MID-AUGUST 2016 – IMMIGRATION UPDATE

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Mid-August 2016 Immigration Update

  • USCIS Announces End of H-1B Workload Transfer Transition Period – USCIS announced that the H-1B workload transfer transition period ends August 31, 2016.
  • September Visa Bulletin Shows Movement in Final Action Dates – The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for the month of September 2016 shows much movement in the final action dates for various employment categories. For example, in August, the EB-1 final action date for China was January 1, 2010; in September it is Current.
  • USCIS To Allow Additional Applicants for Provisional Waiver Process � USCIS announced a final rule, effective August 29, 2016, that expands the existing provisional waiver process to allow certain individuals who are family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) and who are statutorily eligible for immigrant visas to more easily navigate the immigration process. USCIS said it expects to update its Policy Manual in the coming weeks to provide guidance on how it makes “extreme hardship” determinations.
  • DHS Announces 18-Month Redesignation, Extension of TPS for Syria – For current Syria TPS beneficiaries, the 60-day re-registration period began August 1, 2016, and runs through September 30, 2016. Certain Syrian nationals and persons without nationality who last habitually resided in Syria may apply for TPS during the 180-day initial registration period that began August 1, 2016, and runs through January 30, 2017.

Also in this Issue:

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USCIS Announces End of H-1B Workload Transfer Transition Period

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the H-1B workload transfer transition period ends August 31, 2016.

On July 1, 2016, as part of a workload transfer from the California and Vermont Service Centers, the Nebraska Service Center (NSC) began accepting certain H-1B and H-1B1 (Chile/Singapore Free Trade) I-129 petitions. The NSC also began accepting I-539 and I-765 applications for certain H-4 nonimmigrants that are concurrently filed with an I-129.

The California and Vermont Service Centers will continue to accept these I-129 petitions, and any concurrently filed I-539 and I-765 applications, during the transition period until August 31. Starting September 1, only the NSC will accept them. USCIS may reject any misfiled petitions or applications.

The following Form I-129 same-employer-without-change petitions have not been transferred to the Nebraska Service Center and will continue to be accepted only at the California Service Center, if:

  • The petition is for an employer that is statutorily exempt from the cap; or
  • The beneficiary is employed at a qualifying cap-exempt institution, entity or organization.

See filing addresses and cap-exempt filing instructions at www.uscis.gov/i-129-addresses. The latest USCIS announcement is HERE. The details released July 1, 2016, are HERE.

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September Visa Bulletin Shows Movement in Final Action Dates

The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for the month of September 2016 shows much movement in the final action dates for various employment categories. For example, in August, the EB-1 final action date for China was January 1, 2010; in September it is Current. The August EB-2 final action date for China was January 1, 2010; in September it has moved forward to June 1, 2013. Dates in several categories were specified in August for El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras; in September, that column has been dropped and all chargeability areas except those listed for China-mainland born, India, Mexico, and Philippines are Current.

The Visa Bulletin for September 2016 is HERE.

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USCIS To Allow Additional Applicants for Provisional Waiver Process

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a final rule, effective August 29, 2016, that expands the existing provisional waiver process to allow certain individuals who are family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) and who are statutorily eligible for immigrant visas to more easily navigate the immigration process.

USCIS noted that the provisional waiver process “promotes family unity by reducing the time eligible individuals are separated from their family members while they complete immigration processing abroad, while also improving administrative efficiency.”

The agency said the final rule builds on a process established in 2013 to support family unity. Under that process, certain immediate relatives of U.S. citizens can apply for provisional waivers of the unlawful presence ground of inadmissibility, based on the extreme hardship their U.S. citizen spouses or parents would suffer if the waiver were not granted. The final rule expands eligibility for the provisional waiver process to all individuals who are statutorily eligible for the waiver of the unlawful presence ground of inadmissibility. Until now, only immediate relatives of U.S. citizens were eligible to seek such provisional waivers before departing the United States for the processing of their immigrant visas. Those eligible for the provisional waiver process under the 2013 rule are only a subset of those eligible for the waiver under the statute.

To qualify for a provisional waiver, applicants must establish that their U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouses or parents would experience “extreme hardship” if the applicants are not allowed to return to the United States.

USCIS said it expects to update its Policy Manual “in the coming weeks” to provide guidance on how it makes “extreme hardship” determinations. The final rule also makes changes to Form I-601A, Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver. These changes will go into effect along with the final rule.

Applicants should not submit a request for a provisional waiver under the expanded guidelines until the final rule takes effect on August 29, 2016. If you do so before that date, USCIS may deny the application.

The USCIS announcement is HERE. The final rule is HERE. The updated I-601A will be posted on USCIS’s website at uscis.gov/i-601a on August 29, 2016.

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DHS Announces 18-Month Redesignation, Extension of TPS for Syria

The Department of Homeland Security has redesignated Syria for temporary protected status (TPS) and extended the existing Syria TPS designation from October 1, 2016, through March 31, 2018. Nationals of Syria, or persons without nationality who last habitually resided in Syria, can register or re-register for TPS in accordance with the notice.

For current Syria TPS beneficiaries, the 60-day re-registration period began August 1, 2016, and runs through September 30, 2016. Syrian nationals and persons without nationality who last habitually resided in Syria and have: (1) continuously resided in the United States since August 1, 2016, and (2) been continuously physically been present in the United States since October 1, 2016, may apply for TPS during the 180-day initial registration period that began August 1, 2016, and runs through January 30, 2017.

