CALL FOR A CONSULTATION 216-621-7227 216-621-7227

Immigration Law Update

November 2019

USCIS Alters H-1B Cap Selection Process For The Coming Fiscal Year

USCIS is changing how the H-1B cap selection process will be administered in the coming fiscal year.  The new process will require H-1B petitioners to pay a $10 non-refundable fee for each H-1B cap-subject petition to be submitted. USCIS will then perform a lottery, as with previous years, to determine which petitions are selected with the assumption being that the total number of petitions will far exceed the annual quotas.

In contrast to previous years, petitioners will then submit their cap-subject H-1B petition only after the petition is selected in the H-1B lottery.  The new rule is effective on December 9, 2019.  We expect USCIS to publish more information in the near future as to how the cap selection proceed will proceed for the upcoming fiscal year.  We will be sure to share this information with you once it is published.

Federal Judges Block The Implementation Of A New Rule Expanding The Definition Of “Public Charge,” As Well As A Requirement Requiring Immigrants To Prove That They Have Health Insurance

Federal judges in five separate states blocked the Trump Administration from implementing a new rule that dramatically changes the analysis on what constitutes a “public charge” for new immigrants.  The new rule was likely to impact large numbers of immigrants, making them inadmissible to the United States.  This rule, which would have been effective October 15, expanded the types of public benefits relevant to the public charge analysis to include food, housing, and cash assistance as well as most forms of Medicaid.

The previous standard, which was in place for decades, applied a much more limited standard for what constitutes a “public charge.”  In a separate action, Federal Courts enjoined the enforcement of an October 4th presidential proclamation, requiring immigrants to show that they have health insurance before entering the United States.

We expect further developments on both actions in the future, as this litigation remains ongoing.  For more information about the effects of this rule, please do not hesitate to contact Karen Moss or Brad Ortman via email or telephone at 216-621-7227.

Proposed Legislation Remains Pending That Would Alter The Immigrant Visa Quota System

There has been much legislative action on the issue of employment-based immigrant quotas, but no concrete changes as of now.  In July, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Fairness for High Skilled Workers of 2019 Bill (H.R. 1044). The bill aims to eliminate the per-country limit for all employment-based immigrants and increase the per-country limit for all family-sponsored immigrants.

This bill would have a profound effect, reducing the permanent residence processing times for employment-based immigrants from countries with long backlogs, most notably India and China.  One consequence of this bill, however, is that those from other countries that do not currently face backlogs, will face such backlogs as a result of the redistribution of the visa numbers.  A companion bill is pending in the Senate, which has dozens of co-sponsors, but this bill has yet to be voted upon.  There are other bills pending in the Senate that would address the issue of immigrant visa quotas as well, including one spearheaded by Senator Durbin and another promoted by Senator Rand Paul.  As of now, none of these Senate bills have been voted upon.

Expansive Scrutiny Of Social Media Of Foreign Nationals Advances

This past summer the U.S. Department of State added new questions on both immigrant visa and non-immigrant visa application forms, requiring foreign nationals to disclose the social media platforms that they have used for the past five years and to provide the usernames that they have used for these platforms.  Passwords do not need to be disclosed.

The effort to scrutinize social media has now advanced further, as the Department of Homeland Security published a proposed federal rule in September that would add similar social media questions to numerous immigration applications, including naturalization, adjustment of status, asylum, ESTA, and the removal of conditions for permanent residence.  This effort is likely to affect as many as 33 million people, and it raises serious First Amendment concerns, as well as concerns about right to privacy and racial profiling not to mention the workability of how the government would review this information.  These interests will all be balanced against the government stated law enforcement needs, as this initiative originates from an executive order titled, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”

Continue Using The Current Form I-9 Until Further Notice

USCIS recently instructed employers across the United States to continue using the current Form I-9, even though the form had an August 31, 2019 expiration date.  This form, which employers are required to complete to ensure the employment eligibility of new hires, has been in place since 2017.  The agency expects a new form to be produced imminently.

*             *             *

If you have questions or would like to learn more about the items discussed above, please contact Karen Moss or Brad Ortman of the Immigration Law Group at Nicola, Gudbranson & Cooper via email or at (216) 621-7227.

Bradley L. Ortman and Karen Gabriel Moss
Nicola, Gudbranson & Cooper LLC

This Immigration Law Update contains general information that should not be considered legal advice or legal opinion concerning individual situations. Legal counsel should be consulted for specific advice.

Copyright 2019 by Nicola, Gudbranson & Cooper LLC