USCIS’ Proposed H1-B Registration Rule Creates More Uncertainty for Employers

Just months short of the normal starting date for the annual H-1B petition process, USCIS has proposed major changes. U.S. employers who rely on this visa category, which is for jobs that require a bachelor’s or higher degree in a “specific specialty” or equivalent at the entry-level, are now in limbo, unsure whether these changes will be implemented before the normal petition-submission date. Just last week, USCIS issued a proposal to change the current system for H-1B “cap-subject” petitions. The proposal has two components: requiring employers to register online in advance to be eligible to submit an H-1B petition and reversing the order in which petitions are selected. Currently, USCIS selects petitions for […]

Ending Birthright Citizenship Could Put All Americans’ Nationality in Jeopardy

Written by Aaron Reichlin-Melnick from American Immigration Council On Monday night, President Trump told reporters that he intended to end birthright citizenship and claimed that he could do so with an executive order. Birthright citizenship comes from the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which states that “Any person born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, is a citizen of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” Although the president falsely claimed that no other country provides birthright citizenship, it is the law in over 30 countries, including Mexico and Canada. The unexpected announcement sparked fears for many in the immigrant community, including U.S. citizens whose parents are undocumented. […]

The Government Outlines Its Plan to Extend TPS Benefits Under Court Order

Written by  Aaron Reichlin, Courtesy of  American Immigration Council, Immigration Impact In early October, a federal court ruled that the Trump administration had violated the law when it terminated Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for individuals from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan. After weeks of negotiation with the ACLU, which brought the lawsuit, the government has now come forward with a plan to put that decision in action while the case is on appeal. The government’s plan, published Tuesday night, provides crucial breathing room for TPS holders whose status was set to expire soon. Under the government’s plan, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will draft a formal extension of […]

USCIS Begins Implementing Plan to Issue More Deportation Notices

Written by Aaron Reichlin-Melnick  of American Immigration Council U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued guidance to its officers in June instructing them to initiate deportation proceedings for certain applicants who were denied immigration benefits. At the same time, the agency put the guidance on hold and solicited comments from the public. On Monday, October 2, 2018,  the guidance went into full effect, putting thousands of applicants at risk of deportation. USCIS’s new policy will lead the agency to issue “Notices to Appear” (NTAs), documents which formally initiate removal proceedings against a noncitizen, whenever the agency denies an applicant with no lawful immigration status a benefit which would have provided […]

Students and Exchange Visitors at Risk of Being Barred from U.S. Under New USCIS Policy

  Written by Leslie Dellon  from American Immigration Council’s Immigration Impact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a revised, final policy memorandum on August 9, 2018 that radically changes how the agency will determine when a foreign student or exchange visitor is “unlawfully present” in the United States. “Unlawful presence” is a legal term used to describe any time spent in the United States after a foreign national’s period of authorized stay has ended. Most foreign nationals who are inspected and admitted in nonimmigrant status are authorized to remain in the United States until a specific date. However, academic program students and exchange visitors frequently are authorized to remain in the United States for what […]

Here Is the Latest on President Trump’s Family Separation Policy

President Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday in response to public outcry about family separation – a horrific policy that has led to the forced separation of over 2,000 minor children from their parents. Though the order discusses an end to the callous form of family separation that has captured the nation’s attention in recent weeks, it does not end all forms of family separation and will ramp up family detention, an insidious alternative. By Thursday, much has remained unclear about how the order will be implemented. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ), for example, have offered conflicting statements regarding whether parents arriving […]

New USCIS Policy Places Certain Students and Exchange Visitors at Serious Risk of Being Barred from the United States

In another attempt to restrict legal immigration, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a policy change to the way foreign students and exchange visitors accrue unlawful presence—a legal term used to describe any time spent in the United States after a foreign national’s period of authorized stay has ended. Effective August 9, 2018, this policy will directly impact foreign nationals currently or previously in academic student (F-1), vocational student (M-1), and exchange visitor (J-1) status and their spouses and children in the related dependent status. All three are nonimmigrant visa classifications that permit foreign nationals to come to the United States temporarily. The new policy will significantly impact how […]

Is USCIS Exceeding Its Authority as It Attempts to Restrict “Specialty Occupation” Workers?

