Maria Ramos Participates in AILA University’s “Ask BIRT: AILA’s Business Immigration Response Team Addresses Members’ Most Pressing Questions – Live”

Tampa Partner Maria Ramos participated as a discussion leader in this past week’s AILA University. Maria and members of AILA’s Business Immigration Response Team (BIRT) addressed AILA members’ most pressing business immigration questions.

Topics covered include:

  • What tips can the discussion leaders provide regarding filing EB-2 to EB-3 downgrades?
  • Please comment on DOL’s new prevailing wages and provide recent experiences/advice using private wage surveys.
  • How should I respond to a USCIS RFE that requests a Form I-944 that was not legally required at the time the adjustment of status was filed?
  • An O-1 visa holder stuck in London since the travel restrictions were imposed by PP 9996 has an urgent need to obtain a National Interest Exception. What are the O-1 visa holder’s options?

 

Forbes – New Lawsuit And Glaring Problems Threaten DOL H-1B Visa Rule

A new lawsuit and economic research have exposed problems with the Department of Labor’s (DOL) new H-1B wage rule. The lawsuit seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction against the new rule, which analysts have concluded was designed to price out of the U.S. labor market H-1B visa holders and employment-based immigrants by raising the required minimum wage to employ them. The research explains why the rule is likely unlawful, harmful to the U.S. economy and will make it difficult for international students to be employed in the United States after graduation.

“On October 8, 2020, without providing prior notice and without affording plaintiffs or the general public an opportunity to comment, the Department of Labor dramatically altered the manner in which it calculates prevailing wage rates for the H-1B program,” according to a complaint filed on October 16, 2020, by the Wasden Banias law firm on behalf of ITServe Alliance, Dots Technologies, Iflowsoft Solutions, Kolla Soft, NAM Info, Precision Technologies, Smart Works and Zenith Services in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

“Plaintiffs bring this civil action challenging the Department of Labor’s decision to set dramatically higher wage rates without following the notice and comment rulemaking procedures required under the Administrative Procedure Act,” reads the complaint. “Plaintiffs also challenge the agency’s new wage rates as a violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended, because the new wage rates are set under a novel standard that conflicts with the governing statutory criteria. The Department of Labor’s new wage rule is also arbitrary and capricious because the agency relied on outdated, incorrect, or limited empirical data, failed to consider readily available, relevant data and empirical studies, and engaged in reasoning that conflicts with basic economic theory.”

Visit Forbes for full article.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – Premium Processing Fee Increase Effective Oct. 19, 2020

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced it will increase fees for premium processing, effective Oct. 19, as required by the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act, Pub. L. No. 116-159, signed into law on Oct. 1. The USCIS premium processing service allows petitioners to pay an additional filing fee to expedite the adjudication of certain forms, generally within 15 days. The Act included the Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act, which requires USCIS to establish and collect additional premium processing fees, and to use those additional funds for expanded purposes.

Pub. L. No. 116-159 increases the fee for Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing, from $1,440 to $2,500, for all filings except those from petitioners filing Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, requesting H-2B or R-1 nonimmigrant status. The premium processing fee for petitioners filing Form I-129 requesting H-2B or R-1 nonimmigrant status is increasing from $1,440 to $1,500.

Any Form I-907 postmarked on or after Oct. 19 must include the new fee amount. If USCIS receives a Form I-907 postmarked on or after Oct. 19 with the incorrect filing fee, we will reject the Form I-907 and return the filing fee. For filings sent by commercial courier (such as UPS, FedEx and DHL), the postmark date is the date reflected on the courier receipt.

Pub. L. No. 116-159 also gives USCIS the ability to expand premium processing to additional forms and benefit requests, but USCIS is not yet taking that action. Any expansion of premium processing to other forms will be implemented as provided in the legislation.

For more information visit USCIS here.

The Wall Street Journal – Trump Administration Announces Overhaul of H-1B Visa Program

WASHINGTON—The Trump administration announced an overhaul of the H-1B visa program for high-skilled foreign workers that will require employers to pay H-1B workers significantly higher wages, narrow the types of degrees that could qualify an applicant and shorten the length of visas for certain contract workers.

The changes, introduced by the Departments of Labor and Homeland Security on Tuesday, will likely make it tougher to qualify for one of the coveted visas.

Ken Cuccinelli, the No. 2 official at DHS, said on a news conference call Tuesday that he expects about one-third of H-1B visa applications would be rejected under the new set of rules.

Mr. Cuccinelli and Patrick Pizzella, the deputy secretary of labor, said the changes were necessary to protect American workers, whom the administration believes are being undercut by foreign workers on H-1B visas who are paid lower wages to perform similar jobs.

“America’s immigration laws should put American workers first,” Mr. Pizzella said, pointing to what he described as insufficiently stringent wage requirements on foreign workers in the H-1B visa program. “The result is U.S. workers are being ousted from good-paying, middle-class jobs and being replaced by foreign workers,” he said.

