News from the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers Vol. 8, No. 10B • October 15, 2012
1. USCIS Launches Online I-9 Resources for Employers and Employees in Spanish – The website provides employers and employees one-click access at no charge to Spanish-language resources, tips, and guidance on properly completing the I-9 and understanding the I-9 process.
2. Taiwan Joins Visa Waiver Program – In FY 2011, 243,186 visitors from Taiwan traveled to the United States. Eligible Taiwanese will now be able to do so without a visa beginning on November 1.
3. DHS Extends Haiti TPS, Extends Suspension of Certain Requirements for F-1 Haitian Students – The 60-day re-registration period for current Haiti TPS beneficiaries who wish to maintain their TPS will run through November 30, 2012.
4. USCIS Announces New Filing Option for Canadian TN Nonimmigrants, Reminds Employers of Canadian L-1 Options – On October 1, USCIS began accepting the Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, filed on behalf of Canadian citizens outside the United States who seek classification as TN (Trade NAFTA) nonimmigrants.
5. USCIS Designates Military Physicians as Civil Surgeons To Facilitate Medical Exams – USCIS said the blanket designation will assist members and veterans of the Armed Forces and their eligible dependents in receiving immigration medical examinations in a timely fashion.
6. USCIS Undercounts H-1B Usage – The data show that the agency has approved approximately 45,000 too few overall between fiscal years 2008 and 2012.
7. USCIS Releases Latest DACA Statistics – 4,591 requests have been approved so far.
8. New Publications and Items of Interest – New Publications and Items of Interest
9. Member News – Member News
10. Government Agency Links – Government Agency Links
1. USCIS Launches Online I-9 Resources for Employers and Employees in Spanish
On October 4, 2012, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) launched a Spanish-language version of I-9 Central, an online resource center providing information and assistance related to the Form I-9 (Employee Eligibility Verification), which is the most frequently accessed form on USCIS.gov. The website provides employers and employees one-click access at no charge to Spanish-language resources, tips, and guidance on properly completing the I-9 and understanding the I-9 process.
The launch of the Spanish I-9 Central is the most recent in a series of resource guides related to USCIS employment-related forms and processes. These resources include E-Verify Self-Check, a service that allows workers and job seekers in the United States to check their own employment eligibility status online, and an updated Handbook for Employers: Instructions for Completing Form I-9 (M-274). Both are offered in Spanish.
I-9 Central includes sections about employer and employee rights and responsibilities, step-by-step instructions for completing the form, and information on acceptable documents for establishing identity and employment authorization. The site also includes a discussion of common mistakes to avoid when completing the form, guidance on how to correct errors, and answers to employers’ recent questions about the I-9 process.
2. Taiwan Joins Visa Waiver Program
On October 2, 2012, the Department of Homeland Security announced the designation of Taiwan for participation in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Taiwan thus joins 36 other countries in the VWP, which permits visa-free travel to the United States for eligible travelers coming for 90 or fewer days for business or tourism. In fiscal year 2011, the VWP accounted for 18.3 million visits to the United States, or more than 60 percent of tourist and business travelers entering the United States by air, the Department noted.
Key security and information-sharing requirements for the VWP include enhanced law enforcement and security-related data-sharing, timely reporting of lost or stolen passports, and maintaining high counterterrorism, law enforcement, border control, aviation, and document security standards.
Eligible Taiwan passport holders must apply for advance authorization for the VWP through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). Eligible Taiwan passport holders approved via ESTA may visit the United States without visas beginning on November 1, 2012. In FY 2011, 243,186 visitors from Taiwan traveled to the United States.
3. DHS Extends Haiti TPS, Extends Suspension of Certain Requirements for F-1 Haitian Students
The Department of Homeland Security has published a notice in the Federal Register extending Haitian temporary protected status (TPS) for an additional 18 months, ending on July 22, 2014.
The 60-day re-registration period for current Haiti TPS beneficiaries who wish to maintain their TPS began on October 1, 2012, and will run through November 30, 2012. Individuals who have not continuously resided in the United States since January 12, 2011, are not eligible.
The 18-month extension also allows TPS re-registrants to apply for a new employment authorization document (EAD). Eligible Haitian TPS beneficiaries who timely re-register will receive a new EAD, if requested, with an expiration date of July 22, 2014. USCIS recognizes that all re-registrants may not receive their new EADs until after their current EADs expire. Therefore, USCIS is extending currently valid TPS Haiti EADs bearing a January 22, 2013, expiration date for an additional six months, through July 22, 2013.
