We are about two months away from the new H-1B (cap-subject) filing season. On April 2, 2018, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting H-1B visa petitions for Fiscal Year 2019, which starts on October 1, 2018. If they have not already done so, employers seeking to sponsor foreign national workers for H-1B visas should begin consulting with experienced immigration counsel.
For more information, see our alert on H-1B “cap season.”
Following a federal government shutdown largely due to a lack of consensus on immigration reform, and the future of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in particular, the White House issued a one-page memo on January 25, 2018 outlining what it expects to see in future immigration legislation.
In brief, those expectations include a path to citizenship for “DACA recipients and other DACA-eligible illegal immigrants”; funding for border security; ending family “chain migration” by limiting family sponsorship to spouses and minor children only; and eliminating the visa lottery system.
The White House memo has already been met with both praise and condemnation by legislators, who will now be assigned the task of drafting immigration legislation.
For more information, as well as a copy of the White House memo, see this NPR article.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may designate a country for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) when conditions in that country prevent the safe return of its nationals. El Salvador was initially granted TPS on March 9, 2001, but TPS for El Salvador will now terminate on September 9, 2019. Salvadorans with TPS will need to re-register between January 18, 2018 and March 19, 2018 to retain TPS until the termination date.
For more information about the re-registration process, see the USCIS website.
On January 9, 2018, a federal district court issued an order directing the DHS to continue the DACA program on a nationwide basis on the same terms and conditions as were in effect before the rescission of DACA on September 5, 2017. On January 13, USCIS announced it would begin accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action again.
With the ongoing DACA litigation and the immigration debate within the legislature, the future of DACA, however, remains uncertain.
For more information, see the DACA page on USCIS’s website.
The DHS has released the list of 83 countries whose nationals are eligible to participate in the H-2A program and the 82 countries whose nationals are eligible to participate in the H-2B program. The list is effective from January 18, 2018 to January 18, 2019. Three countries were removed from the prior lists (Belize, Haiti and Samoa) and one country was added to this year’s lists (Mongolia).
In short, the H-2A and H-2B visa programs allow employers to petition for temporary or seasonal workers in agriculture (H-2A) and all other professions (H-2B).
For the full list of eligible H-2A and H-2B countries, see the Federal Register.
After assurances from the Turkish government regarding security concerns, the U.S. Consulate in Turkey will resume full visa services, which had not been available since the suspension announced in October 2017.
For more information, see the Consulate’s statement.
Due to staff reductions, the USCIS field office in Havana, Cuba, has suspended operations. The USCIS field office in Mexico City, Mexico, has been assigned jurisdiction over Cuba.
For more information, see the USCIS announcement.
As of January 8, 2018, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will send reminder email notifications to Visa Waiver travelers 10 days before their permitted times to remain in the U.S. are to expire (as governed by their I-94s).
In general, the Visa Waiver Program allows pre-approved citizens of designated countries to visit the United States for business or tourism for up to 90 days without first applying for a visa. Remaining in the U.S. for longer than 90 days is a violation of the program, and may have other immigration consequences.
For more information, see the CBP website.
On January 10, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided 98 7-Eleven locations looking for undocumented workers, in the single-largest enforcement action of its kind under the Trump administration. After the raids, ICE statements confirmed this is just a sign of things to come.
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