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Category: Immigration Reform

Summary of Proposed Republican “Compromise” Immigration Bill

Posted June 25, 2018Karen GillespieArticles, Immigration Reform

Republicans in the House of Representatives have delayed a vote on their “compromise” immigration bill. This name refers to a compromise within the Republican party rather than a bipartisan bill. No Democrats have supported the bill thus far. This delayed vote comes on the heels of a failed vote on a more conservative Republican immigration bill. While the structure of the bill may change between now and the final version that comes to the floor likely sometime this week, the current pillars of the bill are as follows:

  1. Border Security. Provides $25 billion to be used in constructing a wall along the US-Mexico border as well as additional border security measures requested by the White House. The bill also requires additional “heightened” scrutiny for visa applicants including an additional visa security fee. Other security measures include restriction on US Consulates’ ability to waive interviews and broadened ability to deny visa applications without interviews. Some of the other heightened scrutiny includes screening of social media and continuous screening for the duration of a visa holder’s visit to the US.
  2. End to Family Separation. Requires that families be kept together for the duration of detention by the Dept. of Homeland Security.
  3. DACA and children of non-immigrant visa holders. Includes a merit-based path to permanent residency and ultimately citizenship for DACA-eligible individuals and certain children of E-1, E-2, H-1B, and L-1 visa holders.
  4. Permanent Residency. Per-Country limitations for employment-based immigrant visas would be removed and 65,000 immigrant visas currently allocated to family-based applications would be transfer to employment-based programs. The Diversity lottery would be eliminated and two categories of family sponsorship, married children and siblings of US Citizens, would cease to exist.

Meltzer Hellrung LLC will continue to provide updates about legislative changes to immigration laws.

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Preparing for the Possible End of the H-4 EAD Program

Posted February 8, 2018Karen GillespieArticles, H-1B, Immigration Reform

The H-4 EAD program allows the spouses of H-1B employees who have reached the I-140 milestone of the green card process to apply for work authorization. These individuals can then seek employment at a U.S. company or engage in self-employment. The Trump Administration has signaled that it intends to end the program first by refusing to defend the program in court and then by including a proposed rule to terminate the program in its agenda. While none of these moves explicitly end the H-4 EAD program, many employers are concerned that current employees on the H-4 EAD program will soon be without work authorization. In instances where the company desires to retain the employee, now is a good time to evaluate what, if any, other work visa options are available to the employee.

Importantly, if the H-4 EAD employee has at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent and their current position typically requires the same, he or she may be eligible for the H-1B program. Conveniently, this is the time of year for the H-1B cap lottery, which occurs only once a year in April. If you believe an H-4 EAD employee may qualify for an H-1B visa you should have his or her case evaluated promptly. If you have other questions about preparing for the H-1B cap, please see our recent blog post on the issue.

Depending on the education, citizenship, and job offer there may be other work visa options available to H-4 EAD employees, as well. If you are interested in having an H-4 EAD employee’s options evaluated, please reach out to Meltzer Hellrung LLC to set up a consultation call.

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International Entrepreneur Rule Litigation

Posted September 19, 2017Matthew MeltzerEntrepreneurship, Immigration Reform

Several plaintiffs have jointly sued the Trump administration's USCIS and Department of Homeland Security over the delay in implementation of the International Entrepreneur Rule. We are proud to represent one of those plaintiffs, Occasion. The lawsuit has been brought in US District Court for the District of Columbia.

The International Entrepreneur Rule was slated to go into effect in July. The rule would have allowed a small number of entrepreneurs the opportunity to enter the US through parole if they met the following standards:

  • The company was founded within the last five years
  • The individual entrepreneur owned at least 10% of the company
  • The company had received significant funding through either:
    • $250,000 from traditional venture capital investors
    • $100,000 from governmental resources
    • There is a catch-all provision that allows other compelling evidence to be demonstrated for the potential for rapid growth and job creation

Just before the rule was to take effect the Trump administration delayed the implementation of the rule until March 2018. The administration justified the delay stating it would give them time to reconsider the rule in light of one of President Trump's executive orders regarding the granting of parole. The administration has admitted that this delay is a de facto repeal of the Rule and that is highly likely the regulation will be ultimately rescinded.

The named plaintiffs have sued the Trump administration arguing that the delay in implementation of the International Entrepreneur Rule is a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. The Department of Homeland Security has not followed traditional notice and comment procedures in delaying the implementation of the Rule. The administration has justified this action under the "good cause exception to public participation" in the Administrative Procedure Act which allows an agency to dispense with notice and comment in extraordinary circumstances.

Plaintiffs have stated in their complaint that the Department of Homeland Security has relied on an unlawful use of the "good cause exception". Courts have narrowly construed the "good cause exception". We are hopeful that the court will follow precedent in the DC Circuit and find that the agency has unlawfully delayed implementation without allowing notice and comment.

Plaintiffs have asked the court to enjoin USCIS from delaying the effective date of the International Entrepreneur Rule and require that the government immediately begin accepting and adjudicating applications from international entrepreneurs.

We are proud to support Occasion in their pursuit of justice. 

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DACA to be Phased Out Over Six Months

Posted September 8, 2017Kristen KellarArticles, Immigration Reform

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced this week that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program would be phased out over the next six months. The purpose of DACA was to provide certain individuals who entered the United States as a child a temporary work permit and protection from deportation. DACA is granted in two-year increments for those who met eligibility criteria.

Individuals who currently have DACA will continue to hold it and their work authorization (EADs) until the expiration date. If the individual’s DACA and EAD card expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018, they must submit their renewal request by October 5, 2017. Applications received later will be rejected.

Current DACA recipients will be permitted to retain both the period of deferred action and their employment authorization documents (EADs) until they expire, unless terminated or revoked. DACA benefits are generally valid for two years from the date of issuance.

USCIS has stopped accepting any initial requests received on or after September 6, 2017. Application received prior to that date will be adjudicated.

The Department of Homeland Security has provided an FAQ regarding its handling of the DACA program.

Meltzer Hellrung LLC has supported the preservation of DACA or a similar legislative solution such as the DREAM Act.

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Immigrant Entrepreneur Rule Delayed Until March 2018

Posted July 11, 2017Kristen KellarEntrepreneurship, Immigration Reform

The International Entrepreneur Rule that was set to go into effect this month, has been delayed until March 14, 2018. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced its decision to delay the Rule so it can further review its effect and a proposal to rescind the Rule entirely. DHS will also allow for public comments to be submitted on the proposal until August 10, 2017.

Were the rule to go into effect as planned, it would have allowed for parole and work authorization to be granted to entrepreneurs for up to 30 months. Entrepreneurs could then apply for an extension for an additional 30 months.

The Rule published to the Federal Register by the DHS on July 11, 2017 states it is “highly likely” that the Rule will ultimately be rescinded. We will continue to keep our clients updated as we learn more.

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