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Archive for the ‘Immigration & I-9 Services’ Category

Another Extension of the EB-5 Regional Center Program

Posted on: September 14th, 2017

By: Kenneth S. Levine

untitledA continuing resolution entitled H.R. 601 was signed a few days ago by President Trump. The primary purpose of this latest CR was to approve an allocation of funding for federal government operations through December 8, 2017. However, H.R. 601 also included a provision for a three month extension of the EB-5 Regional Center Program. This latest extension, which comes after a string of previous extensions, leaves intact the program’s current regulatory minimum level of investment ($500,000).

The EB5 investors program remains politically controversial. It is certainly possible that the administration will seek to make changes to the program through Congress by this December. However, in the absence of Congressional action, a further extension of the program is widely anticipated within the next few months.

For additional information related to this topic and for advice regarding how to navigate U.S. immigration laws you may contact Kenneth S. Levine of the law firm of Freeman, Mathis & Gary, LLP at (770-551-2700) or [email protected].

Where Did the Dream Go?

Posted on: September 6th, 2017

By: Layli Eskandari Deal

DACA-Application[1]On September 5, 2017, President Trump announced an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.  The program was established on June 15, 2012 and deferred the deportation of foreign nationals that were brought to the United States as children and granted them work authorization.  This group of individuals has become known as “the Dreamers.”  The DACA program is scheduled to sunset once each Dreamer’s work authorization expires.  Those individuals will not be able to renew their status and will be vulnerable to removal from the United States.

While there is some uncertainty surrounding the end of the DACA program, here is what we know:

  1. No new applications will be accepted as of September 5, 2017;
  2. Pending DACA applications will be adjudicated;
  3. If an individual’s status is set to expire on or before March 8, 2018, USCIS will accept a renewal application, but the request must be submitted no later than October 5, 2017;
  4. All pending travel documents (advance parole documents) requests will be denied and no new requests will be accepted.

Now we look to Congress to address the fate of these Dreamers.  There seems to be support in both the House and Senate through multiple bills that provide relief for Dreamers, but it is hard to predict the ultimate outcome of any future legislative attempt to address the status of Dreamers.

In the interim, our suggestion for employers with Dreamers within their workforces is to continue to employ those individuals until the expiration of their employment authorization documents.

For additional information related to this topic and for advice regarding how to navigate U.S. immigration laws you may contact Layli Eskandari Deal of the law firm of Freeman Mathis & Gary, LLP at (770-551-2700) or [email protected].

 

USICS Raises the Bar on Entry Level H-1B Visas

Posted on: August 31st, 2017

By: Kenneth S. Levine

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Companies that employ H-1B workers should be aware that USCIS has greatly elevated the scrutiny of “entry level” H-1B visa cases. Since April 2017 FMG Immigration Attorneys have advised clients that USCIS has telegraphed a clear intent to apply a stricter level of legal scrutiny to all H-1B visa cases. It is now apparent that one tactic to carry out this objective involves a novel legal argument that a “level 1” salary wage cannot qualify a position as a “specialty occupation.” Immigration Law practitioners across the U.S. have reported receiving this type of Request for Evidence (RFE) over the past few months.

In these RFEs USICS will generally summarize DOL’s “Level 1” regulatory definition and then argue that the entry wage level means that the sponsored position is not “specialized” or “complex” enough to merit an H-1B approval. Previously, for entry level H-B positions, USCIS would usually cite the Occupational Outlook Handbook in advancing an argument that the employer’s educational requirements did not qualify the position as a “specialty occupation.”

It is clear that USCIS has now adopted an internal policy that all level one H-1B cases will be treated as legally insufficient. FMG Immigration Attorneys are currently devising legal strategies to address this issue. It is expected that this trend will continue for some time and that ultimately the Agency’s “level 1” legal theory will be aggressively challenged in Federal Court.

For additional information related to this topic and for advice regarding how to navigate U.S. immigration laws you may contact Kenneth S. Levine of the law firm of Freeman, Mathis & Gary, LLP at (770-551-2700) or [email protected].

Get Ready for In Person Interviews For All Green Card Applicants

Posted on: August 30th, 2017

By: Layli Eskandari Deal

In October 2017, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) will start conducting in-person interviews for all green card categories, including employment-based cases. Previously, most employment-based green card cases were exempt from in-person interviews and were reviewed and adjudicated at a Service Center. This change is a direct result of the Executive Order signed by President Trump in March. USCIS has stated that the interview process is a means to improve the detection and prevention of fraud.

In-person interviews are common in family-based cases. As USCIS phases in the new cases for interviews, we can expect long delays at USCIS Field Offices where these interviews will take place.

For additional information related to this topic and for advice regarding how to navigate U.S. immigration laws you may contact Layli Eskandari Deal of the law firm of Freeman Mathis & Gary, LLP at (770-551-2700) or [email protected].

BILL TO ENACT SWEEPING CHANGES TO THE U.S. IMMIGRATION SYSTEM FACES STEEP ODDS IN CONGRESS

Posted on: August 7th, 2017

By: Kenneth S. Levine

blogOn February 13, 2017, Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue jointly introduced Senate Bill 354 (otherwise known as the “RAISE Act”). This legislation went largely unreported until August 2nd when the White House staged a press conference with both Senators to announce the Administration’s support of the bill.

The RAISE ACT seeks to effectively replace the United State’s current employment-based immigration system with a “points-based” system that is largely reflective of the immigration systems utilized in Canada and Australia. Under this new system foreign national applicants would be awarded “points” towards permanent residency based on factors such as age, English language proficiency, education, work experience, special skills, etc. Foreign nationals that had already reserved their place in the existing green card quota would be required to submit a new application under the points system.

The Act reduces the total amount of green cards issued by the U.S. government per year to 500,000, which amounts to a 50% reduction based on the current yearly green card quota of 1,000,000. Along with dramatically altering the employment-based permanent residency system, which is primarily contingent upon an employment offer, the RAISE Act eliminates all family-based green card categories except for spouses and children. The Act also eliminates the Diversity Lottery green card system and caps refugee admission to 50,000 per year.

One notable feature of this legislation is that the prestigious Aliens of Extraordinary Ability (EB-1) category would cease to exist. Only foreign nationals who have obtained a Nobel Prize (or other “comparable” award), Olympic Medals or a first place medal in an international competition would receive points towards permanent residency under the new system.

Based on the considerable bi-partisan criticism of the bill in the immediate aftermath of the White House’s August 2nd press conference, it appears that the RAISE Act has little chance of becoming enacted into law. FMG Immigration Attorneys will continue to keep our clients apprised of any new developments on this issue.

For additional information related to this topic and for advice regarding how to navigate U.S. immigration laws you may contact Kenneth S. Levine of the law firm of Freeman, Mathis & Gary, LLP at (770-551-2700) or [email protected].