1. Ken Cuccinelli Named Acting Director of USCIS -Mr. Cuccinelli previously served as Virginia’s attorney general from 2010 to 2014.
2. Visa Bulletin for July Notes Slowdowns or Retrogressions (Visa Unavailability) in Several Employment-Based Immigrant Visa Categories Before End of Fiscal Year -The Visa Bulletin also includes details on expected potential monthly movement for the next several months.
3. New Zealand Nationals Eligible for E-1 (Treaty Trader) and E-2 (Treaty Investor) Visas -Certain New Zealand nationals can now request a change of status to E-1 nonimmigrant trader or E-2 nonimmigrant investor.
4. SSA Responds to California Lawmakers’ Questions on ‘No-Match’ Letters -SSA noted that it does not take any action, nor are there any SSA-related consequences, for employers’ non-compliance with no-match letters.
5. USCIS Officers Required to Remind Sponsors of Affidavits of Support of Their Financial Obligations to Support Intending Immigrants -If a sponsored immigrant receives any federal means-tested public benefits, the sponsor “will be expected to reimburse the benefits-granting agency for every dollar of benefits received by the immigrant.”
6. New Publications and Items of Interest -New Publications and Items of Interest
7. ABIL Member / Firm News -ABIL Member / Firm News
8. Government Agency Links -Government Agency Links
Ken Cuccinelli has been appointed acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), effective June 10, 2019. He succeeds Francis Cissna, who left the agency as of June 1, 2019. Mr. Cuccinelli will lead an agency of 19,000 employees and contractors.
Mr. Cuccinelli previously served as Virginia’s attorney general from 2010 to 2014. He also served in the Virginia Senate from 2002 to 2010 and has practiced law for nearly 25 years. He has a law degree from Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University, and a master’s degree in international commerce and policy from George Mason University.
A large group of national, state, and local advocacy organizations outlined Mr. Cuccinelli’s “anti-immigrant views” and urged legislators to oppose his nomination for Director of USCIS in a letter sent June 11, 2019, from the Center for American Progress to leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
2. Visa Bulletin for July Notes Slowdowns or Retrogressions (Visa Unavailability) in Several Employment-Based Immigrant Visa Categories Before End of Fiscal Year
The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for July 2019 includes the following notes:
- It has been necessary to retrogress the Mexico E4 and SR final action dates for July to keep visa issuances within the annual numerical limits. With the start of the new fiscal year in October, the final action dates will be returned to the latest dates established during FY-2019.
- India and Vietnam will each reach their per-country annual limit during July. This has resulted in the Vietnam date being held, and has required the imposition of a July final action date for India. For August, both countries will become subject to the same final action date that applies to China-mainland born employment fifth preference (EB-5) applicants and will remain so for the remainder of the fiscal year. Such action will only be temporary, with the EB-5 date for each advancing for October, the first month of fiscal year 2020, as follows:
- India: Most likely advancing to the summer or fall of 2017
- Vietnam: Most likely advancing to the fall or early winter of 2016
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has also announced that the agency will follow the “Final Action Dates” chart for the month for accepting I-485 Adjustment of Status applications.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that effective June 10, 2019, certain New Zealand nationals can request a change of status to E-1 treaty trader or E-2 treaty investor. This means that New Zealand nationals now have enhanced access to pursue trade and investment activities in the United States. According to USCIS:
- Eligible New Zealand nationals already in the United States in lawful visa status can file a petition to request a change of status to E-1 or E-2 visa classification, or a qualifying employer can file such a petition on their behalf.
- Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age of E-1 and E-2 visa holders, and employees who are already in the United States, may also seek to change status to E-1 or E-2 as dependents.
Details: USCIS announcement
The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently responded to a letter sent on April 11, 2019, from Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Cal.), along with several California legislators, questioning the decision to reinstate the practice of sending “no match” letters to businesses nationwide. Such letters notify employers when an employee’s Social Security number does not match official records.
