Biden Administration Extends Resettlement Options for Afghans Fleeing Taliban and Grants 18 Month Temporary Immigration Protection to some Hong Kong Residents in Wake of China’s Crackdown on Hong Kong
Federal Court Orders U.S. Department of Homeland Security to Re-start Accepting Applications for Temporary Work Permits and Status in the U.S. for the Obama – Era DACA Program to Help Undocumented Migrants Who Entered the U.S. as Children, read more
Federal Court Rules That Appointment of Chad Wolf as Acting Director of USCIS Was Unlawful, As a Result, Wolf’s July 2020 Memo Suspending Renewals of DACA Applications for “Dreamers” Was Declared Invalid, read more
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Proposes More Restrictive Time Limits Affecting More Than 1 Million International Students and Exchange Visitors Now at Colleges and Universities in the U.S., read more
Rare “Filing Window” Opens For More Than 100,000 Applicants for Green Cards Legally Sponsored by Employers in the EB-2 and EB-3 Categories: Many Applicants, Facing Multi-Year Quota Backlogs Have Waited In Temporary Work Status for 10 Years or More, read more
Federal Court Issues Permanent National Injunction Barring the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from Enforcing New “Unlawful Presence Rule” Which Could Adversely Affect Many Foreign Students and Thousands of U.S. Colleges and Universities, read more
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Issues Rule Forbidding F-1 Foreign Students to Attend Any U.S. Colleges That Have “On-line Only” Classes in Fall, 2020; Harvard and MIT Sue DHS in Federal Court; On July 14 DHS Backs Down and Fully Rescinds Rule, read more
U.S. Supreme Court Rules Against Administration’s Attempt to End DACA Program Which Provides Temporary Immigration Protection to More Than 600,000 Undocumented Migrants Who Entered the U.S. as Children, read more
Note: New Format as of May 2020
Coronavirus Disruptions to the U.S. Immigration System Continue, including Extended Closure of USCIS Offices for In-person Services and Suspension of Premium Processing
On March 20, 2020, USCIS announced that it was extending the temporary closure of all USCIS offices for in-person services until at least May 3, 2020. USCIS also announced that “Premium Processing” for I-129 temporary work petitions and I-140 permanent work petitions was suspended until further notice. Premium Processing can significantly speed up decision making to 15 days or less instead of 3 to 6 months or more for employment-based temporary and permanent sponsorship petitions.
State Department Announces Temporary Suspension of All Routine Visa Services at All U.S. Embassies and Consulates Worldwide due to COVID-19 Pandemic
Effective March 20, 2020, and continuing until further notice, the U.S. State Department has temporarily suspended all routine services at all U.S. Consulates and Embassies. Services for U.S. Citizens will remain open.
For more from the U.S. State Department, click here. For FAQs about Consular Processing for temporary and permanent visas to the U.S., click here and here.
Due to Coronavirus, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Announces Temporary Changes to I-9 Requirements
On April 3, 2020, the DHS announced temporary flexibility in I-9 requirements for employers in the U.S. who remotely onboard (i.e. complete new I-9s with no face-to-face meeting with the new hire), certain new employees, who will be working remotely or teleworking. All employers in the U.S. are required to timely and properly complete I-9 forms for all newly hired workers working in the U.S.
New Public Charge Screening of Most Immigrant Visa Applicants at All U.S. Consulates Started February 24, 2020
On February 24, 2020 the U.S. Department of State began to enforce the new Public Charge Rules requiring evidence that new immigrants will not become a financial burden on the government. A new State Department Form DS-5540 providing personal income and financial details is now required for most immigrant visa applicants.
Coronavirus Travel Restrictions are Now Global – Countries Around the World are Now Enforcing Travel Restrictions for All People Except Their Own Citizens
As of March 19, 2020, more than 60 countries have put travel restrictions in place for most non-citizens attempting to enter their countries. See link for a country-by-country detailed list from the New York Times.
U.S. State Department New Family-Based Immigration Update
On February 7, 2020 the U.S. State Department announced an important update for the new fully digitized process for Family-Based Immigrant Visas.
Trump Administration Adds Six More Countries to “Travel Ban” List
Donald Trump issued a new Presidential Proclamation on January 31, 2020 extending strict travel restrictions for immigrant visas to nationals of six countries – Nigeria, Eritrea, Sudan, Tanzania, Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan. All six countries have large Muslim populations. The new restrictions go into effect on February 21, 2020.
U.S. Supreme Court Overrules Lower Court Nationwide Injunction Halting Enforcement of the Trump Administration’s New Stricter “Public Charge” Rule. Critics Decry the New Rule as a New “Wealth Test” for Immigrants.
