CLOSE X
RSS Feed LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Search:
FMG Law Blog Line

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

SCOTUS Travel Ban

Posted on: June 27th, 2017

By: Layli Eskandari Deal

On June 26, 2017, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the Travel Ban cases when it reconvenes next fall. The Court has allowed the government to implement parts of President Trump’s second executive order which bans the entry of nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from the United States and suspend the admission of all refugees for 120 days.

In a narrow decision, the Supreme Court held that the travel ban cannot prohibit the entry of foreign nationals from the stated countries if they can credibly show:

  1. A close familial relationship to a person in the U.S.; OR
  2. A formal and documented relationship with a U.S. entity

This standard is also applied to all refugees hoping to enter the United States.

The Court’s order will go into effect on Thursday, June 29, 2017 and will remain in place until at least October 2017, pending final resolution of the case on its merits.

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].

Be Prepared for Tougher Visa Screening at U.S. Embassies and Consulates

Posted on: June 2nd, 2017

By: Layli Eskandari Deal

On March 6, 2017, President Trump issued a memo directing the Secretary of State and others to implement additional screening and vetting standards to ensure “the proper collection of all information necessary to rigorously evaluate all grounds of inadmissibility or deportability or grounds for the denial of immigration benefits” and to prevent “the entry into the United States of foreign nationals who may aid, support, or commit violent, criminal, or terrorist acts.”

The Department of State, the government agency in charge of all U.S. Embassies and Consulates, has issued a new supplemental questionnaire (Form DS-5535) which is now in use by the Embassies and Consulates. This new form will require some visa applicants to provide the following:

  • Travel history for the last 15 years
  • Address history for the last 15 years
  • Employment history for the last 15 years
  • All passport numbers and issuing countries held by the applicant
  • Names and dates of birth for family members (including former spouses and domestic partners)
  • Social media identifiers or handles used during the last 5 years
  • Phone numbers and email address used in the last 5 years

The Department of State has indicated that these additional questions will not be asked of all applicants but only those the U.S. Embassy/Consulate determines warrant a more rigorous examination.

The Department of States has advised that failure to provide the requested information does not automatically result in a visa denial and that the consular post can accept other supporting documents and information from the applicant to determine visa eligibility.

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].

 

IS RELIEF AROUND THE CORNER FOR H-2B VISAS?

Posted on: May 31st, 2017

By: Kenneth S. Levine

Despite the current Administration’s recent executive orders seeking to place limits on U.S. work visas, a surprising expansion of the H-2B work visa program was included in the annual budget draft introduced this past week. This development is especially welcome news for the landscaping, seafood processing, forestry and hospitality industries, all of whom depend heavily on this visa for temporary, seasonal workers.

The current H-2B visa program has an annual quota of 66,000 workers. The H-2B quota for the entire 2017 fiscal year was exhausted in mid March. The new budget proposal includes a provision that vests authority in the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to double the annual quota of H-2B visas. It should be noted that, while DHS Secretary Kelly has publicly expressed reservations about doubling H-2B visa availability, he nonetheless signified a willingness to substantially raise the annual 66,000 visa cap.

While virtually every U.S. work visa program is the subject of intense and polarizing debate in Congress, this proposal seems to reflect a recognition by the current administration that U.S. businesses continue to experience significant difficulties in recruiting U.S. workers for temporary, seasonal positions.

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].

THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS ON THE EB-5 REGIONAL CENTER PROGRAM

Posted on: May 2nd, 2017

By: Kenneth S. Levine

Foreign investors interested in obtaining a green card by investing in a USCIS designated EB-5 Regional Center program may rest assured that the program will remain in full force and effect for at least another 5 months. A bipartisan appropriations bill announced by Congress today, and expected to be signed by the President this week, contains a provision that extends the EB5 Regional Center program through 9/30/2017.

While there was rampant speculation that Congress would raise the qualifying investment amount from $500,000 to $800,000 by way of a short-term extension, this did not occur. The EB-5 Regional Center Program was extended in its entirety, meaning that foreign investors may continue to seek Permanent Residency under the current investment standard of $500,000 in a qualifying regional center project.

While the lack of predictability inherent in short term extensions may understandably unnerve foreign investors, and will continue until Congress passes a permanent EB-5 re-authorization, any applications filed while the program remains in effect will be processed by USCIS. Furthermore, given the inarguable economic benefits that the EB-5 Regional Center program brings to communities throughout the U.S., it is difficult to envision Congress simply allowing this program to expire.  It remains an open question whether the Congressional budget battle this September brings badly needed permanency to the EB-5 Regional Center program or merely results in yet another extension.

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].

Federal Government Announces Changes to its Green Cards

Posted on: April 19th, 2017

By: Layli Eskandari Deal

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced a redesign to the Permanent Resident Card (“Green Card”) and the Employment Authorization Document (“EAD”) as part of the Next Generation Secure Identification Document Project. USCIS will begin issuing the new cards on May 1, 2017.

The new Green Cards and EADs will:

  • Display the individual’s photos on both sides;
  • Show a unique graphic image and color palette (Green Cards will have an image of the Statue of Liberty and a predominately green palette, and EAD cards will have an image of a bald eagle and a predominately red palette);
  • Have embedded holographic images; and
  • No longer display the individual’s signature.

Also, Green Cards will no longer have an optical stripe on the back.

Some Green Cards and EADs issued after May 1, 2017, may still display the existing design format as USCIS will continue using existing card stock until current supplies are depleted. Both the existing and the new Green Cards and EADs will remain valid until the expiration date shown on the card.

Both versions are acceptable for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, E-Verify, and Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE). Some older Green Cards do not have an expiration date. These older Green Cards without an expiration date remain valid.

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].