EEOC Unveils New Strategic Plan

Posted in Discrimination, Diversity, Workplace Discrimination

shutterstock_314621255The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) unveiled its Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) for fiscal years 2017-2021.  The new plan approved on Monday, Oct. 17, looks much like its predecessor, seeks to continue areas outlined in the EEOCs 2013-2016 plan, and reaffirms the agency’s commitment to equal opportunity in America’s workplaces, which includes protecting immigrant and migrant workers.

As the EEOC reinforces its existing efforts to address pay discrimination based on sex, the new plan also seeks to combat pay discrimination based on race, ethnicity, age, and disability. In particular, the EEOC targets disparate pay, job segregation, harassment, trafficking and other discriminatory practices and policies affecting immigrant, migrant and other vulnerable workers.  Such workers are often unaware of their rights under the equal employment laws or may be hesitant to exercise them.

The new 2017-2021 plan continues to prioritize the same areas as the previous 2013-2016 SEP, including the following:

  1. Eliminating Barriers in Recruitment and Hiring.
  2. Protecting Immigrant, Migrant and Other Vulnerable Workers.
  3. Addressing Emerging and Developing Issues.
  4. Enforcing Equal Pay Laws for All Workers.
  5. Preserving Access to the Legal System.
  6. Preventing Harassment Through Systemic Enforcement and Targeted Outreach.

In addition to building on the areas identified in the last SEP, the new plan also set forth two new emerging areas of increasing priority, namely: 1) issues related to complex employment relationships in the 21st century workplace; and 2) backlash discrimination against those who are Muslim or Sikh, or persons of Arab, Middle Eastern or South Asian descent. The lack of diversity in technology and the increasing use of data driven screening tools are also recognized as focus areas within the priority on barriers in the hiring and recruitment process, as the use of algorithms or data driven screening tools used to help determine characteristics of good hires could negatively impact protected classes.

The EEOC’s Chair, Jenny R. Yang, noted that “This SEP builds on the EEOC’s progress in addressing persistent and developing issues by sharpening the agency’s area of focus and updating the plan to recognize additional areas of emerging concern.” The new SEP also emphasizes coordinated strategies across the EEOC to leverage the agency’s resources and promote practices that reduce workplace discrimination.

Kate Kalmykov and Jennifer Hermansky to speak at Upcoming AILA EB-5 Conference in Washington, D.C.

Posted in Events

Greenberg Traurig attorneys Kate Kalmykov and Jennifer Hermansky will be speaking at the 2016 AILA EB-5 Conference to be held Oct. 24-25, 2016, at the Renaissance Washington, D.C. Downtown Hotel in Washington, D.C.  Kate will speak on a panel entitled Securities Enforcement by SEC, State, and Private Parties along with the SEC Deputy Director of Enforcement, Stephanie Avakian.  Jennifer will be speaking on a panel entitled Advanced Issues In Representing Individual Investors. Kate and Jennifer will be available for client meetings at the event and can be contacted at and

November 2016 Visa Bulletin Released

Posted in Department of State, Visa Bulletin

The Department of State released the November Visa Bulletin, which contains some movement of final action dates in certain employment-based categories.

  • The Worldwide EB1-1 category remains current for all categories, including individuals born in mainland China, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Mexico and the Philippines.
  • The cutoff date for worldwide chargeability in the EB-2 category is current but for mainland China and India.  There was significant movement for mainland China in the EB-2 category which moved from Feb. 15, 2012, to July 15, 2012, and for India, which moved from Jan. 15, 2007, to Nov. 1, 2007.
  • In the EB-3 category, the cutoff date for worldwide chargeability, as well as El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico moved one month from June 1, 2016, to July 1, 2016.  The cutoff date for mainland China moved nearly three months from Jan. 22, 2013, to April 15, 2013, while the cutoff date for the Philippines moved four months from Dec. 1, 2010, to April 1, 2011.
  • For those in the EB-5 category, the priority date remains current for all applicants other than those born in mainland China, which moved its cutoff date by two weeks from Feb. 22, 2014, to March 8, 2014.
  • For October 2016, the Department announced an extension in the following categories:
  • EB-4 category for Certain Religious Workers (SR) is current for all countries except El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, which are subject to a June 15, 2015 final action date;
  • EB-5 Pilot (I5 and R5) is current for all countries except mainland China, which is subject to a Feb. 22, 2014 final action date.
  • Since additional Diversity Visa (DV) 2017 entrants were recently added to “selected” status in September, the Department reminded DV-17 Lottery Winners to check their status using their confirmation number on the Entrant Status Check (ESC) website  If “selected,” entrants should complete the online DS-260 applications immediately in order to schedule an interview appointment at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

For those seeking to adjust status, The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) website indicates that the Department’s Application Final Action Dates chart must be used for filing Form I-485.

