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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today announced a redesign to the Permanent Resident Card (also known as a Green Card) and the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) as part of the Next Generation Secure Identification Document Project. USCIS will begin issuing the new cards on May 1, 2017.

These redesigns 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.

The new card designs demonstrate USCIS’ commitment to continue taking a proactive approach against the threat of document tampering and fraud. They are 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 and fraud.

The Redesigned Cards

The new Green Cards and EADs will:

  • Display the individual’s photos on both sides;
  • Show a unique graphic image and color palette:
    • Green Cards will have an image of the Statue of Liberty and a predominately green palette;
    • EAD cards will have an image of a bald eagle and a predominately red palette;
  • Have embedded holographic images; and
  • No longer display the individual’s signature.

Also, Green Cards will no longer have an optical stripe on the back.

How To Tell If Your Card Is Valid

Some Green Cards and EADs issued after May 1, 2017, may still display the existing design format as USCIS will continue using existing card stock until current supplies are depleted. Both the existing and the new Green Cards and EADs will remain valid until the expiration date shown on the card.

Certain EADs held by individuals with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and other designated categories have been automatically extended beyond the validity date on the card. For additional information on which EADs are covered, please visit the Temporary Protected Status and American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act web pages on uscis.gov.

Both versions are acceptable for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, E-Verify, and Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE). Some older Green Cards do not have an expiration date.  These older Green Cards without an expiration date remain valid. Individuals who have Green Cards without an expiration date may want to consider applying for a replacement card bearing an expiration date. Obtaining the replacement card will reduce the likelihood of fraud or tampering if the card is ever lost or stolen.

—from the USCIS press release

The government update on H-1B cap visas as of April 17, 2017:

USCIS announced on April 7, 2017, that it has received enough H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 visas for fiscal year (FY) 2018. USCIS has also received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet the U.S. advanced degree exemption, also known as the master’s cap.

USCIS received 199,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period, which began April 3, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. On April 11, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and the 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will reject and return all unselected petitions with their filing fees, unless the petition is found to be a duplicate filing.

The agency conducted the selection process for the advanced degree exemption first. All unselected advanced degree petitions then became part of the random selection process for the 65,000 cap.

Note:  The 199,000 petitions received this year is  a 15.7 percent decrease from the 236,000 petitions that USCIS received during last year’s filing period.

Release from the USCIS on April 3, 2017

WASHINGTON – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced multiple measures to further deter and detect H-1B visa fraud and abuse. The H-1B visa program should help U.S. companies recruit highly-skilled foreign nationals when there is a shortage of qualified workers in the country. Yet, too many American workers who are as qualified, willing, and deserving to work in these fields have been ignored or unfairly disadvantaged. Protecting American workers by combating fraud in our employment-based immigration programs is a priority for USCIS.

Beginning today, USCIS will take a more targeted approach when making site visits across the country to H-1B petitioners and the worksites of H-1B employees. USCIS will focus on:

  • Cases where USCIS cannot validate the employer’s basic business information through commercially available data;
  • H-1B-dependent employers (those who have a high ratio of H-1B workers as compared to U.S. workers, as defined by statute); and
  • Employers petitioning for H-1B workers who work off-site at another company or organization’s location.

Targeted site visits will allow USCIS to focus resources where fraud and abuse of the H-1B program may be more likely to occur, and determine whether H-1B dependent employers are evading their obligation to make a good faith effort to recruit U.S. workers. USCIS will continue random and unannounced visits nationwide. These site visits are not meant to target nonimmigrant employees for any kind of criminal or administrative action but rather to identify employers who are abusing the system.

Employers who abuse the H-1B visa program negatively affect U.S. workers, decreasing wages and job opportunities as they import more foreign workers. To further deter and detect abuse, USCIS has established an email address which will allow individuals (including both American workers and H-1B workers who suspect they or others may be the victim of H-1B fraud or abuse) to submit tips, alleged violations and other relevant information about potential H-1B fraud or abuse. Information submitted to the email address will be used for investigations and referrals to law enforcement agencies for potential prosecution.

Existing H-1B Fraud Measures

Since 2009, USCIS has conducted random administrative site visits to ensure that employers and foreign workers are complying with requirements of the H-1B nonimmigrant classification. USCIS refers many cases of suspected fraud or abuse to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for further investigation.

Additionally, individuals can report allegations of employer fraud or abuse by submitting Form WH-4 to the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division or by completing ICE’s HSI Tip Form.

