One of the top 10 issues affecting US immigration in the next 100 days will depend on the outcome of lawsuits challenging an overhaul of the eligibility, wage levels, and employment rules for the H-1B visa category, which governs the hiring of highly-skilled workers by US employers across industries. Today a leading group of business associations, including the US Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, Bay Area Council, and National Retail Federation, as well as number of educational institutions and associations, filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of California against the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Labor (DOL) challenging the Strengthening the H-1B Program rule and the Strengthening Wage Protections for the Temporary and Permanent Employment of Certain Aliens in the United States rule. The suit was filed in the Northern District of California. US Chamber CEO Tom Donohue issued the following statement with regard to the lawsuit:

Continue Reading Game-Changing H-1B Rules Challenged by Business and Academia

Executive Summary

The Trump Administration has introduced long-anticipated changes to the H-1B visa program for highly-skilled foreign workers, aimed at tightening eligibility for STEM talent working at major US employers, including by imposing a rigid requirement that any job offered to an H-1B worker require a single specific degree in a subspecialty, and that each H-1B candidate have that specific degree to qualify.

The changes, some of which come under immediate effect and all of which will likely face legal challenges, would make it tougher for applicants to qualify for an H-1B visa and significantly more expensive for employers to sponsor them for H-1Bs or for green cards.

The changes also will create high barriers for vendor partners to provide talent to major customers, as both the expense of new wages and specific requirements for vendors to renew their H-1Bs annually (or more frequently if statements of work provide for shorter periods), raise their costs substantially.


Continue Reading Trump Administration Issues Two New Rules to Restrict H-1B Visas and Increase Expenses for Employers Sponsoring Highly-Skilled Workers for Visas and Green Cards

The White House has announced issuance of two new rules, both of which will take effect immediately upon publication in the Federal Register:

  1.  The Department of Homeland Security’s H-1B rule,  “Strengthening the H-1B Non-immigrant Visa Classification Program,” which has been on the DHS regulatory agenda for many years, including its first appearance in Fall 2017

The US District Court for the Northern District of California has issued an order temporarily enjoining President Trump’s proclamation suspending the entry of certain temporary workers.  On June 22, 2020, President Trump signed Proclamation 10052, Section 2 of which suspended the entry of foreign nationals seeking admission in four visa categories of substantial importance to US companies—H-1B, L-1, H-2B, and certain J-1 visas—for the remainder of the calendar year and laid the groundwork for regulatory changes to transform when and how employers can sponsor foreign workers to work in the United States. For a full discussion of the Proclamation, please see our blog post, Trump Order Suspends Major Visa Categories, Including H-1B and L-1, Through the End of the Calendar Year, With Rulemaking Restrictions to Follow. The ban only applied to individuals in these categories who were outside the United States when the Proclamation took effect; were not in possession of a nonimmigrant visa on that date; and had no other authorization to travel to the United States, such as a transportation letter, an appropriate boarding foil, or an advance parole authorization.

Continue Reading Federal Judge Grants Preliminary Injunction in Case Challenging Nonimmigrant Visa Ban

In February 2020, the Home Office of the UK government released a policy statement noting the details of a new era of immigration to launch in the wake of Brexit. The new system, which remains encapsulated in the February 2020 policy statement, is purported to fulfill the UK Government’s commitment to “take back control of

US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency within Homeland Security responsible for adjudicating applications and petitions seeking immigration and naturalization benefits, announced on Tuesday, August 25, 2020, that it will not engage in en masse staffing furloughs before the close of the fiscal year on September 30, 2020.  As previously reported on Mayer Brown’s Mobile Workforce blog, the agency had planned to furlough 13,000 USCIS staff, equal to 70% of its workforce, by August 31.

The planned furloughs were expected to dramatically reduce the agency’s ability to process immigration benefits, including visa petitions, green cards, citizenship, and other immigration benefits, with some predictions expecting the agency to come grinding to a halt.  While furloughs are off the table through at least September 30, the agency has signaled that users can expect significant delays, as the agency has had to engage in “aggressive spending measures” to offset the budgetary pressures that initially led it to identify a need for across-the-board furloughs.


Continue Reading USCIS Cancels En Masse Staffing Furloughs, Averting Near Total Shut-Down

On August 12, US District Judge Amit P. Mehta of the DC federal court ordered the federal government to turn over documents concerning the Trump administration’s coronavirus travel ban. As reported in an August 12 article in Law360, the federal government had until August 17 to hand over any policies, directives or orders.

Mayer

US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency within Homeland Security responsible for adjudicating applications and petitions seeking immigration and naturalization benefits, announced on Friday that staffing furloughs originally planned to begin August 3, have been delayed until August 31.  The delays, which could have affected some 70% of USCIS staff engaged in processing these

The establishment of the COVID-19 virus as a global pandemic halted international movement for travelers around the globe since March. Countries across regions enforced varying levels of restrictions on incoming travelers, particularly for non-essential travel, as host governments attempted to restrict additional sources of infection through extraordinary means. Now, an increasing number of countries and regions are working together to bridge the once necessary divide by developing networks of “air bridges” and “travel bubbles” to allow cross-border travel where the virus appears to be under control. “Air bridges,” “air corridors,” “travel bubbles,” or “travel corridors” are reciprocal agreements between any number of countries that allow for non-essential travel, generally without requiring a self-isolated quarantining period upon arrival and return.

Continue Reading Air Bridges and Travel Corridors: Regional Travel Agreements in the Face of COVID-19

Some 70% of the 20,000 employees of US Citizenship & Immigration Services, the agency within Homeland Security that adjudicates visa-related benefits for all foreign workers, could face furloughs starting as early as August 3, 2020, unless Congress provides $1.2 billion in emergency funding. This budget shortfall was caused by a dramatic decrease in the number