The Washington Post announced Friday, March 16, 2018, that USCIS is in the process of establishing a new internal oversight division to oversee the way adjudicators handle their cases. The Washington Post obtained this information from staffers and internal documents.
USCIS’ Organization of Professional Responsibility will have three divisions, including an Investigations Division to “manage the agency’s program that investigates cases involving fraud, waste, abuse or misconduct by USCIS employees.” A USCIS official was cited as confirming it is being “viewed internally as a crackdown on employees who may be too forgiving toward applicants for permanent legal residence or citizenship and who may have demerits in their case files, including misdemeanor criminal charges or having received public assistance such as welfare payments.” USCIS confirmed internal plans are being discussed, but that no final decision has been made.
This is just another development by USCIS in its internal effort to reduce legal immigration under the Leadership of L. Francis Cissna. According to the Washington Post, this oversight office will be led by Sarah Kendall, a top USCIS official for fraud detection and national security. Ms. Kendall will report directly to Director Cissna and Deputy Director James McCament.
Until USCIS confirms publicly the details of these new divisions, it remains unclear the impact they will have on the legal immigration system. Please contact SPS Immigration if you have questions about your immigration case.
On February 28th, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) submitted a status report to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, stating that it is now postponing the release of proposed H-4 regulations. In response to the litigation in Save Jobs USA v. DHS, DHSinitially stated that it would release proposed H-4 regulations in February 2018. DHS now anticipates releasing proposed regulations in June 2018, which will then have to go through Notice and Comment. DHS stated the delay is due to significant revisions and a new economic analysis.
If you have questions on how this impacts your immigration case, please contact SPS Immigration.
USCIS announced Thursday, February 22nd, that it is revising its mission statement. In a move that has many questioning the future impact of this change, USCIS changed its existing mission statement which read:
USCIS secures America’s promise as a nation of immigrants by providing accurate and useful information to our customers, granting immigration and citizenship benefits, promoting an awareness and understanding of citizenship, and ensuring the integrity of our immigration system.
The new USCIS mission statement reads:
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administers the nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity and promise by efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for immigration benefits while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values.
USCIS Director, Francis Cissna, when discussing this change emphasized that the additional removal of the word “customers” from the mission statement is required as it promoted “an institutional culture that emphasizes the ultimate satisfaction of applicants and petitioners, rather than the correct adjudication of such applications and petitions according to the law.” He continued, “Use of the term leads to the erroneous belief that applicants and petitioners, rather than the American people, are whom we ultimately serve.”
USCIS moved into a separate entity from CBP and ICE in 2003 specifically to provide an agency where people would feel comfortable working with as a separate benefits granting agency, rather than an enforcement-based agency. It remains unclear the future impact of this change, and SPS Immigration will continue to provide updates as appropriate.
USCIS confirmed to the American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA”) that there would be no procedural changes in the the FY2019 H-1B Cap Process. This means that there will not be a H-1B Cap pre-registration process, as previously suggested. USCIS also indicated that, while it may suspend the option to premium process H-1B Cap cases again this year, that it will maintain the premium processing option for all other H-1B Petitions.
Given the potential of another government shutdown in February, employers seeking to file H-1B Cap Petitions should proceed immediately in the preparation of the filings as another government shutdown halts all U.S. Department of Labor processes, including the processing of the Labor Condition Application (“LCA”).
If you have questions about the FY2019 H-1B Cap process, please contact SPS Immigration.
By midnight, January 20th, 2018, the U.S. Congress failed to pass a budget which effectively shut down the federal government. While certain “essential” government positions remain unaffected, such as the U.S. military, the impact on the U.S. immigration system for employers and employees is significant. What follows is a brief breakdown of the impact on agencies that administer the employment-based immigration programs:
– DOL: The U.S. Department of Labor is not functioning. This means that neither the LCA nor the PERM system is operating during the shutdown, and officers will not respond to emails or other inquiries. Pending cases will not be reviewed and new cases cannot be filed. In 2013, the DOL gave detailed instructions and indicated in December 2017 that the instructions would be largely the same should the government face another shutdown.
– USCIS: USCIS is a fee-funded agency so will continue to process cases. E-Verify, however, is closed.
– CBP: Inspection and law enforcement personnel are considered “essential.” This means that U.S. ports of entry will be open but we may see a slowdown of processing applications filed at the border.
– DOS: Visa and passport filings are fee-funded and DOS confirmed January 20th that “scheduled passport and visa services in the United States and at our posts overseas will continue during the lapse in appropriations as the situation permits.”
– ICE: ICE enforcement and removal operations will continue. The ICE Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) offices are unaffected since SEVP is funded by fees.
– EOIR: EOIR’s detained docket is typically considered an essential function and should continue to operate.
SPS Immigration will continue to update this page as the various agencies release information. Please contact SPS Immigration should you have questions on how this shutdown impacts your immigration case.
It is currently unknown whether the U.S. Federal Government will shut down today, January 19th, at 12pm EST. While the House voted last night to avoid a shutdown, the vote still must happen in the Senate to avoid a shutdown.
If the Federal Government does shut down, it will impact the immigration-related government agencies as follows:
– USCIS: as a fee-based agency, all work will continue as normal.
– DOL: will entirely shut-down, for both the PERM and LCA program, and the websites will not be accessible. This means that employers will not be able to file and DOL will not be processing cases during the shutdown.
SPS Immigration is monitoring the status of the Congressional votes, and will provide updates as appropriate.
The media reported late January 8th that the Trump Administration, admidst strong pressure from the business and technology sectors, decided to back away from its proposal to remove the ability of Foreign Nationals to extend H-1B status past the six year limit. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) confirmed that it is still conducting a through review of the legal employment programs for Foreign Nationals, but that it is no longer pursuing the idea to eliminate the ability for certain Foreign Nationals in the green card process to extend H-1B status past the six year limit, on which SPS previously blogged.
The H-1B classification has become increasingly more difficult and prolonged as evidenced through high levels of Requests for Evidence (“RFE”) compared to prior years. If you have questions about the administrative changes happening to the H-1B program, please contact SPS Immigration.