In addition, DHS is extending the suspension of certain requirements for F-1 nonimmigrant Haitian students. The extension will enable these F-1 students to continue to obtain employment authorization, work an increased number of hours while school is in session, and reduce their course load, while maintaining their F-1 student status. The suspension of the regulatory requirements will remain in effect for an additional 18 months, through July 22, 2014.
The Haitian TPS extension notice was published in the Federal Register
The F-1 extension notice was published here
4. USCIS Announces New Filing Option for Canadian TN Nonimmigrants, Reminds Employers of Canadian L-1 Options
On October 1, 2012, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting the Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, filed on behalf of Canadian citizens outside the United States who seek classification as TN (Trade NAFTA) nonimmigrants.
With respect to the TN classification, USCIS currently only accepts the I-129 in connection with a request to extend a TN nonimmigrant’s stay or to change a nonimmigrant’s status to TN. Canadian citizens continue to have the option of applying to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for TN classification in conjunction with an application for TN admission to the United States.
USCIS also issued a reminder that an employer has the option of filing an I-129 individual petition with USCIS on behalf of a Canadian L-1 nonimmigrant. A U.S. employer that has an approved L-1 blanket petition also has the option to file a Form I-129S, Nonimmigrant Petition Based on Blanket L Petition, along with supporting documentation, with the USCIS service center that approved the L-1 blanket petition, on behalf of a Canadian citizen (or any visa-exempt beneficiary) who is outside the United States. As before, Canadian citizens may apply for L-1 classification in conjunction with an application for L-1 admission to the United States by presenting the I-129 (individual petition) or I-129S (under an approved blanket petition) and supporting documentation to CBP.
Announcement, includes links to additional information
5. USCIS Designates Military Physicians as Civil Surgeons To Facilitate Medical Exams
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has granted military physicians a blanket designation as civil surgeons to facilitate the medical exam required for members and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces and certain dependents. USCIS said the blanket designation will assist members and veterans of the Armed Forces and their eligible dependents in receiving immigration medical examinations in a timely fashion.
USCIS noted that if medical officers of the U.S. Public Health Services are not available when persons arrive for admission to the United States, USCIS may designate civil surgeons to perform the tests. Physicians qualify for civil surgeon designation if they are licensed and have at least four years of professional experience. The licensing requirement, which defines “licensed physicians” as those licensed to practice medicine in the state where they render medical services, may discourage medical officers of the Armed Forces (military physicians) from becoming designated civil surgeons, USCIS observed. As a result, Armed Forces members and their dependents must pay for the immigration medical examination even though the services could easily be provided by military physicians at no cost. Additionally, the logistics to arrange for a medical exam by a non-military designated civil surgeon can sometimes be a burden to military members and their dependents, and distract from a military member’s readiness. To ease these difficulties, USCIS decided to issue the blanket designation. Participation is voluntary and at the discretion of each military medical facility, USCIS said.
Additional details are included in USCIS’s policy memorandum issued on September 26, 2012
6. USCIS Undercounts H-1B Usage
Reports have surfaced that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has undercounted H-1B usage by almost 15 percent over the past five years. USCIS must approve 65,000 H-1B visas per year but the data show that the agency has approved approximately 45,000 too few overall between fiscal years 2008 and 2012. Sources attribute the discrepancy to inaccurate estimates of denial rates.
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7. USCIS Releases Latest DACA Statistics
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Office of Performance and Quality has released the latest statistics on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) process as of October 10, 2012, showing that 179,794 requests have been accepted for processing; 158,408 biometric service appointments have been scheduled; 6,416 requests are under review; and 4,591 requests have been approved.
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8. New Publications and Items of Interest
Rock the naturalized vote! The University of Southern California’s Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII) has published a report and interactive map, “Rock the (Naturalized) Vote.” The related website presents two maps, one at the state level and one at the sub-state level, showing the proportion of the voting-age U.S. citizen population who are newly naturalized immigrants (since 2000). CSII notes that the most important gap in electoral participation by naturalized citizens seems to happen at the point of registration rather than voting, and that naturalized U.S. citizens vote at rates very close to those of the U.S.-born. CSII believes the maps could help target voter registration efforts in more effective ways.