As U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) begins adjudicating H-1B petitions subject to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 “cap,”—the annual limit on the number of visas that will be made available for newly-hired foreign workers in “specialty occupations”—employers can expect attacks on this popular category to continue. Congress has defined a “specialty occupation” as requiring “a theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge” and at least a bachelor’s degree “in the specific specialty (or its equivalent)” at the entry-level. Engineers, teachers, accountants, and scientists are examples of “specialty occupations.” Last year, through a series of increasingly restrictive interpretations, the Trump administration tried to discourage and impede […]

Immigration Updates March 2018

On March 23, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services USCIS issued a policy memorandum https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Laws/Memoranda/2018/2018-03-19-PM-602-0158-Matter-of-S-P.pdf designating Matter of S-P-, Inc., as an adopted decision, clarifying that a beneficiary who worked abroad for a qualifying multinational organization for at least one year, but left its employment for a period of more than two years after being admitted to the United States as a nonimmigrant, does not satisfy the one-in-three foreign employment requirement for immigrant classification as a multinational manager or executive. Matter of S-P-, Inc., Adopted Decision 2018-01 (AAO Mar. 19, 2018). One of the requirements for a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or a manager from its affiliated company […]

President’s Discriminatory Rhetoric is an Affront to American Values

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) issued the following statement in response to President Trump’s derogatory and hateful comments about Haiti, El Salvador and several African countries: The President’s offensive comments harken back to the shameful days in American history when our immigration policies were grounded in race and nationality quotas. Americans rejected those racially biased national-origin quotas more than 50 years ago because they are intolerable in a country working to end discrimination and racism. Our country was founded by people seeking a better life, free from discrimination, where fairness and justice are available to all, no matter one’s country of origin. Immigrants from all nations have been integral […]

THE CURRENT STATUS OF DACA

As the debate around the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative continues, here’s the truth the Trump administration has tried to sidestep: many DACA applicants have already been losing DACA benefits, even before the administration’s March 2018 deadline. In fact, an average of 122 DACA recipients have been losing their work authorization on a daily basis. Since the administration terminated the DACA program in September 2017, Congress has done little. Sure, there has been lots of talk on the Hill, but nothing actionable has been done that gives DACA applicants any sense of security. And while many DACA recipients were able to request renewals during the brief 30-day window […]

What is the Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery Program?

In the aftermath of the tragic New York Terror attack, the Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery Program has been called into question. The DV lottery program is very personal to me as in 2007, it gave me one of the best opportunities in my life to immigrate to the United States. Without the DV Lottery, me along with thousands of other immigrants from Africa and Europe would not have been able to immigrate to the U.S. I personally know hundreds of people who came to the U.S. through this program who are hardworking, model citizens of the United States. Since there are misconceptions about this program and a lot of people […]

Trump’s Administration ends DACA- What you need to know

Today on September 5, 2017, the Trump administration rescinded DACA ( Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). DACA was established on June 15, 2012 by the Obama Administration in its prosecutorial discretion authority. DACA provided certain undocumented immigrants who entered the United States before the age of sixteen a period of deferred action and eligibility to request employment authorization. Here is what this means: USCIS will reject DACA initial requests and associated applications for Employment Authorization Documents filed after September 5, 2017. USCIS Will adjudicate—on an individual, case-by-case basis—properly filed pending DACA initial requests and associated applications for Employment Authorization Documents that have been accepted by the Department as of September […]

Diversity Visa Lottery Winners from Travel Ban Countries file a Lawsuit

Lawsuit Filed by Diversity Visa Lottery Winners from Travel Ban Countries: Plaintiffs, who are winners of the 2017 diversity visa (DV) lottery from countries included in Executive Order 13780’s travel ban, filed a lawsuit challenging DOS’s policy of refusing to issue visas to DV lottery winners who are nationals of travel ban countries. (P.K. v. Tillerson, 8/3/17)-https://www.acludc.org/en/cases/pk-v-tillerson

