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STEM OPT Worksite Inspections

Posted July 25, 2019Stephanie WedelArticles

As an update to the previous post regarding Increased Immigration Enforcement Activities, The Department of Homeland Security has announced that  Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will be conducting on-site inspections for individuals on STEM OPT employment to ensure compliance with the STEM OPT regulations and the individual training plans for the foreign national employees or trainees. They will also visit third-party client sites as well.

Notification of a Site Visit

Typically, ICE is required to provide 48 hours’ advanced notice before conducting a random STEM OPT site visit.  However, no notice is required where there has been a complaint made with ICE, or where there is evidence indicating noncompliance with program rules. Best practices Your organization should have a designated point of contact to meet with ICE officials. Any STEM OPT employees or trainees, as well as their managers should also be aware of the potential for a site visit, as well as what to expect during a site visit.

When an ICE officer arrives, you should request to see the officer’s credentials and business card. You should also keep record of the officer’s name, title, and contact information. The officer will likely request to speak to the employee or trainee as well as the manager. The designated point of contact should accompany the officer and document the visit.

You should report any site visits to your designated Meltzer Hellrung attorney.

What to expect

The officer will likely request a copy of the I-983 training plan, as well as to speak with the employee or trainee and their manager.  Typically, the officer will ask questions relating to the following:

  • The information provided on the I-983 training plan
  • The work/training the trainee is performing
  • How the trainee’s degree program relates to the position
  • Types of supervision provided

The officer may request to see the worksite and may take photographs.  If this occurs, the designated point of contact should request copies of the photos that are taken. Once the visit is complete, if the officer has additional questions or determines updated information is needed, the request should be issued in writing.  If the officer was not able to obtain all the information they need, they may follow up with the organization either by email or phone.  They may also request an additional visit.

Please contact your designated Meltzer Hellrung attorney with any questions.    

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CBP Updates I-94 Group Application Procedures

Posted July 24, 2019Kristen KellarArticles

On July 9, 2019, U.S. Customs and Border Protection updated its group application procedure, allowing I-94 applicants travelling through a land border crossing to pre-apply for a provisional I-94 as a group using an Excel file. Group travelers should use the template provided by CBP. The group can consist of up to 100 individuals who do not all need to travel on the same day. Individuals crossing a land border in a group may want to consider using the group upload rather than completing a provisional I-94 application individually for each applicant.

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I-539 Applicants Are No Longer Eligible for “Courtesy” Premium Processing

Posted July 24, 2019Articles

With the addition of the new biometrics requirement for all dependents on H-4, L-2, E-2, O-3, TD status, USCIS has discontinued its prior practice of providing courtesy premium processing service to these applications filed concurrently with their primary beneficiaries (Form I-129).  Now, Form I-539 will be separated from the I-129 petition and follow a regular I-539 processing time frame. Form I-539 is submitted to change to or extend dependent cases (or spouses and children) from within the United States. Form I-129 is filed by employer to sponsor an employee on H-1B, L-1, E-1, O-1, TN, etc. status. Form I-539 applications are not eligible for premium processing. 

This change will also impact employment authorization applications. We recommended that applications for employment authorization be filed as early as possible. It takes at least three weeks for biometrics appointments to be completed, thus USCIS cannot meet the 15-day premium processing time frame. 

For current USCIS processing times for Form I-539, please visit: https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/

Please contact your designated Meltzer Hellrung attorney for additional information.

 

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Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Arguments on DACA

Posted July 11, 2019Kyle RobyArticles

 

On June 28, 2019, the Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments on whether to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, during its next term in Fall 2019, with a likely decision to be issued by Summer 2020. 

The DACA program was introduced in 2012 by the Obama administration and has provided temporary legal status and protection from deportation for nearly 800,000 young people who were brought to the U.S. without legal documentation when they were children.

Under the current administration, the program has come under scrutiny and attempts for revocation have resulted in rejections from federal appeal courts. The arguments will now be heard by the Supreme Court to determine whether the current administration can end the DACA program. 

Beneficiaries of the program are encouraged to file extensions as early as possible to ensure the availability of the benefit. 

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USCIS Expands a Fully Digital FOIA System

Posted June 27, 2019Articles

USCIS is expanding its digital Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Immigration Records System (FIRST). FIRST is the only system that allows users to submit and track FOIA requests and receive documents digitally.

Since June 25, 2019 FOIA requestors with a USCIS online account can submit requests online for their own records. Eventually, users will be able to submit online requests for non-A-File material. USCIS expects that by the end of the year account holders will be able to make requests on behalf on another person.

With the initial rollout of FIRST’s capabilities, users have created more than 77,000 USCIS online accounts to manage and receive FOIA responses.

If you would like to establish a USCIS FIRST online account, please visit: first.uscis.gov

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