Immigrant entrepreneurship stalls. A new Kauffmann Foundation study shows that immigrant entrepreneurship has stalled for the first time in decades. “Then and Now: America’s New Immigrant Entrepreneurs” shows that the proportion of immigrant-founded companies nationwide has slipped from 25.3 percent to 24.3 percent since 2005. The drop is even more pronounced in Silicon Valley, where the percentage of immigrant-founded startups declined from 52.4 percent to 43.9 percent. Also, a new book based on the findings warns of potential consequences for the U.S. economy and urges swift action to reverse the trend. “The Immigrant Exodus: Why America Is Losing the Global Race To Capture Entrepreneurial Talent” draws on research to show that the United States is in the midst of a historically unprecedented halt in high-growth, immigrant-founded startups.
“Then and Now: America’s New Immigrant Entrepreneurs”
Information on “The Immigrant Exodus: Why America Is Losing the Global Race To Capture Entrepreneurial Talent” is available here.
The Kauffman Foundation has also funded a Web resource for journalists and voice for immigrant entrepreneurs, ImmigrantExodus.com.
Immigration court tracking tool. TRACImmigration publishes information and statistics on U.S. removal proceedings in immigration courts, by nationality, geographic location, year, and type of charge. State-by-state breakdowns are available on the site, including statistics at various court locations and hearing locations.
Chinese-language engagement on petitioning for an immediate relative. The next USCIS national Chinese-language public engagement will be held on Thursday, October 18, 2012, from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. EDT. This engagement is the second in a series called Jiao Liu, meaning “engagement” in Chinese. The theme will be “How to Petition for an Immediate Relative.” Modeled after the agency’s Spanish-language Enlace series, Jiao Liu expands USCIS’s ongoing efforts to work directly with people in their native language. At each Jiao Liu, USCIS representatives and subject-matter experts who are fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese will provide information and answer general questions about immigration and naturalization.
Individuals in the New York City area may participate in person at the USCIS District Office, 26 Federal Plaza, Room 3-310, New York, NY 10278. Individuals may also participate remotely through teleconference at 1-888-989-4980; passcode: “Jiao liú”, or through live Web stream.
Management of H-2B program. The Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) has published “Management of H-2B Program Needs To Be Strengthened To Ensure Adequate Protections For U.S. Workers.” The OIG’s audit revealed that 27 of the 33 employers audited could not support attestations made on their applications. The OIG’s findings in employment attestations, immigration, and pre-filing recruitment indicated systemic weaknesses stemming from ETA’s post-adjudication audit process and the H-2B regulations’ self-attestation-based model. These systemic weaknesses “increased the risk of unsubstantiated employer attestations and jeopardized the protections afforded by the program to U.S. workers,” the OIG said.
Among other things, the OIG found that the ETA: (1) did not request necessary source documents when conducting post-adjudication audits; (2) did not validate foreign worker employment eligibility; (3) performed most post-adjudication audits six months after the H-2B employment period ended; and (4) did not request supporting documentation at the time of application. The OIG recommended that ETA: (1) develop an alternative methodology when conducting its post-adjudication audits; (2) collaborate with the Department of Homeland Security to explore ways for ETA to review U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services documents during ETA post-adjudication audits; (3) begin post-adjudication audits no later than 120 days into the approved employment period of the selected application and complete within 70 days; and (4) continue pursuing regulatory action and explore other ways to ensure the integrity of the program, including legislative changes to expand ETA’s pre-approval validation authority.
The OIG said that the ETA agreed with three of the four recommendations. Based on ETA’s response to the OIG’s second and fourth recommendations, the OIG modified them to emphasize that the ETA should seek regulatory changes and take other actions to ensure the integrity of the H-2B program.
Yearbook of immigration statistics. The Department of Homeland Security has published the 2011 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics. The publication notes, among other things, that Canada, Mexico, and India are the top three countries sending temporary workers and their families to the United States. India, China, and Korea are the top three countries (by country of birth) sending employment-based legal permanent residents.
USCIS Ombudsman’s conference. On October 18, 2012, USCIS’s Ombudsman will hold a conference from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the National Archives, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20408. This year’s conference will focus on interagency coordination in the delivery of immigration benefits and services. Speakers will include a wide range of prominent government and non-government experts discussing current legal and policy issues. The plenary session, “Every Case Matters: The Impact of USCIS Decisions,” will feature compelling personal stories from individuals. For more information, contact Frederick Troncone, the Ombudsman’s Acting Chief, Employment Section, at email@example.com or 202-357-8100.
