DHS Secretary Extends Temporary Protected Status to Nationals of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone in Response to Ebola Pandemic

Posted in Department of Homeland Security

The Ebola virus pandemic in West Africa has precipitated an expansion of the United States’ Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation, as announced by the Department of Homeland Security just last week. As a result, eligible nationals of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone who are currently residing in the United States may apply for TPS through USCIS. TPS designations for the three countries are effective as of Nov. 21, 2014, and will be in effect during the next 18 months.

While TPS designation does not provide a road to becoming a lawful permanent resident of the United States, it does accord designees with the protection of not being returned to their home countries during the attendant validity period; it also provides for work authorization while in the United States.

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Summary of AILA’s Monthly Check-In with “Charlie” (November Edition)

Posted in Visas

On Nov. 7, 2014, the November 2014 Visa Bulletin was released.  Shortly thereafter, on Nov. 13, 2014, AILA “checked in” with Charles (“Charlie”) Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division, U.S. Department of State, to obtain his analysis of current trends and future projections for the various immigrant preference categories. The checkup is part of an AILA monthly series designed to keep members informed of Visa Bulletin progress and projections. Below are highlights of Charlie’s predictions based on the November 2014 Visa Bulletin:

No Significant New Projections from Charlie

There are no new predictions in this month’s “Check-In” as the December Visa Bulletin is consistent with the predictions Charlie made in October and November. We previously covered Charlie’s predictions here. Unless there is an unexpected surge in demand, Charlie expects that his current predictions will hold up until the release of the February or March Visa Bulletins.

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Announcement of Express Entry by CIC Results in Increased Number of Applications Under Current Program

Posted in Global Immigration

The announcement of the Express Entry immigration selection system by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has resulted in a surge of applications under the current Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP). Under the current program, applications are submitted based on a list of eligible occupations, which will be eliminated under the Express Entry program. Only 1,000 applications are accepted under each occupation for review by the CIC. Due to the increase of applications, three of the eligible occupations have already capped out: 1) software engineers and designers, 2) financial and investment analysts and 3) computer programmer and interactive media developers. Despite the fact that Express Entry will allow many eligible candidates to apply under the renewed FSWP, many applicants are rushing to apply before the Dec. 31st deadline, and also before the remaining occupational categories cap out.

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Kenya: Recent Changes Lead to Work Permit Delays and Denials

Posted in Foreign Worker

The Kenya Department of Immigration Services (DIS) recently implemented changes to its work permit application process that are consistent with the country’s move towards tightening its immigration system. Earlier this month, the DIS released a comprehensive checklist of required documents for each type of work permit. Applications that lack the required documents will likely be rejected.

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Join Us for a Webinar – Executive Action on Immigration Reform: Now What?

Posted in Immigration Reform

Please join Greenberg Traurig’s Business Immigration & Compliance practice for a webinar entitled “Executive Action on Immigration Reform: Now What?” Due to the nature of this development, GT will offer two opportunities to participate in this webinar.

  • Friday, November 21st | 1:00 – 2:30pm ET
  • Monday, November 24th | 1:00 – 2:30pm ET

Topics include:

  • What Executive Action means to the business community
  • Extension of Deferred Action and its impact on employer compliance
  • What else is new for the business community?
  • What does this mean for immigration legislation?
  • Is this action permanent? Can it be repealed?


On The Blog:

For previous and current coverage on Immigration Reform, Executive Action and more, please visit the Immigration Policy section of Inside Business Immigration blog here.

To register for the Friday, November 21st webinar, please click here.

To register for the Monday, November 24th webinar, please click here.

Questions? Please contact August Trammell at trammella@gtlaw.com

President’s Executive Action on Immigration – Content and Preliminary Analysis of What it Means for Businesses and Compliance

Posted in Immigration Reform

On November 20, 2014, President Obama released the long-anticipated “Executive Action” on immigration reform. See here, here and here. We will also post additional materials made available. Late last summer, the President had postponed the release of such action until after the mid-term elections. Despite the cries of overreaching and lack of authority by the Republican leadership in the House and the Senate, the President has now released a plan to begin immediately the process of implementing some new policies through published guidance and to begin implementation of other policies through proposed regulatory changes. Some opposed to these actions have vowed to block the implementation through judicial intervention, attempts to defund the programs and potentially through other political means.

We will monitor the status of each change and post updates as they become available.

The following is a brief summary of the Executive proposed actions that will impact business. We have divided them broadly into three categories: 1) Changes done through guidance; 2) Changes that will need regulatory action; and 3) Changes that are still being discussed through a “Presidential Memorandum” process.

Administration Guidance without New Regulation       

  • Expansion of Deferred Action. Provide deferred action with employment authorization and advance parole, to include:
    • Parents of U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents. (Must have lived in the U.S. for 5 years and must have entered by January 1, 2010.)
    • Expansion of current Deferred Action Program to include Individuals who have resided in the U.S. for 5 years or more. There will no longer be an age limit.
  • Parole in Place. Expand PIP eligibility and confirm that Matter of Arrabally & Yerrabelly applies to all who depart and return on advance parole.
  • National interest waivers available for those in positions to create jobs, and those fulfilling shortage occupations.
  • Exemption from the H-1B cap. Interpret the term “affiliated or related nonprofit entity” to an institution of higher education for H-1B cap-exemption purposes under INA §214(g)(5)(A) more flexibly.

