European Commission Delays Decision about U.S. Visa Waiver Reciprocity

Posted in Canada, European Union, Visa Waiver Program, Visas

In June we wrote about the April 12, 2016, European Commission Communication to the EU Council and Parliament concerning visa-free travel reciprocity with the United States and Canada.  In its communication, the Commission requested a response and advice from the EU Parliament and Council by July 12 on how to move forward in light of outstanding visa reciprocity issues with the United States and Canada.  In our  previous post, we observed that near term action by the EU with respect to reciprocity and visa requirements was unlikely.

shutterstock_273008201According to a follow-up Communication dated July 13, 2016, and an accompanying press release issued from the European Commission, the EU Parliament and Council did not take a position as of July 12 concerning the imposition of visa requirements on the United States or Canada.  In the Commission’s release, the EU Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said that diplomatic efforts to resolve the issue have become more vigorous over the last three months with U.S. and Canadian officials.  The Communication states that “contacts with the United States have intensified both at [a] technical and political level.”

In its July 13 Communication, the Commission further acknowledges, however, that “since April, there has been no progress of relevance to EU citizens resulting from ongoing United States legislative initiatives, notably the ‘Jobs Originating through Launching Travel Act of 2015’ and the ‘Equal protection in Travel Act of 2016.”   The Communication continues: “[d]espite stepping up political and technical contacts, there have not been comparable indications of progress with the United States as those seen with Canada.”  Commissioner Avramopoulos advised that the Commission “will continue to work towards full visa reciprocity and we will coordinate our activities with the Member States concerned, the European Parliament and the Council to accelerate the delivery of results.”

In light of the current electoral climate in the United States, recent global events that continue to heighten security concerns among U.S. governmental leaders, and the communications between EU and U.S. officials reported in the Communication, it is unlikely that the U.S. will accede to the EU’s requests in the near term.  Conversely, despite the Communication’s direct language, the most recent Communication—which includes reference to the significant impact the imposition of visa requirements on U.S travelers would have on EU Member States—suggests that the EU will continue to pursue a diplomatic solution to the reciprocity issues it faces with the United States.

GT will continue to monitor developments on this issue.  To receive updates please subscribe to this blog.

H-1B Legislation Introduced in House of Representatives

Posted in H-1B, H.R.5801

On July 14, 2016, Representative Darryl Issa (R-Calif.) introduced H.R.5801, the “Protect and Grow American Jobs Act.”  The bill is cosponsored by Representatives Peters, Polis, Vargas, Farenthold, Smith, Hunter, and Davis.  The bill proposes to amend the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act (ACWIA) of 1998.

The ACWIA established certain enhanced Labor Condition Application requirements for “H-1B Dependent Employers,” as that term was defined in the law.  These additional requirements include U.S. worker recruitment requirements and rules concerning the non-displacement of U.S. workers.  The ACWIA also contained certain exemptions from the rules for H-1B Dependent Employers: an H-1B Dependent Employer is exempt from Additional Labor Condition Statements if the H-1B employee 1) earns an annual salary of more than $60,000, and 2) if the H-1B employee holds a master’s degree or greater.

H.R. 5801 amends the ACWIA’s exemptions for H-1B Dependent Employers.  First, it raises the wage exemption from $60,000 to $100,000, and proposes further inflationary increases in the minimum every three years.  Next, the bill proposes to repeal the master’s degree exemption for H-1B Dependent Employers.

We will continue to monitor developments and track the progress of this legislation.

Greenberg Traurig Sponsors the 15th Annual HRLA Gala

Posted in Events

Rebecca Schechter at HRLAGreenberg Traurig was proud to sponsor the 15th Annual Human Resources Leadership Awards (HRLA) Gala that took place on June 7, 2016, at the Marriott Washington Wardman Park in Washington, D.C. The Gala, attended by Greenberg Traurig’s Rebecca Schechter, Of Counsel, celebrated those in the HR industry, honored its leaders, and recognized how despite changes in the business world, HR must remain connected to the strategy, to the people, and to the culture. Greenberg Traurig’s Laura Reiff, Northern Virginia Co-managing Shareholder, is a founding member of the HRLA.

