Government Shutdown Would Impact Immigration

A partial government shutdown could occur tonight at midnight if Congress and the President do not reach an agreement on a spending bill or continuing resolution. Although the House passed a spending bill on Thursday night, the Senate will likely reject the spending bill, since it includes $5 billion for the proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall.

If there is a shutdown, it will have the most significant impact on our clients who are starting H-1B petitions or have PERM applications in the works, as the Department of Labor will be shut down. This will most likely lead to delays in case processing. The impact of the delays will depend largely on how long the shutdown lasts. 

We are following this situation carefully. Shutdowns can harm persons seeking immigration benefits. We are undertaking measures to ensure any impact to our clients is minimal. For more frequent updates, please follow us on Twitter (@GrahamAdairLaw).

EU Settlement Scheme and Immigration Impact

Companies with European Union (EU) citizen employees in the United Kingdom (UK) and/or with UK citizen employees in the EU need to be aware of the impact of the potential deal reached between the UK government and the EU, the EU Settlement Scheme.

If the EU Settlement Scheme is approved by the UK Parliament (set to take place by Dec 21, 2018), after the UK leaves the EU on March 29, 2019, then EU citizens residing in the UK and UK citizens residing in the EU would be able to continue to be residents in the UK or EU, respectively, without material impediment.

The approval or non-approval of the EU Settlement Scheme could result in varying scenarios. 

Scenario One: EU Settlement Scheme Approved

For those EU citizens who entered the UK prior to Dec 31, 2020 (and have no serious criminal convictions), such persons would be eligible to obtain pre-/settled status. The EU Settlement Scheme is slated to become operational from March 30, 2019, and would likely give EU citizens (and their family members) a grace period to apply for pre-/settled status until June 30, 2021.  

Scenario Two: EU Settlement Scheme Not Approved

If there is not a deal reached, EU citizens residing in the UK by March 29, 2019 would still have their rights fully protected by the UK government. For EU citizens, however, there would not be an implementation period and EU citizens would only have until Dec 2020 to complete an application. 

Close Family Members of EU Citizens

Spouses and children of EU citizens with settled status can be joined in the UK until March 29, 2022, only if the relationship existed by March 29, 2019 (and continued to exist up to the time of application).  

To join EU citizen family members after March 29, 2022, the spouses and children will need to apply under UK Immigration Rules.  

Benefits and services will still be accessible for those EU citizens and family members lawfully residing in the UK by March 29, 2019. 

EU Identity Cards & UK Entry

Although EU identity cards will remain valid after January 1, 2021, after the UK government introduces its new immigration system, it is uncertain that EU citizens will still be able to use their national ID cards for UK entry. 

For further information on how this may affect your business, please consult with our attorneys. For more frequent updates, please follow us on Twitter (@GrahamAdairLaw).

Changes to Singapore S Pass Qualifying Salaries

Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has provided new minimum qualifying salary requirements for S Pass eligibility. Companies sponsoring foreign workers with S Passes in Singapore should note the following changes and their effective dates:

  • Effective January 1, 2019, the minimum qualifying salary for an S Pass will increase from SGD 2,200 to SGD 2,300 per month.
  • Effective January 1, 2020, the minimum qualifying salary for an S Pass will increase from SGD 2,300 to SGD 2,400 per month.

Companies should also note the following S Pass renewal requirements:

  • S Passes set to expire between January 1 and June 30, 2019 may be renewed for up to one year.
  • S Passes set to expire between July 1 and December 21, 2019 may be renewed if they meet the new minimum qualifying salary of SGD 2,300 per month.

Companies can use the MOM’s Self-Assessment Tool to check employee S Pass eligibility. For further information on how this may affect your business, please consult with our attorneys. For more frequent updates, please follow us on Twitter (@GrahamAdairLaw).

Chad Graham Quoted in San Francisco Chronicle on Proposed H-1B Visa Changes

Chad Graham was recently quoted in Melia Russell’s San Francisco Chronicle article “H-1B visa shift may favor tech companies.” In the article, Chad discusses the steps employers should take to comply with the upcoming changes to the H-1B program. He also comments on USCIS’ relatively short notice and public comment period, saying it likely “means they want to push it for this year.”

To read the full article, click here.

DHS Proposes Rule Affecting H-1B Selection Process

Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a notice of proposed rulemaking that affects all H-1B visa petitioners subject to the cap.

Electronic Registration
The proposed rule would require H-1B visa petitioners to electronically register with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) during a registration period. It is important to note that this rule provides significant leeway for USCIS to not implement this registration requirement for H-1B cap cases filed in April 2019. Considering the mandatory notice and comment period, followed by system testing, there likely will not be much advance notice. Companies should plan accordingly and be prepared for either scenario. USCIS anticipates that this change would help reduce the wait time for notifying applicants of cap selection.

