Ian Macdonald

Subscribe to all posts by Ian Macdonald

The United States Will Now Require Visa Applicants to Provide Social Media Information

Under a new State Department policy, virtually all visa applicants to the United States are now required to submit information about social media accounts they have used in the past five years. Applicants for immigrant and nonimmigrant visas must use the State Department’s Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) to complete online forms for nonimmigrant (DS-160) … Continue Reading

GT Alert – New Immigration Policy Focuses On Alcohol-Related Charges

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 … Continue Reading

USCIS to Resume H-1B Premium Processing for Petitions Filed under FY2018 Cap

USCIS announced today that it will resume its premium processing service for all H-1B petitions that are subject to this year’s H-1B cap.  This news provides much needed relief to employers and foreign nationals, particularly in those situations where an employee is relying on F-1 optional practical training (OPT) cap gap provisions for work authorization. … Continue Reading

New DOS Rule Regarding Misrepresentation – An End to the 30/60 Day Rule

On Sept. 1, 2017, the U.S Department of State (DOS) updated the Field Adjudicators Manual (FAM) at 9 FAM 302.9-4(B)(3).  The Field Adjudicators Manual (FAM) serves to guide consular officers in their adjudications process, and this particular section provides guidance regarding “misrepresentation” by applicants “at the time of visa application or to DHS when applying … Continue Reading

Denial of Advance Parole Applications Due to International Travel Adversely Impacts U.S. Companies

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is denying Advance Parole (AP) applications when an applicant travels internationally while the application is pending with USCIS.  This represents a big adjudication shift by USCIS, which has for several years allowed certain AP applicants to travel abroad while waiting for USCIS to approve an AP application.  By making … Continue Reading

Effective April 3, 2017, USCIS Will Temporarily Suspend Premium Processing for All H-1B Petitions

Late Friday evening on March 3, 2017, The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced that it will temporarily suspend its premium processing service for all H-1B petitions, including CAP-subject H-1B petitions.  The temporary suspension will begin on Monday, April 3, 2017, and may continue for up to 6 months.  This procedural change is intended … Continue Reading

2017 H-1B Cap Met, USCIS to Conduct Lottery

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it has reached the 2017 H-1B cap, and will no longer be accepting H-1B cap cases under this year’s cap. USCIS has yet to provide the number of petitions received for this year’s caps of 65,000 visas for the general category and 20,000 for the advanced … Continue Reading

DHS Set to Publish Final Rule Allowing Further STEM OPT Extensions for Foreign Students

Today DHS released an advanced copy of its final rule allowing foreign students with degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) to extend their Optional Practical Training (OPT) for an additional 24 months.  DHS will publish the final rule in the Federal Register this Friday.  The rule will go into effect on May 10.  … Continue Reading

December 2015 Monthly AILA Check-In with Charlie Oppenheim

On Dec. 14, 2015, USCIS released the Visa Bulletin Charts for January 2016, in conjunction with the Visa Bulletin, USCIS announced that Family-sponsored immigrant visa applicants may use the “Dates of Filing” chart for January 2016 for filing adjustment of status applications, but Employment-based applicants must use the “Final Action Dates” chart for January 2016. … Continue Reading

USCIS Visa Bulletin Coming January 2016

On December 14, 2015, USCIS released an updated Visa Bulletin chart listing the dates to file adjustment of status applications starting in January, 2016.  Applicants can use the charts issued by USCIS as a guide to determine whether visas in particular categories are available for them and whether they are eligible to file I-485 adjustment … Continue Reading

Recent Lawsuit Reminds Employers to Offer the Same or Higher Wages and Benefits to H-1B Workers as U.S. Workers

On November 9, 2015, in New York State Court, a group of immigrant software engineers filed a class action lawsuit against a global consulting company.  The suit claims that the company discriminates against foreign workers under the New York State Human Rights Law (N.Y. EXC. LAW § 296), as well as a similar municipal law.  … Continue Reading

All Embassies and Consulates Closed on October 9, 2015, to perform Global Consular Systems Upgrade

On Friday, October 9, 2015, the Department of State will perform a consular systems upgrade at all Embassies and Consulates (Consular Posts).  Because of this upgrade, the Consular Posts will be closed to the public, and any scheduled appointments for this date will be rescheduled by the Consular Posts.  If you have a scheduled visa … Continue Reading

Regrettable and Sudden – DOS Issues a Revised Visa Bulletin for October 2015 Leaving Many Foreign Nationals Upset

September 9, 2015, brought great excitement to many foreign nationals—particularly nationals of India, China, and the Philippines—who were anxiously awaiting the opportunity to file their Adjustment of Status applications with USCIS several years earlier than expected so they could secure independent work authorization and travel permission while waiting to obtain their green cards.  GT wrote … Continue Reading

BALCA Reverses PERM Denial, says Employer Complied with Supervised Recruitment Instructions

In Matter of SDG Post Oak, the employer was issued a notice of supervised recruitment by the Atlanta National Processing Center (ANPC). After the draft recruitment was approved by the ANPC, the employer placed an online advertisement on online job listing forums. The duty requirement field of the advertisement properly listed the minimum experience as … Continue Reading

The New Standard – USCIS Releases its Final L-1B Policy Memo

Not wanting to let Hollywood have all of the fun this summer, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently released its blockbuster in the version of a highly anticipated (at least for us) L-1B Adjudication Policy Memorandum. In late March of 2015, USCIS released a draft Policy Memorandum, which we discussed here, and accepted feedback … Continue Reading

Recent and Important BALCA Decisions for Employers

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (“BALCA”) recently issued two decisions employers should note. First, in Matter of Mphasis Corporation, BALCA reversed a denial of a PERM labor certification issued by the Certifying Officer (“CO”) on the grounds that the Employee Referral Program (“ERP”) recruitment step was properly started. The underlying challenge was the … Continue Reading

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Proposes New Biometric Identity Collection Program

As published in the Federal Register today, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is requesting comments on the introduction of a newly developed biometric-based entry and exit program. This program will be applied to non-exempt non-U.S. citizens entering and exiting the United States. According to the CBP, the purpose of this national security measure … Continue Reading

Federal Court Decision on F-1 Work Authorization Poses Massive Headaches for Employers Unless USCIS Implements A New Rule In The Next 6 Months

Yesterday, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia significantly curtailed immigration benefits for foreign students in the United States on F-1 visas. In her opinion in the case Washington Alliance of Technology Workers vs. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle invalidated USCIS’s 2008 17-month Optional Practical Training (OPT) … Continue Reading

California Event Design and Production Company Fined $605,000 for Over 800 I-9 Violations

Earlier this month, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) for OCAHO ordered Hartmann Studios, Inc., an event design and production company based in Richmond, California to pay civil money penalties totaling $605,250 based on 808 I-9 paperwork violations.  The vast majority of violations involved the company’s failure to sign section 2 of the I-9 forms.  The … Continue Reading

As 7/17/15 EAD Deadline Looms, USCIS Implements a Home Visit Policy to Retrieve Affected EADs

With Federal Judge Andrew Hanen’s deadline to return incorrectly issued 3-year Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) quickly approaching, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has informed the public that it will be conducting home visits to retrieve affected EADs. During a July 14 stakeholder call, USCIS announced some important updates to this initiative: USCIS home visits … Continue Reading
LexBlog