August 2016 Visa Bulletin Released

Posted in Department of State, Visa Bulletin

This week the Department of State released the August Visa Bulletin, which contains some significant movement in certain employment-based categories.

  • In its July Visa Bulletin, which we wrote about here, the Department advised that it would impose cutoff dates for India and China in the EB-1 category.  In the August Bulletin, the Department has imposed a cutoff date of January 1, 2010 for both countries.  The Worldwide EB-1 category remains current.  Individuals born in India or China should consider initiating EB-1 cases now for filing on before July 31, 2016, as retrogression will be in place on August 1, 2016.
  • The July Bulletin predicted a cutoff date for Worldwide chargeability in the EB-2 category, and in the August Bulletin, that date has been set at February 1, 2014, with a predicted return to current in October, 2016.  The cutoff date for India in the EB-2 category advanced by two weeks from November 1, 2004 to November 15, 2004.  The Department explained in item F that “high demand for numbers for USCIS adjustment of status applicants has required the establishment of a date for August. This action has been required to hold number use within the Worldwide E2 annual limit.”
  • In the EB-3 category, worldwide chargeability, along with El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, advanced two weeks from March 1, 2016 to March 15, 2016.  The cutoff date for India advanced from October 22, 2004 to November 8, 2004, while the cutoff date for the Philippines advanced by three months from February 15, 2009 to May 15, 2009.
  • In the EB-4 category, the Department imposed a cutoff date for India of January 1, 2010, consistent with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announcement that India had reached the EB-4 visa limit for fiscal year 2016.  The Department notes that the EB-4 category for India will become current in October, 2016.  The Department commented as follows:

As readers were advised in the May Visa Bulletin number 92, there has been extremely high demand in the E4 and SR categories, primarily for Juvenile Court Dependent cases filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for adjustment of status. Pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act, this has now required the implementation of E4 and SR Application Final Action Dates for India, which has reached its per-country limit. This action will allow the Department to hold worldwide number use within the maximum allowed under the FY-2016 annual limits.

In the EB-5 category, the cutoff date for Mainland China remained unchanged at February 15, 2014.  The EB-5 category is otherwise current.

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

The Department’s Application Final Action Dates for the Employment-Based categories follow:

August Visa Bulletin Chart 2

 

Greenberg Traurig Attends The Wailian 2016 Overseas Investment Seminars for Chinese Investors in Qingdao and Guangzhou China

Posted in EB-5 Program, Events, Firm News

Greenberg Traurig attorney, Laura Reiff, recently presented at the Wailian 2016 Overseas Investment Seminars in  Qingdao and Guangzhou, China. Among the hundreds of attendees and distinguished presenters was former Ambassador Gary Locke. During this two-day conference, Reiff provided an analysis and predictions for potential changes to and the extension of the EB-5 program.

Laura Reiff featured as a top presenter.

USCIS Announces It Has Returned All FY 2017 Cap-Subject H-1B Petitions Not Chosen Through Random Selection

Posted in H-1B, USCIS

USCIS with flagOn July 8, 2016, USCIS announced that it had completed the process of returning all FY 2017 cap-subject H-1B petitions not chosen for adjudication in the random selection process.  Employers that have yet to receive a Notice of Receipt for cap-subject petitions submitted between April 1 and April 7, 2016, should receive them by July 22, 2016.

On May 2, 2016, USCIS made an announcement that it had issued receipts in connection with all cap-subject petitions selected in the computer-generated random selection process.  If you have any questions with respect to the FY 2017 cap-subject H-1B petition process, please contact the Greenberg Traurig Immigration Group.