The 18-month extension allows TPS re-registrants to apply for a new employment authorization document (EAD). Eligible Syria TPS beneficiaries who re-register during the 60-day period and request a new EAD will receive one with an expiration date of March 31, 2018. USCIS said it recognizes that some re-registrants may not receive their new EADs until after their current work permits expire. Therefore, USCIS is automatically extending for an additional six months current TPS Syria EADs with a September 30, 2016, expiration date. These existing EADs are now valid through March 31, 2017.

The announcement, which includes additional details, is HERE.

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New Publications and Items of Interest

Updated Labor Certification Fact Sheets. The Office of Foreign Labor Certification has posted updated program fact sheets with third-quarter FY 2016 selected statistics. Reports are derived from program data as of June 30, 2016.

The updated fact sheets include:

  • Permanent Labor Certification Program, HERE
  • Prevailing Wage Determination Program, HERE
  • H-1B Temporary Visa Program, HERE
  • H-2A Temporary Agricultural Visa Program, HERE
  • H-2B Temporary Nonagricultural Visa Program, HERE

The updated fact sheets are also available HERE.

The Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) invites interested parties to attend a regional stakeholder meeting and webinar/teleconference to discuss the work of the Atlanta Immigration Court on Monday, August 29, 2016, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. (Eastern) in Atlanta, Georgia. In-person attendance is limited to the first 40 individuals to RSVP to Lauren Alder Reid, EOIR Chief and Counsel for the Office of Communications and Legislative Affairs, at EngageWithEOIR@usdoj.gov. When RSVP’ing, indicate whether you intend to participate in person or listen in via webinar/teleconference, and provide the names of the attendees, your organization, and an email address. EOIR will send a confirmation email by August 22 to those who RSVP, including webinar and teleconference information for those who indicate remote participation. The announcement is HERE.

USCIS Seeks Input on Policy Manual. You can submit feedback on proposed changes to USCIS policy guidance HERE.

The latest E-Verify webinar schedule from USCIS is available at www.uscis.gov/e-verify/e-verify-webinars/take-free-webinar.

The Latest Edition of the Global Business Immigration Practice Guide Has Been Released by LexisNexis. Dozens of members of the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers (ABIL) co-authored and edited the guide, which is a one-stop resource for dealing with questions related to business immigration issues in 30 immigration hotspots around the world.

The latest edition adds chapters on Malta and Romania. Other chapters cover Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, the European Union, France, Germany, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Peru, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Latchi Delchev, a global mobility and immigration specialist for Boeing, called the guide “first-rate” and said the key strong point of the book is its “outstanding usability.” She said she highly recommends the book and notes that it “is helpful even to seasoned professionals, as it provides a level of detail which is not easily gained from daily case management.”

Mireya Serra-Janer, head of European immigration for a multinational IT company, says she particularly likes “the fact that the [guide] focuses not just on each country’s immigration law itself but also addresses related matters such as tax and social security issues.” She noted that the India chapter “is particularly good. The immigration regulations in India have always been hard to understand. Having a clear explanation of the rules there helps us sort out many mobility challenges.”

Charles Gould, Director-General of the International Co-operative Alliance, said the guide is “an invaluable resource for both legal practitioners and business professionals. The country-specific chapters are comprehensive and answer the vast majority of questions that arise in immigration practice. Its clear and easy-to-follow structure and format make it the one volume to keep close at hand.”

This comprehensive guide is for:

  • Human resources professionals and in-house attorneys who need to instruct, understand, and liaise with immigration lawyers licensed in other countries;
  • Business immigration attorneys who regularly work with multinational corporations and their employees and HR professionals; and
  • Attorneys interested in expanding their practice to include global business immigration services.

This publication provides:

  • An overview of the immigration law requirements and procedures for over 20 countries;
  • Practical information and tips for obtaining visas, work permits, resident status, naturalization, and other nonimmigrant and immigrant pathways to conducting business, investing, and working in those countries;
  • A general overview of the appropriate options for a particular employee; and
  • Information on how an employee can obtain and maintain authorization to work in a target country.

Each chapter follows a similar format, making it easy to compare practices and procedures from country to country. Useful links to additional resources and forms are included. Collected in this Practice Guide, the expertise of ABIL’s attorney members across the globe will serve as an ideal starting point in your research into global business immigration issues.

An excerpt of the book is on the ABIL website at www.abil.com/global_practice_guide.cfm.

Contact your Lexis/Nexis sales representative; call 1-800-833-9844 (United States), 1-518-487-3385 (international); fax 1-518-487-3584.

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Government Agency Links

Follow these links to access current processing times of the USCIS Service Centers and the Department of Labor, or the Department of State’s latest Visa Bulletin with the most recent cut-off dates for visa numbers:

USCIS Service Center processing times online: egov.uscis.gov/cris/processTimesDisplay.do

Department of Labor processing times and information on backlogs: www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/times.cfm

Department of State Visa Bulletin: travel.state.gov/visa/bulletin/bulletin_1360.html

Visa application wait times for any post: travel.state.gov/visa/temp/wait/wait_4638.html

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