On January 27, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5 to 4 with 5 conservative justices in the majority, to lift a nationwide injunction that temporarily stopped enforcement of the Administration’s new “Public Charge” rules, which will make it harder for many immigrants with low incomes or needs for social benefits, such as housing, medical care or food assistance to qualify for immigrant visas (green cards). The underlying legal challenge to the new “Public Charge” rules remains pending in Federal District Court in New York.
USCIS Announces 84 Countries Eligible for H-2 Temporary Work Visas in 2020
On January 17, 2020, USCIS announced that citizens of 84 countries may be eligible for H-2 temporary work sponsorship in 2020. The H-2A program is for agricultural jobs and the H-2B program is for non-agricultural jobs which are vacant because of a shortage of U.S. workers.
More Than One Million Foreign Students’ Work Permits are at Risk Due to Proposed Restrictions in F-1 OPT Program in 2020
In late 2019, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (known by its acronym ICE) proposed an August 2020 target date to amend the existing regulations authorizing temporary employment authorization for many foreign students attending U.S. colleges and universities. The OPT program is strongly supported by U.S. schools and employers, especially for students with degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math fields.
Increased Filing Fees, Changes in the H-1 Work Visa System, U.S. Supreme Court Decision in the DACA case, and the Border Wall
Many immigration changes are likely in 2020. Some of the hottest issues include a new pre-registration system for H-1 work visas, big filing fee increases for employment-based work permit applications, a likely U.S. Supreme Court decision in the DACA case, and continued efforts by the Trump administration to get funding to build a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Plans Extensive Changes in Immigration Regulations in 2020
DHS recently announced many proposed changes to existing U.S. immigration regulations. (Note: unlike statutory laws, regulation changes do not require approval by the U.S. Congress.) Proposed changes include: 1) more restrictions on H-1 work visas for professionals; 2) cancellation of temporary work permits for spouses of H-1 professionals working in the U.S.; 3) restrictions on L-1 work visas for executives, managers and “specialized knowledge” workers for multi-national companies; 4) new restrictions on work permits for F-1 international students; and, 5) tighter restrictions on required health insurance and financial sponsorship for family-sponsored immigrants.
USCIS Announces Use of New Electronic Pre-Registration System for 2020 H-1 Work Visas
On December 6, 2019, USCIS announced the first ever use of its pilot H-1 electronic pre-registration system. The initial pre-registration period will run from March 1 through March 20, 2020. On December 10, Bloomberg Law reported on many concerns about the new system, including its possible bias in favor of large IT consulting firms and against small businesses.
A Divided U.S. Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Trump Administration’s Move to Rescind DACA Program Benefiting Undocumented Migrants Who Were Brought to the U.S. as Children
On November 12, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the issue of whether the Trump administration’s 2017 decision to rescind the Obama administration’s Executive Action giving temporary work permits and temporary relief from deportation to more than 600,000 undocumented migrants who entered the U.S. as children. Of the nine Justices on the Supreme Court, the five most conservative judges appeared to be leaning in favor of the Trump administration’s move to rescind the program. The Supreme Court is expected to issue its final decision in the DACA case in June in the midst of the 2020 presidential election campaign.
Required Standard Investment Amount for EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Raised from $1 Million to $1.8 Million
Effective November 21, 2019, the minimum required investment amount for EB-5 immigrant investors doubled from $1 million to $1.8 million. Certain qualified high-unemployment areas can qualify for $900,000 minimum investment amounts. In all cases, the investor must also show that ten full-time equivalent jobs have been created for U.S. workers.
Administrative Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and Related Delays Skyrocket at USCIS for Two Leading Work Visa Categories Used by U.S. Employers: H-1 Professionals and L-1 Multinational Transferred Key Employees
Despite no change in U.S. law, the rate of administrative Requests for Evidence issued by USCIS has increased dramatically during the first three years of the Trump Administration. RFEs add significant costs and delay for U.S. employers using the leading temporary work categories H-1 and L-1. During FY 2016 (the last year of the Obama Administration) 20.8% of H-1 petitions were issued RFEs. Under the Trump Administration, RFEs have spiked to over 40% for FY 2019, hitting a peak of 66.1% in November 2018. L-1 RFEs increased from 32.1% in FY 2016 to 54.3% in FY 2019. For details from USCIS, click here.