To read this article in its entirety, visit The Wall Street Journal.

Forbes – USCIS Staff Furloughs Will Grind Legal Immigration To A Halt

The Trump administration is about to achieve what many see as its long-held objective of bringing the U.S. legal immigration system to a halt. While the administration would not be allowed to stop processing immigration applications without incurring legal action, critics say that through policy choices and mismanagement of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) it may accomplish the same goal.

“The federal agency tasked with offering citizenship, green cards and visas to immigrants is planning to furlough about two-thirds of its workers at the end of the month after Congress failed to reach a deal on a coronavirus stimulus package,” reported USA Today. “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services notified about 13,400 of its 20,000 employees that they would be furloughed Aug. 30 because of budget shortfalls.”

To better understand the impact of a USCIS staff furlough, I interviewed Doug Rand, who worked on immigration policy in the Obama White House as assistant director for entrepreneurship and is the co-founder of Boundless Immigration, a technology company that helps immigrants obtain green cards and citizenship. He is also a senior fellow and director of the Technology and Innovation Initiative at the Federation of American Scientists. Continue reading “Forbes – USCIS Staff Furloughs Will Grind Legal Immigration To A Halt”

CBS News – Trump administration can enforce green card wealth test in most states, court rules

A federal appellate court on Wednesday limited an order that had blocked the nationwide implementation of a controversial wealth test for green cards and immigrant visas, allowing the Trump administration to continue the policy in every state except New York, Connecticut and Vermont.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit partially set aside last month’s ruling from a federal judge in New York, who said the so-called “public charge” test was hindering nationwide efforts to contain the coronavirus by discouraging immigrants from requesting public assistance, including medical treatment, during the pandemic.

U.S. Circuit Judge Peter Hall did not provide a reason in his one-paragraph order, which set aside the lower court injunction in every state but New York, Connecticut and Vermont. All three of those states had sued the Trump administration over the public charge rule. Continue reading “CBS News – Trump administration can enforce green card wealth test in most states, court rules”

Forbes – New USCIS Immigration Fees Hit Businesses, Citizens And Students

The Trump administration will increase fees on businesses, new citizens and international students who need work authorization. The new fee rule from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the latest Trump administration action to restrict immigration to the United States and make life more difficult for businesses seeking skilled workers and individuals who want to be American citizens.

On July 31, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – USCIS is part of DHS – released to the public the final version of a fee rule first proposed in November 2019. The fees will go into effect on October 2, 2020.

“The significant fee increases on employment-based immigrant and nonimmigrant petitions are nothing more than new taxes on businesses that must be paid to meet their company’s workforce needs,” said Jon Baselice, executive director for immigration policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in an interview. “This final rule suffers from many of the same critical flaws included in the agency’s original proposal, and given the level of concern on the part of many companies with respect to those issues the fight over this rule is far from over.” Continue reading “Forbes – New USCIS Immigration Fees Hit Businesses, Citizens And Students”

Miami Herald – ‘License to live’: Florida quietly changed driver’s license requirements for immigrants

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants who have been able to drive legally in Florida may be unable to get driver licenses again after the state quietly changed its identification requirements for obtaining licenses.

In mid-May, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles tightened its document requirements that outline what some immigrants must provide in order to get their driver licenses. It’s the most striking change of at least six that have been made in the past six months, making it almost impossible for people who are in the deportation process to legally drive — something they had been able to do before, according to internal documents obtained by the Miami Herald. Continue reading “Miami Herald – ‘License to live’: Florida quietly changed driver’s license requirements for immigrants”

Bloomberg Law – Revamped Suit Challenges Presidential Power to Bar Entry to U.S.

TrumpsA new class of plaintiffs claim President Donald Trump’s June 22 proclamation suspending U.S. entry by certain classes of visa holders is an attempt to “unilaterally rewrite the federal immigration laws” and exceeds the scope of his statutory authority.

Their revised complaint, filed Friday at the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., challenges the entirety of Trump’s proclamation. The president’s action extended a previous order barring entry to the U.S. for green card applicants. It also expanded the earlier order to include H-1B and H-4 visas, which are used by workers in specialty occupations and their families, as well as L visas for intracompany transfers and most J visas for work- and study-abroad programs.

Continue reading “Bloomberg Law – Revamped Suit Challenges Presidential Power to Bar Entry to U.S.”

NBC News – California becomes first state to sue Trump administration over student visa policy

xavier-becerra-gavin-newsom-California will become the first state to sue the Trump administration over guidelines issued this week that bar international students from remaining in the U.S. if they can take classes online, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Thursday afternoon.

The lawsuit, which was expected to be filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for Northern California, seeks a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the new visa policy.

Under the directive, students on F-1 and M-1 visas “must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement.

Those who violate the rules “may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings,” the agency said. Continue reading “NBC News – California becomes first state to sue Trump administration over student visa policy”