March 5, 2018 | EIG Dispatch

US Headlines: More Details on Social Monitoring Requested / Congress Misses the March 5 Deadline for DACA

Global Headlines: Italian Consulates Narrow Definition of Business Visa Activities / UK Ending Permanent Residence Applications for Tier 1 Migrants / Taiwan Introduces Employment Gold Card / Changes Announced to Singapore’s Foreign Workforce Policy

Feature Story: The H-4 EAD Program-What’s Next?

US Headlines

More Details on Social Media Monitoring Requested. The Trump administrations’ extreme vetting initiative is under scrutiny, as immigrant advocates are seeking answers regarding the surveillance of visa applicants and their social media. It is believed the Government is using social media accounts in deciding whether to deny visas. In a response to this concern, advocates submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request regarding the significance of the policy and how it will impact immigrants.

Congress Misses the March 5 Deadline for DACA. After much deliberation, Congress was unable to meet the March 5 deadline to come up with a permanent status for DACA recipients. While DACA recipients are still able to renew their work authorization due to court decisions, the missed deadline is seen as a failure by many. More developments may occur as the March 23 government funding deadline approaches, but this is unlikely. As negotiations continue, DACA recipients will continue to renew their permits but are anxious for a concrete resolution to their ability to stay in the US.

Tiffany Bowman, Paralegal

Global Headlines

Italian Consulates Narrow Definition of Business Visa Activities. Starting March 2018, Italian Consulates are now applying a stricter approach in evaluating business visa applications. According to the Visa Decree 850/2011, permissible business-related activities have been limited to include:

  • Contract Negotiations
  • Training Prospective Employees
  • Verifying the use and functioning of capital goods purchased or sold under commercial and industrial cooperation agreements.

All other business-related activities will be subject to the discretionary review of Consulate Officers on a case-by-case basis.

UK Ending Permanent Residence Applications for Tier 1 Migrants. Effective April 5, 2018, Tier 1 migrants in the UK will no longer be eligible to apply for “Indefinite Leave to Remain” (ILR) to obtain permanent residence. The Tier 1, points-based system was originally aimed at bringing highly skilled workers to the UK to live and work without sponsorship. However, this category has been narrowed over time, prohibiting new applications in 2011, as well as requests for extensions in April 2015.

At this time, Tier 1 applicants who wish to remain in the UK for an extended period of time can apply for ILR before April 5, 2018, if they can demonstrate:

  1. Lawful presence in the UK for five continuous years, with no more than 180 days outside in the country;
  2. Successful passage of the “Life in the UK” test;
  3. Scoring a sufficient number of points in areas of age, English language proficiency, education, and earnings.

Online Applications Now Accepted for Taiwan’s Employment Gold Card. Effective February 2018, applicants can now apply online for Taiwan’s Employment Gold Card. Taiwan introduced its plans for this new visa on October 31, 2017, as part of its Act for the Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Professionals initiative to attract and retain highly skilled foreign workers. The card offers a combined work and residence permit that does not require sponsorship and can be valid for up to three years depending on the applicant. Foreign nationals defined as experts in the fields of technology, economics, education, culture, arts, sports, finance, law, and architectural design are now eligible to apply.

Changes Announced to Singapore’s Foreign Workforce Policy. On Monday, March 5, 2018, the Ministry of Manpower announced changes to its foreign workforce policy in an effort to restrict the hiring of foreign workers to protect the quality of work and opportunities for local citizens. Specifically, the Ministry has proposed the expansion of the Fair Consideration Framework hiring requirements to apply to more companies and open positions. Currently, job advertising is required for employers with more than 25 workers and for those that pay less than $12,000 SGD monthly. Starting July 1, 2018, a job must be advertised if the office has 10 or more employees and pays a salary of less than $15,000 SGD a month. The expansion also comes with an increase in the minimum wage requirement for S Pass holders.

Caline Shamiyeh, Paralegal

Feature Story: The H-4 EAD Program- What’s Next?

On February 25, 2015, DHS published a final rule extending eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B workers who are applying for employer-sponsored green cards. The H-4 EAD rule served to incentivize highly skilled workers and further their contributions to the US economy by reducing the burdens H-1B workers and their spouses face while waiting in line for their green card–a process that may take several years, depending on the individuals’ country of birth. The policy reflects the Obama administration’s initiative to encourage and retain highly skilled talent and remain competitive with respect to the global economy while providing mobility to spouses who otherwise would be restricted from working if they choose to join their spouses in the US.

The H-4 EAD rule has since been challenged in Federal court and is currently awaiting further adjudication. While the Trump administration has provided its updated timeline to publish the proposed rule in June 2018, we anticipate many of those affected by the program are anxious to understand how the proposed rule to repeal the program works and what the timeline may involve.

The Federal Rule-Making Process

Unlike the legal challenge in Federal court (which requires the court to decide whether DHS had the authority to create the rule in the first place), the process to repeal the H-4 EAD program is similar to how the rule was created. In seeking a repeal, DHS will be bound by the Administrative Procedure Act which requires the agency to publish the proposed rule in the Federal Register—effectively providing advance notice of at least 30 (and up to 60) days’ notice to the public before revocation. After a minimum of 30 days and a review of the comments, DHS can then implement the Final Rule with or without incorporating comments.

What does this mean?

Just because DHS publishes a rule that eliminates the H-4 EAD program does not mean that any or all current EADs will be invalidated. However, given how the Trump administration chose to wind down the DACA program, we can reasonably anticipate a gradual phasing out of the EAD rule over a period of time rather than an immediate revocation across all current and qualified applicants. At this time, however, any specifics regarding the processes DHS plans to use are purely speculative. EIG is closely monitoring this situation and will provide additional updates as soon as they become available. 

Jennifer T. Dao, Attorney

 Jeff DeCruz, Aisha Farooq, and Theresa Meehan