Read FAQs on H-1
Read FAQs on L-1
President Rolls Out Controversial New “Public Charge” Policy Requiring Millions of People Including Students, Visitors and Legal Immigrants to Provide Extra Proof of “Ability to Pay” Medical Expenses. Seven Days Later Three Federal Courts Issue Orders to Stop the New Policy
On October 4, 2019, President Trump issued a new proclamation, effective November 3, 2019, that together with a new “public charge” regulation set to take effect on October 15 would deny temporary visas and green cards to millions of immigrants, foreign students and temporary visitors to the U.S. unless they can prove they have adequate health insurance or the ability to pay medical costs. The new policy referred to as the “Public Charge” rule, if strictly applied, could prevent more than 60% of legal immigrants from getting green cards. On Friday, October 11, three different Federal Courts in New York, Washington State and San Francisco issued orders stopping the implementation of the new “public charge” policy. For a copy of the Presidential proclamation, click here.
Foreign Student Visa Approvals for Study in the U.S. Down Over 40% in 2018
According to a recent U.S. State Department report, the total number of F-1 student visas issued worldwide by U.S. consulates plunged from 677,928 in FY 2015 to 389,579 in FY 2018 (a drop of over 40%). Many international university students are going to schools in other countries instead of the U.S. because of increased denial rates by the U.S. and a growing perception that the U.S. no longer welcomes immigrants.
Federal Reserve Bank President Says Limits on Immigration May Slow Growth of U.S. Economy
Chicago Federal Reserve Bank President, Charles Evans, says that the Trump Administration’s policies restricting trade and immigration could cut the U.S. economic growth rate in half from 3% per year to just 1.5%.
Employers Permitted to Use the Current Version of I-9 Form – Even After the August 31, 2019 Expiration Date
On August 27, 2019, USCIS announced that employers may continue to use the current I-9 Form “Employment Eligibility Verification” even after the 08/31/2019 expiration date, until further notice. USCIS also offers a free I-9 webinar to employers (get details through links below).
USCIS Changes Scheduling System for In-Person Appointments at Local USCIS Offices
Many USCIS offices have already started using the new system named “InfoMod”. USCIS plans to convert all USCIS local field offices to the new system by September 30, 2019. The new system requires all people seeking an in-person appointment to start by calling the “USCIS Contact Center” at 1.800.375.5283 and follow the interactive voice response system directions. After “InfoMod” is fully implemented, walk-in appointments may no longer be available.
U.S. Supreme Court Blocks White House Attempt to Add Citizenship Question to 2020 Census Forms (Critics Feared Millions of People Would be Frightened to Complete the Forms Because of the Newly Added Question)
On June 27, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against the Trump Administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census forms, finding that the administration’s justification for adding the question was “inadequate” and “appears to have been contrived”. Many critics of the question feared that the question could result in an undercount of the U.S. population by more than 6 million people causing states including California, Florida, Arizona, Texas and Illinois to lose seats in the U.S. Congress and billions of dollars of federal benefits that are allocated by law based on population formulas.
USCIS Begins Closing International Offices in More Than 20 Countries – Closures of Offshore USCIS Offices Expected to Result in Slower and More Difficult Processing of Many Immigration Applications
This summer, USCIS will begin closing all of its offices outside the U.S. The existing USCIS offices, in more than 20 countries, provide logistical assistance to U.S. citizens, permanent residents and refugees with resettlement and family reunification. Military families and U.S. parents adopting foreign children will be especially affected.
Social Security Administration (SSA) Mails “No-Match Letters” to More than 570,000 U.S. Employers; Employers Uncertain How to Respond
In March 2019, the SSA notified more than 570,000 U.S. employers that SSA records show that millions of listed employees have names that do no match their listed Social Security numbers. The SSA discontinued sending so called “no-match letters” to employers in 2012. It appears that this new flood of “no-match letters” is in response to the President’s Executive Order “Buy American, Hire American”. Many employers, especially those in the construction, agriculture and hospitality industries, have been affected. The notices call for a response in 60 days. Many employers are uncertain how to respond. Contact us for advice.
Federal Appeals Court Rules that Trump Administration’s Termination of DACA Program was “Unlawful, Arbitrary and Capricious”
On May 17,the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Trump administration, finding that the DHS decision to rescind the DACA program was unlawful and a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. The DACA program provides temporary relief to certain undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children. A federal Court Order that the DACA program must stay in effect remains in place for now. The battle over DACA in the courts is likely to continue. A further appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court by the Trump administration is expected.
