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1. USCIS Releases New Two-Page I-9 Verification Form, Handbook for Employers - Changes to the I-9 include new fields, reformatting, and revised instructions to both employees and employers.
2. H-1B Filing Starts April 1 - Companies should prepare to file H-1B petitions, and evaluate their anticipated hiring needs for H-1B professionals for the 12-month period beginning on October 1, 2013.
3. Effects of Sequestration: CBP Releases Info on Effects on Border, Traveler Programs; USCIS To Lose $151 Million - CBP warned that it anticipates "significant potential impacts to cross-border travel and trade," which will increase as peak travel seasons occur.
4. Witnesses Argue in Favor of Skilled Immigration at House Hearing - Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) opened the hearing by noting, among other things, a study finding that each additional 100 immigrants with advanced STEM degrees is associated with an additional 262 jobs for U.S. natives.
5. New Publications and Items of Interest - New Publications and Items of Interest
6. Member News - Member News
7. Government Agency Links - Government Agency Links
 

 
 
1. USCIS Releases New Two-Page I-9 Verification Form, Handbook for Employers
 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released a revised Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9), effective March 8, 2013. All employers must complete an I-9 for each employee hired in the United States.

Changes to the I-9 include new fields, reformatting, and revised instructions to both employees and employers. Optional fields have been added for employee e-mail addresses and telephone numbers, as well as foreign passport information if applicable.

Employers should begin using the newly revised Form I-9 (Rev. 03/08/13)N for all new hires and reverifications. Employers may continue to use previously accepted revisions [(Rev.02/02/09)N and (Rev. 08/07/09)Y] until May 7, 2013. After May 7, 2013, employers must only use the I-9 version with the revision date of (Rev. 03/08/13)N. The revision date of the I-9 is printed on the lower left corner of the form.

USCIS noted that employers should not complete a new I-9 for current employees if a properly completed I-9 is already on file.

A Spanish version of the revised I-9 is available on the USCIS website for use in Puerto Rico only. Spanish-speaking employers and employees in the 50 states; Washington, DC; and other U.S. territories may use the Spanish version for reference but must complete the English version of the form.

USCIS said it is updating, and will release shortly, a new handbook for employers containing guidance for completing the I-9.

USCIS is holding numerous upcoming webinars on the I-9 form. FULL LIST.

The revised form is available in English and Spanish. The Department of Homeland Security has published a notice in the Federal Register about the revised I-9.

USCIS ANNOUNCEMENT

FEDERAL REGISTER NOTICE

USCIS has also released a new M274 Handbook for Employers. It has a revision date of 3-8-13.

 
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2. H-1B Filing Starts April 1
 

The Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers (ABIL) reminds clients that H-1B filing starts April 1, 2013.

Companies should prepare to file H-1B petitions, and evaluate their anticipated hiring needs for H-1B professionals (specifically, those requiring initial H-1B visas) for the 12-month period beginning on October 1, 2013. That is the date on which new H-1B visas become available under the annual cap. Employers can file H-1B petitions no earlier than six months in advance of the anticipated start date, so April 1, 2013, signals the start of what has become an annual race to get petitions filed as early as possible to ensure acceptance before the cap of 85,000 visas is reached. The 85,000 cap includes the basic cap of 65,000, plus an additional 20,000 H-1B visas available to foreign nationals who have earned an advanced degree (master’s or higher) from a U.S. university.

The H-1B cap for fiscal year 2013 was reached in June 2012. The pace of hiring this year means that the demand for new H-1B workers could result in the new cap being reached in early April. As in past years, some foreign nationals are not subject to the H-1B cap, including individuals who already have been counted toward the cap in a previous year and have not been outside the United States subsequently for one year or more. Also, certain employers, such as universities, government-funded research organizations, and some nonprofit entities are exempt from the H-1B cap. All other employers should be aware of the H-1B cap.

ABIL recommends that clients keep their ABIL attorney apprised of all new hires needing H-1B status before October 1, 2014. Examples would include F-1 students hired with optional practical training that expires before April 1, 2014, or current L-1B nonimmigrants who will have spent five years in that status as of any date before October 1, 2014.

 
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3. Effects of Sequestration: CBP Releases Info on Effects on Border, Traveler Programs; USCIS To Lose $151 Million
 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has released information about the effects of "sequestration" (mandated federal budget cuts under the Budget Control Act of 2011) on traveler and border programs. CBP stands to lose $512 million in fiscal year (FY) 2013 funds, according to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). CBP warned that it anticipates "significant potential impacts to cross-border travel and trade," which will increase as peak travel seasons occur. The agency noted that, among other things, it will lose "up to several thousand" CBP officers at ports of entry in addition to undergoing "significant cuts" to operating budgets and programs.

CBP said that security will remain the highest priority. The agency noted that all trusted traveler and trader programs, including Global Entry, SENTRI, NEXUS, C-TPAT, and FAST, will be "maintained and emphasized."

