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Federal Court Judge Quashes Challenge to Revised Visa Bulletin Dates

A U.S. District Court in Seattle has ruled that the U.S. Department of State’s Visa Bulletin which governs how immigrant visas subject to numerical limitations are allocated, and indicates when intending immigrants may apply for the last stage of the permanent visa process is not a final agency action or decision and, therefore, cannot be challenged in court. While it is estimated that 20,000 or more individuals relied upon the published dates to initiate filings prior to the roll-back, Chief Judge Ricardo S. Martinez determined that the court lacked jurisdiction because the bulletin does not constitute a final action under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but instead merely sets out “informative” data.

Department of Homeland Security Now Accepting Comments on Its Proposed Filing Fee Increase

Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued notice of a proposed rule that would update the application fee schedule for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), noting an overall substantial increase in fees for certain visa categories in order to recover costs for USCIS services.

Department of Homeland Security Proposes USCIS Fee Increases

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has proposed increasing the fees that United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) charges for certain immigration and naturalization filings. The proposal would increase USCIS fees by a weighted average of 21 percent and add one new fee specific to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.

Final Policy Memorandum Provides Needed Predictability and Guidance on Job Portability Determinations

On March 18, 2016, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a final policy memorandum that offers guidance on determining whether a new job is in “the same or similar occupational classification” for purposes of applying the job portability provisions of section 204(j) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). This memorandum will apply to all section 204(j) determinations pending or filed with USCIS as of March 21, 2016. While the memorandum is intended to provide clarity to USCIS Immigration Services Officers (ISOs) applying the job portability provisions of 204(j) when adjudicating employment-based immigrant visa petitions, the policy memorandum is equally informative for U.S. employers and their foreign workers seeking clarity regarding the impact that a potential job change may have on a foreign worker’s employment-based permanent residency application.

New DHS Final Rule on Additional STEM Optional Practical Training, Effective May 10, 2016

The Department of Homeland Security has begun implementing the new, additional 24 months of F-1 Optional Practical Training (“OPT”) work authorization for foreign students with a STEM major. This is a major in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.

Many Tennessee Employers Will Soon Be Required To Use E-Verify

Tennessee’s state immigration law just received an important update by the state legislature and Governor, and many employers in the state will soon be impacted. Beginning January 1, 2017, all Tennessee businesses with 50 or more employees will be required to use the E-verify system in order to determine workers’ eligibility for employment. If you currently do not use E-Verify, the time to begin preparing is now.

USCIS Announces Date for Start of H-1B Cap Premium Processing

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that on May 12, 2016, it will it will begin the 15 calendar day processing timeline for cap-subject H-1B petitions requesting premium processing. USCIS provides an expedited “premium processing” service for certain employment-based petitions. For non-cap-subject petitions, including H-1B and other nonimmigrant visa classifications, the 15-day processing period typically begins on the date USCIS receives the request. However, for cap-subject H-1B petitions filed in April, USCIS has historically taken additional time to complete intake and computerized random selection of the petitions for further processing prior to starting the 15-day adjudication period.

17-Month EAD Holders Seeking Full 24 Months under New STEM OPT Rule Must be Quick

The Department of Homeland Security’s final rule on optional practical training (OPT) work authorization for foreign nationals in F-1 status with science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) degrees from U.S. institutions will go into effect on May 10, 2016. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) then will begin accepting applications to extend an initial 12-month period of OPT work authorization for an additional 24 months — a welcomed increase from the old rule’s 17-month extension period.

HR Intel: The Battle Over Immigration Heats Up

Throughout the presidential election primary season, immigration has been used as a wedge issue by the candidates on both sides.

Supreme Court’s Decision on Future of DACA and DAPA

Supreme Court argument has taken place in United States v. Texas, a high-stakes, hotly contested case on the Administration’s executive programs that deferred possible deportation of millions of undocumented individuals. The Court’s expected June decision is likely to have far-reaching implications for employers.