TRAVEL ADVISORY: AMID IMPLEMENTATION OF PARTIAL TRAVEL BAN

What is the Status of President Trump’s Travel Ban? On January 27, 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order that temporarily banned the entry of travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries and the entry of all refugees. Several organizations filed lawsuits challenging the order, and courts blocked portions of the order. On March 6, 2017, President Trump issued a second Executive Order, replacing the first one. This order temporarily banned (for 90 days) travelers who were citizens of six countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. It also banned all refugees for 120 days. On Monday, June 26, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would review two cases […]

DHS issues a Memo rescinding DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents)

On June 15, 2017, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John F. Kelly signed a memorandum rescinding the November 20, 2014 memorandum that created the program known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (“DAPA”). The explanation of rescinding this policy was “because there is no credible path forward to litigate the currently enjoined policy.” The rescinded memo intended to provide a path for illegal aliens with a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident child to be considered for deferred action. To be considered for deferred action, an alien was required to satisfy six criteria: (1) as of November 20, 2014, be the parent of a […]

Five things you need to know about Texas Senate Bill 4 (SB4)

On May 7, 2017, Texas Governor Greg Abbot signed into law Senate Bill 4 (S.B.4) also referred to as “show me your papers law.” This law encourages unacceptable profiling of people based on immigration status and critics say it will undermine the public safety of local communities. This law will become effective on September 1, 2017. Here are five things to know about this law: 1) It authorizes local entities including campus police, without limitation, to ask immigration status of someone who is under arrest or lawful detention; to request and share that immigration status with USCIS, ICE or other federal entity; and maintain information relating to the immigration status […]

The 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals upholds Block on Trump’s Travel Ban

Today, A federal appeals court upheld a ruling blocking President Donald Trump’s travel ban against six Muslim-majority countries. The 10-3 ruling from the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals upholds a lower court’s decision to halt core portions of the executive order indefinitely. The ban was announced in March, but never got off the ground because federal courts blocked it just hours before it was set to go into effect. It would have banned people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the US for 90 days and all refugees for 120 days. The court makes extensive use of Trump’s comments during his campaign when he called […]

Immigration Updates in the month of April 2017

On April 25, 2017, A Federal district court issued a nationwide injunction against §9(a) of Executive Order 13768-Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, which blocks so-called “sanctuary jurisdictions“ from receiving federal grant money. The Court concluded that the Executive Order violated the Separation of Power clause of the U.S. Constitution (County of Santa Clara v. Trump, 4/25/17). Source: http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/25/politics/sanctuary-cities-injunction/ On April 18, 2017, President Trump signed the “Buy American” “Hire American” Executive Order. The Executive Order directs the Secretary of State, Attorney General, Secretary of Labor, and Secretary of Homeland Security to propose new rules and issue new guidance to “protect the interest of United States workers in the administration of our immigration […]

USCIS will begin accepting H-1B CAP Petitions on April 3, 2017

On April 3, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the fiscal year (FY) 2018 cap. All cap-subject H-1B petitions filed before April 3, 2017, for the FY 2018 cap will be rejected.H-1B visas are capped at 65,000 per fiscal year for individuals who hold a Bachelor’s Degree. The first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the 65,000 cap. The H-1B program allows companies in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require the application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher in […]

Federal judge in Hawaii blocks new Trump travel ban

Today, on March 15, 2017- A federal judge in Hawaii blocked President Donald Trump’s new travel ban on Wednesday afternoon, hours before the ban was set to go into effect. The ruling — which applies nationwide — means that travelers from six Muslim-majority countries and refugees will be able to travel to the US. The Trump administration took over a month to rewrite the travel ban order after multiple federal courts blocked its implementation last month. Unlike the previous executive order, the new one removed Iraq from the list of banned countries, exempted those with green cards and visas, and removed a provision that arguably prioritizes certain religious minorities. US […]

Five Reasons why this is the right time to apply for U.S. Citizenship

houston immigration services

In the midst of chaotic changes in immigration enforcement policies, it is wise to think of a permanent solution to shield immigrants from being affected by those changes. That solution is filing for a citizenship application for those who qualify. See who qualifies for citizenship:https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/files/article/chapter4.pdf Here are FIVE reasons why applying for a U.S. Citizenship is the best option to protect you from immigration enforcement pitfalls:1) A US Citizen benefits from all protections provided by the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights and cannot be subject to deportation. Even though green card holders have protection of most U.S. Constitution rights, they still may be deported for such reasons as committing a serious crime. Citizens […]

Five major changes made by DHS new Policy Memos implementing Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration.