Trump Travel Ban – Know Your Rights Call-in – Wednesday, March 15, 2017, 12:30 p.m. CT. Are you wondering how the new immigration travel ban and other immigration restrictions affect your travel plans, your immigration case, or your business operations?Get your questions answered about the March 6 Executive Order and the current immigration landscape. Know your rights when dealing with immigration officials or law enforcement, even if you are U.S. citizen.

Join attorney Ann Massey Badmus for an immigration Q&A conference call on Wednesday, March 15 at 12:30 p.m. Central Time/1:30 p.m. Eastern Time/10:30 a.m. Pacific Time. CALL DETAILS, WEDNESDAY, MARCH 15, 2017, Please note your time zone:

12:30PM-1:30PM CENTRAL TIME
1:30PM-2:30PM EASTERN TIME
11:30AM-12:30PM MOUNTAIN TIME
11:30AM-12:30PM MOUNTAIN TIME

To join the call by telephone: Dial: 515-604-9300 Access Code: 354490

To join the call online: Online Meeting Link: https://join.freeconferencecall.com/ann_badmus, Online Meeting ID: ann_badmus

Call and get answers to your questions about this immigration news.

Are you seeking to adjust your status and become a U.S. permanent resident under a family-sponsored or employment-based preference immigrant visa? If you have not yet had a relative or employer file an immigrant visa petition on your behalf, please learn more about the Adjustment of Status Filing Process. If you already have a petition filed or approved on your behalf, you may have to wait for an available visa in your category (if applicable) before you can file your Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

Key points to remember:

  • You must use the Department of State (DOS) visa bulletins charts listed on the USCIS website (not the DOS website) to determine when to file your adjustment of status application.
  • You need to know your priority date, which is generally the date when your relative or employer properly filed the immigrant visa petition on your behalf with USCIS. If a labor certification is required to be filed with your immigrant visa petition, the priority date is the date the labor certification application was accepted for processing by the Department of Labor.
  • You need to check the visa bulletin monthly  if you have already applied for adjustment of status and but have not been approved.  Visa availability can move backwards (retrogress) so even if you have applied for adjustment, your priority date must be current and a visa available before your green card application can be approved.

Visit the USCIS website for further details on when you can apply for adjustment of status if you are in the green card queue.

Green card applicants often ask if they are able to change employment while waiting for final approval. The answer is yes, if you follow green card portability rules.

According to the rules, if your I-485 application has been pending for 180 days or more, you are eligible to change jobs or employers and continue your green card application. However, portability rules have pitfalls you must avoid, or your green card application can be denied.

Here are five key questions you need to get answered before making any change in employers.

1. Is my application dependent upon my employer? If your green card category depends upon a job offer, then your application is dependent upon your employer (“sponsor”) and you must observe portability rules to avoid denial of your green card application. The green card categories requiring a job offer and subject to portability rules are EB-1B Outstanding Researcher, EB-1C Multinational Manager, EB-2 and EB-3 workers based upon labor certification.

Green card applications based upon EB-1 Extraordinary Ability and EB-2 National Interest Waiver do not require a job offer and do not fall under portability rules. Therefore, applicants in these categories can change employers at any time so long as they continue to work in the field of extraordinary ability or national interest.

2. Has the I-140 petition been approved? If your I-140 petition has been approved, then your chances of approval based upon portability are better. Here’s what you need to keep in mind.

If you change positions after your I-485 has been pending for 180 days and your I-140 is approved, then your green card can be approved, even if your sponsor cancels the I-140 petition or goes out of business. On the other hand, if you change positions while your I-140 petition is awaiting approval, your sponsor’s withdrawal of the I-140 petition will cause denial of your I-485 application.

If your employer withdraws the I-140 after 180 days of the I-140 approval or after your I-485 application has been pending 180 days, the I-140 petition will remain approved and portability applies. Of course, the government can revoke the I-140 petition at any time for other reasons, such as fraud or other ineligibility. As a result, your I-485 application will be denied even if it has been pending for 180 days.

3. Has the I-485 application been pending for more than 180 days?Even if your I-140 petition is approved, it’s risky to leave your employment before the “safe harbor” period starts.

Although the government may not deny your I-485 application on the sole basis that you left your employer before 180 days have passed, it can issue a request for evidence (RFE) to determine whether the original offer of employment was bona fide. Your sponsor’s support could be necessary to respond to the RFE and its refusal to cooperate could mean denial of your I-485 application.

