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U.S. Supreme Court Grants Review and Allows Parts of the Entry Ban to Take Effect

This morning, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision granting review of President Trump’s revised Travel Ban against nationals from six Muslim-majority countries. The Supreme Court will hear the decision in its first session of the next term next October (Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project, case number 16-1436).

The Supreme Court also allowed certain parts of the entry ban to go into immediate effect. First, the Supreme Court granted the governments request to enforce section 2, except against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” This means that the administration can now enforce the ban against persons who “lack a bona fide connection to a U.S. person or entity.” For individuals, there is now a standard to show a close familial relationship. For businesses, the individual must document a formal relationship, formed in the ordinary course of business. Second, the Supreme Court also permitted the administration to proceed with its executive worldwide review of visa security policies in foreign countries, in accordance with the Ninth Circuit’s decision vacating this part of the injunction.

Please contact SPS Immigration if you have questions on how this development may impact any upcoming travel plans.

By |June 26th, 2017|

9th Circuit Upholds injunction on President Trumps Travel Ban

Monday, June 12th, 2017, the 9th Circuit became the second court to uphold an injunction on President Trump’s Travel Ban. This ruling affirmed a March decision from Judge Watson of the Federal District Court in Hawaii. Previously, the Fourth Circuit also upheld an injunction, a decision which prompted the administration to seek review by the U.S. Supreme Court. These decisions mean that the Travel Ban remains suspended until the U.S. Supreme Court decides how to proceed.

If you have questions on international travel, please contact SPS Immigration.

By |June 12th, 2017|

DOL Announces Actions to Increase U.S. Worker Protections & Confront Visa Fraud

On June 6, 2017, U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta announced that the DOL will be actively pursuing actions to increase protections of American workers while more aggressively confronting entities committing visa program fraud and abuse. DOL efforts will include:

  • Directing the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division to use all its resources when conducting investigations to enforce visa program labor protections.
  • Directing the DOL’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) to develop changes to the LCA and to review their investigatory forms to better identify systematic violations and fraud.
  • Establishing a working group of senior leadership from the ETA, the Wage and Hour Division, and Solicitor’s office to supervise an increased effort to make referrals of criminal fraud to the Office of the Inspector General.

In addition, the DOL has begun to prioritize and publicize the investigation and prosecution of entities in violation of visa programs, all with the goal of increasing the promotion of hiring American workers and safeguarding working conditions in the U.S. Please contact SPS Immigration if you have questions on how these proposed changes may impact your workforce.

By |June 7th, 2017|

Bloomberg discusses with Attorney Sarah Peterson Sen. Ron Johnson’s bill to create a State Sponsored Visa Program

In a May 12th article, Bloomberg discusses with Attorney Sarah Peterson Senator Ron Johnson’s bill to create a State Sponsored Visa Pilot Program (S.1040). The article is titled The Feds Had Their Turn. Time for State-Based Visas?

By |May 12th, 2017|

Department of State Announces desired new Visa Interview Questions

Today, May 4th, 2017, the U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) released a list of new questions it seeks to ask all applicants in visa interviews. DOS is asking the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) for emergency review and approval of its ability to incorporate these questions into all visa interviews moving forward. This list is in response to President Trump’s March 6th, 2017  Memorandum for the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security, that instructs these agencies to implement additional protocols and procedures focused on “ensur[ing] the proper collection of all information necessary to rigorously evaluate all grounds of inadmissibility or deportability, or grounds for the denial of other immigration benefits.” Additional questions DOS is seeking to implement are:

  • Travel history during the last fifteen years, including source of funding for travel;
  •  Address history during the last fifteen years;
  •  Employment history during the last fifteen years;
  •  All passport numbers and country of issuance held by the applicant;
  •  Names and dates of birth for all siblings;
  •  Name and dates of birth for all children;
  •  Names and dates of birth for all current and former spouses, or civil or domestic partners;
  •  Social media platforms and identifiers, also known as handles, used during the last five years; and
  •  Phone numbers and email addresses used during the last five years.

DOS is asking for emergency review and approval of these questions by May 18th, 2017. If the OMB approves the emergency review, the approval will only be valid for an initial 180 day period, starting after May 18th, 2017. This means that visa applicants attending interviews prior to May 18th will not be asked these questions. SPS Immigration will post an update once OMB makes a determination on whether to grant the emergency approval request.

By |May 4th, 2017|

Star Tribune publishes Attorney Sam Myer and Sarah Peterson’s counterpoint on the H-1B program

The Star Tribune publishes Attorney Sam Myer and Sarah Peterson’s Counterpoint explaining how the H-1B Program already contains significant employer-paid fees to train US workers. The H-1B program also contains significant US worker protections. The piece urges us to be informed on the parameters of the existing program so that we can have informed conversations on important improvements, rather than wrongly conclude the program is bad for the US.

 

By |April 20th, 2017|

Executive Order: Buy American And Hire American

On April 18th, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order (“EO”) titled, “Buy American And Hire American.” President Trump states that the intent of this EO is to “create higher wages and employment rates for workers in the United States, and to protect their economic interests.” While this is, and should always be, the foundation for our U.S. immigration system, this executive order will have little immediate impact on both the statutory and regulatory framework that governs current U.S. immigration laws.

For example, this EO instructs the heads of relevant agencies to, “as soon as practicable, and consistent with applicable law, propose new rules and issue new guidance, to supersede or revise previous rules and guidance if appropriate, to protect the interests of United States workers in the administration of our immigration system.” But to change existing immigration laws, Congress must first introduce and pass legislation. In a Republican-controlled Congress, this should be an manageable task and there have already been several bills introduced this year. But an EO alone cannot change existing statutes. Moreover, to change federal regulations, as suggested in this EO, federal agencies must draft new rules that must then go through he Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) which includes public notice and comment over a period of time. These legal frameworks are required to make substantive changes to our existing immigration laws. Thus, the President’s final instruction that, in order to “promote the proper functioning of the H-1B visa program,”  heads of agencies should “suggest reforms to help ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries” must first be vetted through Congress before systematic changes can occur.

There is no doubt that we can expect changes to the H-1B program as we know it. And we must start preparing for this change. But an EO, alone, and a White House press statement that mis-states statistics, simply cannot make these changes. Our legal system is built on a structure of laws, and regulations, and a formal process that we must follow.

Equally as important, and lost in the current narrative, is the fact that our current H-1B program has built-in U.S. worker protections that require employers pay an H-1B worker at least what U.S. workers in the same role make, and is based on U.S. Department of Labor wage data. The current system requires employers pay substantial amounts of money, for each H-1B worker, that goes specifically and solely to re-train U.S. workers. Finally, the simple fact is that employers would not invest the time and costs required for each H-1B worker if it could easily find a U.S. worker for the role. So while this EO urges change, we need to see where Congress and our federal agencies – after public notice and comment – decide change must occur.

Please contact SPS Immigration if you have questions about this EO or its impact on your workforce.

By |April 18th, 2017|

Recent News

U.S. Supreme Court Grants Review and Allows Parts of the Entry Ban to Take Effect

June 26th, 2017|Comments Off on U.S. Supreme Court Grants Review and Allows Parts of the Entry Ban to Take Effect

9th Circuit Upholds injunction on President Trumps Travel Ban

June 12th, 2017|Comments Off on 9th Circuit Upholds injunction on President Trumps Travel Ban

DOL Announces Actions to Increase U.S. Worker Protections & Confront Visa Fraud

June 7th, 2017|Comments Off on DOL Announces Actions to Increase U.S. Worker Protections & Confront Visa Fraud