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TPS Maintained and Extended for Certain Countries

Posted November 8, 2018Articles

The Trump administration has sought to end long-established protections for certain individuals from Sudan, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Haiti. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a Federal Register notice that temporarily preserves Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designations previously scheduled by DHS to lose TPS designation over the next year. 

The notice was published to comply with an early October preliminary injunction issued against DHS by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.  The injunction requires DHS to preserve TPS designations for the above listed countries pending litigation on the issue of whether DHS acted lawfully in terminating their TPS status.  

The agency is simultaneously appealing the injunction order to a higher court, seeking to fulfill its plan to terminate the TPS designations in the shorter term. In the meantime, key provisions of the DHS plan, effective immediately, are as follows:

Temporary extensions for Sudan and Nicaragua

  • TPS Employment Authorization Documents (EADs), Forms I-797 Approval Notices, and Forms I-94 for nationals of Sudan and Nicaragua are automatically extended through April 2, 2019, provided they meet certain registration and documentary requirements set forth in the Federal Register notice.
  • USCIS will issue EADs valid through April 2, 2019 to TPS beneficiaries from Sudan and Nicaragua who have applied for an EAD, and have been approved for recent re-registration or who have a pending re-registration application with USCIS.

Haiti and El Salvador expiration dates remain in place for now

  • TPS employment authorization documents for Haiti and El Salvador are unaffected by the new USCIS notice, as these designations are set to expire after April, 2, 2019.
  • TPS expiration for El Salvador will remain at September 9, 2019.
  • TPS expiration for Haiti will remain at July 22, 2019.

TPS termination dates for Nepal and Honduras are not affected by the preliminary injunction or today’s Federal Register notice, as the countries are not included in the Ramos case.  TPS for Nepal is set to expire on June 24, 2019 and Honduras on January 5, 2020.

Impact on employers and foreign nationals

I-9 employment eligibility verification:  Sudanese and Nicaraguan TPS beneficiaries eligible for automatic EAD extensions may complete or update their I-9 employment eligibility records by providing an employer with a copy of today’s Federal Register notice, an eligible expiring or expired TPS EAD, and any other required I-9 documents.  The Federal Register notice provides specific instructions on proper completion of an I-9 form to reflect an automatically extended TPS EAD.

New EADs: While it is not necessary for Sudanese and Nicaraguan TPS nationals to obtain a new EAD in order to benefit from the automatic EAD extension, they may do so by filing a Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) with USCIS.

Pending TPS and/or EAD applications: If a pending application is approved, approval notices and document expiration dates will reflect the Federal Register’s automatic extension dates.  There is no need for a foreign national to file either application again in order to benefit from the extension.

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USCIS Expands Information Services Modernization Program

Posted October 30, 2018Kristen KellarArticles

On October 30, 2018, USCIS announced that it is expanding its Information Services Modernization Program that was piloted in select cities earlier this year. The program ends self-scheduling of InfoPass appointments in certain cities and favors contacting the USCIS National Customer Service Center to have issues resolved. If a Tier 1 officer is unable to address the request over the phone, the officer will escalate the call to a Tier 2 officer who will determine if an InfoPass appointment is necessary and help schedule an appointment. The purpose of the pilot program is to cut down on the number of InfoPass appointments made for inquiries that could be addressed by the National Customer Service Center. Appointments requested for issues other than document services and emergencies may be refused by USCIS.

Beginning on November 13, 2018, the Detroit Field Office and five offices in the Los Angeles District will implement the Information Services Modernization Program. The program will later expand to the Newark, Great Lakes, and San Francisco districts by the end of the year. The program is already in effect in the the following cities: Hartford, CT; El Paso, TX; Jacksonville, FL; Sacramento, CA; and San Francisco, CA. USCIS expects implementation by all field offices by Fall 2019.

Individuals living in the areas covered by the program can schedule an appointment by calling the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1 (800) 375-5283. The appointment can be requested with the Tier 1 officer, who will then escalate the call to a Tier 2 officer to confirm that an InfoPass appointment is necessary and appropriate. Appointments can also be requested by contacting USCIS online at Appointments requested for issues other than document services and emergencies may be refused by USCIS.  

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Impact of Changes to NAFTA on Immigration

Posted October 21, 2018Matthew MeltzerArticles

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is currently being renegotiated between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. NAFTA provides significant immigration benefits to Canadians and Mexican citizens in the form of:

- TN visas for individuals in certain occupations

- E-2 visas for investors, managers, and specialized employees of Canadian and Mexican owned companies

- L-1 visa processing for Canadian citizens directly at the US-Canada border

The new United States, Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA) is expected to maintain those immigration benefits. Canadian and Mexican nationals with existing TN, E-2 and L-1 visas are not expected to be affected. At this time, we expect the processes for applying for TN, E-2 and L-1 visas to remain the same.

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USCIS Proposes H-1B Cap Registration System

Posted October 21, 2018Matthew MeltzerH-1B

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services is expected to propose a regulation that would change the filing process for the H-1B cap. Currently, USCIS accepts complete petitions for the H-1B cap during the first five business days of April on years when the number of petitions submitted exceeds the 85,000 available visas allotted. USCIS only accepts complete petitions that are correctly completed.

USCIS director Cissna has stated that he hopes to make a change to the process effective for the H-1B cap in April 2019 for the Fiscal Year 2020 H-1B cap. Given standard regulatory time lines it may be difficult for USCIS to propose and put into place a new regulation regarding the H-1B cap process in time for April, 2019.

While the proposal has not been made official yet, we expect USCIS to create a two-step process for H-1B cap petitions. In the first stage USCIS would accept a limited registration petition for submission to the lottery. Those petitions that are selected in the lottery would then be requested to submit a complete petition.

Without a formal proposal we cannot know what the turnaround time for submission for the second stage would be. This turnaround period will be critical in determining how Meltzer Hellrung processes future H-1B cap petitions.

USCIS may also create a waiting list to select additional petitions if insufficient approvals are granted due to the number of denied or withdrawn petitions.

Meltzer Hellrung will continue to track this issue closely.

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Potential Immigration Impact of the Legalization of Cannabis in Canada

Posted October 18, 2018Articles

On October 17, 2018, Canada's new cannabis legalization law went into effect. The use, possession, and distribution of cannabis remain illegal under U.S. federal law, so it's important to keep that in mind from an immigration perspective.

While U.S. Customs and Border Protection does not intend to ask all visitors entering the U.S. about cannabis use, questions may arise in some instances such as if officers smell marijuana or if CBP dogs detect the drug. If asked, travelers should not lie about their drug use, however, they should be aware that illegal drug use can result in the traveler being found inadmissible to the U.S. Other potential consequences include, but are not limited to, denial of entry, denial of a visa, denial of the visa waiver program (ESTA), or losing trusted traveler privileges such as NEXUS.

Individuals who work in the legal marijuana industry in Canada will likely be admissible so long as the purpose of travel to the U.S. is not related to the marijuana industry. If the travel is related to the industry, CBP may deem the traveler inadmissible.

If you have an questions about inadmissibility please reach out to your designated Meltzer Hellrung LLC attorney.

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