Regulatory Changes through the Administration Procedure Act/Federal Register

  • Enable entrepreneurs to be paroled into the U.S. and work if they are researchers, inventors or founders of businesses.
  • Expand availability of optional practical training for graduating F-1s:
    • Make the additional time available for STEM OPT graduates and expand the definition of STEM.
  • Early Adjustment. Enable individuals who are eligible to apply for adjustment of status, but for a non-current priority date, to file for adjustment and receive work authorization and advance parole.
  • Work authorization for spouses of H-1Bs. Finalize pending regulation.
  • Improve the L-1 adjudicative process:
    • Release of guidance on L-1Bs.

Presidential Memorandum on Visa Modernization – Further Discussion

  • Recapturing permanent resident numbers based on numbers allocated by Congress but left unused. When the government is unable to issue the allocated immigrant visa numbers for preference immigrants in a particular fiscal year, despite sufficient demand for such immigrant visa numbers, then the Department of State will ensure those unused immigrant visa numbers are used in subsequent years, in order to better effect Congressional objectives.
  • Derivative spouses and children not counted toward preference quotas.
  • Other important issues related to help revise the visa process for businesses.

Compliance Concerns with the extension of Deferred Action

Extensions of temporary relief for workers already in the U.S. could make their status more confusing to employers and put business owners in an untenable position with regard to employment eligibility verification compliance. Employers are particularly vulnerable when a current employee comes forward and reveals that s/he has been working for the company under a false identity and asks the employer to provide evidence of his/her employment history in order to take advantage of Executive Relief. An employer faces civil and potentially criminal liability for past hiring of unauthorized workers and also may face discrimination charges for hiring newly documented workers who previously presented fraudulent documents. Additionally, employers who do provide documentation to unauthorized workers may be identified as a target for future government enforcement activity.

Legislation to permanently address many of the items identified in the President’s executive action is still very much needed. We will continue to monitor and bring our readers updates as these initiatives, and reactions to them, unfold.

Canada Simplifies the Visa Application Process for Saudi Nationals; No Talk of Reciprocity

Posted in Visas

Following meetings last month between Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Crown Prince Salman and Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia, the Canadian government announced that it has made the visa application process easier for Saudis who wish to visit Canada. Canadian Ambassador Tom MacDonald confirmed that the purpose of the reforms was to simplify the process required for Saudis to visit Canada.

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National Visa Center Provides Updates on Internal Processing

Posted in Visas

The National Visa Center (NVC), in operation now for 20 years, is the U.S. Department of State agency responsible for pre-processing approved immigrant visas that include immigration based on: family and employment sponsorship, diversity visas and special immigrant visas. This month, the NVC met with the American Immigrant Lawyer’s Association and provided insight into its increased processing times, announced Fiscal Year statistics, and reported expected changes in 2015.

The NVC noted that during this year it started to receive 25,000 immigrant cases per week as opposed to roughly 8,000 cases as a result of USCIS working through its I-130, Immigrant Petition for Alien Relative application backlog. Due to this increase in volume, timing for case creation and document review increased, which is being addressed through staff adjustments. The NVC provided statistics for Fiscal Year 2014 including: it received 709,000 cases from USCIS, shipped 349,000 cases to various Consular Posts worldwide, and received 1.6 million calls. With respect to future changes, the NVC reported that early in 2015 it will start handling telephone inquiries regarding non-immigrant visa cases.

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UK Government Announces Expansion of 24 Hour Visa Service

Posted in Global Immigration, Visas

The United Kingdom government has announced a plan to expand The Super Priority Visa Service in April 2015. Currently, this service is available to Chinese and Indian business travelers, and provides decisions within 24 hours to individuals who need to travel to the United Kingdom urgently. The following countries will benefit from this expansion: Continue Reading

National Visa Center Announces It Will No Longer Collect Original Civil Documents

Posted in Visas

The National Visa Center (NVC), the U.S. Department of State agency responsible for pre-processing approved immigrant visas, has changed its policy on collecting originals of certain supporting documents. As of Nov. 12, 2014, NVC will no longer collect original civil documents (such as birth, marriage, police, military, court, death or divorce records) for immigrant visa applications at non-electronic processing posts. Instead, applicants should only submit photocopies of these documents to NVC via mail and keep the original documents in their possession. However, applicants will need to take the original documents to the visa interview, once scheduled.

With this new policy to stop collecting certain originals, NVC hopes to reduce wait times and improve the visa processing experience overall for customers. Instead of having to send originals of such sensitive, important documents, applicants can now just provide photocopies at the initial document submission stage. NVC will include the photocopies as part of the file for the appropriate Consular post, hopefully leading to more cases being documentarily qualified faster.