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Posts Tagged ‘Immigration News’

California Immigrant Worker Protection Act (AB 450) Implements Employer Fees & Penalties

Monday, February 19th, 2018

Searching for a Niche Group - Magnifying GlassThis new California law imposes significant fines and penalties between $2,000 and $10,000 per violation on employers or any persons acting on behalf of employers who voluntarily consent to informal inspection demands and site visits by immigration officials. The new law requires employers to refuse entry to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) agents or other unspecified “immigration enforcement officials” who request access to non-public areas of the employer’s worksite or who seek to inspect the employer’s records, unless the federal officials present the employer with a valid subpoena or judicial warrant.

An example of providing “voluntary” consent to enter a nonpublic area could be freely asking or inviting an immigration enforcement agent to enter that area. This could be indicated by words and/or by the act of freely opening doors to that area for the agent, for instance.

It is seriously clear that this needs to be a training point for all employees that interact with outside visitors to the office.  We also recommend that actual policy be implemented by California employers and documented in employee handbooks and manuals with very specific processes and procedures to outlined to follow.

The California Labor Commission and Attorney General have released the following guidance and FAQs to assist employers in complying with the law.

Immigration Compliance Group are experts in US business-related immigration and Form I-9 Employer Compliance issues.

 

 

New Year brings new immigration and employment laws for California

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

NEWS_dreamstime_s_36930151 (2)Starting January 1, 2018, a variety of new laws will go into effect for California – immigration, employment, marijuana, and more.  We will focus on the new employment and immigration laws.

Employment – Minimum wage: The minimum wage is going up to $11/hour for businesses that employ 26 or more employees, thus the minimum annual salary for exempt employees under California law will increase from $43,680 to $45,760.  For California employees of employers with 25 employees or less, the minimum wage will increase from $10 per hour to $10.50 per hour. Thus, for employers with 25 employees or less, the minimum annual salary for exempt employees under California law will increase from $41,600 to $43,680.  Please refer to the attached for more on the new Parent Leave Act, new employer hiring practices, harrassment prevention training, and more.

Immigration and I-9 Eligibility Checks:  AB 450 – Restrictions on Employer Cooperation with Federal Immigration Enforcement Authorities and I-9 Eligibility Checks

AB 450 creates four new provisions, two in the Government Code and two in the Labor Code. The new law bars employers from giving consent to immigration enforcement officers without a warrant to enter any non-public areas of the workplace, except as required by federal law. Only the Labor Commissioner or the California Attorney General may enforce this provision.

In a statement accompanying introduction of the bill, the author stated:

“Trump’s threats of massive deportations are spreading fear among California workers, families, and employers.  AB 450 declares California’s determination to protect our economy and the people who are working hard to contribute to our communities and raise their families in dignity.  I’m proud to author this legislation which goes beyond California’s existing defense of immigrants to offer new legal protections for individuals in our workplaces.  At the same time, AB 450 offers employers clarity about what to do when ICE agents target their places of business with indiscriminate raids.”

Further, employers may not voluntarily consent to immigration enforcement officials’ warrantless or non-subpoenaed requests to access, view or obtain the employer’s employee records, except as authorized by federal law. This prohibition does not apply to I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification forms or other forms for which a Notice of Inspection has been provided. Within 72 hours of receiving a Notice of Inspection, an employer must provide each current employee notice of the inspection.  Employers must also provide notices to each “current affected employee” — defined as those who are “identified by the immigration agency inspection results to be an employee who may lack work authorization, or an employee whose work authorization documents have been identified by the immigration agency inspection to have deficiencies.” This notice must be provided to the affected employee by hand within 72 hours of the employer’s receipt of a written immigration agency notice containing the results of any I-9 or employment record inspection. Additionally, employers may not re-verify the employment eligibility of a current employee at a time or in a manner not required by federal law.  These new provisions carry with them fines and civil penalties ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 for the first violation and $5,000 to $10,000 for subsequent violations.

For more information on other laws going into effect in California s of January 1, 2018, refer here

Should you wish more information concerning Form I-9 Employer Compliance, visit our Employer Resource Center

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

Thursday, 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

Saturday, 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

Friday, 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

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

 

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

Thursday, 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

 

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

What to Know About the H-1B Cap Gap

Wednesday, 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

Tuesday, 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.