On March 27, 2020, President Donald Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, intended to stimulate the national economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Act provides $2 trillion in direct financial assistance, including paid leave, unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, and rebates to eligible individuals. Immigrants and foreign nationals in the United States may be eligible for some or all of the listed benefits, depending on the circumstances.
Employers are facing numerous issues in light of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, including remote work, temporary office closures, furloughs, and layoffs. These issues may have particular implications for U.S. employees holding H-1B specialty occupation visas, as they are typically required to remain productive in order to maintain their legal status.
The Beltway Buzz is a weekly update summarizing labor and employment news from inside the Beltway and clarifying how what’s happening in Washington, D.C. could impact your business.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced, on September 18, 2017, that it has resumed premium processing for all H-1B visa petitions subject to the fiscal year (FY) 2018 cap.
On July 19, 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Labor (DOL) increased the numerical limit (or “cap”) on H-2B visas by up to 15,000 additional visas through the end of fiscal year (FY) 2017.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a new edition of the I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification Form on July 17, 2017. Employers may now use the revised version, dated 07/17/17 N, or continue using the Form I-9 with a revision date of 11/14/16 N through September 17, 2017.
On March 11, 2016, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a final rule pertaining to optional practical training (OPT) for certain students with degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM). This rule permits employers to retain, for a longer period, the talents of individuals currently dependent on an F-1 nonimmigrant student visa. As a transitional measure, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has provided certain students currently holding 17-month employment authorization documents (EADs) under the STEM OPT provision with a limited window in which to apply for the additional 7 months of OPT.
The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has proposed increasing the fees that United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) charges for certain immigration and naturalization filings. The proposal would increase USCIS fees by a weighted average of 21 percent and add one new fee specific to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that on May 12, 2016, it will it will begin the 15 calendar day processing timeline for cap-subject H-1B petitions requesting premium processing. USCIS provides an expedited “premium processing” service for certain employment-based petitions. For non-cap-subject petitions, including H-1B and other nonimmigrant visa classifications, the 15-day processing period typically begins on the date USCIS receives the request. However, for cap-subject H-1B petitions filed in April, USCIS has historically taken additional time to complete intake and computerized random selection of the petitions for further processing prior to starting the 15-day adjudication period.
As of April 7, 2016, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has reached the H-1B quota or “cap” limitation for fiscal year (FY) 2017. USCIS has not yet confirmed the total number of petitions received for the 65,000 “general” quota or the 20,000 “advanced degree” quota but will likely confirm the total number in the following weeks. Due to the high number of petitions received, USCIS has not yet confirmed the date it will complete its computerized random selection or “lottery” of H-1B petitions for further processing.
On March 9, 2016, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released an advance copy of the final rule pertaining to optional practical training (OPT) for certain students with degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM). The official version of the final rule is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on March 11, 2016. The new rule will permit employers to retain the talents of certain individuals currently dependent on an F-1 nonimmigrant student visa for a longer period. USCIS will begin accepting applications under this provision on May 10, 2016. Prior to that date, USCIS will continue to accept applications per the existing 17-month STEM OPT procedures.
On October 16, 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) concerning new rules for extending the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program for international students with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The notice will be published in the Federal Register on Monday, October 19, 2015, and will likely be subject to a 30-day comment period.
A new legislative rule amending the procedures required for West Virginia employers to verify the legal employment status of their workers went into effect in West Virginia. Pursuant to section 21-1B-4 of the West Virginia Code, all employers are required to keep “records of proof of the legal status or authorization to work of all employees.” However, the state of West Virginia has now amended this rule in a number of ways that may conflict with federal Form I-9 employment eligibility verification requirements.
On May 20, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published long-awaited information to help eligible H-4 dependent spouses apply for employment authorization documents (commonly known as “EAD cards”) under the Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses final rule.
On May 19, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a temporary suspension of its “premium processing” program as it relates to H-1B extensions in the United States. The suspension will be in effect from May 26, 2015, until July 27, 2015. Premium processing is an optional USCIS program whereby, for an additional government fee of $1,225, the USCIS will adjudicate petitions in 15 calendar days instead of the usual time period of several months.
On May 4, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it has completed its data entry of all fiscal year 2016 H-1B cap-subject petitions selected in its computer-generated random lottery process.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting new H-1B petitions to be counted toward the annual H-1B quota (the “H-1B cap”) for fiscal year (FY) 2015 on Tuesday, April 1, 2014. USCIS will not accept H-1B cap submissions before April 1. We expect that this year, as in…..