The November Application Final Action Dates for Employment-Based categories are as follows:

Nov. Bulletin

GT Lawyers Celebrate Citizenship Day

Posted in Awards & Recognitions

Lauren A. Tetenbaum and Jordi S. Bayer volunteered for the American Immigration Association’s 10th annual celebration of Citizenship Day (an event recognized by USCIS) on Sept. 17th. Lauren is the co-chair of the AILA NY Citizenship Day Committee.

Approximately 200 AILA volunteers throughout the country provided assistance to lawful permanent residents eligible for naturalization. In New York, the 2016 Citizenship Day event was held via CUNY’s Citizenship Now! in conjunction with NYIC, NaturalizeNY, New York State Office for New Americans, the New Americans Campaign, and NALEO. Over 150 applicants were served, including 87 who needed fee waiver assistance (resulting in nearly $60,000 in saved application fees). As AILA members and GT lawyers, Lauren and Jordi look forward to continuing to serve the community.


Greenberg Traurig Attorneys Recognized as “Rising Stars” by New York Super Lawyers

Posted in Awards & Recognitions

New York Super Lawyers magazine recognized attorneys Jordi S. Bayer, Rosanna M. Fox, Kate Kalmykov and Lauren A. Tetenbaum as a “Rising Stars” in Immigration law for 2016.  According to the Super Lawyers website, the Rising Star selection process is based on peer recognition and professional achievement, as well as a third party research. Kalmykov has been ranked as a Super Lawyer since 2012.  This is the first time Bayer, Fox and Tetenbaum are listed on the Rising Stars list.

To read the full press release, click here.


Online I-94 Application Now Available for Travelers at Land Ports of Entry

Posted in Immigrant Visa, Travel, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Visas

CBPOn Sept. 29, 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that it has enhanced the I-94 website for travelers arriving to the United States at land ports of entry.  Travelers now can apply and pay the $6 fee for their I-94 card online up to seven days prior to their entry.

An I-94 form is needed by all persons except U.S. Citizens, returning resident aliens, aliens with immigrant visas, and most Canadian citizens visiting or in transit.  Air and sea travelers will continue to be issued I-94 records during the admission process at the port of entry.  However, for those travelers seeking admission to the United States at a land port of entry, taking advantage of this new enhancement will quicken and simplify the admission process.

The application requires travelers to submit their biographic and travel information; in return, they will receive a provisional I-94 card after submitting the application and payment of the fee online.  The application collects the information that would otherwise be collected during the in-person inspection at the land port of entry, including name, date of birth, country of citizenship, passport details, visa details (if applicable), and petition/SEVIS number (if applicable).  To finalize the I-94 issuance process and admission, the traveler must present him or herself at the land port of entry within seven (7) days of the application, submit biometrics, and be inspected by a CBP officer.  Travelers always should be prepared to show evidence of their residence, employment and/or travel plans to the inspecting CBP officer, depending on the category of nonimmigrant admission being sought.

CBP expects for the new online I-94 application process to increase efficiencies during inspection and admission, decrease paper usage, and streamline the process at the land border, thereby reducing operating costs.  The secure website is easy to use and payment can be made via credit card, debit card, direct debit, or through PayPal.

State Department Issues Cable on Extension of Three Visa Programs

Posted in Department of State, EB-5 Program, EB-5 Regional Center, U.S. Department of State ("DOS"), Visas

On Oct. 5, 2016, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) issued an unclassified cable on the Continuing Resolution signed into law on Sept. 29, 2016 that extends several important immigration programs, including the Conrad State 30 Program, the non-minister special immigrant religious worker program (SR visa), and the EB-5 Regional Center program. The House and Senate passed the Continuing Resolution on Sept. 28, 2016, and the president signed the bill into law on Sept. 29, 2016 (H.R.5325; P.L. 114-223).

