Employment Eligibility

Without New Laws or Walls, Trump Presses the Brake on Legal Immigration

A scientist recruited by the renowned Cleveland Clinic is stuck in India because his visa is delayed. An entrepreneur courted by Silicon Valley companies had his application denied. Many green card applicants have new interviews to pass.

The Trump administration has pursued its immigration agenda loudly and noticeably, ramping up arrests of undocumented immigrants, barring most travel from several majority-Muslim countries and pressing the case for a border wall.

But it has also quietly, and with much less resistance, slowed many forms of legal immigration without the need for Congress to rescind a single visa program enshrined in the law.

USCIS to Expand In-Person Interview Requirements for Certain Permanent Residency Applicants

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin expanding in-person interviews for certain immigration benefit applicants whose benefit, if granted, would allow them to permanently reside in the United States. This change complies with Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” and is part of the agency’s comprehensive strategy to further improve the detection and prevention of fraud and further enhance the integrity of the immigration system.
 
Effective Oct. 1, USCIS will begin to phase-in interviews for the following:
 
• Adjustment of status applications based on employment (Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status).
 
• Refugee/asylee relative petitions (Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition) for beneficiaries who are in the United States and are petitioning to join a principal asylee/refugee applicant.
 
Previously, applicants in these categories did not require an in-person interview with USCIS officers in order for their application for permanent residency to be adjudicated. Beyond these categories, USCIS is planning an incremental expansion of interviews to other benefit types. 
 
“This change reflects the Administration’s commitment to upholding and strengthening the integrity of our nation’s immigration system,” said Acting USCIS Director James W. McCament. “USCIS and our federal partners are working collaboratively to develop more robust screening and vetting procedures for individuals seeking immigration benefits to reside in the United States.”
 

January 22, 2017 - Employers Must Use Form I-9 Dated 11/14/2016

Beginning Jan. 22, 2017, employers must use the 11/14/2016 N version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to verify the identity and work eligibility of every new employee hired after Nov. 6, 1986, or for the reverification of expiring employment authorization of current employees (if applicable).

USCIS Publishes Final Rule For Certain Employment-Based Immigrant & Nonimmigrant Visa Programs

USCIS has published a final rule to modernize and improve several aspects of certain employment-based nonimmigrant and immigrant visa programs. USCIS has also amended regulations to better enable U.S. employers to hire and retain certain foreign workers who are beneficiaries of approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions and are waiting to become lawful permanent residents. This rule goes into effect on Jan. 17, 2017.

Among other things, DHS is amending its regulations to:

  • Clarify and improve longstanding DHS policies and practices implementing sections of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act and the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act related to certain foreign workers, which will enhance USCIS’ consistency in adjudication. 
     
  • Better enable U.S. employers to employ and retain high-skilled workers who are beneficiaries of approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions (Form I-140 petitions) while also providing stability and job flexibility to these workers. The rule increases the ability of these workers to further their careers by accepting promotions, changing positions with current employers, changing employers and pursuing other employment opportunities.
     
  • Improve job portability for certain beneficiaries of approved Form I-140 petitions by maintaining a petition’s validity under certain circumstances despite an employer’s withdrawal of the approved petition or the termination of the employer’s business.
     
  • Clarify and expand when individuals may keep their priority date when applying for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence.
     
  • Allow certain high-skilled individuals in the United States with E-3, H-1B, H-1B1, L-1 or O-1 nonimmigrant status, including any applicable grace period, to apply for employment authorization for a limited period if:
  1. They are the principal beneficiaries of an approved Form I-140 petition,
  2. An immigrant visa is not authorized for issuance for their priority date, and
  3. They can demonstrate compelling circumstances exist that justify DHS issuing an employment authorization document in its discretion.

Such employment authorization may only be renewed in limited circumstances and only in one year increments.

  • Clarify various policies and procedures related to the adjudication of H-1B petitions, including, among other things, providing H-1B status beyond the six year authorized period of admission, determining cap exemptions and counting workers under the H-1B cap, H-1B portability, licensure requirements and protections for whistleblowers.
     
  • Establish two grace periods of up to 10 days for individuals in the E-1, E-2, E-3, L-1, and TN nonimmigrant classifications to provide a reasonable amount of time for these individuals to prepare to begin employment in the country and to depart the United States or take other actions to extend, change, or otherwise maintain lawful status. 
     
  • Establish a grace period of up to 60 consecutive days during each authorized validity period for certain high-skilled nonimmigrant workers when their employment ends before the end of their authorized validity period, so they may more readily pursue new employment and an extension of their nonimmigrant status.
     
  • Automatically extend the employment authorization and validity of Employment Authorization Documents (EADs or Form I-766s) for certain individuals who apply on time to renew their EADs.
     
  • Eliminate the regulatory provision that requires USCIS to adjudicate the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, within 90 days of filing and that authorizes interim EADs in cases where such adjudications are not conducted within the 90-day timeframe.

