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Business Immigration Zone (BIZ): Employers Get Ready - The 2018 H-1B Season Is Here

The April 1, 2018, deadline for H-1B visa petitions will be here soon. If last year is any indication, employers have to prepare H-1B petitions now because this year’s H-1B cap will likely be reached by April 8, 2018. Employers should focus their attention on evaluating and determining their labor needs in the upcoming months with the anticipation of a limited supply of H-1B visas.

USCIS to Resume Accepting Applications to Renew DACA

On January 13, 2018, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it has resumed accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. On September 5, 2017, the Trump administration announced that it would formally end the DACA program.

Business Immigration Zone (BIZ): Worksite Enforcement Is Back and Employers Should Take Note

Federal immigration agents bombarded 7-Eleven convenience stores across the country on January 10, arresting alleged undocumented employees and demanding employment verification paperwork from managers. The Trump administration described this operation as its largest worksite enforcement operation against employers to date. These types of worksite enforcement actions likely will continue for the foreseeable future, so employers should start the New Year by making sure their employment eligibility verification policies and documents are in order.

Business Immigration Zone (BIZ): Federal Judge Relies on Presidential Tweets to Block DACA Phase Out and Prevent Job Losses

Companies who employ DACA beneficiaries can rest easier – at least for now. On Tuesday, January 9, 2018, San Francisco U.S. District Judge William Alsup granted an injunction, blocking President Trump’s attempt to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”), a federal program that protects young undocumented immigrants from deportation. In his ruling, Judge Alsup determined DACA should be left in place until lawsuits concerning DACA’s legality are concluded.

Nationwide 7-Eleven Immigration Raids Herald New Worksite Enforcement Strategy

Slurpees are not the only ICE-y things being served at 7-Eleven these days. For the second time in five years, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raided dozens of 7-Eleven stores across the country in search of undocumented workers and managers who knowingly employ them. Yesterday’s raids involved 98 stores in 17 states from coast to coast, and resulted in at least 21 arrests.

ICE Announces Enforcement Priorities, Raids Nearly 100 7-Eleven Stores

On January 10, 2018 ICE issued a press release setting forth its three-pronged approach to worksite enforcement compliance: “compliance, through I-9 inspections, civil fines and referrals for debarment; enforcement, through the arrest of employers, knowingly employing undocumented workers, and the arrest of unauthorized workers for violation of laws associated with working without authorization; and outreach, through the ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers (IMAGE) program, to instill a culture of compliance and accountability.”

2018 Begins With Early Signs of Increased Worksite Enforcement Action

As it signaled in late 2017,1 the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s investigative arm) began 2018 with an increased emphasis on targeting employers and unauthorized employees through worksite enforcement action. Employers are now seeing the reported orders come to fruition and should expect more actions going forward.2

Government Not Ending H-1B Extensions, USCIS Says

Reports about the possible elimination of AC-21 extensions (for H-1B workers awaiting green cards) are now being denied by the government. The USCIS is attempting to quell fears caused by rumors that the Administration would eliminate H extensions beyond the six-year limit for certain individuals unable to file the last step in permanent residency, adjustment of status, because of per-country limits.

Trump Administration Rumored to Be Looking at H-1B Extensions Under AC21

Recently, we have seen several news stories discussing a rumored government proposal to eliminate H-1B extensions beyond the standard six-year limit. No such action has yet been taken, and to date H-1B visa holders may continue to request extensions based on the provisions of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (AC21). Under current law, extensions beyond the initial H-1B period of six years are available to foreign nationals with pending green card petitions. The law that enables beyond-limit extensions, commonly known as AC21, mainly benefits persons born in India and China, who are subject to lengthy green card backlogs.

Possible Changes to H-1B Extension Rules and Their Potential Implications

According to a news report,1 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is considering ending the ability to extend H-1B visas beyond the six-year limit of authorized stay. Historically, the extensions have been possible pursuant to the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (AC21), which previous administrations have interpreted as allowing such extensions. The current administration is reconsidering this interpretation in light of the administration’s “Buy America, Hire American” initiative. As this news report has caused significant concern for clients and employees, we have outlined below the potential implications of any reinterpretation of AC21 below.