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EIG Dispatch | March 4, 2016

March 4, 2016

HIGHLIGHTS

  • DHS Announces Known Employer Pilot Program
  • UK Announces Application of the Immigration Health Surcharge to Nationals of Australia and New Zealand
  • UPDATE: USCIS Announces Upgrades to Improve Website Access Via Mobile Devices

DHS Announces Known Employer Pilot Program

In an effort to reform and simplify the process used to review employment-based visa categories, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced the Known Employer pilot program.  Under this one-year pilot program, approximately nine employers will be preselected to file applications with USCIS, requesting USCIS to predetermine whether the employer has met requirements related to the immigrant and non-immigrant visa classifications sought in the application.  Employers will upload all necessary documentation and file the requests through the web-based Known Employer Document Library (KEDL). USCIS officers will then review the requests and predetermine whether the employer has met the requirements necessary for approval of the visa category.  If USCIS approves the request, the employer will be allowed to file applications for individual employees without resubmitting company information with each subsequent petition.

During this trial period, DHS and Department of State will obtain ongoing feedback from participating employers to identify improvement opportunities.  DHS anticipates that successful implementation of the program will lead to reduced delays, greater efficiency, and consistency within the visa adjudication process.


UK Announces Application of the Immigration Health Surcharge to Nationals of Australia and New Zealand

In April 2015, the Home Office introduced the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), a compulsory payment by all non-EEA persons seeking visas to the UK for a period of more than six months.  The surcharge is payable at the outset of the visa application process and is charged on an annual basis.  The current surcharge is set at an annual £200 fee, which is applicable to all principal applicants and their dependents.  Applicants must pay the surcharge directly to the National Health Service (NHS), and in return, visa holders are entitled to receive the same healthcare coverage as permanent UK residents.

Some categories of individuals are exempt from paying the IHS, including those applying from outside the UK for a visitor visa or any visa that lasts six months or less.  Although nationals of New Zealand and Australia were previously listed under the exempted categories, on February 26, 2016, the Home Office announced its plan to extend the IHS to include nationals of both countries.

This change is currently in draft form but is anticipated to be implemented starting April 6, 2016, subject to parliamentary approval.


UPDATE: USCIS Announces Upgrades to Improve Website Access Via Mobile Devices

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) launched its mobile app in 2014 which gave users the ability to visit the USCIS website using mobile devices.  On February 29, 2016, USCIS announced various upgrades aimed at improving the online experience.  USCIS credits many of the changes to customer submissions on the E-Verify Listens website, put into effect in 2014 to allow users to share ideas and feedback concerning desired improvements to the system.  As a result of the upgrades, users are now able to take advantage of significant aspects of the USCIS website on their smartphones, laptops, and other mobile devices.  Specifically, users are now able to:

  • Easily read content on their mobile devices since content automatically adjusts to fit the screen of any smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer;
  • Have easier access to SAVE CaseCheck; and
  • Quickly and easily log into and view case status on E-Verify.