Reversal of Selection Order for Advanced Degree Holders
The proposed rule also reverses the order by which H-1B petitions counted towards the cap are selected. Currently, when the H-1B cap and advanced degree exemption are both reached within the first five days of the filing period, petitions towards the advanced degree exemption are selected first. Under the proposed rule, all registrations or petitions would be counted towards the H-1B cap first. Once the cap is reached, USCIS would select registrations or petitions towards the advanced degree exemption. According to USCIS, the proposed change would lead to an estimated increase of up to 16 percent, or about 5,340 workers, in successful H-1B petitioners with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution.

For further information on how this may affect your business, please consult with our attorneys. For more frequent updates, please follow us on Twitter (@GrahamAdairLaw).

San Ysidro Port of Entry Reopened After 11/25 Closing

On Sunday, November 25, service at the San Ysidro Port of Entry on the Mexican border was suspended for several hours due to escalating tensions between migrants and U.S. Border Patrol in Tijuana.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection closed northbound, southbound, and pedestrian access to the Port around 11:30AM, reopening pedestrian access at 3:45PM and reopening the rest of north- and southbound vehicle access by 6PM. Extra personnel, including officers from Customs and Border Protection, Border Patrol, the Air Force, and the Marine Corps, were also deployed in response.

While the Port is currently open, clients should monitor the situation and plan accordingly, as complications may arise in the future without warning.

For further information on how this may affect your business, please consult with our attorneys. For more frequent updates, please follow us on Twitter (@GrahamAdairLaw).

DOL Updates H-1B Labor Condition Application and Worker Complaint Form

The United States Department of Labor (DOL) has announced updates to the H-1B Labor Condition Application form (Form ETA-9035) and the worker complaint form (Form WH-4), intended to promote business compliance and transparency with the H-1B program.

The Labor Condition Application Form will require new details about H-1B worker employment, including the following:

  • All places of employment for H-1B workers, including short-term positions.
  • Estimated number of H-1B workers at each intended place of employment.
  • Clear identification of secondary entities using H-1B workers.
  • Documentation of H-1B workers’ degrees, for employers who claim exemption solely on the basis of education.

The worker complaint form will include new fields for further details about alleged H-1B program violations.

The Office of Foreign Labor Certification will announce the date of the new forms’ availability on their website in the coming weeks.

For further information on how this may affect your business, please consult with our attorneys. For more frequent updates, please follow us on Twitter (@GrahamAdairLaw).

Residence Permits for Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan Employees in Mainland China

On September 1, 2018, the State Council set forth rules governing how HMT Residents apply for residence permits. HMT Residents may apply at local public security authorities for residence permits if they meet two requirements:

  1. They have resided on mainland China for more than 6 months.
  2. They meet one of three conditions: having employment, a stable residence, or continuously studying at a school.

Required documentation includes: an employment agreement or a certificate from the employer which can be used to prove the HMT Resident’s employment in the mainland; a housing lease or purchasing contract as proof of the resident’s stable residential address; and a student card or certificate from the school demonstrates the resident’s continuous study. An unexpired work permit may still serve as documentation of employment in the mainland until December 31, 2018.

Importantly, HMT Residents employed in the mainland can now use residence permits or their mainland travel permits to enroll in social insurance and housing fund programs. In accordance with Social Insurance Law, HMT Resident’s employed in the mainland should be enrolled in social insurance programs (except currently in Shanghai, as it has yet to implement the requirement). Housing fund enrollment is still on a voluntary basis.

It should be noted that HMT Resident’s do not include Chinese nationals who reside in Taiwan, Hong Kong, or Macao who possess a hukou (household registration in mainland China.)

Switzerland: New Quotas for Work Permit Applications in 2019

The Federal Council of Switzerland announced that new quotas for work permit applications submitted during the 2019 calendar year will be released on January 1, 2019.

Non-EU (European Union)/EFTA (Europeans Free Trade Area) Nation or Foreigners Seconded from an Employer Based Outside the EU/EFTA

  • 4,000 authorizations for “L” short-term permits (a decrease of 500 permits)
  • 4,500 authorizations for “B” long-term permits (an increase of 1,000 permits)

EU/EFTA Nationals or Foreigners Seconded from an Employer Based Inside the EU/EFTA

  • 3,000 authorizations for “L” short-term permits (no change)
  • 500 authorizations for “B” long-term permits (no change)

The above permit quotas apply to assignments of more than four (4) months or 120 days. Companies who are planning on potentially hiring or transferring non-EU-EFTA nationals and EU-EFTA nationals seconded to Switzerland in the 2019 calendar year will be affected.

Applicants representing the most important economic interest for Switzerland will be given preference, including executives, companies operating in the innovation sector which develop new mandates for the Swiss economy, sectors of activity with a severe lack of resources, and cases involving a high level of political implications. It is important to plan well in advance. Plan on submitting important applications well in advance of the end of the calendar year and of each quarter.

Please contact a Graham Adair attorney for further details.

1 2 3 4 16