A legal battle over the future of hundreds of thousands of individuals presently in the United States based upon Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) continues following the Trump administration’s steps to end TPS for certain individuals.

What is TPS?

The United States provides TPS to nationals of certain countries based upon conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, such as ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. At present, 10 countries are designated for TPS: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. A May 2018 report from US Citizenship and Immigration Services noted that 437,402 individuals held TPS status as of December 31, 2017. Continue Reading Legal Battle Over Temporary Protected Status Continues

On April 22, 2019, the Department of State published a final rule setting out procedures that allow consular officers to discontinue granting visas to nationals of a country subject to sanctions under § 243(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Section 243(d) provides that—when notified by the Secretary of Homeland Security that a foreign country government has denied or unreasonably delayed accepting an alien who is the citizen, subject, national, or resident of that country and is subject to a final order of removal from the United States— the Secretary of State shall order consular officers in that foreign country to “discontinue granting” immigrant visas, nonimmigrant visas, or both to citizens, subjects, nationals, or residents in that country. The Secretary of State imposes these visa sanctions by issuing an order to consular officers that describes the category or categories of visas and applicants subject to discontinuation of visa grants.

Continue Reading New Department of State Rules Empower Consulates to Discontinue Visa Issuance to Nationals of Countries Sanctioned under INA 243(D)

Effective May 1, 2019, the US Embassy in Tel Aviv will begin accepting E-2 visa applications filed by Israeli citizens.  This long-awaited announcement comes close to seven years after President Obama signed legislation in 2012 implementing a bilateral investment treaty with Israel on the condition that Israel provide reciprocal immigration status for American investors.  The Israeli government did not approve the reciprocal agreement until 2014, and it took an additional four years for both the Israeli and US governments to agree to the reciprocal nature of the visas.

A ceremony will be held on May 6, 2019, to commemorate this historic accomplishment.

On April 10, Mayer Brown held the latest in a series of interactive workshops to assist employers in responding to the impending changes in free movement.  Alongside a practical and useful discussion on the measures employers can take in the face of the continued uncertainty regarding Brexit, we shared a ‘decision tree’ setting out current options in the UK in the event of a ‘Deal’ or ‘No Deal’ Brexit.

On April 11, 2019, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions needed to reach both the annual 65,000 regular cap and the 20,000 master’s cap.  USCIS received 201,011 H-1B petitions during the period of April 1-5, 2019, which is an increase of nearly 11,000 petitions compared to the previous year’s H-1B cap filing window. 

 USCIS also announced that it completed the regular and master’s cap lotteries to select petitions for processing under the annual cap.  USCIS will send receipt notices to petitioners and their counsel for those cases selected in the lottery and will return all unselected petitions along with their filing fees.  Those mailings will likely take several weeks to complete.

 Additional information related to H-1B cap-subject filings may be made publicly available via the USCIS H-1B Employer Data Hub in Q1 of Fiscal Year 2021, which begins in October 2020.  This Hub, which was launched on April 1, 2019, provides information related to H-1B petitions processed by the agency, including information on the number of petitions filed, cases approved, and denials issued.  USCIS has reported that the agency will provide cumulative quarterly updates and annual releases of H-1B petition data, and anticipates updating the H-1B Employer Data Hub quarterly.

 

 

The White House appears to be eyeing the former head of a well-known anti-immigration group, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, Julie Kirchner, to take the helm of US Citizenship & Immigration Services, the agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with administering immigration and naturalization benefits. Kirchner, who joined the administration shortly after the president took office, currently serves as USCIS Ombudsman, the office tasked with resolving complex individual case issues, as well as providing recommendations for improvement in the administration of overall case processing.

Continue Reading DHS Shake-Up May Lead to Change in USCIS Leadership

On Friday, April 5, 2019, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions needed to reach the annual 65,000 regular cap, making 2019 the seventh year in a row in which the cap was reached within the first five working days of April.  USCIS has not yet announced whether it has received enough petitions to meet the US advanced degree exemption (or “master’s cap”) for 20,000 petitions.

Per the final rule published on January 31, 2019, if USCIS has received a sufficient number of petitions to meet both the bachelor’s degree quota and US advanced degree exemption, the agency will first conduct a random lottery to select petitions needed to meet the regular cap, and will then conduct a second lottery to select petitions to meet the master’s cap.  The agency will reject and return filing fees for all unselected petitions.

We will report further on the H-1B Cap as additional information becomes available from USCIS.

Last week’s series of Brexit votes in Parliament could mark a profound shift in the trajectory of the UK’s exit from the EU. However, businesses still do not know when Brexit will happen (if at all) and what the UK’s relationship with the EU and the rest of the world will be.

In the space of three days, the House of Commons voted (i) on Tuesday to reject the UK government’s negotiated withdrawal agreement in the second so-called “meaningful vote”; (ii) on Wednesday to reject a no-deal Brexit, with even Cabinet ministers defying the Conservative party whip to vote against it; and (iii) on Thursday to request an extension to Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to delay the UK’s exit from the EU. And if that was not enough, on Thursday the House also voted marginally against exercising more control over Brexit and overwhelmingly against a measure calling for a second referendum, with even supporters of a second referendum calling on MPs not to back it because it was not the right time.

Continue Reading Brexit: Heat But No Light for the UK’s International Businesses

As USCIS increases scrutiny of immigration filings, processing times for nearly all immigration categories has increased, as has the margin of error at agency service centers.  Liz Stern discusses changes within the agency, and how those changes are impacting employers and foreign nationals applying for US immigration benefits in a recent Law360 article.

With the March 29, 2019 date for Brexit looming and no deal to address the separation yet approved, the House of Commons voted on March 14, 2019, to defer Brexit until at least June 30, 2019.  The vote of 413 in favor versus 202 against provided a clear majority of 211 for the government, a move that may avert the expected chaos that a “no deal” scenario would pose.

By law, however, the delay can only be authorized by the EU, with unanimous approval of the leaders of the remaining 27 countries in the bloc.  The prime minister faces a significant challenge in seeking that approval, as EU officials have said they will permit a delay only if Britain makes a fundamental shift in its approach to Brexit.  Although the bloc could consider a delay to Brexit, it  has made clear that after two years negotiating with Ms. May, it is not open to more talks on her deal, meaning the prime minister needs to find a way to convince British lawmakers to accept it.

The prime minister thus plans to make a third attempt to have parliament agree to a divorce deal — which the MPs have already rejected twice — next week, in advance of an upcoming EU summit.  Lawmakers also rejected, by a vote of 334 to 85, a second referendum on EU membership. Continue Reading MPs Vote To Extend Brexit Deadline for Three Months