U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has started returning H-1B petitions to employers whose cases were not selected in the recent H-1B lottery selection process. The USCIS reported that a total of 195,000 H-1B petitions were received during this year’s qualifying filing period, which began on April 2, 2018 and ended on April 6, 2018. Employers whose H-1B petition was not selected for allocation under the 2019 Fiscal Year H-1B quota will receive their paperwork back from the agency, including the uncashed filing fee checks, by regular mail. The quota (or “cap”) applies to individuals who have never held H-1B status before or who previously worked only for an H-1B exempt employer.
With more than four (4) months left in the federal government's 2018 fiscal year, U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) this week reported it had already doubled the number of audits that it conducted during the entire 2017 fiscal year. ICE, an agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is responsible for upholding the laws established by the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986, which require employers to verify the identity and work eligibility of all individuals they hire.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) recently confirmed its plans to publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by June 2018 to remove from its regulations certain H-4 spouses of H-1B nonimmigrant workers as a class of noncitizens eligible for employment authorization.
The plans regarding timing were gleaned from documents the government filed on February 28, 2018, in a case pending at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. That case, Save Jobs USA v. DHS, involves a challenge by a group of tech workers to the legality of the original H-4 EAD rule, which became effective on February 25, 2015.
U.S. employers who sponsor foreign workers for temporary H-1B work visas should start preparing now for the upcoming H-1B cap filing season commencing this year on Monday, April 2, 2018. Employers should start identifying those first-time H-1B workers for which petitions will be filed during the first five business days in April. International students holding F-1 visas are the most common beneficiaries for these "quota subject" H-1B petitions.
On October 2, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a new version of Form I-765, the application used to apply for an employment authorization document (or “EAD” card). Based on a new information-sharing partnership between U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA), foreign nationals in certain categories or classifications can now apply for work authorization and a social security number using a single form – the updated Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services indicated during a September 27, 2017, call with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) that it is on track to resume offering its Premium Processing service on or before October 3, 2017, to all H-1B petitions.
While no "official" announcement has been made by the agency, the recent statement during an AILA government liaison meeting is welcome news for employers who have experienced long wait times for adjudication of H-1B petitions filed on behalf of their employees.
On Monday, September 18, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it would resume offering its 15-day Premium Processing service for any H-1B visa petition still pending that had been accepted under this Fiscal Year’s (FY) 2018 cap during the first five business days in April 2017. Premium Processing had been suspended for this and almost all other H-1B work visa categories since April 3, 2017.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently adopted a new policy for travel document applications that should be taken into account by those applying for green cards. Under the new policy, the agency will deny a request for a travel document, called an Advance Parole (AP), if it discovers that the individual traveled outside the United States after filing the request, but before its approval. AP renewals are sought by submission of Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.
On August 28, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security agency responsible for adjudicating immigration benefits, announced that it will begin expanding the in-person interview requirement for all employer-sponsored permanent residency applications. Eﬀective October 1, 2017, the agency will begin to “phase-in” personal interviews at the nearest USCIS Field Office for all adjustment of status applications based on employment (Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status).
With no fanfare and minimal notice, the government has significantly increased the penalties that can be assessed for a variety of offenses related to the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9.
Now, a “mere” error on the paperwork, such as failure to check a box or confirm that the employee dated the document, can result in a penalty of between $216 and $2,156. Previously, the penalty ranged from $110 to $1,100. This almost doubling of the penalty range is significant because penalties for paperwork errors can be the largest aspect of government fines, even for the best of employers.
The International Practice Group of Garvey Schubert Barer is a cross-disciplinary group of attorneys practicing in areas ranging from business transactions, immigration, maritime, government regulatory work, transportation and logistics, and estate planning. The group members include bilingual and multicultural attorneys who are well-versed in handling these subject matters in a cross-border context. The firm’s attorneys have been actively practicing in the international arena since the early 1970s.