Immigration

Green Card Lottery

Social Security card and permanent resident on USA flagBy Jaclyn Granet

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Diversity Lottery registration opens on October 3, 2017 and will remain open until November 7, 2018.

WHAT IS IT?

The Diversity Lottery makes available 50,000 immigrant visas (green cards) through random selection. The immigrant visas made available are for individuals from countries with historically low immigration rates. According to the State Department, the diversity visas (DVs) are “distributed among six geographic regions and no single country may receive more than seven percent of the available DVs in any one year.”

WHO IS ELIGIBLE?

Applicants from the eligible countries must submit an application during the entry period and must have: (more…)

The Only Thing Certain is Uncertainty

Detail Of A USA VisaBy Frida P. Glucoft and David S. Rugendorf 

Workplace immigration law has been the focal point of increased anxiety and uncertainty because of various changes proposed by Executive Order. Discussions have heated up considerably in the offices of human resources professionals and personnel managers, in the break room, around the water cooler, as well as in the news media and on social media. Because the changes have not come in the form of formal regulatory changes through legislation, which require a prescribed notice and comment period (though those may soon be on the way), changes in enforcement priorities and how existing laws are interpreted create an unclear path about who will be impacted and when the new Executive Order priorities will be instituted.

What are these new priorities? At present they are best explained in Executive Order 13788. (more…)

Lawful Permanent Residence: How Not to Lose It

By Frida GlucoftImmigration Collage l Alert

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers at ports of entry to the U.S. routinely question returning lawful permanent residents (“green card” holders) about the length of time spent outside the U.S.A. and the nature of their activities abroad. Generally, an absence from the U.S.A. of six months or longer will result in further inquires and requests for documentation to establish the individual’s intent to retain lawful permanent residence status.

A U.S. “green card” allows the holder to reside in the U.S. as an immigrant as long as the holder’s status does not change. However, that status may be lost if the “green card” holder is deemed to have abandoned his or her U.S. residence or if the individual lacks the requisite ties to the U.S. while living abroad.

The question of whether a “green card” holder has retained his or her status in the U.S. arises when the individual departs from the U.S. for lengthy periods of time usually exceeding one year. The determination of retention of U.S. residence depends upon the circumstances surrounding the individual’s departure and his or her ties to the U.S. Among other factors considered in evaluating retention of U.S. residence are the following: (more…)

International Travel Alert: Change In Policy Regarding Advance Parole Travel Document Applications

By Benjamin Lau and David Rugendorf

The U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services has recently changed its policy regarding the adjudication of Advance Parole Travel Document applications (Form I-131).

The Advance Parole Travel Document (“Advance Parole”) is a travel authorization granted to qualified applicants of pending Form I-485 Adjustment of Status Applications.  With the exception of H, K, L, and V visa holders, beneficiaries of pending Adjustment of Status Applications are prohibited from traveling internationally until they are issued an Advance Parole by the USCIS.  An adjustment applicant who departs the United States before the Advance Parole is issued will have his or her adjustment of status application denied based on abandonment.

New Policy

The new USCIS policy regarding the adjudication of Advance Parole applications is that if an individual departs the United States while their Advance Parole application is pending, then the Advance Parole application will be considered abandoned and subsequently denied.  This new policy affects ALL Advance Parole Travel Document applications regardless of the applicant’s underlying nonimmigrant status or whether it is an initial application or an extension. (more…)

I-9 Update

By Jaclyn Granet and Frida Glucoft

July 31, 2017

Onboarding a new employee is a time-consuming process that requires diligent review of employment authorization materials. One major element of onboarding is the completion of the Form I-9, intended to document verification of the identity and employment authorization of each new employee. Form I-9 has seen many modifications and revisions over the years, including a significant update in 2013. The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”), released a new edition of the Form I-9 on July 17, 2017. This newest version of the form may be used immediately. However, USCIS has authorized a grace period during which either the new version of the Form or the last version may be used. Following the end of the grace period, on September 18, 2017, all U.S. employers are required to use the new Form I-9 for all new hires. Employers should only complete the new Form I-9 for new hires and current employees requiring reverification. Given the significance of the Form I-9, it is important for all employers to familiarize themselves with the new features of the Form and the mandatory time frame for its usage. (more…)

Implementation of Executive Order Imposing Temporary Travel and Refugee Ban

By Benjamin Lau and David Rugendorf

On March 6, 2017, President Trump reissuedbusiness travel the Executive Order, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” with an effective date of March 16, 2017. The previous Executive Order 13769 of January 27, 2017, will be revoked on March 16, 2017, and replaced with this reissued Order.