Also, if your sponsoring employer withdraws its sponsorship within 180 days of the I-140 approval and before your I-485 application has been pending 180 days, the I-140 petition will be revoked. That means your I-485 application will be denied unless a new I-140 petition is substituted.

To avoid these risks, wait until your I-485 application has processed for 180 days before changing positions.

4. Is the new employment in the “same or similar” occupation? The rules no longer require a comparison of the standard occupational code (SOC) of the new position to the original sponsored one. Instead, to determine whether the new position is the same or similar to the sponsored position, the government will compare the job descriptions, wages offered, and required skills, experience, education, and training between the two jobs.

Also, self-employment is eligible for portability as long as all other criteria for portability has been met.

5. Will the new employer sign off on the I-485 Supplement J for your I-485 application? You must request portability by submitting Supplement J to the form I-485, Confirmation of Bona Fide Job Offer or Request for Job Portability. Supplement J can be filed before or after you change jobs and must be signed by the new employer. In the Supplement J, you must fill out information about the new job so the government can determine whether it is similar to the sponsored position. Be sure the new employer agrees to cooperate and sign the Supplement J before you change jobs.

I hope this article helps you understand basic immigration requirements, but please don’t consider it as legal advice or legal opinion about your specific circumstances. Portability rules are complex so contact a qualified immigration attorney to assure a safe transition to your new employment.

For legal advice and guidance for your unique situation, you are invited to schedule an immigration strategy session with me.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will suspend the H-1B premium processing program starting April 3, 2017. The suspension currently applies to all H-1B petitions and could last for six months.  Premium processing is simply expedited service for a premium of $1225. It means the government guarantees action on the H-1B petition within 15 days of payment of the fee. According to the USCIS, it plans to put the program on hold to clear up the tremendous backlog of H-1B extension petitions and “reduce overall H-1B processing times.”

Without premium processing, your application must plod through the usual H-1B processing queue, which can take nearly one year! Last year, the USCIS tried to clear the backlog by moving H-1B extension applications to the Nebraska Service Center.  Apparently, it has not worked. And frustrated employers and applicants often resort to premium processing so they can get decision on their applications within a reasonable time.

So of course, many employers and employees are rightfully concerned and want to know what this news means for the employee’s ability to start or continue working.

As usual, the answer depends upon the circumstances as I describe here.

H-1B Extension of Stay in the U.S. with the Same Employer

  •  If the H-1B petition for extension is submitted on or before the current H-1B expires, the H-1B employee can continue working for up to 240 days (8 months) after the current visa status expires.
  • The H-1B petition receipt notice serves as proof of work eligibility extension and status.
  •  If the H-1B petition is still undecided at the 240 day mark, the employee may remain in the U.S. but must stop work until the petition is approved.

H-1B Change of Employer

  •  If the H-1B petition for the new employment is submitted on or before termination of the current H-1B employment (or within 60 days of the termination of the current H-1B employment in some circumstances), the H-1B employee can start work with the new employer once the new petition is filed with the USCIS. This is the “portability rule.”
  • The portability rule does NOT apply if you are a cap-exempt employee applying for a cap H-1B visa.
  • The H-1B petition receipt notice serves as proof of work eligibility until the new H-1B petition is decided.
  • The employee can continue working while the H-1B petition is pending.  If the H-1B petition is not approved, the employee must stop working and is no longer has legal status.

Change of visa status to H-1B visa status

  • If the H-1B petition is submitted before the employee’s status expires, then the employee may remain in the U.S. but cannot start work until the H-1B is approved. For example, J-1 physicians who have an approved waiver of the two-year home residency requirement can remain in the U.S. if the H-1B petition is filed before their J-1 grace period expires. However, they can’t work and provide needed medical services until the H-1B petition is approved.
  • If an F-1 student has an OPT employment authorization document (EAD) and his application is picked in the H-1B cap lottery, he may continue working until his OPT expires or until September 30, 2017, whichever is later. Afterwards, he can remain in the U.S. to wait for the H-1B decision but cannot work.
  • If the employee leaves the U.S. while the change of status application is processing, he or she must wait for the H-1B approval and obtain a “visa stamp” from the U.S. embassy before starting work.
  • The employer can ask for expedite of the application if it meets USCIS expedite criteria. Few would meet this expedite criteria and approval of the expedite request is entirely discretionary.

