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USCIS to Resume H-1B Premium Processing for Certain Cap-Exempt Petitioners

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) just announced that it will resume premium processing for certain cap-exempt H-1B petitions, effective immediately. USCIS confirmed that starting today, July 24th, 2017, it will resume premium processing for the following H-1B petitioners:

  • Institutions of higher education;
  • Nonprofits related to or affiliated with an institution of higher education;
  • Nonprofit research or governmental research organizations; and,
  • Individuals who are “employed at” a cap exempt Petitioner, as listed above. USCIS has a specific set of regulations governing which beneficiaries meet the “employed at” requirement, but those beneficiaries often include physicians in private practice who primarily provide medical care at cap-exempt hospitals, such as university-affiliated teaching hospitals.

USCIS’ announcement to again offer premium processing for these cap-exempt petitioners adds to its previous announcement on June 26th, 2017, permitting petitioners filing H-1B petitions on behalf of physicians under the Conrad 30 waiver program and interested government agency waivers to premium process.

The resumption of premium processing for these H-1B petitions applies to both new petition filings and “upgrades” to premium processing for already filed and pending H-1B Petitions. USCIS also stated that it intends to resume premium processing to other petitions as workload permits. If you have questions about the resumption of premium processing for cap-exempt H-1B petitioners, please contact SPS Immigration PLLC.

By |July 24th, 2017|

Department of Homeland Security Delays Implementation of International Entrepreneur Rule

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today that it is delaying the effective date of a regulation finalized under the Obama administration that would provide new avenues for foreign national entrepreneurs to come to the United States to start and grow new businesses.  The rule was to become effective on July 17, 2017, but DHS will delay implementation of the rule to March 14, 2018.

This rule would have allowed DHS to grant parolee status to certain foreign nationals who could demonstrate that they would start a business in the United States that met certain funding and growth criteria.  Traditional nonimmigrant visas, such as an H-1B or L-1, can be difficult to obtain by entrepreneurs because they often do not yet have an established business entity in the United States. The parolee status contemplated in this rule would have allowed international entrepreneurs to come to the U.S. without needing to obtain an H-1B or other nonimmigrant visa, specifically to encourage entrepreneurs to easily start businesses in the United States.  It is unknown whether the rule will in fact be implemented in March 2018, or if the Trump administration will utilize the delay to rescind the regulation and prevent the program from going into place at all.

Entrepreneurs seeking to establish businesses in the U.S. nevertheless still have certain immigration options even with the delay in the implementation of the rule, and should contact SPS Immigration with questions.

By |July 10th, 2017|

DHS and DOS issue guidance on the Travel Ban

On Monday, we reported that the Supreme Court granted review of President Trump’s revised Travel Ban. The Supreme Court also allowed certain parts of the entry ban to go into effect, which will be implemented starting Thursday, June 29th, 2017 at 8pm EDT.

The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) and the U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) just released guidance, a background briefing, and frequently asked questions (“FAQs”) on how these two agencies will implement these sections of President Trump’s travel ban.

President Trump’s travel ban applies to certain foreign nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days and refugees from all countries for 120 days, unless they are exempt or granted a waiver. Relevant to employment-based immigration, the FAQs confirm several issues:

  • Dual Nationals, or those holding passports from both a listed country and a third country, will be processed according to the travel document they present. As such, individuals with dual citizenship should always present the passport of the non-listed country.
  • Foreign nationals from the six countries who possess valid visas in their passports can still travel.
  • Foreign nationals from the six countries who were in the U.S. on June 26th, 2017, can travel abroad and still apply for a valid visa as the Executive Order (“EO”) does not apply.
  • The EO applies to both nationals and citizens of the six countries.
  • Landed Immigrants of Canada who hold passports from one of the six countries remain eligible to apply for a visa.
  • Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) has been issued guidance on the field implementation of this EO.

Despite these clarifications from DHS and DOS, SPS Immigration urges individuals from the listed six countries who intend to travel internationally in the next 90 days to consult with Immigration Counsel prior to booking.

By |June 29th, 2017|

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|

Recent News

USCIS to Resume H-1B Premium Processing for Certain Cap-Exempt Petitioners

July 24th, 2017|Comments Off on USCIS to Resume H-1B Premium Processing for Certain Cap-Exempt Petitioners

Department of Homeland Security Delays Implementation of International Entrepreneur Rule

July 10th, 2017|Comments Off on Department of Homeland Security Delays Implementation of International Entrepreneur Rule

DHS and DOS issue guidance on the Travel Ban

June 29th, 2017|Comments Off on DHS and DOS issue guidance on the Travel Ban