US Headlines: Premium Processing May be Suspended for H-1B FY2019 Cap Season / Immigration Impact Unclear as NAFTA Negotiations Continue / Trump Supports Citizenship for DREAMers.
Global Headlines: Switzerland’s New Labor Requirements Aimed at Reducing Unemployment / Additional Information Required for Singapore’s Employment Passes / UK Issues New Requirement for Applicants Seeking Permanent Residence
Feature Story: By the Numbers: The White House’s Immigration Proposal
Premium Processing May be Suspended for H-1B FY2019 Cap Season. There is a possibility that USCIS will suspend premium processing for the H-1B FY2019 Cap Season. No other changes to the H-1B cap procedures are expected. USCIS does not anticipate the premium processing suspension will impact cap-exempt petitions, including H-1B transfers, extensions, and amendments. Please contact the attorney working on your H-1B petition if you have any questions or concerns.
Immigration Impact Unclear as NAFTA Negotiations Continue. Canada, Mexico, and the United States concluded their sixth round of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) negotiation talks. Although there was progress in key issues, the negotiations are expected to continue beyond the March 31 deadline and could slow down throughout the year due to the Mexican general election in July and the United States mid-term elections in November. As there is no movement on discussions about labor and immigration, current TN petitions and applications will proceed as normal. Negotiations will reconvene in late February for the seventh round of talks.
Trump Supports Citizenship for DREAMers. President Trump announced his support for allowing a path to citizenship for DREAMers, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children. The proposal could offer legal status to 1.8 million people who would become citizens in 10 to 12 years provided they are employed and have not committed any crimes. The proposal also includes tightening border security and deterring new immigrants.
State of the Union Address is Tonight. President Trump will deliver his first State of the Union Address tonight at 9 pm EST, outlining his agenda for 2018. Immigration is expected to be a prominent topic, especially with regard to DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), which was rescinded last year. Several immigrants who benefit from DACA will be in attendance as guests of Congress members.
Switzerland’s New Labor Requirements Aimed at Reducing Unemployment. The Switzerland Federal Council announced it will implement a labor market test for employers wishing to hire foreign nationals in occupations with high unemployment rates. Starting July 1, 2018, Swiss employers seeking to hire foreign nationals in occupations with at least an 8% unemployment rate must first advertise the positions online for a period of five days. Starting January 1, 2020, the requirement will be expanded to include occupations with at least a 5% unemployment rate. Employers and prospective employees should be prepared for longer hiring timelines in connection with the 5 day advertising period.
Additional Information Required for Singapore’s Employment Passes. On January 26, 2018, Singapore started requiring all employers to provide their foreign employees’ contact details to complete transactions on the Ministry of Manpower’s EP Online system. EIG currently requests these details upon initiation of related matters and underscores the importance of completing all requested information, as these items are now mandatory for Employment Pass, S Pass, Training, EP, Dependent’s Pass, or Long-Term Visit Pass applications.
UK Issues New Requirement for Applicants Seeking Permanent Residence. In January, UK’s Home Office announced changes to how it will calculate absences in connection with applications for permanent residence, or, “Indefinite Leave to Remain.” Qualified Applicants must now demonstrate a continuous period of residence in the UK in any rolling twelve-month period. The new rule no longer provides an exception which resets an applicant’s time of absence if the period in question overlaps into a new year. Under the new rule, no more than 180 days of absence are allowed in any consecutive 12-month period for a total of five years.
Feature Story: Government Shutdown Ends; Countdown Begins Again With Immigration Push in Senate
The U.S. government shutdown ended last night with an agreement to fund the government for three weeks, until February 8th. As part of the negotiations to end the shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) agreed to let an immigration bill reach the Senate floor. However, the negotiated agreement did not contain specifics as to which bill would be heard, or addressed.
On Tuesday morning, Senator McConnell opened the Senate session by stating that “serious negotiations” can resume on issues including immigration. Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) tweeted on Monday that it would be a breach of trust if the agreement to vote on a bill was not honored.
With a 16-day countdown and no single immigration reform bill emerging as a bipartisan favorite, it seems unlikely that a comprehensive bill will result from this compromise. However, if any immigration legislation makes it to a Senate vote by February 8th, that would be progress, if only slight. Lawmakers still have roughly a month and a half until March 5th, the date that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is currently set to end.
There are currently several immigration bills pending review by the full Senate and several more still at more preliminary stages, with bills from both sides of the aisle addressing the issues of DACA, border security, Temporary Protected Status, and the diversity visa lottery. Given this cornucopia of legislation, there remains significant uncertainty as to what specifics the Senate would vote on. Even if a compromise bill were to pass through the Senate with 60 votes, there is no guarantee that the bill would be taken up in the House of Representatives
Sarah Cheong, Attorney
Christine Annand, Senior Attorney
Justin Parson, Senior Attorney
Editors: Jeff DeCruz, Aisha Farooq, Christina Holtz, and Theresa Meehan