In a significant development, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is taking steps to prevent certain applicants from experiencing a lapse in employment authorization while their renewal requests remain pending. The agency is temporarily increasing the automatic extension period from a maximum of 180 days to 540 days from the expiration date stated on the work permit.[1] The agency estimates that the update will safeguard more than $29 billion in employee earnings while saving US employers more than $5 billion in labor turnover costs.

A large population will benefit from the automatic extensions, including individuals with pending adjustment of status applications (green card applications); certain spouses of E, H, and L nonimmigrants; asylum seekers with pending applications; as well as many others.[2] The rule is expected to reduce gaps in these individuals’ employment authorization and thereby protect employers’ continuity of operations and financial stability by avoiding labor turnover and replacement costs.Continue Reading More Time on the Clock: DHS Extends Work Authorization Amid Processing Delays

The online registration period for the Diversity Visa Program concludes on Tuesday, November 7, 2023, at 12:00 PM EST.

The U.S. Diversity Visa program (DV program, also known as the “green card lottery” or “the visa lottery”) is a unique immigration initiative that has been in place since the 1990’s. This program is designed to diversify the immigrant population of the United States by providing an opportunity for individuals from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the U.S. to obtain a visa and pursue the American Dream.

To participate in the Diversity Visa Lottery, individuals must meet specific eligibility criteria. They must be from a qualifying country, which typically excludes countries with high rates of immigration to the U.S. For the first time, individuals born in the United Kingdom and its dependent territories are eligible. Applicants must also have at least a high school education or two years of work experience in a qualifying occupation and undergo a security background check by the U.S. government. Continue Reading The American Dream Through the Diversity Visa Lottery Program

The US Supreme Court has declined to consider a lawsuit that sought to eliminate a work authorization program widely utilized by foreign graduates of US universities. The Supreme Court’s denial of a writ of certiorari ensures that foreign graduates may continue working through the Department of Homeland Security’s Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, eliminating a

On July 18, 2023, Canada’s newly announced program offering open work permits to holders of U.S. H-1B visas closed after it reached the maximum number of applicants – less than two days after its launch. Under the Canadian government’s “Tech Talent Strategy,” ten thousand open work permits have been made available to foreign nationals who hold H-1B specialty occupation visas from the United States. The program is intended to improve the mobility of high-tech talent in North America by expanding the options for H-1B holders facing long waits for U.S. permanent residency (i.e., green cards). While the popularity of Canada’s program was widely expected, the speed with which the 10,000-permit limit was reached underscores the high demand for labor mobility in North America among employers and employees alike.Continue Reading Canada’s Work Permit Program for U.S. H-1B Visa Holders Maxes Out in 48 Hours, as U.S. Conducts Second H-1B Lottery

In a significant move aimed at streamlining and providing additional flexibilities to the employment verification process, the Department of Homeland Security announced a final rule granting certain employers the authority to utilize an optional alternative when examining Form I-9 documentation. The announcement follows the agency’s proposed rulemaking in August 2022 designed to explore alternative means

Effective January 5, 2023, the United States will require nearly all air travelers from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Hong Kong, and Macau to present a negative COVID test or documentation of recovery before boarding their departing flight, according to a press release from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). The test must be taken within two days of departure. The new precaution applies regardless of the traveler’s nationality, and only individuals under age two are exempt. The move represents the first new COVID-related travel restriction imposed by the United States since the rollback of pre-travel testing requirements earlier this year. The United States joins a growing number of countries that are considering COVID-related precautions for travelers from China following the abrupt end of the PRC  government’s “Zero COVID” strategy.Continue Reading United States Imposes COVID Testing Requirements on Travelers from China

On October 5, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a widely anticipated ruling upholding a district court’s determination that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is unlawful. The decision has no immediate impact on current DACA recipients or their employers, as the three-judge panel stayed its decision pending further review by the district court. In particular, the district court must review a new DACA regulation published by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that is set to go into effect on October 31, 2022. The Biden Administration had crafted this new regulation to address the procedural concerns raised by the district court in its earlier ruling against the DACA program.

On October 14, 2022, the district court judge held a status hearing and ruled that the current version of the federal policy can continue, at least temporarily, with the limitations that are presently in place. The judge confirmed that the injunction preventing the government from adjudicating first-time requests for DACA applies to the new regulation. Thus, the new regulation will not take effect on October 31, 2022, for initial applications. The judge ordered attorneys for the federal government to provide more information on the new rule.Continue Reading DACA Developments: Vital Information for Employers and Employees

Employers are responsible for verifying the identity and employment authorization of newly hired employees. The Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) is critical to any employer’s onboarding process for new hires, but ongoing Form I-9 maintenance is equally important with respect to existing employees who need to renew their work authorization documents with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Some employers have faced challenges in this regard following DHS’s recent announcement of a Temporary Final Rule increasing the automatic extension period for employment authorization for certain individuals from 180 to 540 days. The rule was intended to provide additional security to both employees and employers while their renewal applications are being adjudicated by U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). However, the rule also raises significant considerations for employers seeking to maintain proper Form I-9 compliance and avoid liability for past errors.Continue Reading Critical Form I-9 Compliance Risks as DHS Changes Work Authorization Rules

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced several new measures including expanding premium processing to additional form types, providing relief to individuals waiting for work permits and setting agency-wide backlog reduction goals. USCIS, a fee-based organization, faced an unprecedented budgetary shortfall and backlog of cases to be processed in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic and resource constraints. According to data published by the agency, there are approximately 9 million forms pending adjudication.

Expanding Premium Processing

As part of the these efforts, USCIS published a final rule that expands premium processing (expedited adjudication for a fee). The final rule is expected to take effect at the end of May 2022, and USCIS will begin implementation – through a phased approach – as soon thereafter as feasible.Continue Reading US Immigration Agency Announces Measures to Expedite Services and Decrease Pending Caseload