USCIS has announced that E-Verify will allow direct notification to employees if there is a record mismatch that needs to be resolved before the employee can be confirmed as work authorized. Until now, only the employer was issued a “Tentative Nonconfirmation” (TNC). A TNC occurs when information an employer provides about an employee to E-Verify does not match the data found in either DHS or Social Security Administration records. Employees (of employers who use E-Verify) can voluntarily provide an e-mail address when completing their I-9 form and they will be notified of a TNC at the same time their employer is notified by E-Verify.
Posts Tagged ‘USCIS’
In mid-July, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that she would be leaving DHS to become president of the University of California, and expected to leave her post in September. A former governor of Arizona, Napolitano is only the third person to lead DHS, a department created a decade ago in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Secretary Napolitano held the job throughout President Obama’s first term.
Apparently, Napolitano’s departure will create the 15th vacancy in the department’s 45 leadership positions. This includes the directorship of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and USCIS. ICE Director John Morton recently announced that he would be leaving DHS at the end of July, and USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas recently was nominated to become DHS Deputy Secretary. Other vacancies include general counsel, privacy, legislative affairs, intelligence and analysis; those top positions are currently filled with acting officials. Rand Beer, acting DHS deputy secretary, is expected to serve as Acting Secretary until Napolitano’s permanent replacement is confirmed by the full Senate.
In March 2013, USCIS implemented a new program that permits certain immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (spouses, parents of adult U.S. citizens, and minor children) who are physically present in the United States to request a provisional unlawful presence waiver prior to traveling abroad for consular processing of their immigrant visa applications. However, a provisional waiver will not be approved if USCIS has “reason to believe” that the applicant may be inadmissible on grounds other than unlawful presence. Based on these first five months of adjudication, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has recently raised concern that USCIS is taking a very broad approach to the standard “reason to believe,” and has been denying I-601A provisional waivers that follow two clear patterns:
• Criminal record of arrest or conviction. “Reason to believe” denials are being issued notwithstanding evidence submitted that establishes that either the arrest did not result in a criminal conviction, that the incident was not conduct that would render the foreign national inadmissible, or that the crime for which the individual alien was convicted was not an inadmissible offense.
• Providing false name, date of birth, or other information at the time of an apprehension for entry without inspection. USCIS is denying the I-601A on the grounds that there is “reason to believe” that the alien knowingly and willfully provided false or materially misleading information while applying for an immigration benefit or while trying to gain admission to the United States. Denials are being issued even though the allegedly false or misleading information was not material, or was not given in connection with a benefit application or application for admission.
Individuals should carefully examine their circumstances and seek guidance from their immigration attorney before applying for a provisional waiver.
USCIS announced that commencing on May 6, 2013, foreign nationals will be required to submit fingerprints and photographs when appearing at USCIS offices for interviews or to receive evidence of an immigration benefit. This new biometrics requirement is called Customer Identity Verification (CIV). Currently, USCIS requires applicants and petitioners requesting immigration or naturalization benefits to visit an Application Support Center (ASC) to provide biometric data. This requirement will not change. Instead, USCIS will add another round of fingerprinting and photographing. For CIV, an individual appearing at a USCIS field office for an interview or to be issued evidence of an immigration benefit will have his or her identity biometrically re-verified. Examples of evidence include temporary travel documents, parole authorizations, temporary extensions of Form I-90, and temporary I-551 stamps on passports or on Forms I-94 to evidence lawful permanent resident status.
An individual coming to USCIS for an InfoPass appointment or as the guest of an applicant or petitioner will not be required to submit biometric data.
The individual’s experience under this new process will be similar to that of an ASC appointment. USCIS will take two fingerprints and a photograph of the individual and input this information into the US-VISIT (U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology) Secondary Inspections Tool (SIT), a Web-based application that processes, displays and retrieves biometric and biographic data. US-VISIT also links databases associated with border inspections and security. After identity verification is satisfactorily completed, individuals will proceed to their interviews or be issued their immigration documents. In instances where biometrics don’t produce a verification, other steps will be taken, which may include reprocessing at an ASC or even further questioning if an identity is suspicious.
Why is this second round of biometrics being implemented? USCIS says to protect against identity fraud and defend against threats to national security.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, USCIS advised that those affected by the storm may avail themselves of certain U.S. immigration benefits or relief; specifically, eligible individuals may request or apply for:
- Change or extension of nonimmigrant status even when the individual request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired;
- Extension or re-parole of individuals previously granted parole by USCIS;
- Expedited adjudication of off-campus employment authorization applications for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship;
- Expedited adjudication of employment authorization applications; and
- Assistance to legal permanent residents (LPRs) stranded overseas without their green cards or travel documents.
Applicants are advised to explain their specific circumstances with the late filing.
USCIS also announced that it may allow for delays in filing or submitting required forms of evidence, and it has extended for 30 days the deadline for individuals who received an RFE or NOID with a deadline of October 26 through November 26, 2012.
