Remote Work Blurs Boundaries

Working Remotely Triggers Immigration Compliance Regulations

Written By Howard D. Shapiro and Frida P. Glucoft

In the wake of a range of “safer at home” federal, state and local orders and guidelines stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, employers throughout the United States have temporarily closed their offices to varying degrees and instructed their employees to work remotely, usually from home. Companies with employees working in the US pursuant to the temporary visa categories H-1B, E-3 (Australian citizens) and H-1B1 (citizens of Singapore and Chile) are required to take extra steps to ensure compliance with immigration laws and regulations when those employees are working from locations outside of their normal worksites. Continue reading “Remote Work Blurs Boundaries”

Don’t Get Stuck With COVID-19

US Immigration In The Time of the Coronavirus

Written by David S. Rugendorf

Our lives have changed almost overnight, and the unimaginable has become the new normal. We find ourselves, our families and our workplaces in an unprecedented and ever evolving situation, with new government directives and restrictions appearing on an almost daily basis. With that in mind, we have a few general points to share with our clients and friends:

RECONSIDER TRAVEL PLANS – This should be obvious. Government travel restrictions are in place prohibiting entry into the United States of individuals who have recently been present in China and Europe (including the United Kingdom). Exceptions are currently being made for US citizens, permanent residents (“green card” holders) and their immediate families. Entries across our land borders are now severely curtailed. We do not expect the situation to return to normal any time soon – further restrictions may be imposed. Appointments to obtain visas at US embassies and consulates all over the world have been cancelled, or face lengthy postponements. Applicants should monitor their e-mails for notifications regarding cancellations and postponements. US airports have seen delays in immigration processing and crowding which have made social distancing impossible. Continue reading “Don’t Get Stuck With COVID-19”

USCIS Releases New Form I-9, Effective Today

Close-up of an immigration form and #2 sharp pencil
Photo Credit: istock.com/alexskopje

By Benjamin Lau and Frida Glucoft

On January 31, 2020, the USCIS issued a new Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification with edition date 10/21/2019. The form is effective immediately. The new Form I-9 is available on the USCIS website at https://www.uscis.gov/i-9.

The form includes the following updates:

Revisions related to the List of Acceptable Documents on Form I-9:

  • Added the Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240) to List C. Employers completing Form I-9 on a computer will be able to select Form FS-240 from the drop-down menus available in List C of Sections 2 and 3. E-Verify users will also be able to select Form FS-240 when creating a case for an employee who has presented this document for Form I-9.
  • Combined all the certifications of report of birth issued by the Department of State (Form FS-545, Form DS-1350, and Form FS-240) into selection C #2 in List C.
  • Renumbered all List C documents except the Social Security card. For example, the employment authorization document issued by the Department of Homeland Security on List C changed from List C #8 to List C #7.

Continue reading “USCIS Releases New Form I-9, Effective Today”

H-1B Visas: Employers Be Aware of Potential Changes

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services envelope, white folder for naturalization certificate on table with American flag
Photo credit: iStock.com/ablokhin

By David S. Rugendorf

Changes are in the works related to the processing of H-1B visa petitions, and employers intending to file such petitions should be aware. On Monday, December 3, 2018, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a proposal to change the annual cap-subject H-1B visa petition filing system in two significant ways: (1) the establishment of an online H-1B registration system; and (2) a major change in the procedures related to the annual H-1B visa cap lottery.

By law, the number of new H-1B visa petitions for professional worker beneficiaries is capped at 65,000 annually, with an additional 20,000 set aside for individuals with advanced degrees from U.S. universities. Advanced degrees are considered to be master’s degrees or higher. Certain employers, such as hospitals, non-profit research institutions and universities are exempt from this annual cap. As a result of this limitation on H-1B filings, the USCIS receives well in excess of the allowable number of petitions at the beginning of each year’s filing season, April 1. Accordingly, a random lottery has taken place in early April of each year. Employers are notified over the next few months if their petitions are among the lucky 85,000 selected. The numbers are daunting – approximately 198,000 petitions where received in fiscal year 2017, and approximately 236,000 in fiscal year 2016. Continue reading “H-1B Visas: Employers Be Aware of Potential Changes”

USCIS Extends (and Expands) Premium Processing Ban

World map created with passport stamps, travel concept
Photo credit: iStock.com/Delpixart

By David S. Rugendorf

The USCIS announced today that it is extending its ban on premium processing on certain H-1B petitions. Premium Processing allows an employer to seek an adjudication of a visa petition within 15 days upon payment of an additional filing fee, currently $1,225 (increasing to $1,410 on October 1, 2018). Employers should review their current and upcoming H-1B visa needs to determine how the ban will impact their matters, so they can plan accordingly.

To be specific, USCIS estimated earlier this year it would reinstate Premium Processing for H-1B cap cases in September 2018 (in roughly two weeks from now). The suspension of Premium Processing for Fiscal Year 2019 H-1B Cap Petitions is now expected to be extended through at least February 19, 2019. USCIS expects this suspension will help reduce the processing time for H-1Bs by allowing it to process long-pending petitions. In addition, USCIS states that the temporary suspension will allow them to be more responsive to petitions with time-sensitive start dates, as well as to prioritize adjudication of H-1B extension of status cases that are nearing their 240-day work authorization limit dates. Continue reading “USCIS Extends (and Expands) Premium Processing Ban”

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. Continue reading “U.S. Immigration to Suspend Premium Processing for All H-1B Petitions”

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 … Continue reading New USCIS Forms And USCIS Filing Fee Adjustment