Immigration News and Updates for August 2018

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USCIS has put on hold one of its new policy memos pertaining to placing immigrants in deportation proceedings, if, after their case is denied, they have no lawful status. Why? Read below and find out!
There is also lots of updated immigration news below Enjoy!
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Here is the Immigration News
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State Dept. Announces Oversubscription of August Employment-Based Preference Categories, Limits on Special Immigrant Translator Visa Availability

The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for the month of August 2018 includes the following announcement:
OVERSUBSCRIPTION OF AUGUST EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCE CATEGORIES WORLDWIDE, EL SALVADOR, GUATEMALA, HONDURAS, MEXICO, AND PHILIPPINES EMPLOYMENT-BASED FIRST (E1) PREFERENCE: As readers were advised in item F of the July Visa Bulletin, there continues to be an extremely high rate of demand for E1 numbers, primarily for USCIS adjustment of status applicants. Therefore, pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act, it has been necessary to impose an E1 Final Action Date for the month of August, with this date being imposed immediately. This action will allow the Department to hold worldwide number use within the maximum allowed under the FY-2018 annual limits.
INDIA: Employment-based Fourth (E4) AND Certain Religious Workers (SR) preference categories: There has been extremely high demand in these preference categories. Pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act, it has been necessary to impose E4 and SR Final Action Dates for India, which has reached its per-country limit. This action will allow the Department to hold worldwide number use within the maximum allowed under the FY-2018 annual limits.
The implementation of the above mentioned dates will only be temporary, with the dates returning to Current status for October, the first month of fiscal year 2019.
The bulletin also includes this update on special immigrant translator visa availability:
Given the limited availability of visa numbers and the existing demand, the Department expects to reach the FY-2018 annual limit of 50 Special Immigrant Visas in the SI category early this year. As a result, it has been necessary to maintain an August Final Action Date of April 22, 2012. Once the annual limit of 50 visas is reached, further issuances in the SI category will not be possible until October 2018, under the FY-2019 annual limit. The SQ Special Immigrant Visa category for certain Iraqi and Afghan nationals employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq or Afghanistan is not affected and remains current.

USCIS Postpones Implementation of Memorandum on Notices to Appear

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on July 30, 2018, that issuance of operational guidance is pending for its recent memorandum on notices to appear (NTAs); therefore the implementation of the memorandum is postponed until the operational guidance is issued.
Policy Memorandum 602-0050.1, “Updated Guidance for the Referral of Cases and Issuances of Notices to Appear (NTAs) in Cases Involving Inadmissible and Deportable Aliens,” was issued on June 28, 2018, and instructed USCIS components to create or update operational guidance on NTAs and Referrals to ICE, to be issued within 30 days of the Policy Memorandum. The reason why is unclear, but is likely directly related both to a lack of training of USCIS officers in the preparation of the necessary forms to place someone in removal proceedings, the massive amount of time it takes to do so, and the effect of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Periera v. Sessions.

New Law Extends CNMI CW-1 Program, Mandates New Fraud Fee, Will Require E-Verify Participation

