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EIG Week in Review (Aug 22, 2014)

August 27, 2014

Highlights

  • Corporate Sector Lobbies White House for Business Immigration Reform
  • French Labor Authorities Ramp Up Auditing Procedures
  • U.S. Department of State Updates Mexico Travel Warning 
  • USCIS Offers Relief Measures for Some West African Nationals

Corporate Sector Lobbies White House for Business Immigration Reform

Representatives from large companies, including advocates from high-tech sectors, and other lobbyists have been in discussions with Senior White House officials regarding immigration reform.  Although it was initially expected that President Obama would only focus his executive authority toward diminishing deportations for undocumented immigrants and changing federal enforcement policies, top aides are now reaching out to business leaders in order to broaden political support for potential executive action in other immigration-related areas.

Areas of interest include topics, such as unused green cards as well as modifications to existing work authorization programs.  Other ideas being discussed include granting work authorization to spouses of specialty occupation workers and technical changes to dual-purpose visa applications.

President Obama has vowed to act by the end of the summer, although he has not yet received recommendations from his staff, and no decision has been made on how he should proceed.

French Labor Authorities Ramp Up Auditing Procedures

Pursuant to a previously issued EU Directive, French labor offices are imposing new reporting requirements and simultaneously increasing audits for French companies that host transferred workers from EU companies and for EU companies that transfer employees to France. These companies must now maintain a record of the date these employers were added to the personnel register and provide accommodations that meet legal standards.

Employers will need to review and modify their internal procedures to comply with the new requirements.  Further, companies should be aware that French labor offices are maintaining a database of noncompliant companies and increasing audits accordingly.  Violators may be faced with penalties, such as €2,000-€4,000 fines per employee.

U.S. Department of State Updates Mexico Travel Warning

In response to increased levels of violence and criminal activity, the U.S. State Department has issued an update to its January 2014 Travel Warning for Mexico.  The new warning encourages travelers to lower their personal profiles and to avoid displaying indicators of wealth, such as expensive or “expensive-looking” jewelry, watches, or cameras, while in Mexico.  Further, individuals are advised to maintain awareness of their surroundings and avoid situations in which they may be isolated or stand out as potential victims.

Although the Mexican government dedicates substantial resources to protect visitors to major tourist destinations, and there is no evidence that organized criminal groups have targeted U.S. visitors or residents based on their nationality, U.S. citizens have been the target of violent crimes, such as kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery by organized criminal groups in various Mexican states. Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime that are reported in the border region or in areas along major trafficking routes.

Gun battles between rival criminal organizations or with Mexican authorities have taken place in towns and cities in many parts of Mexico and have left U.S. citizens trapped and temporarily unable to leave certain areas. The number of kidnappings throughout Mexico is of particular concern and appears to be on the rise.  The states with the highest numbers of kidnappings include Tamaulipas, Guerrero, Michoacán, Estado de Mexico, and Morelos.

EIG recognizes that many foreign nationals in the U.S. often travel to Mexico to apply for or renew U.S. visas as third-country nationals, due to physical proximity and locational convenience of U.S. Consulates in Mexico.  In light of the above travel warning, EIG encourages third-country nationals who are considering applying for or renewing their U.S. visas in Mexico to take heed of the above cautions when planning their travel.

For a state-by-state assessment of travel advisories in Mexico, please refer to http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings/mexico-travel-warning.html.

USCIS Offers Relief Measures for Some West African Nationals

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is now offering relief measures to nationals of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leona who are currently in the U.S., in light of the Ebola outbreak experienced in those countries.  Upon request, the following relief measures may be available for those who are eligible:

  • Change or extension of nonimmigrant status for an individual currently in the U.S., even where the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired
  • Extension of certain grants of parole made by USCIS
  • Expedited adjudication and approval, where possible, of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship
  • Expedited processing of immigrant petitions for immediate relatives (currently in the U.S.) of U.S. citizens
  • Expedited adjudication of employment authorization applications, where appropriate
  • Consideration for waiver of fees associated with USCIS benefit applications

To obtain more information about this topic, please visit www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/special-situations.