With the U.S. economy booming again, employers should begin thinking about their hiring plans for next year and the upcoming Fiscal Year 2017 H-1B visa filing deadlines. Given the high demand for H-1B visas, USCIS is likely to accept H-1B petitions subject to the annual cap only during the first five business days in April: Friday, April 1, 2017 through Thursday, April 7, 2017. This filing deadline means late winter and early spring are often the busiest times of year for immigration practitioners, and we urge employers to contact us in December and January to review the requirements of the H-1B program, discuss the timing for drafting the FY2017 H-1B petitions, and to strategize about other options for employment-based visas for recent graduates and professionals. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 617-482-1010 with questions about H-1B visas and the application process.
USCIS opens draft Policy Memorandum addressing Immigrant Visa Portability pursuant to I.N.A. Sec. 204(j), 8 U.S.C. 1154(j) for public comment.
On November 20, 2015, USCIS released for public comment a Draft Policy Memorandum (DPM) regarding the employment-based Immigrant Visa Portability provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The Immigrant Visa Portability provisions were first enacted by Congress in October 2000 and allow certain employment-based green card applicants to change jobs or employers provided the applicant continues to work in the same or similar occupation as the originally sponsored petition. The DPM instructs USCIS adjudicators to use the federal government's Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system to assess whether the two positions are in the same or similar occupation. The SOC system divides all jobs in the U.S. economy into 23 Major Groupings, 97 Minor Groupings, 461 Broad Occupations, and 840 Detailed Occupations. The DPM requires applicants seeking to invoke the Immigrant Visa Portability provisions to demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that the new job is in the same or similar occupation, including evidence from the intending employer describing the new position's duties, requirements and rate of pay. Comments on this proposed Draft Policy Memorandum are due January 4, 2016. For more information, visit: http://www.uscis.gov/outreach/feedback-opportunities/draft-memoranda-comment/draft-memorandum-comment
USCIS seeks public comments on proposed revisions to Form I-9
USCIS issued a Notice in the November 24, 2015 edition of the Federal Register seeking public comment on its proposed revisions to the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. USCIS has proposed extensive revisions to the form's instructions, providing more detailed examples and explanations. For example, the proposed revisions provide far greater detail and guidance to employees in completing Section 1 of Form I-9. Comments are due January 25, 2016. For more information or to submit comments on these proposed revisions, visit: http://www.uscis.gov/laws/uscis-federal-register-announcements
Deadline for H-1B Amendments in the wake of Matter of Simeio Solutions, LLC is approaching
In July, 2015, USCIS published official guidance after the recent Matter of Simeio Solutions, LLC precedent decision by the Administrative Appeals Office. According to USCIS's official guidance, employers must now file an amended or new H-1B petition for any H-1B employee whose place of employment changes to a new geographical area that requires filing of a new Labor Condition Application ("LCA") with the Department of Labor. As part of its official guidance, USCIS announced a safe harbor period through January 15, 2016 in which employers may file new or amended petitions that will be considered timely for purposes of employers maintaining compliance and employees maintaining their non-immigrant status. The risks of non-compliance are substantial - a random site visit could result in revocation of the employer's petition and the employee may be found to not be maintaining his or her H-1B status. If you have questions about H-1B amendments and compliance in the wake of Matter of Simeio Solutions, LLC, please contact us at email@example.com
The Syrian refugee crisis and H.R. 4038
Since 1975 the U.S. has accepted over three million refugees from all over the world seeking protection from violence and persecution in their homelands. In FY2016, the U.S. has committed to accepting 85,000 refugees, including at least 10,000 from Syria. Refugees undergo the most rigorous security screen process of all persons seeking admission to the U.S., but in response to the terror attacks in Paris, Rep Michael McCaul (R-TX) introduced H.R. 4038: American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act of 2015. This bill, which passed the House by a vote of 289 - 137, adds even more layers of certifications and background investigations to the process, including the requirement for each refugee be individually certified as not posing a threat to the security of the U.S. by both the Director of the FBI and the Director of National Intelligence. The Senate has yet to take up the bill. Look for additional updates in our newsletter in the coming months on this and other immigration-related legislation.