USCIS Changes Locations To File Forms I-129

Posted in Form I-129, H-1B, H-1B Cap, USCIS

On Oct. 12, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a major change in the direct filing addresses for certain Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker petitions. Previously, the filing center for these petitions was determined by the U.S. state or territory where the beneficiary’s worksite or training site was located. With USCIS’s latest announcement, the filing center for most Form I-129 petitions will be determined by the primary office location of the company or organization for which the beneficiary works.

For example, for a beneficiary who works in Oregon for a company headquartered in New York, their petition should be filed at the Vermont Service Center. (Previously, this petition would have been filed at the California Service Center.)

In addition, USCIS has moved the filing location for petitioners in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas to the California Service Center.

Certain classifications of I-129 petitions are filed at one specific filing center, regardless of the location of the beneficiary or company headquarters. For example, H-1B cap exempt petitions are only accepted at the California Service Center and H-1B same employer with no change petitions are only accepted at the Nebraska Service Center.

The change in filing location is effective immediately. There will be a short grace period, but USCIS will begin rejecting petitions filed to the incorrect service center starting Nov. 11, 2017.

Please refer to USCIS’s I-129 direct filing website for more information, and the complete list of which states file at the California or Vermont Service Centers.

For more information on Form I-129 filings, please click here.

U.S. Departments of Justice and State Announce Partnership to Challenge Visa Fraud and Safeguard U.S. Workers

Posted in Department of Justice, Discrimination, U.S. Department of State (DOS), Visas

The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of State have announced the launch of a partnership designed to protect U.S. workers from discrimination and counter abuses of the employment-based visa system. Introducing the measure, Acting Assistant Attorney General John M. Gore stated, “Employers [who] discriminate against qualified U.S. workers by favoring foreign visa workers will be held accountable. Today’s agreement reflects the Civil Rights Division’s commitment to use all available tools, including collaboration with other federal agencies, to protect U.S. workers from discrimination”.

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U.S. Supreme Court Dismisses Travel Ban Case

Posted in Executive Order, Immigrant Visa, Immigration Law, President Trump's Administration, Visas

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).

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U.S. Suspends Nonimmigrant Visa Services in Turkey; Turkey Responds by Suspending Visas to U.S. Citizens

Posted in E-Visas, Non-Immigrant Visas, Travel, U.S. Department of State (DOS)

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).

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The White House Releases Immigration Principles & Policies

Posted in Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, E-Verify, President Trump's Administration, U.S. Department of State (DOS), USCIS, Visas

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.

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Senate Confirms Lee Francis Cissna to Lead USCIS

Posted in USCIS

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 Approval Notices Cause Confusion due to Inconsistent Validity Periods

Posted in Form I-9, H-1B, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), USCIS

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.

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Levies Record $95 Million Civil Settlement for Immigration Violations

Posted in E-Verify, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

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.

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Abeyance on H-4 EAD Lawsuit

Posted in Department of Homeland Security, Employment Authorization Documents (EAD), Executive Order

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.

New USCIS and SSA Information-sharing Program

Posted in Employment Authorization Documents (EAD), USCIS

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.