From The New York Times,read Federal Appeals Court Rules Against Trump on Ending DACA
And from The Hill, read Appeals court rules Trump end of DACA was unlawful
New Kushner/Trump Plan for Immigration Law Changes Unveiled – Proposal Draws Criticism from Many Democrats and Some Republicans, Legislative Prospects Doubtful
On March 16, the White House published its latest proposal for major changes in U.S. immigration laws. The plan includes increases in enforcement and border security and a proposed switch to a “merit-based” selection system for employment-based immigrants (similar to “points-based” systems used in Australia and Canada). The plan was declared “dead on arrival” by Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) and declared “not a serious bill” by conservative commentator Ann Coulter. The current consensus view gives the proposal no chance of being passed by the Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.
From The Hill, read The Memo: Trump’s new immigration plan finds few friends
Also, from Politico, read Trump’s new immigration plan may be DOA — but it’s really about 2020
and The New York Times, read Trump Says ‘Good Chance’ Democrats Will Back His Immigration, Border Plan
H-1B Work Visa Cap is Reached in 5 Days – No More New Quota-Subject H-1B Work Visas Available Until 2020
USCIS received 201,011 new petitions from employers for H-1B work visas to become effective October 1, 2019. By Congressional mandate, only 85,000 new cap-subject H-1B petitions are permitted each fiscal year. “Winners” of the H-1B work visa lottery were selected randomly by computer for further processing and adjudication. The H-1 is the most commonly used temporary work visa for newly-hired professional workers. H-1 workers are generally required to have at least a four-year university degree in a specific field and a job offer that requires such a degree. Also, on March 29, USCIS announced that premium processing will begin for certain H-1 lottery cases on May 20. If the premium processing form (Form I-907) and the required $1,410 fee were included with the original H-1 lottery petition, then premium processing will start on May 20. For more details from USCIS, click here and here. For FAQ’s about H-1 work visas, click here
From USCIS, USCIS Reaches FY 2019 H-1B Cap
White House Advisor Jared Kushner Outlines New Administration Immigration Plan for Changes to Legal Immigration System
On April 24, presidential advisor and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner revealed an outline of the Trump administration’s plans to change U.S. laws for work visas and employment-based green cards. Kushner has been designated by the President to lead development of a proposal for a new U.S. immigration policy for legal immigration. It appears that the proposal may slightly increase the number of work visas for highly-skilled workers and for some seasonal guest-workers needed by U.S. agriculture. Changes to the system for employment-based green card sponsorship may include proposals for a “points-based” selection system modeled on the Canadian and Australian immigration process.
From CNN, read Here’s Kushner’s immigration plan as it stands
Qualified Israeli Nationals are Eligible to Apply for E-2 Treaty Investor Status in the U.S. Beginning May 1
The E-2 work visa category is often used by entrepreneurs and by large and small companies to sponsor key investors, executives, managers and “essential skills” employees to work in the U.S. for a qualified E-2 enterprise.
From USCIS, read Frequently Asked Questions About E-2 Temporary Work Status
New American Bar Association (ABA) Report Says U.S. Immigration Court System is on the “Brink of Collapse” – Calls for New System of Independent Judges and Courts
On March 20, the ABA issued a new report on “Reforming the Immigration System” declaring that U.S. immigration courts are “irredeemably dysfunctional”. The report cites backlogs that have grown from 262,000 cases in 2010 to more than 800,000 cases in 2019. The ABA makes more than 100 recommendations to reform the immigration court system and calls for Congress to establish truly independent judges instead of Justice Department administrative judges.
USCIS Alters Form for Change of Immigration Status – Only the New I-539 Can Be Used Starting March 11, 2019
On February 11, 2019, USCIS announced that as of March 11, 2019 it will only accept the new version of Form I-539 (the most often used form to apply for a change of nonimmigrant status, such as switching from B-2 visitor to F-1 student). NOTE: The new version of Form I-539 will not be published until March 11, 2019!
For details, read USCIS to Publish Revised Form I-539 and New Form I-539A
USCIS Moves to Eliminate Work Authorization for H-4 Spouses of H-1B Professionals
On February 20, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) submitted a proposed rule change that would eliminate temporary work permits for the H-4 spouses of certain H-1B workers who are waiting in a multi-year backlog for green cards. More than 90,000 H-4 spouses of H-1B professional workers are benefiting from the existing temporary work permits. The long delays in completing the legal green card process are caused by Congressionally-mandated immigrant visa quota backlogs. The primary beneficiaries of H-4 work permits have been spouses of engineers, IT professionals, physicians, professors, researchers and other professionals from India and China.
For details from NBC News, read After long wait, U.S. moves forward with proposal to end work permits for spouses of H-1B visa holders The rule change would strip the employment authorization from some who are on track for green cards.