The DOS cable explains that the EB-5 Regional Center program (immigrant visa categories R51 and I51) now is set to expire on Dec. 9, 2016.  The DOS has clarified that all EB-5 immigrant visas based upon investments made in regional center projects must be issued by close of business Dec. 9, 2016; the expiration date also applies to dependent spouses and children.  The DOS has instructed all visa issuing posts to hold in abeyance any pending R51 and I51 immigrant visa applications beginning on Dec. 10, 2016, if there is no extension of the EB-5 Regional Center program on or before that date.  The cable also clarifies that immigrant visas for investors not investing through a regional center (T51 and C51), i.e., the “direct” or “non-regional center” program, can continue to be issued as that program remains valid beyond Dec. 9, 2016.

In addition, the DOS cable confirms that extension of the EB-5 Regional Center program through Dec. 9, 2016 will allow priority dates to immediately become “current” for October for all countries except mainland China.  The “current” priority date for China-mainland born I5 and R5 applicants is Feb. 22, 2014.  Accordingly, China mainland-born investors with an I-526 Petition filed after Feb. 22, 2014, do not have immigrant visas immediately available to them and they must wait until the priority dates in the Visa Bulletin advance further.

The cable further discussed the expiration of the Conrad State 30 Program, which also will expire on Dec. 9, 2016. The Conrad 30 program allows medical doctors on J-1 visas to apply for a waiver of the two-year home residence requirement under INA §212(e) upon completion of the J-1 exchange visitor program.  The cable clarifies that applicants who entered or were granted J-1 status on or before Dec. 8, 2016, may still apply for a Conrad State 30 waiver.

Finally, DOS stated in the cable that authorization for the SR visa, which is for professional and non-professional workers within religious vocation or occupation categories other than the vocation of a minister, will expire on Dec. 9, 2016.  This expiration relates to immigrant visa recipients and their accompanying spouses and children only, and does not affect any nonimmigrant categories such as R-1 visas.  Individuals seeking SR visa status are required to have applied for such status and be admitted into the United States prior to Dec. 9, 2016. DOS has instructed visa issuing posts that the validity of any SR visa issued, therefore, must be limited to Dec. 8, 2016, to coincide with the expiration of this classification.  Posts that have issued SR visas in recent months should consider informing the recipients that they must travel by Dec. 8, 2016. Moreover, Posts that issue SR visas in December should consider informing the individual of the expiration date and necessity of traveling before the expiration date. If the visa holder is not admitted into the United States before the program expires, replacement visas cannot be issued. Beginning Dec. 9, 2016, posts are advised by the DOS to hold in abeyance any pending SR application.

The cable also explains that the DOS Visa Office (VO) will continue to provide guidance as the appropriations process continues.  In December, following the federal elections, Congress is expected to reconvene for a “lame duck” session.  At that time, Congress will once again consider the extension of these vital visa programs.

For more information regarding the extension of the EB-5 program, please subscribe to the Inside Business Immigration blog and see Greenberg Traurig’s EB-5 Insights Blog.

After Recent Country Condition Reviews, Temporary Protected Status Benefits for Citizens of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone to End May 20, 2017

Posted in Department of Homeland Security, USCIS

On Sept. 22, 2016, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson extended the temporary protected status (TPS) designation for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone through May 20, 2017.  The TPS designations for these countries were extended for six months to allow for the “orderly transition” of its citizens back home.  Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone were originally granted TPS designation for 18 months because of the Ebola virus outbreak in late 2014 in West Africa.  After reviewing country conditions and consulting with appropriate U.S. government agencies, Secretary Johnson “determined that conditions in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone no longer warrant TPS designation,” since the Ebola virus outbreak has ended.

To facilitate the orderly transition, the TPS for citizens of these countries will be automatically extended until May 20, 2017, without the need for filing a Form I-821 with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  The work authorization (EAD) for these citizens will be automatically extended until May 20, 2017, as well.

While TPS benefits will end effective May 21, 2017, citizens of these countries will be allowed to retain any other lawful immigration status that they obtained while holding TPS status.  If any citizens of these countries currently do not hold another immigration status, these individuals have the additional six-month extension to prepare for their departure from the United States or to apply for and obtain alternative immigration benefits. Employers that employ citizens of these countries who are working on a TPS-related EAD should consider using this time to determine whether these individuals may be eligible for an employment-based visa.  If eligible, employers can then submit petitions on behalf of these individuals as soon as possible in an attempt to avoid any interruption in employment authorization since USCIS is taking several months to review and approve employment-based visa petitions.

