As a friendly reminder, Tuesday, November 06, 2018 is the day to vote for the 2018 midterms. We’re not going to play the role of political pundit, however, we will say that elections matter and the candidate that we vote for has a direct impact on the immigration policies that we at Brown Immigration Law do our best to navigate and interpret. As we worry about effective and beneficial immigration laws, we wish to see our existing legal framework properly interpreted by DHS as we believe that the only way to challenge the current status quo is to change who is controlling the levers of power. We encourage everyone who is eligible to vote to go on November 6th and cast their vote. For those who are not eligible to vote, we simply ask that you advocate with friends and colleagues that are eligible to vote so that they consider candidates that support immigration as a national treasure; to go and share your stories as you have navigated the complexities of our immigration system and the need for candidates that are sympathetic to bettering the experience of foreign nationals.
Lately our clients have seen an increase in site visits by USCIS’ Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) as part of the Trump Administration’s hardened stance on immigration. It is important that employers maintain compliance with the H-1B program. Key issues to pay attention to include ensuring that employees are paid at the required minimum wage (as listed on the LCA and petition), and ensuring that any material changes in the job or changes in job location are timely reported to USCIS.
We remind clients that when FDNS shows up they will ask for the foreign worker and we recommend that HR should always be present during such meetings. If HR is unavailable we would be happy to attend by phone or video. HR should make notes related to the meeting and note any documents provided to the officer. By and large they only want to confirm that the key terms and conditions of the H or L are being followed. We do recommend that HR and the employee review the recent filings’ statements to ensure the information they are providing is still consistent with the application that was approved. If there are changes since the case was approved, we recommend you contact our office prior to the meeting to discuss the approach. We can always attend telephonically for those meetings if you wish. In some cases, the officers have asked specific questions as to start dates, and for foreign nationals that have changed status, they have asked for the dates of those changes and entries into the U.S. on those statuses. Officers usually allow employees to later provide answers or documents if they can’t at the time of the interview. We want to see any document provided to USCIS and know that the interview was properly concluded. Thankfully it is rare that anything usual happens during these meetings. However, as site visits increase, it becomes increasingly important that employers maintain thorough records in order to properly answer the questions to the satisfaction of the officers.
On October 16, 2018, USCIS released new guidance on the Form I-693 validity period that goes into effect on November 1, 2018. Form I-693 is valid only when a civil surgeon, the medical provider designated by USCIS, has signed it no more than 60 days prior to the filing of an application for an immigration benefit, and USCIS adjudicates the application within two (2) years from the date of the civil surgeon’s signature. The new policy requires applicants to complete their immigration medical examinations closer in time to filing for the immigration benefit, effectively increasing the period of time that the I-693 remains valid while the application is pending with USCIS which is welcome news. As always, officers have the discretion to ask for an updated I-693 and other medical documentation should they have reason to believe that a medical inadmissibility ground exists.
Please remember to book visa appointments as ahead of time as possible for any visa stamping required given the coming holiday season, as well as, renewing passports as soon as the validity period approaches six (6) months before expiration. As always, please keep your attorney informed of any international travel plans and questions you may have regarding documentation required for re-entry to the United States.
The November 2018 visa bulletin has made some progress from October 2018. The priority date for EB-1 Worldwide has advanced to June 1, 2018, while EB-2 and EB-3 Worldwide are current. EB-1 China and EB-1 India move forward to October 1st, 2017, and EB-1 Philippines advances to June 1st, 2018. EB-2 China has moved to June 15th, 2015, while EB-2 India has also advanced to May 22nd, 2009; EB-2 Philippines is current. EB-3 China also has advanced to August 8, 2015, EB-3 India has advanced to October 1, 2009, and EB-3 for the Philippines has advanced to July 1st 2017. We are hopeful that EB-1 will become current for all visa bulletin countries in December, but we cannot confirm this until we see the December publication later in November.
** This newsletter/memo is provided for informational and discussion purposes only. It does not act as a substitute for direct legal contact on an individual basis **