News from the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers Vol. 10, No. 9B • September 15, 2014
1. Practitioners Warn About Immigration Scams – Scammers use a variety of methods. A call demanding money and threatening negative immigration consequences if it’s not coughed up immediately is a scam, and those receiving such calls should hang up immediately and not provide any information.
2. China EB-5 Category Unavailable Through September; Current in October – The China EB-5 visa category will become “Current” on October 1, 2014.
3. USCIS Issues Policy Guidance on H-3 Nonimmigrant Trainees – The new guidance consolidates all previous H-3 guidance addressing circumstances under which a temporary worker may come to the United States as a trainee or as a participant in a special education program.
4. USCIS Extends TPS for Sudan, Redesignates and Extends TPS for South Sudan – USCIS announced the extension of Sudan for TPS to May 2, 2016, and auto-extension of related employment authorization documents through May 2, 2015. USCIS also announced that it is redesignating South Sudan for TPS and is extending the existing TPS designation through May 2, 2016.
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. Practitioners Warn About Immigration Scams
Immigration practitioners are warning each other, companies, and employees to avoid immigration-related scams. Types of scams reported recently include:
- Scammers targeting people based on foreign-sounding names or based on information gathered about companies hiring many H-1Bs. The scammers can get a lot of information from various websites, labor condition application listings from the Department of Labor, LinkedIn, social media, and other sources. Scammers are able to collect information in a variety of ways and use it to convince unwitting victims of their purported authenticity.
- Scammers claiming to be from the Department of Homeland Security or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. They call and state that the victim’s paperwork has problems and threaten to deport the victim or to send authorities to the person’s home if he or she does not cooperate. They then order the person to go to the nearest convenience store, obtain merchant cards or vouchers for a certain amount of money, and provide the voucher numbers over the phone. Once the scammers obtain the voucher numbers, they disconnect the call and disappear with the victim’s money.
- Scammers claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service, who state that the victim owes back taxes and ordering them to provide merchant card or voucher numbers, then disappearing with the victim’s money.
- Scammers who use “Caller ID spoofing” to display a telephone number that is not really their own, and that may appear to be from a legitimate government agency.
- Scammers who send e-mails claiming that the recipient is a Diversity Visa lottery winner and must send in a fee. The Department of State does not send e-mails to applicants.
- Scammers who claim faster processing times or guarantee visas, work authorizations, or green cards, for a fee.
The Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers notes that government agencies never conduct business in this manner. A call demanding money and threatening negative consequences if it’s not coughed up immediately is a scam, and those receiving such calls should hang up immediately and not provide any information. USCIS notes, “USCIS will not call you to ask for any form of payment over the phone. Don’t give payment over the phone to anyone who claims to be a USCIS official.”
Scams can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission. See also USCIS’s scam information page to learn where to report scams. USCIS lists common immigration-related scams. Contact your ABIL attorney for more information or help in particular cases.
2. China EB-5 Category Unavailable Through September; Current in October
The Department of State’s Visa Office announced that the China employment-based fifth (EB-5) category became unavailable on August 23, 2014, and will remain unavailable for the remainder of fiscal year 2014. The category will again become current on October 1, 2014.
The Department noted that all China EB-5 applicants who have been scheduled for an interview at an overseas post based on the original establishment of the August and September cut-off dates would have been allotted visa numbers for potential use by their case. Such applicants would not be affected by the unavailability of the China EB-5 category for the remainder of FY 2014. In this context, the Department explained, “unavailable” means that “no additional numbers are available for ‘comeback’ cases originally scheduled for interview in an earlier month who are now just returning, or for those just requesting an interview at this time.” The only exception would be if a post had “otherwise unused” numbers available, the Department noted, because applicants either failed to appear or failed to overcome a refusal during the month (i.e., August or September) of the originally scheduled interview.
The Department said that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offices may continue to accept and process China EB-5 cases and submit them to the Visa Office in the normal manner, based on the cut-off dates announced in the August and September Visa Bulletins. However, instead of being acted upon immediately, those cases will be held in the Visa Office’s “Pending Demand” file and then authorized effective October 1, 2014.
3. USCIS Issues Policy Guidance on H-3 Nonimmigrant Trainees
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on September 9, 2014, that it is issuing comprehensive policy guidance on H-3 nonimmigrant trainees in the USCIS Policy Manual. The new guidance consolidates all previous H-3 guidance addressing circumstances under which a temporary worker may come to the United States as a trainee or as a participant in a special education program.
The new guidance provides information on the background, purpose, and legal authority for the H-3 program and discusses program requirements, descriptions, restrictions, and forms and documents that must be submitted with an H-3 visa petition.
Among other things, the guidance notes that a training program for a trainee may not be approved if it:
- Deals in generalities with no fixed schedule, objectives, or means of evaluation;
- Is incompatible with the nature of the petitioner’s business or enterprise;
- Is on behalf of a trainee who already possesses substantial training and expertise in the proposed field of training;
- Is in a field in which it is unlikely that the knowledge or skill will be used outside the United States;
- Will result in productive employment beyond that which is incidental and necessary to the training;
- Is designed to recruit and train nonimmigrants for the ultimate staffing of domestic operations in the United States;
- Does not establish that the petitioner has the physical plant and sufficiently trained workforce to provide the training specified; or
- Is designed to extend the total allowable period of practical training previously authorized a nonimmigrant student.