USCIS national engagement. On October 16, 2012, USCIS will hold a public engagement (in-person in Washington, DC, and via teleconference) for EB-5 immigrant investor stakeholders.
Notes from Previous Engagements by Topic
Several ABIL members co-authored and edited the new publication, 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.
- 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 issue.
ORDER HERE. International customers who do not want to order through the bookstore can order through Nicole Hahn at (518) 487-3004 or Nicole.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 five 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. Green Card Stories is also featured on National Public Radio’s photo blog.
For more information or to order, visit Green Card Stories.
ABIL on Twitter. The Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers is now available on Twitter: @ABILImmigration. Recent ABIL member blogs are available HERE.
Green Card Stories Upcoming Events.
- Thursday, October 18, 201
Detroit, Michigan: Book Signing and Panel Discussion
Join Green Card Stories collaborators Laura Danielson and Stephen Yale-Loehr, along with other guests at this panel discussion in Detroit. Fakhoury Law Group and Global Detroit will host this special reception featuring the new award-winning book, Green Card Stories, on Thursday, October 18, 2012, at the Westin Book Cadillac in Detroit. The event, “Green Card Stories: The Human Face of the Immigration Debate,” will feature distinguished speakers and a panel discussion on the state of U.S. immigration policy. The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. and will offer guests a unique opportunity to gain insights on today’s immigration issues. Part of the proceeds of the sale of the book at the event will go to Global Detroit, an effort to revitalize southeast Michigan’s economy by pursuing strategies that strengthen Detroit’s connections to the world and make the region more attractive and welcoming to immigrants, internationals, and foreign trade and investment as a means to produce jobs and regional economic growth. To RSVP, contact Natalia Hanna at Natalia@employmentimmigration.com or 248-643-4900.
ABIL on Twitter. The Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers is now available on Twitter: @ABILImmigration. Recent ABIL member blogs are available HERE.
9. Member News
Sharon Mehlman spoke at the 1st Annual Rocky Mountain Immigration Law Update, sponsored by the AILA Colorado Chapter, on October 12, 2012. The panel was “AC21 and Maintenance of Status.”
Sharon Mehlman will also speak at the Federal Bar Conference in Chicago, “What You Should Know About Workplace Enforcement and Immigration.” Her talk is on October 16, 2012, and the panel is “The Evolving Workplace: Remote Hires, Electronic I-9 Practice, E-Verify and IMAGE.”
Cyrus Mehta has published a new blog entry. “The Taxman Cometh: When Taking a Foreign Earned Income Exclusion on Your Tax Return Can Hurt Your Ability to Naturalize”
Cyrus Mehta will participate in the USCIS Ombudsman’s conference on October 18, 2012, at the National Archives, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20408. Mr. Mehta will speak on a panel about the administrative rulemaking process beginning at 3:15 p.m., and will comment on regulatory and legal issues. For more information, contact Frederick Troncone, the Ombudsman’s Acting Chief, Employment Section, at email@example.com or 202-357-8100.
Cyrus Mehta spoke on ethics at the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Upstate New York Chapter Fall CLE Conference on October 12. For more information, see here.
Cyrus Mehta, Bernard Wolfsdorf, and Stephen Yale-Loehr will speak at PLI’s 45th Annual Immigration & Naturalization Institute on November 19-20, 2012, in New York. Mr. Mehta will speak on ethics. Mr. Wolfsdorf and Mr. Yale-Loehr will be on the EB-5 panel.
Angelo Paparelli has published several new blog entries. “Hey, Immigration Bureaucrats: Corporations Are NOT People!” “New York Times and Ann Coulter Refuted: Immigrant Rights ARE Civil Rights” “Will Immigration Electrify the Presidential Debates?”
Bernard Wolfsdorf‘s blog on immigration issues features entries from various authors.
ABIL’s San Francisco firm, Pearl Law Group, recently prevailed over several of the largest global immigration service providers to win the Forum for Expatriate Management’s “EMMA” award in the category of “Immigration Provider of the Year – Americas.” The EMMA awards recognize outstanding achievement and service quality in 24 categories and are judged by independent, senior global mobility professionals. The judges for this year’s Americas awards included representatives from AECOM, Alliance Data, Apple, Autodesk, Bechtel, Black & Veatch, Cisco, Dell, Genworth, Gulfstream Aerospace, Kraft Foods, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, PepsiCo, Research in Motion, and Worley Parsons.
10. 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