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No Immigration Surprises in President’s Proposed Budget

President Trump’s proposed budget released by the White House earlier this week contains no real surprises when it comes to the immigration provisions. The budget supports President Trump’s promises to increase immigration enforcement, build a physical wall on the nation’s southern border, limit refugees, and reform the immigration system. Further, the budget requests the funds to implement the items contained in the president’s immigration executive orders signed in January.

What to Do When ICE Comes Knocking

The Trump administration’s tough rhetoric and early aggressive actions on immigration promise a period of increased worksite enforcement. With the administration’s strong statements against illegal immigration and abuses of the immigration system, including an executive order calling for 10,000 new U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, employers can expect an increased number of audits, raids, and investigations. Given this added scrutiny and the increased prospects of a fine or other penalty, employers may want to know their rights in the event of a worksite visit, and to review and update their protocols for responding to such visits.

Return of Petitions Not Selected in the H-1B Lottery Triggers “Cap Gap” Considerations

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on May 3, 2017, that data entry for the FY2018 H-1B visa lottery has been completed and that petitions not accepted under the lottery selection process will be returned. For cases for which an official receipt has not been issued, the returned petition is considered the official notice that the case was not selected in the lottery. This official notice from USCIS is critical for many employers with employees relying on “Cap Gap” for work authorization because the notice will determine when an impacted employee will lose his or her work authorization.

Congressional Spending Bill Reauthorizes Important Immigration Programs

On May 4, 2017, Congress passed an appropriations bill to fund the federal government through Fiscal Year 2017. The bill also extended four immigration programs through September 30, 2017. These programs are E-VERIFY, the Conrad 30 Waiver Program for foreign medical graduates working in underserved areas, the special immigrant non-minister religious work program and the EB-5 Regional Center Program.

USCIS Completes Data Entry for Petitions Selected in H-1B Lottery; Will Start Returning Unselected Petitions

On May 3, 2017, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the data entry process for all H-1B cap petitions selected in the FY 2018 H-1B cap lottery had been completed. USCIS will begin returning petitions that were not selected in the lottery; however, a specific timeframe for the return of unselected petitions has not been identified. USCIS is requesting that petitioning employers refrain from inquiring into the status of cap-subject petitions until employers have received a receipt notice or the returned cap-subject petition.

DHS Opens Office for Crime Victims of Alleged Illegal Immigrants

Secretary John Kelly of the DHS has announced the establishment of the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement Office (VOICE). The Office will enable victims or witnesses of crime allegedly perpetrated by illegal aliens to:

State Department Proposes Supplemental Questions for Visa Applicants

To evaluate terrorism or national security-related ineligibilities of visa applicants, the Department of State has requested emergency review and public comment on a new rule on the collection of additional information from some visa applicants.

Spending Bill Would Fund Government E-Verify, Certain Visa Programs through End of Fiscal Year

Back in December, President Barack Obama signed a stop-gap spending bill to keep the government running through April 28, 2017. Immigration programs that were extended at that time included the Conrad 30 Waiver, the Non-Minister Religious Worker Visa, the EB-5 Regional Center, and E-Verify.

Updated Green Card and EAD Designs Enhance Safety Features, No Changes for I-9 Purposes

Employers and I-9 professionals should be aware that starting Monday, May 1, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin issuing a redesigned Permanent Resident Card (also known as a “Green Card” or Form I-551) and Employment Authorization Document (EAD or Form I-766). While the updated Green Card and EAD will contain bolder imagery and a few enhanced safety and fraud deterrence features, the cards will continue to serve the same purpose for employers’ I-9 verification obligations.

President Trump’s Sanctuary City Executive Order blocked by California Judge

In the latest blow to President Trump’s immigration agenda, on Tuesday a federal judge in California blocked the Trump administration’s threat to withhold federal funds from so-called “sanctuary jurisdictions.” U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick imposed a nationwide injunction against President Trump’s executive order, “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” which was signed on January 25, 2017, just five days into his presidency. The city of Santa Clara and the city and county of San Francisco in two related actions challenged the constitutionality of Section 9 of the executive order via motions for preliminary injunction to enjoin its enforcement.