4. USCIS Extends TPS for Sudan, Redesignates and Extends TPS for South Sudan
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on September 2, 2014, the extension of Sudan for temporary protected status (TPS) to May 2, 2016, and auto-extension of related employment authorization documents (EADs) through May 2, 2015. USCIS also announced that it is redesignating South Sudan for TPS and is extending the existing TPS designation from November 3, 2014, through May 2, 2016.
Sudan. Those who currently have TPS for Sudan and would like to keep that status must re-register by November 1, 2014. USCIS encourages beneficiaries to re-register as soon as possible. Those who have never been granted TPS may be eligible to file a “late initial application. See the “Filing Late” section on the TPS website for more information.
As noted above, USCIS has automatically extended the validity of EADs issued under the last extension of TPS Sudan for an additional 6 months, through May 2, 2015. Those who are TPS beneficiaries under the Sudan designation and whose EADs are based on their TPS status with an original expiration date of November 2, 2014, are covered by this automatic extension and may continue to work.
USCIS said that to continue working legally, the following documentation should be shown to employers and government agencies:
- The TPS-related EAD bearing a November 2, 2014, expiration date
- copy of the FEDERAL REGISTER NOTICE
USCIS explained that an employer may rely on the Federal Register notice as evidence of the continuing validity of the EAD.
If USCIS approves the TPS re-registration application and the applicant paid the fee for a new EAD (or USCIS approved a fee waiver request), the applicant will be issued a new EAD with the expiration date of May 2, 2016.
South Sudan. During the past year, the Departments of Homeland Security and State reviewed the conditions in South Sudan. Based upon this review, Secretary Johnson determined that a re-designation and 18-month extension of TPS for South Sudan is warranted due to the significant deterioration of conditions in that country and the inability of its nationals to return in safety. The extension and re-designation of South Sudan for TPS are based on ongoing armed conflict in that country and the continuation of extraordinary and temporary conditions that led to the country’s most recent TPS designation in 2013.
Current South Sudanese beneficiaries seeking to extend their TPS status must re-register by November 3, 2014. USCIS encourages beneficiaries to re-register as soon as possible.
South Sudanese nationals, or persons having no nationality who last habitually resided in South Sudan, may be eligible for TPS under the re-designation if they continuously resided in the United States since September 2, 2014, and have been continuously physically present in the United States since November 3, 2014. In addition, applicants must meet all other TPS eligibility and filing requirements.
The 18-month extension allows TPS re-registrants to apply for a new employment authorization document (EAD). Eligible South Sudan TPS beneficiaries who re-register during the 60-day period and request a new EAD will receive one with an expiration date of May 2, 2016. USCIS said it recognizes that some re-registrants may not receive their new EADs until after their current EADs expire. Therefore, USCIS is automatically extending current TPS South Sudan EADs bearing a November 2, 2014, expiration date for an additional six months. These existing EADs are now valid through May 2, 2015.
For more information on eligibility and how to register or re-register for Sudan TPS or South Sudan TPS.
5. New Publications and Items of Interest
The 2014 edition of the Global Business Immigration Practice Guide has been released by LexisNexis. Dozens of members of the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers co-authored and edited the guide, which is a one-stop resource for dealing with questions related to business immigration issues in immigration hotspots around the world.
The 2014 edition adds a chapter on Singapore. Other chapters cover Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, the European Union, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Russia, 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 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 issues.
The list price is $299, but discounts are available. Contact your Lexis/Nexis sales representative; call 1-800-833-9844 (United States), 1-518-487-3385 (international); fax 1-518-487-3584; or go to the Lexis/Nexis website.
ABIL on Twitter. The Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers is now available on Twitter: @ABILImmigration. RECENT ABIL MEMBER BLOGS
6. Member News
H. Ronald Klasko recently participated as a panelist at the 2014 Southern California EB-5 Conference, sponsored by EB5 Investors Magazine and eb5investors.com. Mr. Klasko discussed open issues in EB-5 law and policy, and options and strategies for litigating EB-5 issues.
Cyrus Mehta recently co-authored a new blog entry. “The Family That Is Counted Together Stays Together: How To Eliminate Immigrant Visa Backlogs”
Stephen Yale-Loehr was quoted in the Washington Post in an article about EB-5 immigrant investor visas. Among other things, Mr. Yale-Loehr noted that the EB-5 investor program is ” a four-way win. It’s a win for U.S. taxpayers because it brings in foreign money to help develop projects at no expense to the taxpayer. It’s a win for U.S. workers because it creates jobs. It’s a win for U.S. project developers because it allows them to get money for projects that [they] might not be able to get otherwise. It’s also a win for the foreign investors because they get a green card from their investment in United States.”
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