Nov
29

Will Executive Action for Parents Ever Happen?

On November 10, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ordered to uphold an injunction against deferred action benefits for a broader group of students and parents of U.S. citizens. Over the last few days, I have spoken with countless people to clarify the confusion over the effect of the ruling, the future for the deferred action benefits, and the status of the first round of DACA benefits. So here is the breakdown:

First: The 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals 

In the summer of 2012 President Obama announced Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals “DACA”, or...

Nov
1

Immigration Courts Must Consider Conditional Parole as an Alternative to Bond

In recent years, Immigration Judges (“IJs”) have universally denied requests for conditional parole under section 236(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”). IJs countrywide read this statutory provision to mean that a minimum $1,500 bond is required for releasing a detained immigrant. As a result of this interpretation, many indigent and low-income immigrants stay locked up in detention facilities because they could not afford to pay monetary bonds. Many of these individuals do not pose any public safety concerns, and alternative release conditions would...

Oct
11

New Rules, More Planning - the need to act now for H-2Bs in 2016

H-2B Temporary Visas Changes Make Now the Time to Act

Employers can seek to hire foreign nationals from certain countries to perform nonagricultural labor of services in the United States through the H-2B program.  H-2B visas can be issued for both skilled and unskilled labor in the United States, although H-2B visas are more typically issued for the landscaping, construction, and tourism and hospitality industries. 

In April 2015, the Department of Labor (DOL) and Department Homeland Security published new regulations that made many changes to the H-2B program.  These changes make

  • Sep
    21

    STEM and Extended OPT - forcing regulations for the future

    D.C. Court Vacates STEM Rule, but Allows DHS to Remedy Problem - WLG Expects STEM Program to Remain Unchanged

    In a decision last week, on August 12, 2015, a district court in Washington D.C. decided to vacate a 2008 rule by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that allowed an additional 17 months of work authorization to eligible Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) students in F-1 status.  A main issue in the lawsuit was whether DHS exceeded its authority by issuing the 2008 rule without notice and comment to the public.  DHS argued that it had good cause to...

    Jun
    28

    Lost in the H-1B Lottery - What Are My Options Now?

    This year, USCIS received over 233,000 H-1B petitions for this fiscal year 2016, which exceeds last year’s count (172,500) by over 60,000 petitions.  As you likely know, there is a general statutory cap of 65,000 for H-1B petitions in a given fiscal year, with an additional 20,000 available under the advanced degree exception known as the masters cap.  Through its computer-generated lottery system, USCIS first selects petitions for the masters cap.  Any unselected petitions in this category then become part of the 65,000 general cap selection.  On April 7, 2015, USCIS announced that...

    Jun
    28

    Lessons Learned from the Department of State Hardware Failure

    In the past two weeks, hardware computer problems halted the issuance of thousands of visas and passports at US consulates and embassies throughout the world.  As of yesterday, two thirds of consular posts are up and running again, sending visas and passports to anxious applicants.  For some, this presented a small inconvenience or had no effect at all.  Other families faced hardship, missing births of children and experiencing financial hardship with extended hotel stays. Thankfully, the Department of State was able to proceed with humanitarian or emergency requests on a case-by-case...

    Mar
    10

    Certain H-4 Dependents Now Eligible for Work Permits as of 05/26/2015

    One of President Obama’s executive actions announced in November 2014 was to amend its regulations to extend work authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses in an effort to improve the U.S. immigration system and provide greater economic stability to affected families.  USCIS announced last month that it will begin accepting employment authorization applications for eligible H-4 spouses on Tuesday, May 26, 2015

    It is important to note that the eligible H-4 derivative applicants are limited to the following individuals who are:

    dependent H-4 spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who are the...
    Mar
    10

    Florida Court Stops DOL From Applying H-2B Regulations, Which Means DOL Cannot Process Prevailing Wage Determinations for H-2B Requests

    In a decision dated March 4, 2015, a federal district court in Florida found that the Department of Labor did not have authority to issue its regulations in 2008, which direct the agency how to process prevailing wage requests and labor certifications, among other things.  The result of the court’s decision is that the DOL can no longer process requests for prevailing wage determinations or applications for foreign labor certification in the H-2B program pursuant the regulations.  The DOL has indicated that it is considering its options in light of the court‘s decision.

    Mar
    10

    H-2B Cap Reached for 1st Half of Fiscal Year 2015

    H-2B visas are temporary, non-agricultural visas that are issued to workers in a variety of fields, including construction, landscaping, and tourism.  There is a numerical limit (cap) of 66,000 on the total number of H-2B visas that may be issued during a fiscal year, which is from October 1 to September 30.  The fiscal numbers are divided in half for H-2B visas, with 33,000 being allocated for employment beginning the first half of the fiscal year (October 1 to March 31) and the remaining amount (33,000) allocated for work beginning the second half of the fiscal year from April 1 to...

    Jan
    20

    Important TPS Updates Affecting Syrian and El Salvadoran Nationals

    Last week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) made two important announcements regarding temporary protected status (TPS) for individuals from Syria and El Salvador. TPS is a benefit available to eligible individuals from specific countries that have been designated as in need of temporary protection due to conditions such as armed conflict, natural disasters, or other extraordinary circumstances.

    On January 5, 2015, DHS announced that it is redesigning Syria for TPS and extending the current designation through September 30, 2016. If you are a Syrian national and have never applied...

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