U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has confirmed that it will implement the new electronic H-1B registration system for the upcoming cap season. Employers seeking to file cap-subject H-1B petitions will be required to electronically register each candidate for selection in the fiscal year 2021 (FY2021) lottery.
On November 26, 2019, a federal court in Oregon issued a nationwide preliminary injunction blocking the Trump administration from implementing a presidential proclamation that would have required immigrant visa applicants to provide proof of health insurance.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has proposed a new fee schedule designed to mitigate an approximate $1.3 billion shortfall in the annual budget of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). According to DHS, immigration fees would increase by a weighted average of 21 percent across the board. In reality, however, the fee changes would not affect all immigration benefits equally. Fees for some commonly used classifications are set to go up significantly.
On November 12, 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral argument on the legality of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) decision to terminate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama-era program that provides work authorization and protection from deportation to young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. The roughly 80-minute session focused on two primary questions: whether the Court had the authority to review DHS’s decision to end DACA and, if so, whether the decision was legal.
On November 2, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon issued a temporary restraining order, blocking the Trump administration from enforcing a recent presidential proclamation requiring health insurance for immigrant visa applicants.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that on December 2, 2019, its premium processing fee will increase from $1,410 to $1,440 for certain employment-based petitions.
The Trump administration’s public charge rule is on hold, at least temporarily. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State each introduced a version of the rule. Both versions were scheduled for implementation on October 15, 2019, and would have established expansive new tests to be used by those agencies when determining if certain visa applicants were likely to become public charges—a determination that would generally make them inadmissible to the United States.
According to a proclamation issued by President Donald Trump on October 4, 2019, the U.S. Department of State will begin issuing immigrant visas only to those foreign nationals who will have health insurance once admitted to the United States, or who can prove that they have the financial means to cover their own medical expenses.
On October 11, 2019, the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York ordered a preliminary injunction blocking the implementation, by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), of President Donald Trump’s .
The U.S. Department of State has released the October 2019 Visa Bulletin, the first for fiscal year 2020. As anticipated, many of the final action dates have rebounded after retrogressing in August and have returned to dates similar to those seen in the August 2019 Visa Bulletin.
Implementation of the rule rescinding H-4 work authorization has been delayed yet again. According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the proposed rule is not expected to be published in the Federal Register until spring 2020 at the earliest, but even that time frame may be aspirational.
There have been an increasing number of reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has begun conducting workplace site visits for F-1 students employed pursuant to optional practical training (OPT) in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. While ICE has had the authority to conduct on-site inspections since 2016, it has not exercised that authority until recently. Given this new development, companies that employ STEM OPT workers are encouraged to be prepare in case ICE visits their workplaces.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans to charge employers a $10 registration fee—per H-1B candidate—to participate in its mandatory electronic H-1B registration system.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has instructed employers to continue using the current version of the Form I-9 beyond the form’s August 31, 2019, expiration date.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has had a change of heart. Instead of closing all 23 of its international field offices, as originally planned, the agency recently announced that it would keep seven offices open.
On August 14, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published the final version of its public charge rule in the Federal Register. According to a statement by DHS, the rule is intended to formalize the way in which the agency determines if an individual applying for a nonimmigrant visa or adjustment of status (to obtain a green card) is likely to become a public charge—a determination that would generally make the person inadmissible to the United States.
A new Oregon law will require employers to notify their employees when they (the employers) are contacted by a federal agency that intends to audit, among other things, employer records and employment eligibility documentation.
The August 2019 Visa Bulletin, released by the U.S. Department of State earlier this month, shows substantial retrogression affecting employment-based categories worldwide. The State Department expects the retrogression to be short lived and anticipates that the final action dates should return to those listed in the July 2019 Visa Bulletin by the start of fiscal year 2020 in October 2019.
On July 10, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1044, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019, by a vote of 365 to 65. The bill is intended to reduce lengthy immigrant visa (green card) wait times by eliminating per-country caps for employment-based green cards. In addition, senators have reportedly reached an agreement on a version of a companion bill (S. 386) in the U.S. Senate that presently includes an amendment imposing tighter restrictions on recruitment and creating new reporting requirements for H-1B visa sponsors.
The Supreme Court of the United States has agreed to hear the appeals over the termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program during its next term. In its order, the Court consolidated three pending DACA appeals and granted one hour for oral argument. The Court is expected to decide, once and for all, whether the Trump administration can end the DACA program.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be redistributing certain naturalization and green card cases to field offices with lighter caseloads for processing. In its announcement, the agency said that since the end of 2015, it has received more green card and naturalization applications than expected.
On June 10, 2019, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli became the new acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), replacing L. Francis Cissna, who stepped down at the beginning of June 2019.
The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would cancel and prohibit removal proceedings and provide a pathway to citizenship for an estimated 2.5 million immigrants. The American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, which passed by a vote of 237 to 187, is geared toward protecting foreign nationals who entered the United States when they were under 18 (often referred to as “Dreamers”) and those granted humanitarian protections under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).
Foreign nationals are now required to provide a five-year history of social media usernames, telephone numbers, and email addresses when applying for U.S. nonimmigrant or immigrant visas. The plan to require more information from visa applicants has been in the works since 2017, when President Donald Trump called on the U.S. Department of State to enhance the vetting of individuals seeking immigration benefits from the United States. The State Department already requires social media histories from visa applicants deemed to present a heightened security risk to the United States, but this new requirement will greatly expand the number of applicants subjected to enhanced vetting.
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.