EIG Dispatch | June 12-16

Headlines: Brexit Post Election / Eid Delays / Canada Points for Siblings and Francophones / Posted Workers In Spain / AILA Moves Convention in Protest

Feature Story: US Government Agencies Focused on Fraud

DC Insights: H-1B Reform / SCOTUS Reviewing Travel Ban / India PM Expected to VISIT / DHS Leadership

Headlines: Immigration News from Around the World

Brexit Negotiations Still Moving Forward Following UK Election. Last week, the UK held an election widely seen to be an attempt by the UK Conservative Party, led by Prime Minister Theresa May, to strengthen the UK’s position in the upcoming Brexit negotiations by increasing their majority in Parliament. The result was the opposite. May’s party lost their majority and is currently in negotiations to build a coalition government. At this time, the long-term impact on Brexit remains uncertain, but the process is moving forward and negotiations are still scheduled to begin on Monday, June 19. We will provide updates as information becomes available.

Eid Celebrations Will Delay Visa Processing in Late June.  In celebration of Eid al-Fitr — the annual Islamic holiday marking the end of Ramadan — U.S. Consulates and other government offices in observing countries will be closed or have limited office hours from June 25 to June 29. Individuals applying for visas and work permits around this time should plan and prepare for appointment/processing delays until the first week of July.

Canada Adjusts Express Entry Points Categories. Starting on June 13, 2017, the Canadian express entry program will begin awarding points to candidates with siblings living in Canada and to candidates who demonstrate strong French language skills. These points will be added to the points currently awarded based on the candidate’s education, experience and language skills to reach a total score of 1,200 points.

Spain Implements New Requirements for Posted Employees. Spain has joined other EU countries in implementing EU rules for companies sending workers from elsewhere in Europe for temporary assignments. Employers must notify Spanish authorities of the posting through an electronic system. In addition, companies must retain employment-related documents such as contracts, pay statements, timesheets and work permits.

AILA’s 2018 Convention Leaving Texas. The American Immigration Lawyer’s Association (AILA) has decided to relocate its 2018 national convention from Texas. The move comes after Texas’ legislature passed a bill, SB 4, which permits state officers to legally question detainees on their immigration status and penalize elected officials who refuse to cooperate with enforcement procedures. The constitutionality of the bill has already been challenged, with lawsuits filed to prevent implementation.

Feature Story: US Government Agencies Focused on Fraud

The new administration is following up on its promise to ramp up immigration enforcement. Last week, the Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta, announced his department would be investigating and prosecuting companies who commit visa fraud or abuse work visa programs.

To achieve these goals, Secretary Acosta has directed his department’s Wage and Hour Division to vigorously enforce “all laws within its jurisdiction governing the administration and enforcement of non-immigrant visa programs,” including laws related to wage requirements, documents retention requirements, and US worker recruitment. Additionally, the department is also looking into revising forms to “better identify systematic violations and potential fraud, and provide greater transparency for agency personnel, U.S. workers and the general public.”

The Department of Labor is not the only government agency fighting fraud. In recent weeks, fake ICE flyers have appeared in DC and Chicago urging residents to report undocumented neighbors. The flyers were quickly removed with the encouragement of city leaders. Meanwhile, in California, federal authorities arrested three men who allegedly posed as immigration officials and defrauded immigrants of $6 million. Other schemes, such as phone scams and fake websites have also been reported.

If you are contacted by an immigration official or receive an immigration related document you are not expecting, contact our office immediately.

DC Insights: What We Learned in the Past 7 Days

Changes Coming to the H-1B Program? Sources report that the White House has been quietly working with the U.S. Department of Justice and key senators to reform the H-1B visa program. Proposals the Administration is reportedly considering include:

  • Requiring U.S. employers to first advertise jobs online and hire U.S. workers before foreigner workers may be sponsored for H-1B visas;
  • Requiring U.S. employers to submit semi-annual reports on the duties performed by their foreign worker population; and
  • Changing the annual numerical limit of H-1B visas (commonly known as the H-1B “cap”).

No formal announcements have been made yet. If there are any H-1B changes announced by the Administration or Congress, we will update you with the latest information.

Supreme Court Sets Deadline for Travel Ban Filings. Last week, the Trump Administration asked the Supreme Court to reverse rulings by courts in Hawaii and Maryland that are currently blocking the President’s revised Executive Order, commonly known as the “travel ban.” The Supreme Court has set a deadline of June 12 for parties challenging the travel ban to respond. The Trump Administration has requested the justices make a decision before the Court goes on summer vacation. The Court’s summer break runs from early July until the first Monday in October.

India’s Prime Minister Expected to Visit D.C. this Summer. India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is expected to visit Washington, D.C. in the coming months. An exact date has not yet been set. U.S. immigration, in particular the H-1B visa program, will likely be discussed.

Key DHS Positions Still to be Filled. Although the administration has filled some immigration-related positions at DHS, many positions remain vacant or have been filled on a temporary “acting” basis. Among the roles still to be filled are USCIS Director, CBP Commissioner, CBP Deputy Commissioner, and ICE Director. The USCIS Director nominee, Lee Cissna, was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 8, but still must be confirmed by the Senate.