 

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Renews TPS for El Salvador

Posted in Department of Homeland Security, Employment Authorization, Temporary Protected Status, TPS, USCIS

el salvador shutterstock_155055182Through a recent publication of the Federal Register, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for eligible nationals of El Salvador effective Sept. 10, 2016, through March 9, 2018.   The extension allows eligible TPS beneficiaries to retain TPS through March 9, 2018, so long as they otherwise continue to meet the eligibility requirements.

Individuals with TPS must re-register during the 60-day re-registration period that runs from July 8, 2016, through Sept. 6, 2016.   The 18-month extension allows TPS re-registrants from El Salvador to apply for a new Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Those applicants who re-register during the 60-day period and request a new EAD will receive one with an expiration date of March 9, 2018.  USCIS is also automatically extending current El Salvador TPS EADs with a Sept. 9, 2016, expiration date for six months. These existing EADs are now valid through March 9, 2017, as USCIS recognizes that re-registrants may not receive a new EAD card before the current EAD expires.

Employers should alert 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 re-verify 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 DHS.

To qualify for El Salvador TPS, the applicant must satisfy the following criteria:

  • Be a national of El Salvador, or a person without nationality who last habitually resided in El Salvador;
  • File during the open initial registration or re-registration period, or meet the requirements for late initial filing during any extension of El Salvador’s TPS designation;
  • Maintain continuous physical presence in the United States since March 9, 2001; and
  • Reside continuously in the United States since Feb. 13, 2001.

Applicants over the age of 14 must also undergo security checks, and those with a criminal record or who pose a threat to national security are not eligible for TPS. Applicants may also request a fee waiver from USCIS from the application by submitting the appropriate request.

If you have never been granted TPS, you may be eligible to file a late initial application. Go to the “Filing Late” section on the TPS website for more information.

GTM Alert – Brexit: Immigration and Emigration

Posted in Brexit

This note addresses the impact of Brexit on UK immigration laws. It is one of a series of GTM Alerts designed to assist businesses in identifying the legal issues to consider and address in response to the UK’s referendum vote of 23 June 2016 to withdraw from the European Union.

The issue of freedom of movement of EU nationals was at the heart of the Brexit referendum and will continue to be one of the most debated topics over the coming months.

Whatever the ultimate outcome of Brexit, it is likely to affect the 1.8 million EU residents who currently live and work in the UK as well as the 1.2 million British nationals who currently live and work in the EU.

To read the full GTM Alert, click here.

GTM Alert – Brexit: The Timeline

Posted in Brexit

This note addresses the timeline for the UK’s exit from the EU. It is one of a series of GTM Alerts designed to assist businesses in identifying the legal issues to consider and address in response to the UK’s referendum vote of 23 June 2016 to withdraw from the European Union.

The UK has not left the EU. It will remain a member of the EU, and EU law will continue to apply in its territory, until it formally exits.

Exit is likely to take some time. Nearly two weeks after the UK referendum vote, a number of practical, political, and legal issues are emerging that may affect the start and timing of the procedure leading up to exit.

This exit procedure is set out in Article 50 of one of the two main EU Treaties, the Treaty on European Union. It involves three main steps before exit – notification, negotiation, and approval. These steps are illustrated in a notional timeline at the end of this note and are described in more detail below, together with the issues that may affect the UK’s exit date.

To read the full GTM Alert, click here.

 

Greenberg Traurig Hosts Washington Women’s Leadership Event

Posted in Events

Greenberg Traurig’s Northern Virginia Women’s Initiative and the Washington Women’s Leadership Initiative recently hosted a lively discussion with Kim K. Azzarelli on how women can find greater power and purpose in their lives. Greenberg Traurig Business Immigration and Compliance Co-Chair, Laura Reiff, moderated the discussion with Ms. Azzarelli as she discussed her new book, Fast Forward: How Women Can Achieve Power and Purpose.

womens initiative 1
Rebecca Manicone, Laura Reiff, Ashley Sawyer, and Michelle Soto.

womens initiative 2
Greenberg Traurig’s Business Immigration and Compliance Co-Chair, Laura Reiff, with keynote speaker Kim K. Azzarelli

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