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Will Ending Government Shutdown Turn on DACA?

Is it possible that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program might be the key to ending the government shutdown? A DACA-for-border-funding compromise that was taken off the table a year ago is again being talked about by some lawmakers. Here is an update on where DACA stands.

E-Verify Procedures During the Government Shutdown

When the federal government partially shut down on December 22, 2018, so did E-Verify, the online system for verifying a new hire’s eligibility to work. Employers that are obligated to or have chosen to use E-Verify have probably already received this message from the E-Verify website: "NOTICE: Due to the lapse in federal funding, this website will not be actively managed. E-Verify and E-Verify services are unavailable.”

E-Verify Suspended Due to the Government Shutdown

The holiday season may already feel like a distant memory and five-day workweeks may once again be the norm, but not everything is back to business as usual for U.S. employers this January. E-Verify, the electronic system used by more than 750,000 companies to confirm employment eligibility for new hires, has been temporarily suspended due to a lapse in government funding. As the partial government shutdown nears the three-week mark, many employers are left wondering how the suspension of E-Verify could affect their businesses.

E-Verify Not Available During Government Shutdown

In addition to closing national parks and museums, stopping most IRS operations and furloughing thousands of government employees, the ongoing government shutdown has also shuttered the federal E-Verify program.

Time to Prepare for the 2019 H-1B Cap Season

Although the number of petitions filed has decreased slightly over the past couple of years, the H-1B cap has been reached every year for the last six years. Due to the high demand, businesses must be ready to file their H-1B petitions on April 1, 2019. Thus, it is time to start strategizing and preparing now.

H-2B Visas in High Demand for Fiscal Year 2019

On December 6, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reached the statutory numerical limit or “cap” on the number of petitions for temporary nonagricultural workers “who may be issued H-2B visas or otherwise granted H-2B status” for the first half of fiscal year (FY) 2019, thus completing one of the briefest cap periods for the first half of the year in more than five years. In addition, USCIS announced that the total number of cap-subject H-2B petitions received exceeded the number of H-2B visas available, suggesting that demand for the temporary visa continues to grow.

Massive Changes To H-1B System Proposed For 2019

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently proposed a new rule that could dramatically change the way the H-1B application process works. The rule would establish an electronic pre-registration system and run the annual lottery based on the pre-registrations rather than requiring employers to file entire H-1B applications. The DHS is also considering changing the way it conducts the lottery to improve the odds of those with graduate degrees from U.S. universities. While U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is providing 30 days for public comment, the agency is attempting to fast-track the process to have the system in place for the upcoming H-1B application period, which is set to begin in April 2019.

USCIS Releases Policy Memo on L-1 Visa Work Requirement

USCIS has released a policy memorandum clarifying the “one continuous year out of three years” L-1 requirement refers to the time before the individual’s filing.

DHS Proposes H-1B Registration System and Creates Uncertainty Heading Into Cap Season

On December 3, 2018, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) introduced a new plan that would require employers to pre-register all potential H-1B candidates for selection in the H-1B lottery. Pursuant to the proposal, an employer would be permitted to submit an H-1B petition only on behalf of a candidate whose registration was selected by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). DHS believes that the registration system will streamline the H-1B application process by limiting the total number of petitions filed by employers and adjudicated by USCIS. DHS hopes to have the new registration process operational by the start of cap season on April 1, 2019. The proposal does, however, include a provision that allows USCIS to delay implementation if the registration system is not yet ready.

Amendments to H-1B Visa Regulations Proposed

The Department of Homeland Security has published a much-anticipated notice of proposed rulemaking affecting the H-1B visa process. Public comments must be submitted by January 2, 2019.