Time is Running Out to Apply for New H-1B Work Visas for 2019!
- The H-1B work visa is the most commonly used work visa for newly hired professionals (Bachelor’s degree and above).
- Only 85,000 new cap-subject H-1B work visas are available for all of 2019.
- This year the entire quota for all of 2018 was used just in the first week of April.
After the 2019 H-1B quota is reached, there will be no new cap-subject H-1B work sponsorships available until October 1, 2020. If you have any questions about the H-1B visa category or wish to obtain assistance with applying for any new H-1B work visas, please email us or call us no later than February 15, 2019 at 612.321.0082.
Interested employers should start now in preparing new H-1B petitions for foreign workers, including computer/IT professionals, engineers, scientists, financial analysts, researchers, professors, teachers, accountants, managers, architects, doctors, nurses and many other eligible professionals. The window for H-1B petition filings opens on April 1, 2019, but it takes time to prepare a well-documented H-1B petition for submission. We recommend starting preparation of the petition well in advance to meet the filing deadline and to avoid disappointment.
U.S. Issued 17% Fewer Student Visas in 2017 than in 2016. “Trump Effect” and Increased Competition from Australian and Canadian Universities Cited as Factors Hurting International Student Enrollment at U.S. Universities
In January, the New York Times magazine reported that fewer foreign students are coming to study in the U.S. The drop began in 2016 and doubled in 2017. Students from China have been especially affected.
For details from the New York Times, read One of America’s Most Vital Exports, Education, Never Goes Abroad, but It Still Faces Threats
Government Shutdown Dramatically Worsens Record Immigration Court Backlogs – More than 800,000 Pending Cases, Some Already Waiting more than 4 Years for a “Day in Court”
The 35-day partial shutdown of the U.S. government had an especially adverse effect on backlogs in U.S. Immigration Courts. Thousands of hearing dates had to be canceled and rescheduled to the next available hearing date, which in many cases will not be until 2023. San Antonio, Chicago, Houston and Denver have the longest delays.
For more details from CBS News, read Government shutdown closes immigration courts adding to record-high 800,000 case backlog
From the New York Times, read Government Shutdown May Turn a Day in Court Into a Four-Year Wait
2018 Polls Show Majority of Americans Want Compromise on the Border Wall Issue and 75% Say “Immigration is Good for the Country”
A December poll by HarrisX found that 56% of U.S. voters support a compromise in Congress on immigration, including both a path to citizenship for undocumented children and increased wall and border security funding. Earlier in 2018, Gallup reported that an all-time record high 75% of Americans believe “immigration is good for the country.”
For details from The Hill, read Majority say they support immigration compromise, poll shows
From the The Economist, read America is friendlier to foreigners than headlines suggest
U.S. Department of Labor Requires All Employers to Use New Labor Condition Application (LCA) Form for All New H-1 Work Sponsorships Effective November 19, 2018
On November 8, 2018, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced that starting November 19, 2018, all employers sponsoring H-1 temporary specialty occupations workers must use the newly revised version of the LCA Form ETA 9035. For a copy of the new form and the DOL announcement
In Election Aftermath, Trump Threatens a Partial Government Shutdown on December 7th if Congress Does Not Fund His Border Wall
While negotiations continue between House and Senate leaders to avoid a government shutdown over border wall funding, prospects of a bipartisan solution remain uncertain. A significant obstacle appears to be lack of money. There may simply not be enough Republican or Democratic votes to support Trump’s multi-billion dollar wall funding demands. For more from Politico, The Hill, The New York Times and the LA Times, click here, here, here and here.
Employer Alert: Consider Using “Premium Processing” Option to Expedite Work Visas
For many temporary and permanent visa petitions, the USCIS offers a way to speed up processing by paying a “Premium Processing” fee of $1,410. Currently many temporary and permanent visa petitions have processing backlogs of 3-6 months or longer. Using Premium Processing, USCIS promises to review the petition within 15 calendar days. For more about the “Premium Processing” option from USCIS, click here and here
Frustrated Legal “Green Card” Holders, Who Have “Followed All the Rules”, Now Face Government Delays of up to Two Years to Get U.S. Citizenship
The long waits to complete the process of obtaining U.S. citizenship have gotten much longer under the Trump Administration. The primary benefits of U.S. citizenship are the right to vote and to have a U.S. passport. During 2016 and prior years, processing delays in most states ranged from 6-12 months. Critics say the increased delays are an indirect method of voter suppression. For more from the Associated Press, click here. For FAQs about U.S. Citizenship/Naturalization, click here.
