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.”
On Oct. 12, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a major change in the direct filing addresses for certain Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker petitions. Previously, the filing center for these petitions was determined by the U.S. state or territory where the beneficiary’s worksite or training site was located. With USCIS’s latest announcement, the filing center for most Form I-129 petitions will be determined by the primary office location of the company or organization for which the beneficiary works.
The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of State have announced the launch of a partnership designed to protect U.S. workers from discrimination and counter abuses of the employment-based visa system. Introducing the measure, Acting Assistant Attorney General John M. Gore stated, “Employers [who] discriminate against qualified U.S. workers by favoring foreign visa workers will be held accountable. Today’s agreement reflects the Civil Rights Division’s commitment to use all available tools, including collaboration with other federal agencies, to protect U.S. workers from discrimination”.
On Tuesday, Oct. 10, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed an appeal in Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project (16-1436), one of the cases challenging a provision in a now-expired version of President Trump’s travel ban (Executive Order No. 13780).
The U.S. Embassy announced it was suspending all nonimmigrant visa services in all U.S. diplomatic posts in Turkey. Turkey responded within a few hours of the U.S. Embassy’s announcement by saying it would no longer issue visas to U.S. citizens, including the physical “sticker” visas at border posts as well as the online Turkish electronic visa (e-visa).
On Oct. 8, 2017, the White House released the promised Immigration Principles & Policies (Principles & Policies) which outline the Trump Administration’s position on immigration. This document is broken into three parts: 1) Border Security, 2) Interior Enforcement, and 3) Merit-Based Immigration. A summary of each part is broken down below.
On Oct. 5, the U.S. Senate approved the nomination of Lee Francis Cissna to lead the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency (USCIS) on a bipartisan vote of 54-43. All Republican senators supported the nomination and were joined by Democrat Senators Donnelly (IN), Heitkamp (ND), Manchin (WV) and McCaskill (MO). Senators Cochran (R-MS), Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Heller (R-NV) did not vote.
USCIS has begun issuing I-797A, Notice of Action Approval Notices containing inconsistent validity periods on the face of the document. Specifically, the top portion of the I-797A approval notices lists the approved visa classification (e.g., H-1B) and the authorized validity period of that visa classification (e.g., from Oct. 1, 2017, to Sept. 11, 2020). The bottom portion of the approval notice, containing Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Records, now lists different validity periods – generally an additional 10 days of validity in comparison to the validity dates listed on the top of the approval notice (e.g., from Oct. 1, 2017, to Sept. 21, 2020). This change in the approval notices is causing confusion for both employers and employees.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) levied a historic $95 million settlement against a national tree company in connection with a six year investigation by ICE into the company’s hiring of undocumented workers and other immigration violations. This settlement represents the largest payment ever received in an immigration case. Moreover, it demonstrates ICE’s commitment to immigration enforcement and deterring U.S. employers from knowingly hiring undocumented workers.
On Sept. 27, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) made a motion requesting the abeyance of the court’s decision in Save Jobs USA v. United States Department of Homeland Security, commonly referred to as “the H-4 EAD lawsuit,” until Dec. 31, 2017. The motion requests the delay to allow DHS time to evaluate the H-4 EAD rule in light of Executive Order 13788, “Buy American and Hire American.” “Buy American and Hire American” focused on protecting jobs and wages for U.S. workers and called on DHS to evaluate existing programs with this in mind. While the abeyance could be considered positive news in that it will delay the court’s final decision and protect H-4 EADs in the interim, H-4 EADs are unlikely to be viewed in a positive light when considered with E.O. 13788. Anyone eligible for an EAD extension should make their extensions as early as possible. Please contact your GT attorney with any questions.
For more on EAD, click here.