The tilt in this Administration towards harsh immigration measures is well known because of high profile moves like the travel bans and the separation and incarceration of parents and young children from Central America who have sought safety in the U.S.  But a series of seemingly less significant steps that have largely flown under the radar of public notice have even bigger consequences for the fate of legal immigrants.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of immigrants who are in the U.S. legally file applications for new or different types of immigration benefits.  Up until now, if U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had questions about an application, or thought the application was missing a piece of evidence, it would send a request for additional information, giving the applicant a chance to supplement his visa application.  If USCIS ultimately denied the application, the agency sent the applicant a letter telling him that his application has been denied, informing the applicant of his appeal rights, and telling him that, if he has no other legal immigration status to fall back on, he should leave the country.

Continue Reading Does USCIS Want to Turn Lawful Immigrants into Unlawful, Removable Immigrants? The Answer it seems, is “Yes”

Effective immediately, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will resume premium processing for select cap-exempt H-1B petitions. Cap-exempt petitioners who are eligible for premium processing can file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, along with the filing fee of $1,225.  

Such petitioners include: 

  • An institution of higher education;
  • A nonprofit related to or affiliated with an institution of higher education; and
  • A nonprofit research or governmental research organization.

Premium processing will also resume for petitions where the beneficiary will be employed at a qualifying cap-exempt institution, organization or entity. 

USCIS will make future additional announcements regarding resuming the premium processing for additional H-1B petitions. Please contact your Mintz Levin immigration attorney with any questions.

On July 17, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published another revised version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. It will be mandatory for employers to use this new version of the form commencing September 18, 2017. Until September 18, employers may use either the new version I-9 with a revision date of 07/17/17 or the prior edition, which has a revision date of 11/14/16.

Although there are no revisions to the fillable portions of the form, there are changes to the Instructions to Form I-9 and the List of Acceptable Documents on Form I-9, specifically:

  • The I-9 Instructions reflect the name change of the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices to its new name, Immigrant and Employee Rights Section.
  • The new form removes “the end of” from the phrase “the end of the first day of employment” in the instructions part for completion of Section 1.
  • The Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240) was added as a List C acceptable document. 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.
  • In addition, the List of Acceptable Documents combines all of 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 (instead of being listed separately as #2 for Form FS-545 and #3 for Form DS-1350 on the prior version of the list).
  • Due to the above changes, please note that items were renumbered. 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. The SSN card remained the same number as it continues to be the first item on List C.

Moreover, all of these changes were also made in the revised Handbook for Employers: Guidance for Completing Form I-9 (M-274). Thus, a new edition of the Handbook is available and it promises to be easier for users to navigate.

To see USCIS’s news release regarding its Form I-9 update, please visit its website. Mintz Levin’s attorneys stand ready to assist our clients with any questions regarding the new Form I-9

The U.S. and worldwide entrepreneur community had been looking forward to July 17th with great anticipation.  This was supposed to be the effective date of the new International Entrepreneur Parole immigration regulation.  This refreshing and innovative immigration option for foreign entrepreneurs would solve an enormous problem in the U.S. immigration system: the non-existence of a visa for start-ups founded by or being driven by talented foreign nationals.  Yet on July 11, 2017 the Department of Homeland Security published a notice in the Federal Register seeking comments on its desire to rescind the rule.

This entrepreneur parole process would not have been a cakewalk for applicants:  only those who could meet the stringent requirements associated with it would be able qualify (to be approved, entrepreneurs would have to own at least 10% of the enterprise and would have to have raised significant capital from established U.S. investors or government grants).  Applications would be very strictly reviewed, and only applicants who clearly qualified and passed required government background checks would be approved for this temporary status.

Yet despite the strict criteria, the entrepreneur community was delighted that the U.S. government (during the Obama administration) had finally rolled out an immigration solution to the enormous talent crisis facing the U.S. technology sector.

The technology industry is fueled in large part by immigration.  As of January, 2016 immigrants had started more than half (44 of 87) of America’s start-up companies valued at $1 billion dollars or more and are key members of management or product development teams in over 70 percent (62 or 87) of these companies.* Immigrants play vital roles in the technology industry in job creation, innovation and leadership.

Continue Reading Opportunity Foreclosed: The International Entrepreneur Parole Rule May Die Before it Gets Out of the Gate

On June 26, 2017, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) introduced a redesigned version of Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This form is used in the final stage of the permanent residence, or “green card,” process for most applicants physically present in the United States.

There is a 60-day grace period during which USCIS will accept either the new version or the older version of the form, which bears an edition date of 01/17/17. Beginning August 25, 2017, however, only the new form, bearing an edition date of 06/26/2017, will be accepted.

To read our full alert, click here.

This post originally appeared on the Mintz Levin EB-5 Matters Blog

USCIS updated its online list of terminated EB-5 regional centers on October 22, 2015. In the coming two months, regional centers are required to comply with the requirement to file their Forms I-924A in order to update USCIS on relevant job creating activity over the past year. We expect that USCIS will terminate more regional centers in the next six months where there are credibility issues over data supplied by regional centers in these filings, or where regional centers simply fail to update the agency through filing a Form I-924A. It would be fully within the realm of reasonable expectations to see at least 100 or more terminations initiated within the coming year. As USCIS uses more resources to tighten up administration of the EB-5 regional center program, and with lawmakers looking closely at the program, dormant or non-compliant regional centers may find their designations revoked.

Continue Reading Don’t End Up on a USCIS List of Terminated EB-5 Regional Centers: Be Creative and on Time with your I-924A Filing

Last week USCIS issued guidance stating that it will advise which of the two visa bulletin charts; Dates for Filing Visa Applications or Application Final Action Date applicants should use.

Today, USCIS released it’s first update on its new visa bulletin website stating that applicants CAN use the new “Dates for Filing” chart in October and November.

Unlike for the October visa bulletin, no changes have been made to the visa bulletin dates after the original publication.

USCIS announced today that it will:

“suspend final adjudication of employment-based Form I-485 applications… because the Department of State reports that the statutory cap has been reached for the employment-based preference categories for fiscal year (FY) 2015.”

However, this is not something to panic about.

As my colleague Michele Frangella wrote about in August, the end of the government’s fiscal year is September 30th. As of today, all available employment-based green cards have been used up so there are no more green card numbers for USCIS to access to approve cases for the next 6 days.  Once the new fiscal year starts on October 1st, they will again have green card numbers officially available. It doesn’t impact eligibility to continue to file I-485 applications based on Visa Bulletin guidance, including those cases newly eligible to file October 1st.

 

In July 2015, the White House announced a series of technology initiatives aimed at modernizing the application process for certain immigration benefits.  As part of this effort, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) was charged with overhauling their Electronic Immigration System (ELIS).  First released in 2009, ELIS was an aspirational response to meet the growing demand for web-based applications for immigration benefits.  The proposed goal of ELIS was to provide a faster and more reliable adjudication process, however, instead of improved efficiency; a July 2014 audit conducted by the Office of Inspector General concluded that ELIS actually slowed the adjudication of applications by almost 50%. Continue Reading At the edge of a new frontier: USCIS begins transition to Electronic Immigration System