Trump and Many Republican Candidates Focus Message on Border Security and Immigration Fears in Final Days Before November 6 Midterm Election
As the midterm election approaches, Trump has doubled-down on his anti-immigration message to his political base, decrying undocumented migrants approaching the southern border and calling for harsher enforcement of immigration rules. Many Democratic candidates for Congress have instead focused on healthcare, the economy and the equal treatment of men and women as issues of greater concern to midterm voters. For more details from CNN, click here; from the Washington Post, click here; from the New York Times, click here; from Reuters, click here; and from USA Today, click here.
In September 2018 (for Only the Second Time on Record) Half of Undocumented Entrants on the Southern Border were Children or Families
The U.S. Border Patrol reported that in September 2018, more than half of the people detained at the U.S. – Mexico border were children or families, instead of single adults. This is only the second time since the government began keeping records that families and children outnumbered single adults seeking to enter the U.S. without documents. Fewer undocumented migrants are now coming from Mexico and more are coming from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. For more from Vox, click here.
2020 Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery (DV-2020) is now in progress. Link to entry available at www.greencard.com
Alert for All Employers: Watch for New Round of Social Security Administration (SSA) “No-Match” Letters
The SSA plans to start sending “no-match” letters to U.S. employers who have submitted information to SSA that does not match SSA databases of names and social security numbers. SSA had stopped sending the letters to employers in 2012. Any employer who receives a “no-match” letter may wish to contact their employment lawyer or immigration lawyer.
For more details from Bloomberg Law, read Mismatched SSNs Could Pave New Path for Immigration Enforcement
U.S. Companies Say Trump Harms Business by Creating Bureaucratic Road Blocks to Limit Legal International Workers – Affected Employers Include Hospitals, Hotels, Technology Companies – (Non-Partisan Group Finds a 41% Increase in Denial Rate for H-1 Professional Work Visa Petitions in 2017)
A recent analysis of government data by the National Foundation for American Policy, a non-partisan research group, found that the denial rate for H-1B professional-level work visa petitions increased dramatically under the Trump Administration rising 41% in the last quarter of fiscal year 2017. The H-1B category is the most commonly-used work visa for newly-hired professional-level international workers such as engineers, physicians, teachers, researchers, executives and managers. Many of the denials appear to be for straight-forward renewal applications involving the same employer, same job and same employee as previously approved.
For more from the New York Times, read Companies Say Trump Is Hurting Business by Limiting Legal Immigration
From National Public Radio (NPR), read High-Skilled Immigrants Call Out The Trump Administration’s ‘Hypocrisy’
From Bloomberg Law, read Immigration Policies Weigh on Indian Workers Seeking Green Cards
New Trump Policy, Effective September 11, Allows Immigration Agency to Summarily Deny Visa Petitions and Green Card Applications With No Chance to Fix Errors
In a significant change from a decades-long government policy, a new USCIS Policy Guidance, effective September 11, 2018, permits USCIS adjudicators to deny an application or petition without first issuing a “Request for Evidence” or “Notice of Intent to Deny” to give the applicant an opportunity to fix what may be a simple filing error by submitting an explanation or additional evidence.
For more from the Miami Herald, read Be careful with your green card or visa application. A mistake can now get you deported
For a copy of the new Policy Memo from USCIS, read Issuance of Certain RFEs and NOIDs; Revisions to Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) Chapter 10.5(a), Chapter 10.5(b)
Trump Administration Proposes New Rule to Block Visas and Green Cards for Migrants If They or Their Household Members have Used Medicaid, Food Stamps or Housing Aid
On September 22, 2018, the Trump Administration proposed a new 447 page immigration rule intended to reduce the use of many public benefits by prospective immigrants and members of their households. In some cases, even receipt of benefits by household members could result in a denial of green cards or visas to non-citizens.
The new Department of Homeland Security rule entitled “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” is now undergoing a 60-day public comment period before a final rule is issued. The Kaiser Family Foundation says an earlier version of the new rule could adversely affect nearly 20 million children in immigrant families. Almost 90% of the affected children could be U.S. citizens.
For more details from the New York Times, read Trump Administration Aims to Sharply Restrict New Green Cards for Those on Public Aid
U.S. Foreign-Born Population at Highest Level Since 1910 (Recent Arrivals Mostly From Asia); Also New Report Shows Immigrants Accounted for Two-Thirds of U.S. Economic Growth Since 2011
A new Brookings Institution analysis of recent U.S. Census Data shows the U.S. foreign-born population at 13.7% in 2017 (44.5 million people). Other highlights of the report include: 41% of new arrivals since 2010 are from Asia and 39% are from Latin America. About 45% are college-educated compared with just 30% of people who came to the U.S. from 2000 to 2009.