For quite some time, USCIS has desired to implement a fully paperless, electronic case filing system to be used by attorneys as well as non-represented foreign nationals. Well, in May, USCIS launched its new system, ELIS (the Electronic Immigration System), for receiving and processing limited applications and petitions. For now, certain actions to change or extend status used on Form I-539 for nonimmigrants in B, F, J or M status can be directly or through counsel applied for – complete with document uploading and payment processing – online. New form types are expected to be released in four-to-six month cycles. Initial reports are that the new system contains features that are friendly to attorneys and their clients.
Because the platform does not yet have an interface with popular, commercial immigration forms processing and case management systems – USCIS has not yet released its code to software vendors while it works out the kinks of this initial release – it is unlikely that attorneys will use the system now. But, once the system is fully vetted and if it works, it can lead to costs savings and efficiencies, such as those seen at other agencies. Think IRS. Stay tuned.
In mid August, USCIS announced that petitioners residing outside the U.S. in countries without USCIS offices will no longer be eligible to file immediate relative green card petitions, Form I-130, with the Department of State (DOS) nor have the option of filing at the USCIS overseas office governing their jurisdiction. Instead, they will be required to file only with the USCIS Chicago Lockbox. Petitioners residing in countries where a USCIS office is located will continue to have the option to file either with that office or with the Chicago Lockbox.
Why is this significant for some? Because, the processing time for the overseas filing of Form I-130 is significantly shorter than the time for processing through the Lockbox. So, in most locations, a petitioner who can file locally abroad may have his immediate relative issued an immigrant visa within two to three months of filing an application whereas a petitioner filing via the Lockbox may not result in an immigrant visa being issued for nine or more months. Those who may be impacted may still be eligible for “local” processing if warranted by special circumstances and USCIS authorizes the DOS to accept and adjudicate an I-130 petition. USCIS provides examples of circumstances in which it would consider authorizing local DOS adjudication: certain military and medical emergencies; threats to personal safety; certain “aging out” cases; certain cases where the petitioner has recently naturalized; and certain cases involving adoption of a child.
Employers and HR Officers Take Care: Important Original Approval Notices Now Sent to Petitioner Not Attorney of RecordFriday, October 7th, 2011
In mid-September, USCIS began sending original I-797 receipt and approval notices directly to applicants and petitioners, while sending copies of the notices to their G-28 attorney of record. Previously, the original notice had been sent to the attorney listed on the G-28, while a copy was sent to the address provided by the applicant or petitioner in the applicable application or petition form. According to USCIS, it implemented the change to ensure that documents are mailed directly to the address specified by the applicant or petitioner. A formal regulation will be promulgated governing the change in late November. However, the sending of original notices, especially those approval notices that contain an I-94, can cause problems for the foreign national if the document is lost or otherwise not timely received.
In a terse letter to USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas, the immigration bar association, AILA, requested that USCIS resume its prior practice of sending the original I-797 approval notice to the attorney of record. Not only does the change violates current regulations governing the representation of parties in immigration benefits proceedings, AILA expressed deep concern that the change could impair the ability of petitioners and beneficiaries to comply with obligations to verify employment authorization, to maintain status, and to comply with alien registration obligations. Serious harm could result from a misrouted, mishandled, or lost document. For example, when an I-797 notice is sent to an employer in a large operation, the document can easily be misrouted internally, resulting in delays in its reaching the proper unit and to the foreign national. In the worst case, it can be lost. Moreover, in large-scale operations, employers rely on immigration counsel to properly handle immigration-related documents. Finally, sending the original documents to attorneys of record allows for immediate review of key data, and, in the event there are errors (spellings, validity dates, etc.), immediate action to correct the errors can be taken.
During this transition, USCIS will permit petitioners for nonimmigrant workers to use the attorney’s address as the mailing address on the petition but the petitioner will not receive any I-797 notices. Special accommodations also are being made for cases that are premium processed.
For now, employers and human resource officers should pay close attention to the I-797 Notice of Action Approval Notices received on behalf of their foreign national workers, share copies with their immigration counsel, and make sure that original documents are distributed to their workers in a timely fashion.
Certain H-1B Employers and Their Workers Face New Hurdles and More Reasons to Anticipate DHS Compliance Site VisitsMonday, March 1st, 2010
In a recent guidance memo, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has appreciably altered its definition of what constitutes a valid employer-employee relationship as it relates to H-1B workers and imposes new rules on the types of activities in which H-1B workers can engage. The memo will have a significant impact on certain new H-1B petitions and certain extensions.
Under the new rules, workers who are placed at third-party worksites will no longer qualify for H-1B visas as employees. Nor will independent contractors, such as sales representatives. And, agents as petitioners will not be able to qualify as H-1B employers. The memo also departs from long-standing precedent to conclude that persons with a substantial interest in a petitioning company, in most cases, cannot qualify as a beneficiary of an H-1B visa. This means that co-owners of a business may not be able to obtain an H-1B. The guidance memo also requires that the petitioner establish that the employer-employee relationship exists throughout the requested H-1B validity period.