FOR THE WEEK OF APRIL 28, 2023
- House Immigration Border Bills Move Forward: The House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration Integrity, Security, and Enforcement marked up H.R. 2640, the Border Security and Enforcement Act of 2023. This bill focuses on border and asylum reform as well as unauthorized immigration. A separate bill, the Border Reinforcement Act of 2023 (H.R. 2794), was reported favorably out of the House Committee on Homeland Security on April 27, 2023.
- Florida is Poised to Mandate Use of E-Verify: The Florida state legislature is expected to pass a sweeping immigration bill next week. The bills HB 1617 and SB 1718 would, among other things, require private employers of more than 25 employees to use E-Verify beginning July 1, 2023.
State Department Suspends Visa Services in Sudan
- As of April 22, 2023, the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum suspended its operations, and all immigrant and diversity visa interviews are canceled until further notice. Nonimmigrant visa applicants may apply in any country in which they are physically present and where there are appointments available.
USCIS Says It Found Companies Cheating During H-1B Lottery Selection Process
- The Wall Street Journal is reporting that USCIS is issuing notices today to employers that it says entered the same applicants into the lottery selection process multiple times.
- USCIS did not name the companies, saying they are under investigation and have been referred to federal law enforcement agencies for potential criminal prosecution.
- USCIS noted on its H-1B electronic registration site that “the large number of eligible registrations for beneficiaries with multiple eligible registrations – much larger than in previous years – has raised serious concerns that some may have tried to gain an unfair advantage by working together to submit multiple registrations on behalf of the same beneficiary.”
- There were 781,000 entries into the lottery selection process this year. Last year, there were 478,000 entries.
Biden Administration to Open Processing Centers in Colombia and Guatemala
- The processing centers will be operated by international organizations partnering with the U.S. to screen applicants for legal ways to immigrate to the U.S.
- The centers are part of the government’s effort to reduce illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border.
FOR THE WEEK OF APRIL 17, 2023
- On April 18, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced his outline for border security and immigration reform, which has four pillars: create new and expand existing legal pathways to immigrate to the United States; increase resources at the border to process asylum seekers and carry out removal; expand humanitarian assistance to countries in Latin America; and elevate efforts to counter human trafficking and smuggling.
- The House continued to mark up its Border Bill in the House Judiciary Committee, but no bill has come out of committee yet.
USCIS Extends Temporary Suspension of Biometrics Requirement for Certain I-539 Applicants
- USCIS continued its suspension of the biometrics requirement for those filing I-539 applications for extensions of or change of status to H-4, L-2 or E status.
- The suspension is extended from May 17, 2023, to Sept. 30, 2023. USCIS also said it plans to permanently exempt all I-539 applicants from the biometrics requirement “in the coming months.”
General Motors’ Export Compliance Assessments Trigger Investigation, Settlement with IER
- DOJ reached a settlement with General Motors regarding its allegations that GM unlawfully discriminated against non-U.S. citizens with its export compliance assessment processes.
- The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) investigation determined that GM unnecessarily required lawful permanent residents to provide unexpired foreign passports as a condition of employment. It also found that GM combined its I-9 and export compliance assessment processes, resulting in GM requiring newly hired non-U.S. citizens to provide specific and unnecessary documents to prove their permission to work.
- The settlement is a good reminder that adherence to export control laws and regulations do not exempt employers from anti-discrimination requirements. It’s also important to ensure that an employer does not forget the anti-discrimination provisions in its pursuit of efficiency in the onboarding process.
- IER reminds employers of their obligations in the context of export control laws and regulations with this worksheet.
FOR THE WEEK OF APRIL 14, 2023
USCIS Provides Information About Options for Terminated Nonimmigrant Workers
- USCIS posted options for nonimmigrant workers whose employment is terminated, either voluntarily or involuntarily.
- In general, where eligible, terminated nonimmigrant workers may (1) file an application for a change of nonimmigrant status; (2) file an application for adjustment of status; (3) file an application for a “compelling circumstances” employment authorization document; or (4) be the beneficiary of a nonfrivolous petition to change employer.
Customs and Border Protection’s Stampless Entry Program
- As part of its Simplified Arrival process, CBP continues to roll out its Stampless Entry pilot program to eliminate ink stamps in passports at entry.
- More than ever, it’s very important for foreign nationals to download their I-94s at cbp.gov/i94 to ensure they are admitted correctly.
FOR THE WEEK OF APRIL 6, 2023
- Sens. Dick Durbin and Chuck Grassley have reintroduced their H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Bill. This bill has been introduced with many iterations since 2007. We don’t anticipate its passage this year.
- Lou Correa and Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.) request that the appropriations committee increase funding to $400 million to support USCIS processing and the reduction of backlogs. They also requested an increase of $425.9 million to fund the asylum processing rule and $100 million to be added for USCIS citizenship grants for groups that help prepare permanent residents for naturalization.
Compliance Consideration: Termination of E-3 and H-1B1 Visa Holders Should Include Notifying USCIS
- In addition to withdrawing the LCA, The Wage and Hour Division of the Dept of Labor requires three steps for ending an employer’s wage obligations pursuant to a certified LCA: (1) employment relationship has been terminated; (2) petition should be cancelled; and (3) employee has been offered payment for transportation home.
- Even though E-3 and H-1B1 workers do not have petition filings with USCIS, it’s important to notify USCIS of the end of the employment relationship.
District Court Ends Challenge to H-4 Work Permits
- A federal judge granted the Dept of Homeland Security’s motion for summary judgment and ruled in favor of the government’s authority to grant work authorization to certain visa types.
I-9 Reminder: In-person Review of Documents Still Required
- Virtual I-9 document review has yet to become a rule. DHS published a proposed rule in 2022 indicating a willingness to move in this direction. However, at this time, employers are still required to review I-9 documents in person, even in in the remote employment context.