On February 20, 2017, The Department of Homeland Security(DHS)issued two memos implementing the President’s Executive Order issued on January 25, 2017. I will attach the links to the memos here. However, here are five (5) major changes to immigration enforcement guidelines. 1. Priorities for deportation not only include convicted felons and those posing national security threats, but also any deportable individual convicted of any crime, charged with any crime. This means that a small infraction such as driving without a license could get someone deported. 2. Exercise of “Prosecutorial Discretion” is no long in effect. DHS personnel was allowed to exercise discretion by not deporting certain classes or groups of undocumented individuals such […]

J-1 Two-Year Foreign residency requirement for Physicians- Are there any Waivers?

Majority of foreign doctors who come to train in the U.S. must obtain J-1 exchange Visitor’s Visa. The J-1 visa is sponsored by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). ECFMG sponsors those foreign medical graduates who have complied with the requirements pertaining to entering a U.S. residency or fellowship. J-1 Physicians who come to the U.S. for medical education or training are automatically subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement (also known as 2-year rule). Exception to the 2-year rule applies to those physicians who come to the U.S. for observation, consultation, teaching, or research in which there is little or no patient care. What is the Two-Year […]

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Temporary Restraining Order blocking the Travel Ban: 5 things you should know

On February 9, 2017 The 9th Circuit of Appeals denied the motion for an emergency stay filed by the U.S. Government. The Court found that the Government failed to show a likelihood of success on the merits of its appeal and that it failed to show that the lack of a stay would cause irreparable injury. This motion was filed after a U.S. District judge in Washington State had issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) blocking nationwide the Travel Ban imposed by President Trump on 7 countries (Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Sudan). The TRO applies to Section 3 and 5 of the Executive Order on Travel Ban […]

Who is affected bar the Travel ban after a federal Judge ruling on blocking parts of it?

* The Executive Order applies to all individuals “from” the 7 designated countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. That includes Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs), nonimmigrant visa holders, immigrant visa holders, refugees, derivative asylees, Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs), etc.* Anyone who holds a passport from a designated country is considered as being “from” the designated country. This includes dual citizens who hold passports from a designated country, as well as a non-designated country.* CBP will be processing people based on how they present themselves at primary inspection.* The Executive Order does NOT apply to people who merely traveled to designated countries.* Legal Permanent Residents : there appears to be some […]

New National Interest Waiver (NIW) Standard

On December 27, 2016, the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) revised the analytical framework for assessing eligibility for national interest waivers under section 203(b)(2)(B)(i) of the Immigration Nationality Act (INA), and sustained the appeal and approved the petition in Matter of Dhanasar, 26 I&N Dec. 884 (AAO 2016). Section 203 (b)(2)(B)(i) of the INA provides for immigrant visas to “qualified immigrants who are members of the professions holding advanced degrees or their equivalent or who because of their exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, will substantially benefit prospectively the national economy, cultural or educational interests, or welfare of the United States.” In 1998, AAO issued an interim decision […]

International Entrepreneur Parole Rule

On January 17, 2017, The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a final rule aimed at improving the ability of certain promising start-up founders to begin growing their companies within the United States and help improve the national’s economy growth through increased capital spending, innovation, and job creation. This ruled defines “Parole” as a period of authorized stay on case-by-case basis to foreign entrepreneurs who establish that their stay in the U.S. “would provide significant public benefit through the potential for rapid business growth and job creation. There will be 2,940 paroles issued annually. Initial parole will be issued for a period of 30 months with a possibility of a […]

