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Ice Raids Continue, When Will They Hit Northeast?

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids are continuing with the latest being a grocery store in San Diego, California and a factory in Sanford, North Carolina. In the latest raid or “Judicial Warrant Enforcement Action” as ICE refers to them, 26 employees at Zion Market, a popular Korean grocery store, were taken into custody by ICE for failure to have valid work authorization. At the same time, ICE agents executed a federal search warrant at the business.

Key Immigration Considerations During Mergers and Acquisitions, Part II: Green Cards

Part one of this two-part series outlined common considerations related to temporary work visas employers may have during the due diligence process of a merger, acquisition, or other corporate restructuring. Part two will cover key considerations for employers during a pre-close assessment of impacted foreign national workers—this time, regarding green card processing.

USCIS Resumes H-1B Premium Processing

Without warning, USCIS announced that as of March 12, 2019, it is resuming premium processing for all H-1B petitions. This means that for an additional fee of $1,410, USCIS will guarantee a 15-calendar day processing time. By the close of the 15th day, USCIS will issue an approval, a denial, or a Request for Evidence (RFE). If the 15-day guarantee is not met, USCIS will refund the $1,410 fee.

Key Immigration Considerations During Mergers and Acquisitions, Part I: Work Visas

In the context of mergers, acquisitions, and other corporate restructurings, during the due diligence process, employers often overlook the immigration-related considerations related to impacted foreign national workers. However, failure to complete a pre-close assessment of impacted foreign national workers, including assessments of work visa statuses and lawful permanent resident (e.g., green card) processes, can have negative consequences. Depending on the employee’s visa type and the nature of the corporate restructuring, some temporary work visas may not be eligible for transfer to the new employing entity.

USCIS Reinstates Premium Processing for All H-1B Petitions—Effective Immediately

Effective immediately, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has resumed premium processing for all H-1B petitions. The resumption applies to new petitions as well as those that are pending with USCIS. USCIS’s announcement does not discuss whether premium processing will be available for upcoming filings for quota-subject H-1B petitions, which begins on April 1, 2019.

An H-1B Primer for the Cap Season and Beyond

H-1B visas have long been a popular choice for employers, but this mainstay of the non-immigrant visa class presents employers with a number of challenges, including competition for limited numbers of visas, increased scrutiny, and some new procedural twists that are being developed. Miguel Manna will explain the current state-of-play for the H-1B visa and share his insights to help employers plan appropriately.

H-1B Cap: Critical Filing Dates for FY 2020

Employers seeking to sponsor H-1B workers for fiscal year 2020 can begin filing petitions on April 1, 2019, for a start date of October 1, 2019. The H-1B visa is used by businesses that want to employ foreign nationals to work in a specialty occupation requiring theoretical or technical expertise. For FY 2020, cases will be considered accepted on the date the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) takes possession of the petition, not on the date the petition was postmarked.

USCIS Reports on Lagging Processing Times

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) processing times continue to lag compared to previous years, according to data recently released by the agency. This is especially true for foreign nationals with pending green card applications whose average wait time has increased from six-and-a-half months in fiscal year (FY) 2015 (October 1 through September 30) to more than a year in the first quarter of FY2019. Wait times are not expected to improve anytime soon.

USCIS Delays Implementation of Revised Form I-539 and New Form I-539A

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the agency is postponing the implementation of the revised Form I-539 and the new Form I-539A. USCIS will continue to accept the current Form I-539, with the “12/23/16” edition date, until the close of business on March 21, 2019. USCIS had planned to implement the new forms on March 11, 2019—the same day it released them to the public—but agreed to provide a transition period after considering public feedback, according to representatives. This is a welcome development, as foregoing a grace period may have caused some foreign nationals to fall out of status if their applications had been postmarked by, but not received before, March 11.

USCIS Data Confirms Increase in RFEs and Denials, Especially for H-1Bs

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released new data confirming that both requests for evidence (RFEs) and denials are on the rise for many nonimmigrant visa categories. The rates for RFEs and denials, which had been gradually increasing for several years, jumped sharply in fiscal year (FY) 2018, which was when President Trump released his “Buy American and Hire American” executive order.