CBP said it anticipates the following effects, among others, at ports of entry:

  • Increased wait times for personal vehicles and pedestrians at land border ports of entry, with the potential of doubling of peak wait times up to several hours or more at the largest ports, leading to potential gridlock during peak travel seasons;
  • Increased wait times at major international airports of up to 50 percent or more, with peak wait times of up to 3-4 hours or more at some gateway airports;
  • Reduced flexibility to maintain or extend operating hours or respond to requests for new services.

CBP noted that the cuts are taking place against a backdrop of significant growth in international travel and trade. According to CBP, international air travel has increased by 12 percent over the past three years and is expected to increase an additional 5 percent this year. Also, land border passenger traffic is increasing on both the northern and southern borders.

CBP has launched a Web page to provide information and updates on the effects of sequestration on its operations.

Meanwhile, the Office of Management and Budget released a document showing FY 2013 cuts to all federal government branches and agencies resulting from sequestration. Among other things, it shows that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is primarily funded from fee-based services, stands to lose $151 million. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement also released several thousand lower-risk detainees in anticipation of budget cuts.

A list of the Department of Homeland Security's cuts begin on page 27 of the OMB publication, "OMB Report to the Congress on the Joint Committee Sequestration for Fiscal Year 2013." See page 7 of the OMB publication for a paragraph explaining what the numbers mean. OMB PUBLICATION

 
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4. Witnesses Argue in Favor of Skilled Immigration at House Hearing
 

Skilled immigration was the topic of a hearing held on March 5, 2013, by the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security. Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) opened the hearing. Witnesses included Bruce Morrison, Chairman, Morrison Public Affairs Group (testifying on behalf of IEEE-USA [a unit of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.]); Dean Garfield, President and CEO, Information Technology Industry Council; Deepak Kamra, General Partner, Canaan Partner; and Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director, American Immigration Council.

Rep. Goodlatte noted, among other things, that foreign-born inventors have received 76 percent of patents awarded to top U.S. patent-producing universities in cutting-edge fields like semiconductor device manufacturing, information technology, digital communications, pharmaceuticals, and optics. He cited a study finding by the American Enterprise Institute and the Partnership for a New American Economy that each additional 100 immigrants with advanced STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) degrees is associated with an additional 262 jobs for U.S. natives. The study also found, he noted, that immigrants with advanced degrees pay over $22,000 per year in taxes on average but their families receive less than $2,300 in government benefits.

Rep. Goodlatte lamented that despite the "outstanding track record of immigrants in founding some of our most successful companies," the United States only selects less than one percent of immigrants on the basis of entrepreneurial talents. By contrast, he noted, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada each select over 60 percent of immigrants on the basis of skills and education. He recommended an approach similar to a House bill that did not pass the Senate last year. That bill would have redirected approximately 50,000 green cards from the diversity visa lottery toward foreign students graduating from U.S. universities with advanced degrees in STEM fields.

He recommended that in the new Congress, all aspects of high-skilled immigration policy should be reviewed with an eye toward improving temporary visa programs for skilled workers, such as those on H-1B and L visas; improving the E-2 temporary visa program for entrepreneurs; offering green cards to aspiring entrepreneurs "that don't demand that they themselves be rich but that instead rely on the judgment of the venture capitalists who have funded them"; reducing backlogs for second- and third-preference employment-based green cards; and seeking to help the United States retain more foreign graduates of U.S. universities.

Mr. Morrison noted that the Immigration Act of 1990 nearly tripled employment-based green cards from 54,000 to 140,000 per year, and set a permanent cap of 65,000 H-1B visas per year. He said this was to encourage employers hiring foreigners for permanent jobs to use legal permanent residence visas, putting them on a path toward citizenship. He argued in favor of providing more green cards for skilled workers and a more direct way for employers to sponsor new hires for green cards as soon as they are hired. He noted that 20 percent of IEEE-USA members are immigrants, and student chapters with a mix of native-born and foreign student members abound. He said there is a consensus among IEEE-USA membership that they do not want to be part of a system that uses temporary visas "to advantage or disadvantage some employees over others." With green cards, he said, "you do not have to write endless rules regarding portability and prevailing wages. The job market sorts all this out."

Mr. Garfield said the United States is creating technology jobs faster than we can fill them. He noted that other than a modest permanent change in 2004, the private sector has access to roughly the same number of H-1B visas as it did in 1990. He said the United States is likely to run out of the annual allotment of 65,000 H-1B visas "within weeks" of April 1, "leaving no new hiring options for FY 2014 and forcing businesses to move jobs elsewhere even when they may not want to." Mr. Garfield said his organization recommends reform that helps to fill skilled job openings while accelerating new jobs and new knowledge-driven businesses; supplementing the U.S. workforce with skilled immigration reform; and using skilled immigration reform to maximize work in the United States that could be performed elsewhere.

Mr. Kamra argued in favor of a "StartUp Visa" category. He said the H-1B visa is not a workable solution for starting a company in the United States, since entrepreneurs need to devote themselves full-time to building a new company. He recommended including criteria such as requiring entrepreneur visa candidates to receive legitimate funding and to prove subsequent job creation or company growth. Among other things, he recommended that the required first round of funding for any StartUp Visa recipient not be too high, and that ongoing monitoring of the entrepreneur's progress and milestones account for the high-risk nature of such companies.