Finally, employers should consider alerting all company representatives responsible for the completion of the I-9 process about this development, as employers may often be unsure about how to complete and/or reverify the I-9 form for individuals holding TPS work authorization. Employers must accept a TPS-related EAD that is expired on its face if it nevertheless remains unexpired based on an automatic extension of the EAD by Department of Homeland Security.

For a link to the applicable Federal Register outlining the extension of TPS benefits and employment authorization for citizens of these countries, please click here:  Guinea; Liberia; Sierra Leone.

Chinese Passport Holders who have a 10-year B-1/B-2 visa must have valid EVUS enrollment beginning Nov. 29, 2016 to enter the United States

Posted in China, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Visas

Chinese FlagThe U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recently announced that, beginning Nov. 29, 2016, all Chinese passport holders who carry a 10-year visa B-1 (business visitor) and/or B-2 (tourist visa) must have a valid Electronic Visa Update System (EVUS) enrollment when traveling to the United States.  Chinese passport holders who currently hold a 10-year B-1/B-2 visa will not be allowed to travel to the United States unless they have a valid EVUS enrollment.  For Chinese passport holders who have multiple flights to reach the United States, EVUS enrollment will be verified upon their check-in for the first flight.  The cost to enroll in EVUS is 8 USD.  EVUS enrollment is valid for two years or until the Chinese traveler obtains a new passport or visa, whichever is earlier.

Our team previously discussed EVUS in February 2016.  For additional background, EVUS is a secure online system for nationals of China using a 10-year business or tourism visitor visa to enter the United States.  Enrollment in EVUS is a new requirement that is part of a relatively recent agreement between China and the United States to issue visitor visas with a 10-year validity based on a reciprocal basis. According to CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske, EVUS is intended to “enhance both national security and the longevity of the joint agreement with China to issue 10-year visas.”  Additional background information about EVUS can be found on the CBP’s website.  It is expected that additional countries will have a similar requirement in the future, although CBP has not listed any additional countries at this time. 

September 2016 – Monthly AILA Check-In with Charlie Oppenheim

Posted in Check-In with Charlie Oppenheim, Immigrant Visa, Visa Bulletin

After the release of the October Visa Bulletin, Charlie Oppenheim, Chief of Visa Control and Reporting Division for the U.S. Department of State (DOS), provided his predictions on the future movement in the employment-based green card categories.  They are summarized below:

EB-1 China and India

In the October bulletin, final action dates for India and China will be current. Charlie predicted that EB-1 China and EB-1 India will remain current for the foreseeable future unless demand gets higher than current levels.

EB-2 and EB-3 China

EB-2 China will have a final action date of February 15, 2012, almost one year behind EB-3 China’s final action date of January 23, 2013. Thus, many applicants may start considering the EB-3 downgrade again for FY2017.  Charlie indicated that he did not advance either of these final action date to the full number use target given the likelihood of demand at USCIS that is not yet visible and to minimize the need for corrective action later in the fiscal year.  He also noted that he hopes to keep the final action dates for EB-2 and EB-3 China as close to one another as possible.

EB-2 and EB-3 India

Charlie predicted the final action date for EB-2 India would advance to January 15, 2007 in October and he was correct. Charlie mentioned that he expects this category will advance at a pace of up to four months at a time.  Slower movements are anticipated for EB-3 India, which will advance to a March 1, 2005 final action date in October.  It is important to note that Charlie speculated that usage for EB-3 India is expected to be high in October, which will decrease the amount of numbers he can allocate in November and December. This will definitely slow the advancement of this category.

EB-2 and EB-3 Worldwide

As predicted by Charlie,  EB-2 Worldwide will again be current in October and ahead of EB-3 Worldwide which will have a final action date of June 1, 2016.  He also predicts that the demand EB-2 Worldwide will increase significantly in October and there could be a cut-off date during the first half of the fiscal year.

EB-3 Philippines

The final action date for EB-3 Philippines will be December 1, 2010 in October. Charlie predicts this category to initially move up to three weeks per month.  It is possible that the final action date will move through 2011 and that it will be well into 2013 by the end of the fiscal year, but that will be updated as it progresses.