EIG Dispatch | June 26-30

DC Insights: SCOTUS Acts on Travel Ban / SCOTUS Decision in Citizenship Case / Budget Proposal / Short-Term Increase in H-2B Visas for Temp Non-Ag Workers 

Feature Story: Government Documents Shed Light on the H-1B Lottery

Headlines: Brexit Update / Trump’s Cuba Policy / California “Sanctuary” Efforts

DC Insights

SCOTUS Travel Ban Stayed for Some, In Force for Others – Full Case to Be Heard in the Fall. As one of its final acts before adjourning for the summer, the Supreme Court announced it will hear arguments on the President’s travel ban in early October (exact date to be determined). In the interim, “foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” may continue to enter the U.S. The Supreme Court’s announcement is available here. What constitutes a “credible claim to a bona fide relationship” will be determined in the coming days and weeks.

EIG will provide updates as they become available.

Immaterial Statements are not Enough to Revoke Citizenship. On June 22, the Supreme Court ruled that false statements, even minor ones, made during the naturalization process must be important or significant to the decision to grant citizenship in order to be grounds for revoking U.S. citizenship. The fact that an applicant for citizenship made a false statement is not, in itself, sufficient cause for revoking citizenship.

Administration’s Proposed Budget Includes Major Increases for Immigration Enforcement. In its proposed budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, the Administration has requested Congress to authorize significant increases in immigration enforcement spending. These budget proposals include requests for:

•    Funds for a more than 10% increase in the number of Immigration and Customs      Enforcement (ICE) officers;
•    Funds for a 10% increase in the number of immigration judges; and
•    Funds for an anticipated 30% increase in the Federal immigration detainee population.

Temporary Increase In H-2B Visas.The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been authorized to offer extra H-2B visas this fiscal year as part of a bill for increased government spending passed in May. The H-2B visa is used for temporary, non-agricultural workers. The number of H-2B visas offered will increase from 66,000 visas to more than 135,000. This increase just applies for this year. For the next fiscal year, starting October 1, the number of H-2B visas available will return to an annual quota of 66,000. It is anticipated that DHS will start issuing more H-2B visas by late July.

Feature Story: Government Documents Shed Light on the H-1B Lottery

Each year, hundreds of thousands of foreign workers throw their hopes (and careers) into the annual H-1B lottery. Lines of delivery trucks rushed to deliver this year’s 199,0000 applications for the 85,000 coveted visas. The application window closed in five short days.

Until very recently though, little has been known about how the government runs this frenzied process that affects so many. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has kept the details of the lottery largely under wraps. This lack of transparency drove the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and partner organizations to bring legal action against the government last year. AILA took USCIS to court in an effort compel the agency to release information about the lottery, arguing that the “integrity of the H-1B lottery can only be evaluated if USCIS’ actions are transparent.” That effort proved successful and, although the case is still moving through the courts, last week AILA published nearly 4,000 pages of internal USCIS documents released by the agency.


  • The odds may be slightly better than expected 
    • USCIS selects more than 85,000 visas as “winners” each year to account for later denials and withdrawals. One employee is described as a “guru” of estimating numbers to get the right “cushion”.
  • Different Service Center outcomes
    • One email entitled “Cap rejection statistics” shows the California service center has a rejection rate lower than the Vermont service center. This could be related to the quality of petitions filed or could be due to the different ways the two service centers processed rejections.
  • No outsourcing
    • While contractors are used to process applications, USCIS personnel conduct the lottery each year and does not involve contractors in the random selection process.
  • The lottery is no small task
    • USCIS emails discuss mail estimates by the “tractor trailer truck”.
  • Mysterious algorithm? 
    • The “computer-generated random selection process” is never described in detail.

Despite this large document release, the public still doesn’t have an answer to one of AILA’s basic questions: What is the actual “computer-generated” algorithm used in the lottery? Why is it kept under lock and key?

With the AILA lawsuit still moving through the court, and many questions still unanswered, don’t be surprised if we get more documents by the end of the year.

Headlines: Immigration News from Around the World

Brexit Update – Prime Minister Outlines her Proposal for EU Citizens living in the UK. In an official Policy Paper issued by the UK Prime Minister’s office, the UK Government expanded on its post-Brexit intentions regarding EU Citizens. Under the proposal, all EU citizens would be required to seek permission to stay in the UK post Brexit, regardless of when they arrived, and EU citizens who are permanent residents in the UK would need to reapply for “settled status”. These proposals are very preliminary and will not take force anytime soon. Whether the proposals set out in the Policy Paper take force depends on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations; negotiations which are expected to take a number of years.

Traveling to Cuba Restricted Under President Trump. On June 16, President Trump reversed the prior administration’s efforts to improve US-Cuba relations and provide for travel and trade between the countries. President Trump’s policies reinstate previous travel restrictions to individual, non-academic travel, authorizing only group people-to-people travel with previous schedules and academic requirements/restrictions. Trump’s policies also reaffirm the U.S.’s economic sanctions currently in place and the position that, before the U.S. will normalize relations, the Cuban government must improve the treatment of its citizens.

California Becomes a Safer Place for Immigrants. On June 22, the Bay Area Rapid Transit System (“BART”) board of directors approved a policy banning funds or resources from being used to assist in federal immigration enforcement. BART employees are also directed not to inquire about the immigration status of BART riders. This announcement comes as California Senate Bill 54, a bill restricting state and local law enforcement agencies from providing resources for federal immigration enforcement, is moving through the state legislature after passing the State Senate.