Even those H-1B employees who can work while their applications are pending could suffer from the suspension of the premium processing option because many states require an H-1B approval before renewing driver’s licenses or professional licenses.

Unless the USCIS drastically reduces the currently unacceptable processing times for H-1B applications, the loss of the H-1B premium processing option, albeit temporary, can be a devastating blow for many H–1B employers and employees.

If you have a pending H-1B petition, you should consider request premium processing before April 3. If you plan to apply for a renewal or change of employer before April 3, you should consider the premium processing option.

I hope this article helps you understand basic immigration requirements, but please don’t consider it as legal advice or legal opinion about your specific circumstances. Immigration rules are complex so contact a qualified immigration attorney to determine your options.

For legal advice and guidance for your unique situation, you are invited to schedule an immigration strategy session with me.

USCIS announced today:

“Starting April 3, 2017, USCIS will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions. This suspension may last up to 6 months. While H-1B premium processing is suspended, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker which requests the H-1B nonimmigrant classification. We will notify the public before resuming premium processing for H-1B petitions.

Who Is Affected
The temporary suspension applies to all H-1B petitions filed on or after April 3, 2017. Since FY18 cap-subject H-1B petitions cannot be filed before April 3, 2017, this suspension will apply to all petitions filed for the FY18 H-1B regular cap and master’s advanced degree cap exemption (the “master’s cap”). The suspension also applies to petitions that may be cap-exempt.
While premium processing is suspended, we will reject any Form I-907 filed with an H-1B petition. If the petitioner submits one combined check for both the Form I-907 and Form I-129 H-1B fees, we will have to reject both forms.

We will continue to premium process Form I-129 H-1B petitions if the petitioner properly filed an associated Form I-907 before April 3, 2017. Therefore, we will refund the premium processing fee if:
1. The petitioner filed the Form I-907 for an H-1B petition before April 3, 2017, and
2. We did not take adjudicative action on the case within the 15-calendar-day processing period.

This temporary suspension of premium processing does not apply to other eligible nonimmigrant classifications filed on Form I-129.
Requesting Expedited Processing

While premium processing is suspended, petitioners may submit a request to expedite an H-1B petition if they meet the criteria on the Expedite Criteria webpage. It is the petitioner’s responsibility to demonstrate that they meet at least one of the expedite criteria, and we encourage petitioners to submit documentary evidence to support their expedite request.
We review all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis and requests are granted at the discretion of the office leadership.

Why We Are Temporarily Suspending Premium Processing for H-1B Petitions
This temporary suspension will help us to reduce overall H-1B processing times. By temporarily suspending premium processing, we will be able to:
• Process long-pending petitions, which we have currently been unable to process due to the high volume of incoming petitions and the significant surge in premium processing requests over the past few years; and
• Prioritize adjudication of H-1B extension of status

2017 NAPR/NALTO Conference, “Solving Immigration Obstacles to Help Fill Challenging Positions, Wednesday, February 22, 2017, 4 p.m. CST., La Jolla, California. Ann Badmus will participate in an immigration law roundtable, answering questions from physician recruiters.

Who is NAPR?

It is the purpose of the National Association of Physician Recruiters (NAPR) to maintain industry leadership by promoting excellence, ethical standards, innovation and a spirit of cooperation in the delivery of services to the health care industry.

https://napr.site-ym.com/

 

 

The travel ban is on hold because the states of Washington and Minnesota sued the Trump administration, claiming that, among other things, the ban harmed residents and companies in their states. The IT and healthcare industries are the most likely to suffer from the ban, according to the lawsuit.

A recent National Public Radio (NPR) broadcast and article highlight the problems the travel ban and other harsh immigration policies could create for our healthcare system. Nearly 25% of our physicians are foreign-born and in some specialties, the percentage is much higher. Quoted in the article is industry spokesperson, Dr. Andrew Gurman:

And the U.S. medical system depends on doctors like Tauseef, says Dr. Andrew Gurman, president of the American Medical Association. He worries that if President Trump’s executive order on immigration takes effect, it will mean parts of the country that desperately need medical care may not have a doctor.

“International medical graduates have been a resource to provide medical care to areas that don’t otherwise have access to physicians,” he says. “With the current uncertainty about those physicians’ immigration status, we don’t know whether or not these areas are going to receive care.”

Read the NPR article, “Trump Travel Ban Spotlights U.S. Dependence On Foreign-Born Doctors.”

Listen to the broadcast


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