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ICE Now Taking More Opportunistic Approach to Employer Sanctions

Could you imagine losing your workers overnight for immigration reasons due to an unrelated investigation? Recent headlines about an April 5 immigration raid of a meat processing plant in Tennessee announced the biggest employment crackdown under the Trump administration. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) took 97 people into custody; 10 were arrested on federal immigration charges and one on state charges, while 86 were detained for being in the country illegally.

U.S. Supreme Court: Immigration Act Unconstitutionally Vague on Removal for Aggravated Felony

The Immigration and Nationality Act provides that any alien convicted of an “aggravated felony” after entering the United States is subject to deportation. The Supreme Court has decided, 5-4, that the statute’s defining an aggravated felony as “a crime of violence” is unconstitutionally vague. Sessions v. Dimaya, No. 15–1498 (Apr. 17, 2018). Justice Neil Gorsuch sided with the liberals on the Court.

FY 2019 H-1B Cap: USCIS Completes Random Selection Process

On April 11, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the completion of its “computer-generated” random selection process used to select H-1B petitions for the congressionally-mandated cap filing season for fiscal year (FY) 2019. USCIS previously announced on April 6, 2018, that it had reached the statutory cap of 65,000 H-1B petitions and the master’s cap of 20,000 petitions.

USCIS Pilot Program to Favor Advance Planning Over Border Adjudications for Canadian L-1s

According to a recent announcement, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be implementing a new pilot program, beginning April 30, 2018, purportedly “ to facilitate the adjudication and admission process of Canadians traveling to the U.S. as L-1 nonimmigrants” under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The program, which, for now, is being applied only at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) port of entry (POE) in Blaine, Washington, will jettison on-the-spot L-1 NAFTA adjudications at the POE, and direct U.S. employers to instead submit a Form I-129 petition, in addition to supporting evidence for Canadian citizens seeking to enter the United States as L-1 executives or managers, to the California Service Center. There will be no premium processing surcharge for this service. USCIS will collect fees, issue receipt notices, and adjudicate NAFTA L-1 applications for Blaine through October 31, 2018.

FY 2019 H-1B Visa Cap: USCIS Reaches Annual Cap in 5 Days

According to a recent U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announcement, “USCIS has reached the congressionally-mandated 65,000 H-1B visa cap for fiscal year 2019.” The fiscal year (FY) 2019) H-1B cap filing season launched on Monday, April 2, 2017 (since April 1, 2018 was a Sunday). On Friday, April 6, 2018, USCIS announced that it had already met both the 65,000 cap and the 20,000 U.S. advanced degree "master’s cap." USCIS will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions.

USCIS Announces Plan to Destroy Certain Undeliverable Immigration Documents After 60 Days

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that beginning April 2, 2018, permanent resident cards, employment authorization document cards (EADs), and travel documents (Advance Paroles) that are returned to USCIS as undeliverable by the U.S. Postal Service will be destroyed after 60 days. To prevent this, intended recipients must contact USCIS to provide a correct address in a timely manner.

ICE Raids Tennessee Meatpacking Plant, Apprehends and Detains Dozens

In what appears to be the largest worksite enforcement raid under the current administration, ICE arrested 97 immigrants at a meatpacking plant in Tennessee. Eighty-six of the people apprehended were arrested on immigration charges. According to reports, ICE has detained 54 individuals.

Immigration Enforcement: What Employers Need to Know

With the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) tripling its number of officers and quintupling the number of enforcement actions in 2018, employers need to be proactive and ensure that their Form I-9 practices are in compliance. Otherwise, employers can be exposed to audits, fines and/or criminal prosecutions, which could include prison time.

Business Immigration Zone (BIZ): Religious Worker Visas

Religious worker visa options are available to religious organizations that may consider hiring religious personnel. Ministers or religious workers may enter the United States to work full time in a compensated position if they have been members of a bona fide religious organization for at least two years prior to seeking a visa.

USCIS Suspends Premium Processing for Fiscal Year 2019 H-1B Cap Petitions

On March 21, 2018, USCIS announced that it will again temporarily suspend premium processing for all fiscal year (FY) 2019 cap-subject H-1B petitions. For an additional filing fee, premium processing allows employers to request faster processing of certain employment-based petitions and applications. USCIS expects this suspension will last from April 2, 2018 through September 10, 2018. During the suspension, USCIS will continue to accept premium processing requests for H-1B petitions that are not subject to the FY 2019 cap and for petitions that meet USCIS’s “expedite criteria.”