On July 24, 2018, President Trump signed the Northern Mariana Islands U.S. Workforce Act of 2018 (H.R. 5956), extending the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)-Only Transitional Worker program (CW-1 program) through 2029 and increasing the CW-1 cap for fiscal year (FY) 2019. The CW-1 program allows employers within the CNMI to apply for permission to employ foreign (nonimmigrant) workers who are otherwise ineligible to work in the CNMI under other nonimmigrant worker categories.
CW-1 employers must pay a mandatory $50 “fraud prevention and detection” fee with each petition, in addition to other current fees. USCIS said it will reject any petition received after July 24, 2018, that includes incorrect or insufficient fees. This new fraud prevention and detection fee does not apply to CW petitions already filed and pending with USCIS as of July 24, 2018.
The Workforce Act will require CNMI employers seeking CW-1 workers to enroll in E-Verify and comply with the requirements of the E-Verify program. Although E-Verify enrollment is not currently required, it will soon be a requirement for all employers filing for CW-1 visas. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said it “strongly encourages CNMI employers to enroll in the E-Verify program as soon as possible.”
The Workforce Act raises the CW-1 cap for FY 2019 from 4,999 to 13,000, and provides new CW-1 caps for subsequent fiscal years. After announcing on April 11, 2018, that it had received CW-1 petitions for more than the number of visas previously available for FY 2019, USCIS will now resume accepting CW-1 petitions. Employers whose petitions were previously rejected because the cap was reached must file a new petition if they want CW workers to be considered under the increased cap. USCIS said it did not retain and cannot reopen previously rejected petitions.
In addition to extending the CW-1 program, the Workforce Act extends the following Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 provisions until December 31, 2029:
  • The exemption from national caps for H-1B and H-2B workers in the CNMI and on Guam;
  • The bar on asylum applications in the CNMI; and
  • The CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Investor (E-2C) program.
USCIS said the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is exercising its discretion, as provided in the Act, to delay implementation of other changes to the CW program affecting CW-1 filers until DHS issues an interim final rule. As of July 24, 2018, USCIS will only accept the May 9, 2018, version of Form I-129CW, Petition for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker. USCIS will reject and return fees for any petitions submitted using a December 11, 2017, or earlier version date of Form I-129CW.

CBP Announces Inspection Changes for CW Visa Holders Arriving in Guam

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) has announced that under the Northern Mariana Islands U.S. Workforce Act of 2018, effective immediately, CNMI-Only Transitional Worker (CW) visa holders may be admitted in Guam when in transit to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). A CW nonimmigrant visa is valid for admission to Guam for the purpose of transit only.
The CW visa classification allows employers in the CNMI to apply for permission to employ foreign (nonimmigrant) workers who are otherwise ineligible to work under other nonimmigrant worker categories. Individuals approved for CW status who travel outside of the CNMI must obtain a CW nonimmigrant visa from the U.S. embassy or consulate in their country of citizenship to apply for readmission to the CNMI and retain their CW status.

DHS Extends TPS Designation for Somalia for 18 Months

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has extended the temporary protected status (TPS) designation for Somalia for 18 months, through March 17, 2020, due to “ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions.”
Individuals from Somalia with TPS will be eligible to re-register for an extension of their status through March 17, 2020. Before the conclusion of the 18-month extension, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen will review conditions in Somalia to determine whether its TPS designation should be extended again or terminated.
DHS said there are approximately 500 Yemeni TPS beneficiaries. This 18-month extension of Somalia’s designation for TPS permits current Somali TPS beneficiaries to re-register for TPS and remain in the United States with work authorization through March 17, 2020. To be eligible for TPS under Somalia’s current designation, along with meeting the other eligibility requirements, such individuals must have continuously resided in the United States since May 1, 2012, and have been continuously physically present in the United States since September 18, 2012.
The announcement is at https://www.dhs.gov/news/2018/07/19/secretary-homeland-security-kirstjen-m-nielsen-announcement-temporary-protected. Further details about this extension for TPS, including information about the re-registration process and employment authorization documents, will appear in a Federal Register notice.

Office of Foreign Labor Certification Releases Foreign Labor Recruiter List

The Department of Labor’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) has published a list of foreign labor recruiters. OFLC said that providing the list enables the agency to “be in a better position to enforce recruitment violations, and workers will be better protected against fraudulent recruiting schemes, because they will be able to verify whether a recruiter is in fact recruiting for legitimate H-2B job opportunities in the United States.” OFLC said workers may use the partial case number(s) associated with a recruiter on the list to identify the particular job order(s) in OFLC’s Electronic Job Registry, available in the iCERT system (https://icert.doleta.gov/), for which the recruiter is seeking workers.
The Department said it compiles this data from disclosures employers and their attorneys or agents made in conjunction with filing a Form ETA-9142B, H-2B Application for Temporary Employment Certification, about the foreign labor recruiters they engage, or plan to engage, in the recruitment of H-2B workers.
The Department noted that it does not endorse or vouch for any foreign labor agent or recruiter included in the Foreign Labor Recruiter List, nor does inclusion on the list signify that the recruiter is in compliance with the H-2B program.

