DHS Spring Regulatory Agenda Projects Changes to H-1B Visas, the Rescission of H-4 Work Authorization, Increased Fees, and More

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has released its spring 2019 regulatory agenda, highlighting the agency’s rulemaking priorities through 2019. While many of the agenda items appear to be carryovers from agendas past, they serve as continuing reminders of the Trump administration’s immigration-related goals.

USCIS Provides Updates Regarding Premium Processing for FY 2020 Cap Cases

Premium processing has historically been available for all H-1B applications filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). However, from time to time, USCIS has suspended premium processing. On March 19, 2019, USCIS announced that it would use a staggered approach to premium processing for the fiscal year (FY) 2020 H-1B cap filing season, with two distinct phases for those cases filed in the lottery conducted in April 2019.

Changes Ahead for H-1B Cap Season

Next year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is likely to implement its new electronic H-1B cap registration process, and the H-1B cap season as we know it will end. No longer will employers and attorneys be required to prepare entire petitions for every case submitted in the lottery.

Representatives Raise Concerns About Low Staffing at Canadian Border

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced a plan to temporarily transfer approximately 750 Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers from the Canadian border to the Mexican border to help address the influx of asylum seekers from Central America. The transferred officers are being reassigned from their posts along the 5,525-mile Canadian border, creating worries about the potential for travel delays at busy ports of entry.

President Proposes New Merit-Based Green Card System

On May 16, 2019, President Donald Trump outlined, in broad strokes, his new immigration plan. The proposal delineates two primary goals: securing the U.S. border and protecting American workers. Most notably, the plan includes the introduction of a new “Build America” visa that would replace existing green card preference categories and limit family-based immigration in favor of a merit-based points system.

DHS Announces That It Will Issue 30,000 Additional H-2B Visas in Response to High Demand

After a tumultuous filing period for the second half of fiscal year (FY) 2019, employers that rely on H-2B seasonal workers received some good news. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has agreed to issue up to 30,000 additional H-2B visas for the second half of FY 2019, which runs through September 30, 2019.

Judge Orders Nationwide Preliminary Injunction Blocking Enforcement of Automatic Accrual of Unlawful Presence

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina has issued a nationwide preliminary injunction halting the enforcement of the Trump administration’s August 2018 policy memorandum that changed when “unlawful presence” accrues for foreign students and exchange visitors.

President Trump Nominates New Director of ICE

President Donald Trump has nominated Mark Morgan to serve as the new director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Morgan spent 20 years in the Federal Bureau of Investigation before being appointed chief of U.S. Customs and Border Protection during the final months of the Obama administration.

Trump Administration Focuses on Deterring Visa Overstays

President Donald J. Trump has issued a memorandum aimed at reducing the number of visa overstays in the United States. The administration says those overstays undermine the integrity of the immigration system and harm the national interest. The memorandum calls on the secretaries of the U.S. Department of State (DOS) and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to propose a plan to address and reduce the number of foreign nationals who remain in the United States beyond their period of authorized stay.

Now We Wait: What to Keep in Mind After Filing an H-1B Petition With USCIS

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has completed the selection process for H-1B cap subject petitions filed for fiscal year (FY) 2020. On April 10, 2019, the agency ran computerized lotteries for both regular cap petitions and those subject to the U.S. advanced degree exemption after determining it had received a sufficient number of petitions to meet the congressionally mandated quota for each category.

DOL Issues Guidance on H-1B Notice Requirements

The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has published a bulletin highlighting the H-1B notice and posting procedures with which employers must comply if they elect to provide electronic notice of their intent to hire H-1B nonimmigrant workers. The bulletin places particular emphasis on compliance issues when third-party worksites are involved.

Key Immigration Considerations During Mergers and Acquisitions, Part II: Green Cards

Part one of this two-part series outlined common considerations related to temporary work visas employers may have during the due diligence process of a merger, acquisition, or other corporate restructuring. Part two will cover key considerations for employers during a pre-close assessment of impacted foreign national workers—this time, regarding green card processing.

Initiate Petitions Now–H-1B Cap Filing Date Quickly Approaching

On April 1, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting new H-1B petitions subject to the annual quota for fiscal year 2020 (FY 2020). With the filing window quickly approaching, employers now have only a limited amount of time to identify and prepare petitions for employees who require new H-1B visas to work in the United States.