The demand for H-1B (specialty occupation) visas normally exceeds the annual 85,000 visa cap by two to three times, thus triggering a random lottery for the available visas. Existing United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regulations prohibit the filing of multiple H-1B visa petitions that are subject to the annual cap for the same individual by an employer or a “related entity,” unless the related entity filing is justified by a legitimate business need. The purpose of the regulation is to prevent employers from trying to increase their chances of winning the H-1B cap lottery by submitting multiple petitions for the same individual for substantially the same position. The penalty for violation of the regulation is denial or revocation of all petitions for the common beneficiary.
In light of recent news regarding data breaches affecting Facebook users, data-mining apps are not the only entities monitoring social media use these days.
Last fall, the Department of Homeland Security expanded its digital monitoring policy in the Federal Register to include immigrant “social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results”. While DHS describes the announcement as a policy clarification rather than a policy change, the news escalates the debate concerning government use of social media and the tension between privacy rights, free speech, and public safety. Concurrently, DHS issued broader access to public-source data in concert with the intelligence community. Whereas these 2017 adoptions indicate recent change, DHS has instituted new practices in the digital domain over the last two decades. For instance, the Department began to evaluate social media more closely in the aftermath of the 2015 San Bernardino mass shooting by two attackers who had exchanged private online messages, and added optional requests for social media use under the Visa Waiver Program in late 2016.
On the day EU leaders gathered in Brussels to discuss the Brexit transition deal (March 22, 2018), Mayer Brown partners Liz Stern and Nick Robertson, together with Paul Sarauskas and Jad Taha, hosted the latest in our series of interactive workshops, “Preparing for the changes in free movement that Brexit heralds.” Clients across multiple industries including financial services, consulting, life sciences, and insurance attended, providing a valuable opportunity to discuss the actions that employers should take now. The slide deck is available here.
Mayer Brown Litigation and Dispute Resolution partner Andrew Pincus (Washington, DC) was quoted in Corporate Counsel regarding the friend of the court brief that he and Mayer Brown attorneys Lauren Goldman and Karen Lim filed on behalf of 102 companies, including Amazon.com, eBay Inc., Facebook Inc., Google Inc., IBM Corp., Intel Corp., Levis Strauss & Co., Microsoft Corp, and Verizon Communications Inc.
Pincus told Corporate Counsel, “I think that the breadth and depth of support indicates the concern among American businesses that the rescission of DACA has significant adverse consequences for people they work with, and for American businesses generally. They [businesses] want to stand up and speak out and make sure that courts and Congress are aware of that.”
In an article discussing how the Trump Travel Ban 3.0 has taken shape, Law360 quotes Liz Stern as she describes the realities of the travel restrictions imposed on foreign nationals from the impacted countries: Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Somalia and Yemen. She also describes the effect on foreign nationals not directly impacted by the ban, as they lean toward limiting international travel in a time of uncertainty.
For the second year in a row, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will temporarily suspend premium processing for the upcoming fiscal year’s H-1B petitions, for which filings may be accepted as of April 2, 2018:
Starting April 2, 2018, USCIS will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 cap. We will temporarily suspend premium processing for all FY 2019 cap-subject petitions, including petitions seeking an exemption for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher.
USCIS’s premium processing service guarantees 15 calendar day processing to those petitioners or applicants who choose to use this service, or USCIS will refund the Premium Processing Service fee. If the fee is refunded, the relating case will continue to receive expedited processing. Continue Reading USCIS Suspends Premium Processing for H-1B Cap-Subject Petitions Twelve Days before Annual Lottery Commences
The Washington Post reported that US Citizenship & Immigration Services, the federal agency that adjudicates petitions and applications for immigration and naturalization benefits, is creating an internal division to police caseworkers who “may be too forgiving toward applicants for permanent legal residence or citizenship . . .” See Washington Post, US Immigration agency to more closely monitor caseworkers, documents show, March 16, 2018. Agency officials confirmed plans for an internal oversight office, but denied that the office would be focused on monitoring caseworkers perceived as too lenient. See, e.g., The Hill, Federal immigration agency denies that it’s creating a new division to police caseworkers, March 17, 2018. An agency spokesperson indicated that a final decision had not been made and all mission or structural considerations are “pre-decisional until they are formally announced.” Continue Reading Getting to No Through a Crackdown on “Lenient” Case Officers at USCIS
The March 5, 2018 date the president set in September 2017 for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program to sunset came and went, with no clear deadline established for when Congress will act. The White House, state attorneys general, and immigrant advocacy groups urged prompt action, with demonstrations around the country advocating for legislative relief to provide a path to citizenship for “DREAMers,” the name informally used to refer to the estimated 800,000 beneficiaries of DACA. For now, the DACA program remains active, based on a California federal court’s continuing preliminary injunction. Continue Reading DACA’s March 5, 2018 Deadline Passes With No Clear Deadline for Legislative Action
DACA CONTINUES AT LEAST TEMPORARILY
On Monday, February 26, 2018, the US Supreme Court declined to consider the government’s request to review a preliminary injunction issued last month by a federal court in California. On January 9, 2018, Judge William Alsup of the US District Court for the Northern District of California issued a preliminary injunction temporarily reinstating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Judge Alsup’s temporary order in Regents of the University of California, et al. v. Department of Homeland Security, et al. requires US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to accept DACA renewal applications. On January 13, 2018, USCIS announced its process for accepting renewal applications. In a petition filed by the Justice Department on January 18, 2018, the government asked the Supreme Court to take the unusual step of bypassing the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and reviewing Judge Alsup’s injunction directly. The Supreme Court declined, thus leaving the lower court’s order in place. Continue Reading Supreme Court Declines to Wade into DACA Mess
The first senior leadership conference of the nation’s immigration services agency, US Citizenship & Immigration Services, resulted in the agency stripping the phrase “nation of immigrants” from its mission statement. USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna stated that the agency’s mission is more “simple and straightforward,” and emphasized that immigrants are not “customers” of USCIS, in the news release announcing the change. As of February 22, 2018, the new mission statement reads:
“U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administers the nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity and promise by efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for immigration benefits while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values.” Continue Reading USCIS Removes “Nation of Immigrants” From Its Mission Statement