US Headlines: House Judiciary Committee Approves Legislation to Secure Immigration Mail / USCIS Begins Implementing the International Entrepreneur Rule / DHS to Propose Changes to H-1B, H-4 EADs, and F-1 OPT / Trump Administration Issues New Requirements for US Visa Waiver Program / TN “Economist” Profession Clarified
Global Headlines: U.K.’s Latest Immigration Changes End 2017 on a High Note / Australia Implements 10-Year Bar for Visa Applicants with Incorrect Information / Marriage Equality Allows for New Visa Changes in Australia
Feature Story: Profile on Operations: Meet the Team Behind the Scenes
December 12-20 -Happy Hanukkah
December 21 – EIG will host a webinar to recap the changes the Trump Administration plans to make to the H-4 EAD, H-1B, and F-1 OPT program at 2 PM PDT/ 5 PM EST. Please register here.
December 25 – Merry Christmas! EIG will be closed.
House Judiciary Committee Approves Legislation to Secure Immigration Mail. On Tuesday, December 12, the House Judiciary Committee approved an immigration document mailing bill, which aims to reduce the misplacement of sensitive immigration information and documentation. If signed into law, the bill would allow recipients to pay a fee in order to receive immigration documentation through a hold for pickup or signature confirmation service. The bill is currently in early stages and will undergo additional reviews before it is possibly signed into law.
USCIS Begins Implementing the International Entrepreneur Rule. On Thursday, December 14, USCIS announced that it would begin accepting applications under the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER). As previously reported, the implementation of the program was to be delayed until March 2018, to allow the current administration time to review and potentially eliminate the program. However, a recent federal court ruling vacated USCIS’ delay of the rule and ordered USCIS to begin accepting applications, finding violations of procedural requirements in association with the rule delay. For further guidance on submitting IER applications, visit the USCIS website here.
DHS to propose changes to H-1B, H-4 EADs, and F-1 OPT. Last week, the Trump administration released proposals for changes that would affect the H-1B program, H-4 employment authorization, and F-1 practical training. The plans appeared in the Administration’s semi-annual regulatory agenda, published by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Specifically, the proposals addressed the following:
- Removal of employment authorization eligibility for H-4 spouses.
- Revision of the definition of an H-1B specialty occupation to obtain the “best and brightest” applicants.
- Revision of the definition of employer and employee relationship to protect the U.S. worker and wages.
- Increased wage-related requirements to ensure H-1B visa holders are paid appropriate wages.
- Pre-registration requirement for H-1B petitioners seeking to submit H-1B cap petitions.
- A modified selection process giving priority to highly paid and highly skilled applicants.
- Revision of practical training rules for students on F and M visas to improve protections for U.S. workers who may be negatively impacted by the employment of foreign students.
EIG will provide more analysis and details on these proposals as more information becomes available.
Trump Administration Issues New Requirements for US Visa Waiver Program. On Friday, December 19, the Trump administration announced plans to increase security around the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP), also known as ESTA. The program allows citizens of 38 European countries to travel to the U.S for up to 90 days without a visa. The proposed changes are focused on preventing overstays and are putting pressure on all participating countries to increase security measures and information sharing with the Department of Homeland Security. As a result of these plans, VWP travelers will likely face increased scrutiny and should verify their ESTA status prior to each trip to the U.S.
TN “Economist” Profession Clarified. USCIS has clarified that to qualify for TN nonimmigrant status as an “economist,” TN applicants must engage primarily in activities consistent with the profession of an economist – such as conducting research, preparing reports, or formulating plans to address economic problems related to the production and distribution of goods and services or monetary and fiscal policy. Most notably, USCIS’ definition of the economist occupation “specifically excludes the occupations market research analyst and marketing specialist.” Moving forward that means individuals who work primarily in other occupations related to the field of economics – such as financial analysts, marketing analysts, and market research analysts – will no longer be eligible for classification as a TN “economist.”
UK’s Latest Immigration Changes End 2017 on a High Note. Since August 2017, the UK has been incrementally rolling out new immigration laws and policies in the wake of Brexit which has had a significant impact on EU migration. Most recently, on December 7, 2017 the Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that any dual EU-British citizen will be able to move freely within the EU. Additionally, the UK government doubled the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visas numbers to 2,000 per annum, and students are now eligible to switch to Tier 2 visa categories after completing their courses, without having to wait for their final results.
Australia Implements 10-Year Bar for Visa Applications with Incorrect Information. On November 18, 2017, Australia increased its previous 1-3 year ban for fraudulent information found in Visa Applications and implemented a 10-year bar from re-application. Findings of inaccurate statements, omissions of fact, false documentation, work experience claims, or false English proficiency scores can result in a ten-year ban from the entering the country. The applicable visa categories include student visas, family visas, skilled migration classes and any related application made by members of the primary applicant’s family. As even unintentional errors may result in serious immigration consequences, EIG strongly recommends all potential applicants to consult with our team to ensure that all submitted applications are both accurate and comprehensive.
Marriage Equality Allows for New Visa Changes in Australia. Same-sex couples are now eligible to apply for partner visas and prospective marriage visas in Australia. Previously, individuals could only apply as “de facto partners” which is when individuals have been living with their significant other for several months and required greater hurdles than marriage-based visas.
Feature Story: 2017: Profile on Operations: Meet the Team Behind the Scenes
Our Operations Team makes EIG run smoothly and efficiently. The team collectively includes Human Resources, Finance, Marketing, and Office Management. The Operations Team is the problem solvers of the firm. They assist with report requests both internally and externally and help us to continually improve our data management processes. The team is also essential to our current effort to gear up for the upcoming H-1B Cap season!
Debra Schwartz is the Operations Team’s fearless leader. Debra joined the EIG team on July 31, 2017 and has over 15 years of experience in Human Resources and Business Processes and Infrastructure. Thanks to the Operations Team, we recently had a fun, dancing-filled holiday party in Washington, D.C.!
We would like to recognize the Operations Team for the tremendous help they all provide to EIG on a daily basis. Without the Operations Team, EIG would not be able to serve our clients as effectively.
Caline Shamiyeh, Paralegal
Divya Patel, Attorney
Stephanie Tan, Senior Attorney
Editors: Jeff DeCruz, Aisha Farooq, Christina Holtz, and Theresa Meehan