NEW ADMINISTRATION’S IMPACT ON IMMIGRATION

IMMIGRATION was a top platform for Trump in his campaign, and as the President-elect how his campaign rhetoric will be played out is still up in the air.  Some of the major areas in immigration law that will most likely be affected are: 

1)    Decrease Legal Immigration – In furthering his administration’s “protectionist views,” Trump may restrict legal immigration as well as further regulating legal workers coming to the U.S. on employment authorized visas (i.e., H-1B and L-1 skilled workers).  His campaign rhetoric on “bringing jobs back to the U.S.” and limiting outsourcing jobs offshore and highly-skilled immigration may result in tightening of regulations in granting visas –especially the highly political H-1B visas which are currently capped at issuance of only 65,000 H-1B visas per fiscal year.  Every year the H-1B visas are depleted and every year, U.S. businesses lament and lobby for increase in these visa numbers, but after Trump is in the office, it looks highly doubtful that this would result in any increase in H-1B visa numbers.  Instead, it may mean more restrictions placed on the issuance of the visas themselves, as well as other categories of skilled worker visas, as well as raising of the fees for filing such petitions.  If U.S. businesses want to hire skilled foreign workers, they will have to pay the price and jump through hoops to do so.

2)    Deportation/Removal/Detention – In his latest TV interview on “60 Minutes” recently, Trump softened some of his rhetoric on immigration, but still vowed to deport or jail as many as 3 million immigrants who have “criminal records” or are “gang members” or “drug dealers.” He did not specify or lay out a clear plan, nor how he would go about funding such a measure.

3)    Building a Border Wall/increase border security – President-Elect Trump may be backing off a bit on his most famous campaign promise of “building a wall” and having the Mexican government pay for it.  He would most likely work with Congress to “expand” the current physical barrier/fences (more of a “symbolic wall”), and expand Border patrol.

4)    End Birthright Citizenship – Trump, despite the 14th Amendment provision that all persons born or naturalized in the U.S. are citizens, has stated that children of undocumented aliens born in the U.S. “must go.”  In terms of how/if this will be implemented is yet to be determined. 

5)    End Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (known as “DACA”) –President-elect Donald Trump pledged to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative which was implemented in 2012 by then Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.  DACA gave deportation relief and work permits to undocumented youth who arrived in the U.S. as a minor (under 16 years old), went to school, and no criminal convictions.  This could impact over 1.3 million young immigrants (700,000 of those who are currently in the workforce under this provision).  Though statements on Trump’s campaign website clearly indicated an intention to end DACA, much remains to be seen.  It is still to be determined know how or when DACA might end. It is possible that USCIS could stop accepting or approving all DACA applications. Alternatively, USCIS could halt only certain components of DACA.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach served as the advisor to Trump on immigration during the campaign, and will likely have a major role in Trump’s administration on immigration matters.  He has indicated that Trump will repeal/scrap many of Obama’s immigration policies/incentives as well as Obama administration’s approach of deporting and enforcement policies. 

As far as how (or if) and when any of the above changes to immigration policies and regulations will be implemented are yet to be determined.  But one thing is certain, whatever measures the new President-Elect take to change the regulations (which require legislation) will not happen overnight and it won’t be passed through Congress without some strong opposition and push-back.  It is well known that the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has very different views on immigration, and will be a big factor in whether or how much of Trump’s immigration “plans” get any traction even in the Republican controlled Congress.  It will once again come down to cooperation between the two parties being key factor in accomplishing any immigration reform or changes.  

We will keep a close eye on these issues and advise accordingly.   

USCIS Provides an Updated M-1053 - E-Verify User Manual

USCIS provides an updated M-1053, E-Verify User Manual for Corporate Administrators which provides guidance on E-Verify processes and outlines the rules and responsibilities for corporate administrators enrolled in E-Verify.

New I-9 Forms

Employers need to be aware that the current Form I-9 will only be acceptable/valid until Jan. 21, 2017.

On Aug. 25, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved a revised Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. USCIS must publish a revised form by Nov. 22, 2016. Employers may continue using the current version of Form I-9 with a revision date of 03/08/2013N until Jan. 21, 2017. After Jan. 21, 2017, all previous versions of Form I-9 will be invalid.

Key Changes to the Form I-9

The proposed changes specifically aim to help employers reduce technical errors for which they may be fined, which include:

  • Separate instructions from the form. Employers are still required to present the instructions to the employee completing the form.

  • Drop-down lists and calendars.

  • Validations on certain fields to ensure information is entered correctly.

  • Embedded instructions for completing each field.

  • Additional spaces to enter multiple preparers and translators.

  • The requirement that workers provide only other last names used in Section 1, rather than all other names used. This is to avoid possible discrimination issues and to protect the privacy of transgender and other individuals who have changed their first names.

  • The removal of the requirement that immigrants authorized to work provide both their Form I-94 number and foreign passport information in Section 1.

  • A new "Citizenship/Immigration Status" field at the top of section 2.

  • A dedicated area to enter additional information that employers are currently required to notate in the margins of the form (ie., OPT)

  • A quick-response matrix barcode, or QR code, that generates once the form is printed that can be used to streamline enforcement audits.