The new Executive Order bans immigrant and nonimmigrant entries for nationals of six designated countries – Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen – for at least 90 days beginning on March 16, 2017. The new Executive Order specifically removes Iraq from the list of designated countries.   (more…)

U.S. Immigration to Suspend Premium Processing for All H-1B Petitions

By Stephen Blaker and Howard Shapiro

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that as of Monday, April 3, 2017, it will not accept Premium Processing requests for H-1B visa petitions for a temporary period expected to last up to six (6) months. This applies to all H-1B visa petitions, including extensions, amendments, cap-exempt and new employment petitions, such as those to be submitted in the FY18 Bachelor’s and Master’s Caps. USCIS has indicated that the suspension is required to eliminate the backlog on long-pending H-1B visa petitions. Starting on April 3, 2017, USCIS will reject any H-1B visa petition that is filed with a Form I-907 and one (1) combined check for the I-129 filing fees and the I-907 filing fee. (more…)

President Trump’s Executive Order Prohibiting Entry of Certain Individuals to the United States

By David Rugendorf and Benjamin Lau

On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order that provided the following:

  • Suspends nonimmigrants (persons coming temporarily to the United States) from designated countries from entry to the United States for a period of up to ninety (90) days from the date of the order (January 27, 2017). At this time, the designated countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.  Additional countries may be added.  This prohibition does not apply to foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, NATO visas, and United Nations visas.  It is unclear if the Executive Order applies only to (1) individuals who hold passports from the designated countries, or if it also applies to (2) foreign nationals who were born in the designated countries, but who are citizens of other, non-designated countries or who are dual nationals, or (3) whose parents were born or hold citizenship from the designated countries.  However, according to the Wall Street Journal, the State Department will announce that dual nationals are subject to the ban.  For example, a dual national of Iraq and the United Kingdom would be denied entry, even if the dual national travels on a UK passport.

(more…)

New USCIS Forms And USCIS Filing Fee Adjustment

By Benjamin Lau and Frida Glucoft

On December 23, 2016, the USCIS posted a large number of new form versions with effective dates of December 23, 2016, to its website and indicated that no other versions of the forms would be accepted. Numerous stakeholders, companies, immigration attorneys, professional organizations and advocacy groups contacted the USCIS to demand a grace period where prior form versions could be submitted since no notice of the updates were given. On December 29, 2016, the USCIS announced that it would accept prior versions of the recently updated forms until February 21, 2017. The only exception to this grace period is the Form N-400, the application for naturalization, which the USCIS announced on December 13, 2016.

As part of the forms update, the USCIS issued a new Form I-129S. The new I-129S requires  employers who file an L-1 extension of stay or a change of status for an employee based on an approved blanket L petition to use both the individual L1 application Form I-129 and to also submit the I-129S blanket. Previously, all L-1 petition extensions or change of status only required the one individual form, I-129. The filing fees for both forms, when both forms are required, remain unclear at this time.

In addition to the new forms, the USCIS fee changes that were announced in October 2016 went into effect on December 23, 2016. The fee changes saw an increase in the filing fees for nearly all immigrant and nonimmigrant categories. Some of the new filing fees are: I-129: $460, I-539: $370, I-140: $700, I-130: $535, and I-485: $1,225.

Importance of Maintaining Cybersecurity Measures – Assessing the Ashley Madison Data Breach Settlement

By Aaron Wais

Daily headlines of data breaches, resulting class actions, governmental investigations and enforcement actions, and the settlements of those actions serve as constant reminders of the need to implement and maintain reasonable cybersecurity measures. Yet another example can be found in the recent announcement by the Federal Trade Commission, which states that the operators of Ashley Madison have agreed to settle the charges brought against them by the FTC and over a dozen state attorneys generals arising out of the July 2015 data breach of Ashley Madison’s network. Analyzing the settlement also provides additional guidance on what regulators mean when they refer to reasonable safeguards.

(more…)