A new report from Citigroup and Oxford University finds that two-thirds of U.S. GDP Growth since 2011 was “directly attributable to migration” to the U.S. and that cuts to immigration would hurt economic growth and slow innovation.
For more from the New York Times, read U.S. Has Highest Share of Foreign-Born Since 1910, With More Coming From Asia
From National Geographic, read Asian-Americans Make Up Most of the New U.S. Immigrant Population
U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Issues New Overview of I-9 Inspection and Enforcement Process Against Non-Compliant U.S. Employers
Since November 6, 1986, all U.S. employers have been required to verify the identity and employment authorization of all newly-hired employees, including U.S. citizens. An employer’s failure to comply with the I-9 rules can result in substantial fines and even criminal penalties.
For details from the Department of Homeland Security, read Form I-9 Inspection Overview
Under Trump Administration, Already Long Waits for Legal Green Card Holders to Become Citizens Get Much Longer; Trump Also Plans New Rule That Could Further Delay or Prevent up to 20 Million Permanent Residents Becoming U.S. Citizens
In 2014, it took the average naturalization applicant about 5 months to complete the citizenship process. Now, in some areas of the U.S. including Washington, D.C., delays can exceed 16 months. NBC News also reports that the Trump administration plans to issue a new rule that could further delay or prevent more than 20 million Lawful Permanent Resident immigrants (also known as “green card” holders) from obtaining U.S. citizenship based on past legal use of certain public benefits for themselves or U.S. citizen members of their households.
This new restriction, delaying or preventing millions of Lawful Permanent Residents from obtaining U.S. citizenship using the existing process that has been in place for more than 60 years, is being promoted by White House Senior Adviser, Stephen Miller, as part of a plan to drastically reduce the number of legal immigrants to the U.S. and to reduce the number of new U.S. citizens. The proposal is controversial. If implemented as planned, it could be the “biggest change to the legal immigration system in decades” and may not require any Congressional approval.
For more from NBC News, read Now the Trump administration wants to limit citizenship for legal immigrants
From the Washington Post, read Under Trump, there’s a growing wait to become a U.S. citizen
CEO’s of Top U.S. Employers (Including Apple, IBM, JPMorgan Chase, and PepsiCo) Push Trump to Ease Immigration Restrictions on High-Skilled Workers; CEO’s Say Trump’s Immigration Policy Threatens the Whole U.S. Economy
In a letter sent August 22, 2018 from the CEO members of the Business Round-table addressed to Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the business leaders decried the sharp increase in delays, requests for additional evidence and denials of H-1B professional work visa petitions under the Trump administration.
The H-1B is the most frequently used U.S. work visa for employers sponsoring professional level and highly skilled workers. Read Frequently Asked Questions About H-1B Temporary Work Status
For details from the New York Times, read Top C.E.O.s Denounce Trump Immigration Policy as Threat to U.S. Economy
From CNN, read Over dinner, CEOs press Trump on Immigration
USCIS Issues New Policy Imposing Harsh Penalties on F-1 and J-1 International Students and Scholars for Violations of Newly Redefined, Complex “Immigration Status” Rules
Effective August 9, 2018, USCIS issued a new Policy Memorandum redefining what it considered “unlawful presence” in the U.S. for F-1, J-1 and M-1 visa holders. F, J and M are the most commonly used visa categories for foreign students studying in the U.S. and for post-doctoral researchers at U.S. colleges and universities, and international medical residents and fellows. The new penalties could cause many F, J and M students, researchers and scholars to become ineligible for certain non-immigrant benefits and may cause them to become inadmissible to the U.S. if they fail to strictly comply with the complex “maintenance of status” immigration regulations that apply to them.
