the Department of State’s (DOS) Visa Bulletin.

Unless otherwise indicated on the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo,
individuals seeking to file applications for adjustment of status with USCIS in the Department of Homeland Security must use the “Application Final Action Dates” charts in the Visa Bulletin for determining when they can file such applications. When USCIS determines that there are more immigrant visas available for the fiscal year than there are known applicants for such visas, USCIS will state on its website that applicants may instead use the “Dates for Filing Visa Applications” charts in the Bulletin.  The USCIS website statement is supposed to be posted within one week of the Visa Bulletin publish date.

Applicants for adjustment of status may refer to USCIS for additional information by visiting www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo.  USCIS has indicated on their website (above link) that that you may use the Dates for Filing Visa Applications chart for the corrected October 2015 and November 2015 Visa Bulletins.

Something has absolutely got to change here.  This has reached a level of complete and utter absurdity.

Refer here for November filing date information.

For background information on this issue, refer here