Mr. Johnson noted that the talent we seek often comes to the United States not only through employment-based channels but also through family reunification, the admission of refugees and asylees, and even within the population of unauthorized workers. He suggested that the quest for talent is not an isolated enterprise but part of systematic immigration reform. He lamented the reductive "buzz words and myths" that fail to acknowledge the "nuanced and complex role immigration plays in American economic growth, business development, and global competitiveness" and pitting native-born workers against their foreign-born colleagues. He argued in favor of creating a "revamped and revitalized immigration system."

Mr. Johnson recommended reforms that provide job portability, labor protections and economic opportunities for both workers and their families. He said the current system is inflexible and outdated, and argued in favor of a "nimble and efficient system" that responds in real time to the needs of the market by giving employers the ability to fill positions quickly with workers who are protected from exploitation.

WITNESS STATEMENTS

 
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5. New Publications and Items of Interest
 

Several ABIL members co-authored and edited the Global Business Immigration Practice Guide, recently released by LexisNexis. The Practice Guide is a one-stop resource for dealing with questions related to business immigration issues in immigration hotspots around the world.

This comprehensive guide is designed to be used by:

  • 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.

Order HERE. International customers who do not want to order through the bookstore can order through Nicole Hahn at (518) 487-3004 or Nicole.hahn@lexisnexis.com.

Green Card Stories. The immigration debate is boiling over. Americans are losing the ability to understand and talk to one another about immigration. We must find a way to connect on a human level. Green Card Stories does just that. The book depicts 50 recent immigrants with permanent residence or citizenship in dramatic narratives, accompanied by artistic photos. If the book's profilees share a common trait, it's a mixture of talent and steely determination. Each of them overcame great challenges to come and stay in America. Green Card Stories reminds Americans of who we are: a nation of immigrants, from all walks of life and all corners of the earth, who have fueled America's success. It tells the true story of our nation: E pluribus unum--out of many, one.

Green Card Stories has won six national awards. It was named a Nautilus book award silver medal winner, and won a silver medal in the Independent Book Publishers Association's Benjamin Franklin Award in the multicultural category. The book also won a Bronze Medal in the Independent Publisher's "IPPY" Awards and an honorable mention for the 2012 Eric Hoffer Book Award. Ariana Lindquist, the photographer, won a first-place award in the National Press Photographers Association's Best of Photojournalism 2012 and was a finalist for the International Photography Awards. The writer, Saundra Amrhein, was nominated as a finalist on the short list for the 2011 Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Awards. Green Card Stories is also featured on National Public Radio's photo blog.

For more information, e-mail Lauren Anderson at lauren@greencardstories.com or see the Green Card Stories website.

ABIL on Twitter. The Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers is now available on Twitter: @ABILImmigration. Recent ABIL member blogs are available on the ABIL blog.

 
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6. Member News
 

Klasko, Rulon, Stock & Seltzer, LLP will hold its Annual Spring Seminar on April 23, 2013, at the Radisson Plaza-Warwick Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Topics will include legislation, USCIS policies and practices, CBP programs, J-1 waivers, university/hospital roundtable, corporate roundtable, employment eligibility verification, travel issues, prevailing wage issues, and more. H. Ronald Klasko will be speaking. FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO REGISTER

Charles Kuck was quoted in the March 9, 2013, edition of the Wall Street Journal. He noted that “employers of less-skilled workers are between a rock and a hard place. So they are using a program like the J-1 for an unintended purpose."

Robert F. Loughran spoke on the latest legal revisions and policy changes to immigration law in the Americas, at the Forum for Expatriate Management's Southwest USA Totally Expat Conference, on February 25, 2013, in Houston, Texas.

Cyrus Mehta has authored a new blog entry. "The Status of Internet Proxy Marriages Under Immigration Law" He also has co-authored a new blog entry. "Wanted: Great STEM and Tandoori Chicken"

Mr. Mehta participated in a seminar on Basic Immigration Law on March 14, 2013. COURSE HANDBOOK

Mr. Mehta also will speak at the American Immigration Lawyers Association's Philadelphia Chapter conference on March 16, 2013.

Angelo Paparelli has published a new blog entry. "Fix Immigration By Improving Its Justice System"

Stephen Yale-Loehr was quoted by CNN on March 11, 2013, in "Tech Giants, Private Prisons Big Players on Immigration Reform," Mr. Yale-Loehr said, "Lobbying on immigration reform is like lobbying on any complicated legislation in DC: messy and unpredictable. Just as with tax reform and health care reform, every affected constituency in the immigration debate is pushing their own agenda." He noted that "[s]ometimes the stars align and a bill gets passed. Often, however, the effort fails, despite or because of everyone's efforts."

 
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7. 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

Department of Labor processing times and information on backlogs

Department of State Visa Bulletin

Visa application wait times for any post

 
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