On Tuesday, Oct. 10, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed an appeal in Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project (16-1436), one of the cases challenging a provision in a now-expired version of President Trump’s travel ban (Executive Order No. 13780).
The U.S. Embassy announced it was suspending all nonimmigrant visa services in all U.S. diplomatic posts in Turkey. Turkey responded within a few hours of the U.S. Embassy’s announcement by saying it would no longer issue visas to U.S. citizens, including the physical “sticker” visas at border posts as well as the online Turkish electronic visa (e-visa).
On Oct. 8, 2017, the White House released the promised Immigration Principles & Policies (Principles & Policies) which outline the Trump Administration’s position on immigration. This document is broken into three parts: 1) Border Security, 2) Interior Enforcement, and 3) Merit-Based Immigration. A summary of each part is broken down below.
On Oct. 5, the U.S. Senate approved the nomination of Lee Francis Cissna to lead the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency (USCIS) on a bipartisan vote of 54-43. All Republican senators supported the nomination and were joined by Democrat Senators Donnelly (IN), Heitkamp (ND), Manchin (WV) and McCaskill (MO). Senators Cochran (R-MS), Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Heller (R-NV) did not vote.
USCIS has begun issuing I-797A, Notice of Action Approval Notices containing inconsistent validity periods on the face of the document. Specifically, the top portion of the I-797A approval notices lists the approved visa classification (e.g., H-1B) and the authorized validity period of that visa classification (e.g., from Oct. 1, 2017, to Sept. 11, 2020). The bottom portion of the approval notice, containing Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Records, now lists different validity periods – generally an additional 10 days of validity in comparison to the validity dates listed on the top of the approval notice (e.g., from Oct. 1, 2017, to Sept. 21, 2020). This change in the approval notices is causing confusion for both employers and employees.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) levied a historic $95 million settlement against a national tree company in connection with a six year investigation by ICE into the company’s hiring of undocumented workers and other immigration violations. This settlement represents the largest payment ever received in an immigration case. Moreover, it demonstrates ICE’s commitment to immigration enforcement and deterring U.S. employers from knowingly hiring undocumented workers.
On Sept. 27, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) made a motion requesting the abeyance of the court’s decision in Save Jobs USA v. United States Department of Homeland Security, commonly referred to as “the H-4 EAD lawsuit,” until Dec. 31, 2017. The motion requests the delay to allow DHS time to evaluate the H-4 EAD rule in light of Executive Order 13788, “Buy American and Hire American.” “Buy American and Hire American” focused on protecting jobs and wages for U.S. workers and called on DHS to evaluate existing programs with this in mind. While the abeyance could be considered positive news in that it will delay the court’s final decision and protect H-4 EADs in the interim, H-4 EADs are unlikely to be viewed in a positive light when considered with E.O. 13788. Anyone eligible for an EAD extension should make their extensions as early as possible. Please contact your GT attorney with any questions.
For more on EAD, click here.
On Oct. 2, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the release of an updated Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization which allows an applicant to apply for their social security number without going to a Social Security Administration (SSA) office. Previously a foreign national would first have to apply for their Employment Authorization Document (EAD) via Form I-765 with USCIS, and once approved make a separate application with the SSA for their social security number. The new form, possible due to a new information-sharing partnership between USCIS and the SSA, will request additional information on form I-765 which will automatically be transmitted to the SSA for processing. Authorities indicate social security numbers should be mailed out to applicants approximately two weeks after approval of an EAD.
For more on EAD, click here.
On Sept. 24, 2017, President Trump issued a Proclamation imposing new limitations on visa issuance and travel to the United States for nationals of eight countries entitled “Presidential Proclamation Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats.” These countries include: Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, and Somalia. This Proclamation was issued after the Attorney General and the Secretaries of the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State collected information from more than 200 countries to determine whether there were threats or security concerns in a comprehensive report submitted to the president on July 9, 2017. Out of the 200 countries evaluated and studied in the reports, a small number were determined to be deficient with regard to identity management and information sharing capabilities, protocols, and practices, as well as having a terrorist presence within the countries. The reports evaluated: 1) identity management information, including integrity documents such as passports; 2) national security and public safety information on criminal history; and 3) national security and public safety risk assessment focused on terrorist activity within the country.
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke, has extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for eligible nationals of South Sudan, but announced the end of TPS designation for citizens of Sudan.
Per the announcement, citizens of South Sudan may apply for an 18-month extension of TPS, until May 2, 2019, due to the ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary conditions in the country. Current beneficiaries of South Sudan’s TPS designation seeking to extend their TPS status must re-register (the deadline for re-registering was published in the Federal Register). Those who re-register and request a new employment authorization document (EAD) may receive an automatic extension of their expiring EAD for up to 180 days from the date their current EAD expires. Once approved, the new EADs will have an expiration date of May 2, 2019. Individuals should re-register and file their EAD applications as early as possible to avoid lapses in employment authorization, particularly as EAD applications are taking at least 90 days to process.