Nancy Berryhill, Acting Commissioner for the SSA, responded that the letters advise employers that corrections are needed for the agency to properly post an employee’s earnings to the correct record, while educating employers to use SSA’s online wage reporting tools to improve the accuracy of their wage reporting. She said the no-match letters are “educational.”
The Acting Commissioner said the SSA encourages employers to “take timely action on no-matches,” but noted that “we do not take any action, nor are there any SSA-related consequences, for employers’ non-compliance with our letters.” She also noted that the letter “specifically advises employers not to take an adverse action against an employee based on the letter.”
Details: SSA response (which includes the questions from the legislators)
5. USCIS Officers Required to Remind Sponsors of Affidavits of Support of Their Financial Obligations to Support Intending Immigrants
On June 14, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the implementation of the “Presidential Memorandum on Enforcing the Legal Responsibilities of Sponsors of Aliens,” issued May 23, 2019. USCIS officers will now be required to remind individuals at their adjustment of status interviews of their sponsors’ responsibilities.
- Officers must remind applicants and sponsors that the Affidavit of Support is a legal and enforceable contract between the sponsor and the federal government, and that the sponsor must be willing and able to financially support the intending immigrant.
- If the sponsored immigrant receives any federal means-tested public benefits, the sponsor “will be expected to reimburse the benefits-granting agency for every dollar of benefits received by the immigrant,” USCIS said.
Immigration Options for Entrepreneurs and Startups. The second part of this two-part series for entrepreneurial foreign nationals, part of the “Statutes of Liberty” podcast series, features a discussion of the visa options for entrepreneurs and startups when trying to launch a business in the United States. Key points covered include specific visas designed for startups and entrepreneurs, how to creatively use visa options to your benefit, pursuing your startup as a student, and advice on structuring your startup to support your immigration goals. The podcasts
Attorney General control over U.S. Immigration Courts. The Southern Poverty Law Center and Innovation Law Lab have published “The Attorney General’s Judges: How the U.S. Immigration Courts Became a Deportation Tool.” The report, based on more than two years of research, focuses on group interviews with attorneys and former immigration judges. It “links the current crisis of accountability to the attorney general’s absolute control over the immigration court system.” In conjunction with the report, the groups also announced the launch of the “Immigration Court Watch” app, which enables court observers to record and upload information on immigration judge conduct. The SPLC’s announcement; The report; Download the application
Immigrant and Employee Rights webinars. The Department of Justice’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section is offering free webinars to the public in April. The webinars are for workers, employers, and advocates. More information or to register
Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers:
- ABIL is available on Twitter: @ABILImmigration.
- Recent ABIL member blogs are at http://www.abilblog.com/.
Organizations seeking non-lawyer and lawyer volunteers. Cornell Law School has compiled a list of organizations seeking non-lawyer and lawyer volunteers to help migrants in U.S. detention and deportation proceedings. The list, which is updated on an ongoing basis
Nation of immigrants. Podcasts on U.S. immigration history and what it means to be an immigrant in America:
- Statutes of Liberty: (new episodes: A Prescription for Success: EB-1 for Physicians; The Best, Brightest, and Backlogged, discusses the backlog, who it affects, how to read the Visa Bulletin, and strategies for EB-1 visas)
- Code Switch Podcast: What Does It Mean To Be A ‘Nation of Immigrants‘?
- Hidden Brain: The Huddled Masses and the Myth of America
- American Pendulum I
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 here.
- How to safeguard your data from searches at the border is the topic of several recent articles and blogs. See, for example, NYTimes and ACLU.
- Listings and links to cases challenging executive orders, and related available pleadings, are available at lawfareblog.com.
Lauren Berkowitz, of Klasko Immigration Law Partners, LLP, has published a new client alert, “Social Media Question Added to Online Visa Applications.”
Robert Loughran presented “Update on Nonimmigrant Visa Processing at U.S. Consulates Abroad” at the Federal Bar Association’s Immigration Law Conference in Austin, Texas, on May 18, 2019.
Mr. Loughran presented “How Employment Based Immigration Practice Has Evolved Under the Current Administration to Include Litigation” to the State Bar of Texas’ Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas, on June 13, 2019.
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: