The Department of State’s (DOS) December 2017 Visa Bulletin showed some minor movement in some employment-based categories. Referring to the Final Action Dates, the following are the updates for the December Visa Bulletin:
On Nov. 8, 2017, the U.S. Government announced new regulations in furtherance of the Trump Administration’s policy regarding Cuba.
As discussed in our prior GT Alert, in June 2017, President Trump published his National Security Presidential Memorandum “Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba” (NSPM), which announced modification of U.S. policy with respect to Cuba to target the Cuban military, intelligence, and security agencies. In the NSPM, President Trump emphasized the need to promote the flow of economic benefits to the Cuban people, rather than to its military. The NSPM further directed the Commerce, State, and Treasury Departments to take various actions implementing the new policy.
Accordingly, regulations were released this week by the U.S. Department of State, Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), and Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) to implement the NSPM, and clarify the limitations imposed on U.S. persons wishing to travel to or do business in Cuba.
To read the full GT Alert, click here.
*Admitted to the practice of law in Cuba and New York. Not admitted in Florida.
The U.S. Mission in Turkey has resumed limited processing of nonimmigrant visas following the earlier suspension of nonimmigrant visa services in all U.S. diplomatic posts in Turkey back on Oct. 8, 2017. The U.S. Mission in Turkey will process nonimmigrant visas on a limited basis with a reduced number of appointments in both Ankara and Istanbul. Applicants with previously canceled visa appointments may access the internet-based appointment system to select any open date to schedule a new visa appointment. Please contact your GT attorney for more information on options for visa appointments in Turkey. Meanwhile, we will continue to monitor this matter.
For more information on visa services in Turkey, please click here.
Greenberg Traurig recently attended the 2017 Samsung Hope For Children Gala at the Skylight Clarkson Square in New York City. With hundreds of guests in attendance, including musicians, athletes, and celebrities, this program has raised millions for schools, health initiatives, and community-based foundations. One hundred percent of the proceeds raised by Samsung go directly to charity.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report titled “USCIS Needs a Better Approach to Verify H-1B Visa Participants.” The report was published on Oct. 20, 2017, where OIG made the following findings, after which it gave four recommendations to USCIS:
- USCIS does not track their site visits – there is no specification for what type of visa category the visit pertains.
- USCIS has been tasked to conduct site visits, per Executive Order 13768, that will target:
- Employers where basic business information cannot be verified;
- Employers who are H-1B dependent;
- Employers who place beneficiaries offsite.
- USCIS needs to do more to prevent recurring violators, such as denying new petitions for that particular employer.
- USCIS has been approving petitions from employers where site visits are unverified – these petitions should be revoked.
- The revocation process typically takes 339 days.
- The Immigration Officers (IOs) are not all trained and site visits are conducted differently depending on the IO conducting the visit.
- IOs have a high turnover rate because there is no career advancement.
- USCIS collects information from site visits but they do not assess it.
Out of thousands of blogs, GT’s very own EB-5 Insights immigration blog has been nominated for inclusion in the Expert Institute’s Third Annual Best Legal Blog Contest in the AmLaw category. Now, it’s up to the readers to vote. To cast your vote please click the link below!
President Trump signed a new Executive Order (EO) on Tuesday, the same day as the last travel ban’s provision against refugee admissions was due to expire. The EO allows refugees to travel into the U.S. and the Department of Homeland Security to process refugee applications. The Trump Administration had previously blocked refugee travel through an EO issued on March 6, 2017, (“Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”) which directed a review to strengthen the vetting process for the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). A working group was established for this purpose which resulted in the implementation of improvements and enhancements to the process for screening and vetting refugees. Although the USRAP is allowed to resume, the Departments of State, Homeland Security, and the Office of Director of National Intelligence determined that refugee admissions of 11 unnamed nationalities previously identified as potentially posing a higher risk to the United States will be processed with additional review on a case by case basis within a new 90 day review period and additional security measures will be implemented for following-to-join refugees of all nationalities that have already been resettled in the United States. Admissions of following-to-join refugees will resume once those enhancements have been implemented.
For more information on the Trump Administration’s travel bans please click here.
For over a decade, filing an extension of nonimmigrant status in visa categories such as the H-1B was a fairly routine process for cases involving the same employer and same underlying facts. This changed yesterday. As part of the Trump Administration’s Buy American, Hire American: Putting American Workers First initiative, USCIS rescinded a long-standing policy from 2004, The Significance of a Prior CIS Approval of a Nonimmigrant Petition in the Context of a Subsequent Determination Regarding Eligibility for Extension of Petition Validity; and Part VII (Readjudication of L-1B Status) of L-1B Adjudications Policy from 2015, and issued new policy guidance entitled Recission of Guidance Regarding Deference to Prior Determinations of Eligibility in the Adjudication of Petitions for Extension of Nonimmigrant Status. This new guidance instructs USCIS officers to no longer give deference to prior determinations of eligibility for extensions of nonimmigrant status that include the same parties and underlying facts and shifts the burden of proof back to the Petitioner/Employer. This new guidance will impact extensions of nonimmigrant status that use the I-129 Form and will likely result in the issuance of more Request for Evidence (RFE) notifications. Employers who were already experiencing heightened scrutiny and hurdles in the H-1B program over recent months, including the systematic issuance of Wage Level 1 RFEs, will now see an even higher percentage of RFE notifications. We will continue to monitor and report on review trends that result from this guidance.
For more information on H-1B visas, please click here.
*Not admitted to the practice of law.
In an apparent change in policy, U.S. immigration authorities are now taking a hard-line approach to individuals who have alcohol-related charges or offenses, marking a significant shift in how U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the U.S. Department of State treat visa holders in this predicament. Employers and employees alike should take note of this development as the consequences of having an alcohol related-charge or offense will likely mean USCIS will find individuals ineligible for an extension of status request, forcing them to leave the country and process a visa stamp at a U.S. Consulate abroad.
To read the full GT Alert, click here.
Tom Homan, the Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), has ordered ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) unit to increase the amount of time it spends on worksite enforcement actions “by four or five times,” consistent with the Trump administration’s stated goal of curbing illegal immigration. Notably, Acting Director Homan also announced a marked change in agency posture, noting that ICE would now target undocumented employees for detention and removal in addition to prosecuting employers for knowingly hiring or retaining workers who lack valid U.S. employment authorization. Noting that ICE has already stepped up its number of worksite inspections, with plans for a significant additional increase during the next fiscal year, Acting Director Homan pointed out: “When we find you at a [work site], we’re no longer going to turn our heads. We’ll go after the employer who knowingly hires an illegal alien…but we’re always going to arrest a person who is here illegally. That is our job.”