EIG Week in Review (Dec 6, 2013)


  • Immigration Rights Activists Engage in Fast for Immigration Reform
  • New Anti-Fraud Feature Introduced for E-Verify 
  • Swiss Federal Council Sets Quotas for Third-Country Citizen Work Authorizations
  • USCIS Aims to Decrease I-130 Processing Times 

Immigration Rights Activists Engage in Fast for Immigration Reform

On Tuesday, December 3rd, four immigration rights activists ended their 22-day fast for immigration reform on the National Mall and were immediately replaced with eight others who pledged to continue the fast.  The activists who will continue the fast include Bernice King, a pastor and the daughter of the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., and Representative Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass), a grandson of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.  The fast has attracted international media attention and high-profile visitors, including President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, iconic women’s rights activist Gloria Steinem, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, among others.

The activists are seeking a vote on comprehensive immigration reform.  In June, the Senate passed a comprehensive bipartisan bill, but Republican House leaders have declined to allow the bill to be put to a vote in the House.

In a potential signal of progress to come, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Oh) announced that Rebecca Tallent, Director of Immigration Policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), is joining his staff.  Founded in 2007 by former Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole, and George Mitchell, BPC is a non-profit organization that seeks to drive principled solutions through rigorous analysis, reasoned negotiation, and respectful dialogue.  Ms. Tallent also previously served as a Senior Policy Adviser during Senator John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.

It is unlikely that the House will take up the issue this year, as there are only a few days left in the 2013 legislative session.  However, the activists continue to keep national attention on the issue of immigration reform.

New Anti-Fraud Feature Introduced for E-Verify

A new E-Verify feature was announced by U.S. Citizenship & immigration Services (USCIS) in November. E-Verify is the system administered by the Department of Homeland Security that enables employers to verify a worker’s employment eligibility. The new enhancement is designed to combat identity fraud by detecting and preventing potential fraudulent use of social security numbers (SSNs) to gain work authorization and allowing USCIS to “lock” an SSN that appears to be stolen, borrowed, purchased, or otherwise misused in the E-Verify records.

USCIS states that algorithms, detection reports, and other analysis will be used to identify patterns of fraudulent use.  If a locked SSN is entered, E-Verify will generate a “Tentative Nonconfirmation” (TNC).  The employee receiving the TNC will have the opportunity to contest the finding at a local Social Security Administration (SSA) field office.  If an SSA field officer confirms the employee’s identity correctly matches the SSN, the TNC will be converted to “Employment Authorized” status in E-Verify.

Critics of E-Verify are unlikely to applaud this latest development. The E-Verify error rate for TNCs, which was last calculated at 0.3% in 2012, has resulted in TNCs and, in some cases, Final Non-Confirmations (FNCs) for those eligible to work. For now, the jury is still out on how accurate the system will be at catching the errors and what the impact will be on the true owners of the SSNs that are “locked.”

Swiss Federal Council Sets Quotas for Third-Country Citizen Work Authorizations

Switzerland’s Federal Council has set next year’s maximum number of work authorizations available to third-country citizens and service providers from the European Union/European Free Trade Association (EFTA).  There has been no change in the numbers from 2013.  3,500 work authorizations are available for “B permits,” the long-term residence permit (generally valid for an initial period of one year), and 5,000 work authorizations for “L permits,” the short-term residence permit.  Permits are divided among the cantons according to need.

Quotas for third-country (non-EU/EFTA) service providers are made available quarterly on a first-come, first-serve basis, so employers are generally encouraged to be prepared to file applications early.  Third-country citizens that come to Switzerland to provide a service for more than 90 or 120 days per year are allotted a maximum number of work authorizations of 500 for long-term B permits and 3,000 for short term L permits.

Croatian citizens, as citizens of the latest EU member country, are still subject to the provisions of the Foreign National Act that apply to third-country citizens until the free movement agreement is ratified.  Quotas have been set to 50 B permits and 450 L permits for Croatian citizens.

In addition, the Federal Council recommended the rejection of the “Stop Mass Immigration” Initiative, which is being put to a popular vote in Switzerland in February 2014. The Initiative calls for quotas for all foreign nationals. The Federal Council outlined its opposition to the measure on the grounds that it would limit options for Swiss businesses and jeopardize relations with the EU and its member states.

USCIS Aims to Decrease I-130 Processing Times

Processing times for Form I-130, the petition filed by U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents for their family members, have spiked to about one year in recent months.  The Form I-130 is the first step in the process to sponsor certain family members to immigrate to or adjust status in the U.S. Starting in October, USCIS began transferring stand-alone I-130s (as opposed to those filed together with the Form I-485) from the National Benefits Center to various service centers in an effort to reduce processing times.  Based in part on the transfer of those petitions, USCIS expects the processing of these Form I-130s to begin to improve and has a goal of an average processing time of five months by May 2014.  Current processing times are at 11 months, per USCIS reports.