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 Can it be repealed?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

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.


For a Limited Time! Renew Your Green Card Online

Posted in USCIS, Visas

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on its website yesterday that from 10 a.m.EST Nov. 12, 2014, to 10 a.m. EST Nov. 15, 2014, permanent residents may apply to renew or replace their green cards online via the USCIS Electronic Immigration System (USCIS ELIS). Applications to renew or replace green cards are filed using the Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. During the 72-hour period this week, USCIS will make the I-90 form available in ELIS and will solicit feedback with the goal of improving the overall user experience, as the agency intends to fully implement the Form I-90 into USCIS ELIS in 2015. Applicants may still file the Form I-90 through the mail.

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Indonesian Government Raises the Bar on Documenting Work Permit Recommendation Applications

Posted in Global Immigration

In the world of Indonesian immigration, obtaining a TA.01 work permit recommendation is a preliminary step to ultimately gaining a work permit and a limited stay visa, which authorizes a foreign national to engage in certain delineated activities, such as employment.

Effective on filings made on or after November 4, 2013, the Indonesian government will now require work permit applicants to have certain of their supporting documents endorsed/stamped (“meterai”)—representing a shift towards stricter modes of proving legitimacy, with the burden on the applicant. Continue Reading

Israel Refuses Visas to Citizens of Countries with Ebola Outbreaks

Posted in Visas

Israel’s Foreign Ministry instructed its consulates around the world to withhold visas from citizens of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea because of concerns about Ebola. In addition, the Ministry directed consulates to avoid issuing visas to individuals who have traveled to the three countries.

As we reported last week, Canada and Australia have taken similar steps and have stopped granting visas to travelers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. So far the United States has not imposed a ban on travel to or from the stricken countries. Instead, the United States has implemented enhanced passenger screening.


Veterans Honored by USCIS During Naturalization Ceremonies

Posted in USCIS

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will be recognizing the contributions of veterans, active military and military spouses during 40 naturalization ceremonies taking place across the country between now and Nov. 14, 2014, for more than 3,000 new citizens. Over the last 12 years, USCIS has naturalized over 102,000 service members – many of them on an expedited basis.

Current members of U.S. armed forces and recently discharged members are eligible for expedited processing of U.S. naturalization applications pursuant to special provisions contained in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Specifically, expedited processing is generally available for members of the following branches of U.S. armed forces: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, certain sections of the National Guard and the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve. Military spouses of active service members who are or will be deployed may also be eligible for expedited naturalization. Under certain circumstances some spouses may be eligible to gain U.S. naturalization abroad.

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