President Trump signed Executive order to begin building the wall between the Border of U.S. and Mexico

On Wednesday, January 25, 2017, while visiting the Department of Homeland Security, President Trump signed two executive actions cover the following topics, which are intended to protect U.S. citizens from foreign nationals who intend to commit terrorist attacks in the U.S.: 1. Wall Along U.S.-Mexico Border. Based on his supposed authority under the Secure Fence Act of 2006 signed into law by President George W. Bush, which called for 700 miles of “reinforced fencing” along the U.S.-Mexico border along with enhanced surveillance systems, Trump is ordering to build a wall along U.S.-Mexico border. Funding of construction of that wall has yet to be determined. 2. Stop Refugee Admissions. President Trump will enact a 120-day […]

STEM OPT regulation took effect on May 10, 2016

May 10, 2016 is the date the new STEM OPT regulation takes effect. The new STEM OPT rule allows F-1 students with degrees in approved STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields to extend their Optional Practical Training for an additional 24 months (instead of the current 17-month extension) beyond the initial one-year OPT period. Students may be eligible for one additional STEM extension if they obtain a second U.S. STEM degree at a higher level. The regulation also imposes several new reporting requirements and other obligations on students, designated school officers and employers, including a formal training plan signed by the employer and student. Eligibility for the STEM OPT […]

Are you a small business owner and wondering how to successfully process work visas for skilled workers? We have solutions for you.

United States laws and regulations allow U.S. employers to hire foreign skilled workers either on temporary basis or otherwise referred to as non-immigrant worker petitions or on a permanent basis or otherwise referred to as Green card petitions. Today, I will discuss the challenges faced by small businesses when filing for an H-1B Non-immigrant visa petition and tips to a success outcome. H-1B Non-immigrant visa petition is filed on behalf of an “alien” who:“Will perform services in a specialty occupation which requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and attainment of a baccalaureate or higher degree or its equivalent as a minimum requirement for entry […]

What you need to know about E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

In the midst of the economy downturn, employees are being laid off among them foreign professionals and managers who have held non-immigrant visas for a long time are now wondering what to do to remain in status in the U.S. One available and “self- petition” option is the E-2 non-immigrant visa status. An E-2 investor non-immigrant status is defined as “the investor’s placing of capital, including funds and other assets, at risk in the commercial sense with the objective of generating a profit.” While this definition might seem intimidating, it is important to remember that essentially the investment must be for the purpose of establishing a new business venture or purchasing […]

H-1B CAP is reached? What now?

It is that time a year where employers and foreign professionals are wondering what to do after USCIS has announced to have reached the quota of H-1B visas per fiscal year. This article discusses other options available to skilled foreign workers and U.S. employers who do not want to lose their skills. USCIS received over 236,000 H-1B petitions for 2017 fiscal year, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. On April 9, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and the 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will reject and return all unselected petitions with […]

Analysis of the Expanded Provisional Waiver as announced by USCIS in the final rule on 07/29/2016

On July 29, 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced afinal rule expanding the existing provisional waiver process to allow certain individuals who are family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs), and who are statutorily eligible for immigrant visas, to more easily navigate the immigration process. The provisional waiver process promotes family unity by reducing the time that eligible individuals are separated from their family members while they complete immigration processing abroad, while also improving administrative efficiency. Here is how the 2016 final rule is different from the 2013 rule: Visa Classification/Qualifying Relative: 2013 Rule: Under the 2013 rule, a provisional waiver was limited to those […]

J-1 Two-Year Foreign residency requirement for Physicians- Are there any Waivers?

Majority of foreign doctors who come to train in the U.S. must obtain J-1 exchange Visitor’s Visa. The J-1 visa is sponsored by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). ECFMG sponsors those foreign medical graduates who have complied with the requirements pertaining to entering a U.S. residency or fellowship. J-1 Physicians who come to the U.S. for medical education or training are automatically subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement (also known as 2-year rule). Exception to the 2-year rule applies to those physicians who come to the U.S. for observation, consultation, teaching, or research in which there is little or no patient care. What is the Two-Year […]