USCIS Announces Redesign of Green Cards and Employment Authorization Documents

Beginning on May 1, 2017, USCIS will begin issuing a redesigned Permanent Resident card (green card) and Employment Authorization Document (EAD). This initiative is part of the Next Generation Secure Identification Document Project which was created to take a proactive approach against the threat of document tampering and fraud.

The newly designed cards use enhanced graphics and fraud-resistant security features to create cards that are highly secure and more tamper-resistant than the ones currently in use. This is also part of an ongoing effort between USCIS, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to enhance document security and deter counterfeiting.
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H-1B Employers: USCIS Retroactively Implements Changes for Programmers, Increased Focus on Fraud, and Invitation for Whistleblowers

In the midst of the mad flurry of H-1B cap filings, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a policy memorandum that rescinds guidance on H-1B adjudication for certain computer-related positions from December 2000 and announced implementation of increased measures to deter and detect H-1B visa fraud.
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Plan B for H-1B Applicants

Although you may not yet know whether your H-1B petition has been selected for processing under the FY2018 cap, it is never too early to think about alternatives and come up with a feasible Plan B.  Now that premium processing has been suspended, applicants will need to wait until they receive the USCIS Receipt notice by standard mail (hopefully by the end of April) to be certain their petition has been accepted for processing, and under current processing times will likely need to wait at least another four to five months until the H-1B petition is actually adjudicated to know they can definitely plan on remaining in the United States and work in H-1B status for their sponsoring employer. This results in a long time of wondering and waiting. We provided a summary of possible options last year here. In addition to the F-1, STEM, L-1, H-4, TN, E-3, E, and O options detailed in the May 2016 article, an individual may be able to obtain concurrent employment with a cap-exempt employer under a broader interpretation of cap-exempt employment or pursue parole as an entrepreneur under the International Entrepreneur rule effective July 16, 2017.
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Trump Pares Down Travel Ban in Revised Executive Order

On March 6, President Trump issued a revised Executive Order (EO), effective on March 16, 2017, to replace the prior order of January 27 with more limited and prospective restrictions on travel for nationals of six countries, along with suspension of visa interview waivers and refugee decisions for all countries. All people in the U.S. from the six countries should avoid international travel, and persons from all countries should anticipate possible visa processing delays.
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No H-1B Premium Processing. At All. For Who Knows How Long.

On March 3, 2017 USCIS announced that it will not honor any requests for premium processing for ANY H-1B petitions filed starting April 3 until further notice.  That includes capped and cap-exempt petitions, and petitions for initial status, change of status, extension of stay, and change of employer or other amendment.  Other classifications using Form I-129 such as L-1 and O-1 can still use premium processing.
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Parsing the Revisions to the I-9 Handbook for Employers

On January 22, 2017, two days after President Trump was inaugurated but with no connection to that event, USCIS published a new Form I-9 for verification of employment authorization required for every new hire since 1986.  Last week USCIS published a revision to its Handbook for Employers for completing I-9, Form M-274.  The 69-page revision not only covers implications of the new option to complete the I-9 by the new “smart” electronically fillable form.  It also describes and depicts some new types of authorization documents, instructs how to correct Form I-9 errors (pages 29-30, 47), adds some details in discussing discrimination and other issues, and adds references to some web tools (especially at www.uscis.gov/i-9-central), among other changes.

We have prepared an annotation of the revised Handbook highlighting in yellow the most meaningful new language but not highlighting mere re-wording or reorganization of prior discussion.  We also similarly highlighted the prior version from 2013, showing some of the most noteworthy deletions from the new Handbook, but we note that most deleted Q&As have been folded into the main text of the revision.
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Overview and Q&A for President Trump’s Executive Order, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”

On January 27, 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order 13769 entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” We’ll call this one the “Screening EO.” This is one of at least three different Executive Orders issued so far concerning immigration, the other two having to do with more general border security and interior enforcement issues.

The Screening EO directs the various U.S. departments involved in screening foreign visitors and immigrants to develop “uniform” screening practices and to determine what information is needed from other countries to facilitate such screening.
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DHS Final International Entrepreneur Rule to Take Effect July 16, 2017

On January 17, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published its final rule implementing the discretionary parole for entrepreneurs program, which was proposed this past August. See our blog post regarding the proposed rule here. The final rule, effective July 16, 2017, adds regulations allowing DHS to grant parole on a case-by-case basis to entrepreneurs of start-up entities for up to 30 months with possible extension of an additional 30 months for a five-year maximum. Entrepreneurs must show substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid business growth, job creation and significant public benefit to the United States by, among other things, the receipt of (1) significant capital investment from U.S. investors with established records of successful investments; or (2) significant awards or grants from certain federal, state or local governmental entities.
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