DHS Issues Interim Final Rule to Restrict Requirements for H-1B Visa Classification

On October 8, 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published its long-speculated interim final rule, “Strengthening the H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa Classification Program.” According to the interim final rule’s summary, the purpose of the new rule is to “strengthen the integrity of the H-1B program during the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency to more effectively ensure that the employment of H-1B workers will not have an adverse impact on the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.”

DHS Partially Enjoined From Enforcing Proclamation Suspending Entry of Certain Foreign Nationals

On October 1, 2020, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California issued a limited preliminary injunction enjoining the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from “implementing, enforcing, or otherwise carrying out” Section 2 of Presidential Proclamation 10052 of June 22, 2020, which suspended the entry of individuals into the United States on select nonimmigrant visas.

DOL Issues Interim Final Rule Adjusting Wage Level Calculations for H-1B, H-1B1, E-3 Visa and PERM Programs

On October 8, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published its long-speculated interim final rule, “Strengthening Wage Protections for the Temporary and Permanent Employment of Certain Aliens in the United States.” The new rule will update how the existing “four-tiered wage structure based on the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) wage survey” is calculated for purposes of determining prevailing wages. The rule goes into effect immediately on October 8, 2020, with no notice period. These changes will result in significant wage increases to the wage levels for all four levels of the OES survey, across all occupations. The wage adjustments will affect the processing of H-1B, H-1B1, and E-3 temporary work visas, as well as permanent labor certification program (PERM) applications.

USCIS to Resume Implementing Public Charge Rule Nationwide

On September 22, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated its website to indicate that it would resume implementing the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds final rule (often referred to as the “public charge rule”) on a nationwide basis. The updated policy follows a series of recent federal court decisions on the controversial rule. The most recent of these decisions, issued on September 11, 2020, by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, lifted a temporary injunction blocking the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and USCIS from implementing the rule, including within the Second Circuit states of New York, Connecticut, and Vermont.

Second Circuit Limits Scope of Injunction on Public Charge Rule to Connecticut, New York, and Vermont

On August 12, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit limited the scope of a nationwide injunction that had blocked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) from implementing and enforcing the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds final rule (commonly called the “public charge rule”) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision, which came only days after a series of recent federal court decisions on the controversial rule, restricts the scope of the nationwide injunction to only those states under the jurisdiction of the Second Circuit.

DHS Restricts New York Residents’ Enrollment and Renewal Eligibility for Trusted Traveler Programs

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has suspended New Yorkers’ eligibility to apply for or renew their enrollment in four Trusted Traveler Programs (TTPs) administered by Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The suspension went into effect on February 5, 2020, in response to New York’s Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act, commonly called the “Green Light Law.”

New USCIS Policy Guidance Alters Criminal Sentence Evaluation, Clarifies Definition of “Good Moral Character”

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently adopted new policy guidance altering the way immigration officers evaluate criminal sentences and make good moral character determinations. These changes may impact a foreign national’s eligibility for certain immigration benefits, including admissibility as a visa holder, permanent resident, or naturalized citizen.