ICE Announces Arrests, Charges in New York, Boston

Officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) arrested 65 people during a five-day period ending July 20, 2018, in New York City and on Long Island. In Boston, 25 people were charged as a result of an ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) probe targeting document and benefit fraud.
During the New York operation, ERO arrested 65 individuals for violating U.S. immigration laws. The arrestees include nationals from Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, and Ukraine. ERO deportation officers made arrests in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island, Nassau County, and Suffolk County.
Charges filed in Boston included a wide range of crimes, from aggravated identity theft to theft of public funds and others. The arrests and charges announced were a result of “Operation Double Trouble,” a long-term, coordinated investigation by HIS’s Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF) comprising local, state, and federal agencies “joining together to detect, deter and disrupt organizations and individuals involved in a wide range of document, identity and benefit fraud schemes,” ICE said.

Trump Threatens Immigration-Related Shutdown Ahead of Midterm Elections

On July 29, 2018, President Donald Trump tweeted:
I would be willing to “shut down” government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall! Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT! We need great people coming into our Country!
With respect to funding a wall along the border with Mexico, which President Trump previously promised Mexico would pay for, in May President Trump said, “we’re going to get the wall, even if we have to think about closing up the country for a while.” He signed a spending bill in late March without everything he wanted in it but said, “I will never sign another bill like this again.”
As of press time, there were no further specifics. According to reports, Republicans are concerned that this may mean President Trump intends to veto any spending bill that doesn’t include everything he wants, including bills passed by Congress to continue government functions past the end of September, when the government runs out of money. Some in Congress hope to avoid drama before the midterm elections in November.

New Publications and Items of Interest

A new study on H-1B denials and requests for evidence (RFEs) by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) finds that H-1B denials and RFEs increased significantly in the fourth quarter of FY 2017, likely due to new Trump administration policies, according to data obtained from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The proportion of H-1B petitions denied for foreign-born professionals increased by 41% from the third to the fourth quarter of FY 2017, rising from a denial rate of 15.9% in the third quarter to 22.4% in the fourth quarter. The number of RFEs in the fourth quarter of FY 2017 almost equaled the total number issued by USCIS adjudicators for the first three quarters of FY 2017 combined (63,184 versus 63,599). Failure to comply with an adjudicator’s RFE will result in the denial of an application. As a percentage of completed cases, the RFE rate was approximately 69% in the fourth quarter compared to 23% in the third quarter of FY 2017, the study found. A report on the study is at https://nfap.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/H-1B-Denial-and-RFE-Increase.NFAP-Policy-Brief.July-2018.pdf.
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Webinars for employers and employees.

The Immigrant & Employee Rights Section of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division will present a series of webinars for employers and employees. For more information, see https://www.justice.gov/crt/webinars#ier webinars.

Advisories and tips:

  •  Community Advisory: Social Media, Criminalization, and Immigration has been published by the National Lawyers Guild’s National Immigration Project. This advisory summarizes ways in which immigration agents may use social media against those in removal proceedings or involved in criminal cases. The advisory is at https://www.nationalimmigrationproject.org/PDFs/community/2017_03Apr_comm-adv-social.pdf.
  •  How to safeguard your data from searches at the border is the topic of several recent articles and blogs. See, for example,

Government Agency Links

Follow these links to access current processing times of the USCIS Service Centers and the Department of Labor, and the Department of State’s latest Visa Bulletin with the most recent cut-off dates for visa numbers:
USCIS Service Center processing times online: https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/processTimesDisplay.do

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