For more from Bloomberg Law, read Government Cracking Down on Student Visa Violators
For more details about the new policy from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) read USCIS Issues Revised Final Guidance on Unlawful Presence for Students and Exchange Visitors
and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), read Policy Memorandum: Accrual of Unlawful Presence and F, J, and M Nonimmigrants
USCIS Announces New Stricter Policy for Adjudications of Work Permission Applications, Immigrant Visa Petitions and Other Applications for Immigration Benefits
On July 13, 2018, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) revoked a 2013 policy to regularly give applicants for work authorization or other immigration benefits an opportunity to respond to a written Request for Evidence (RFE) before denying such applications or petitions. The new policy is expected to lead to an increase in outright denials of many applications and petitions. Critics described it as a return to the “culture of no” that characterized much of the immigration decision-making in the years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. The effective date of the new policy is September 11, 2018. For more information on the new policy:
Trump Administration Adopts New Stricter Screening Policy for Asylum Seekers – Many More Applications Expected to be Summarily Denied Without a Full Hearing
On July 12, 2018, the Trump Administration issued new policy guidance that is expected to result in potentially thousands of people, seeking refuge in the U.S., being summarily refused entry into the country. Under the new harsher policy, persons seeking refuge or temporary asylum in the U.S. based upon fears of gang violence and domestic violence may be summarily rejected at the border with no opportunity for any trial or full hearing of their claims. Implementation of the new stricter asylum-screening policy is expected to be challenged in the federal courts, as cases are denied.
USCIS Announces New Policy Affecting More Than One Million F-1 and J-1 Students and Researchers – New “Unlawful Presence” Memo Creates Harsh Penalties for Non-Compliance with Complex Rules
On May 10, 2018, USCIS issued a far-reaching new Policy Memo, effective August 9, 2018, that will directly affect more than 1 million current and former F-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors and their spouses and children. The new policy imposes harsh new penalties, including possible 3 or 10 year bars, on individuals who commit even minor violations of the complex and vaguely defined “maintenance of status” rules for F-1 and J-1 students and scholars.
For more about the new policy from the American Immigration Council, read New USCIS Policy Places Certain Students and Exchange Visitors at Serious Risk of Being Barred from the United States.
For more from USCIS, read USCIS Policy Memorandum: Accrual of Unlawful Presence and F, J, and M Nonimmigrants.
USCIS Completes Data Entry on H-1B Work Visa Petitions Selected in the April 2018 Lottery – Petition Adjudication Process Begins Now
On May 15, 2018, USCIS announced that it had completed data entry on all H-1B petitions selected in the lottery. 190,098 petitions were submitted for the 85,000 available new H-1 cap-subject work visas. No more new cap-subject H-1B work visa petition approvals will be available until 2019. The H-1 is the most commonly used temporary work visa for newly-hired professional workers. H-1 workers are generally required to have at least a four-year degree in a specific field and a job offer that requires such a degree.
For more from USCIS, read USCIS Completes Data Entry of Fiscal Year 2019 H-1B Cap Subject Petitions
For FAQ’s about H-1 work visas, read Frequently Asked Questions About H-1B Temporary Work Status
H-1B Work Visa Cap is Reached in 5 Days – No More New Quota-Subject H-1B Work Visas Available Until 2019
USCIS received 190,098 new petitions from employers for H-1B work visas to become effective October 1, 2018. By Congressional mandate, only 85,000 new cap-subject H-1B petitions are permitted each fiscal year. “Winners” of the H-1B work visa lottery were selected randomly by computer for further processing and adjudication. The H-1 is the most commonly used temporary work visa for newly-hired professional workers. H-1 workers are generally required to have at least a four-year university degree in a specific field and a job offer that requires such a degree.
For more details from USCIS, read USCIS Reaches FY 2019 H-1B Cap
For FAQ’s about H-1 work visas, read Frequently Asked Questions About H-1B Temporary Work Status
Trump Establishes New National Vetting Center to Further Increase Screening of Individuals Seeking to Enter the U.S.
On February 5, President Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum creating a new National Vetting Center to more aggressively and thoroughly screen all non-citizen individuals seeking visas or immigration benefits. The National Vetting Center will coordinate information about non-citizens who may present a threat to national security, border security or public safety. The new center will have access to extensive information from law enforcement agencies, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the State Department and the U.S. intelligence community. Further operation plans for the new Vetting Center are expected after August 15, 2018.
For details from DHS, read Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen Statement on the National Vetting Center
and from the Washington Post, read Trump is creating a vetting center. Is it ‘extreme’ enough to end his travel ban?
USCIS Expands Credit Card Payment Option for Filing Fees
On February 14, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will now accept credit card payments for filing fees for most forms.
For more details from USCIS, read USCIS Expands Credit Card Payment Option for Fees
Free Online Feature that Allows Visa Waiver Travelers to Track Departure Date
Visa Waiver travelers (90 day visitors for business or pleasure) can use a free online service from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to track how many days longer they may stay in the U.S. on each visit.
For details from CBP, read CBP Reminds Travelers of Departure Date with New I-94 Website Feature
For FAQ’s on the Visa Waiver Program, read Frequently Asked Questions about the Visa Waiver Program