Switzerland: Increased Work Permit Quotas for 2018

The Swiss Federal Council has released the following work permit quotas effective January 1, 2018:

 

Non-EU (European Union)/EFTA (European Free Trade Area) Nationals

  • B Permits: 3500 long term permits (an increase of 500);
  • L Permits: 4500 short term permits (no increase);

EU/EFTA Nationals

  • B Permits: 500 long term permits (an increase of 250);
  • L Permits: 3000 short term permits (an increase of 1000).

 

The above permits apply for assignments of greater than four months or 120 days. 

In light of the increased and consistent demands for work permits in Switzerland, the increase in quota levels may still not be enough to meet the demand.  Shortages are still expected towards the end of the next calendar year once the quota levels run low.

Please reach out to the attorney overseeing your case or Meg Jalandoni for advice on next steps, and follow us on Twitter for real-time updates as they become available.

Suspension of Non-Immigrant Visas for U.S. Citizens to Turkey

The United States and Turkey have both suspended all non-immigrant visas effective immediately on October 8, 2017. The indefinite suspension prevents Turks from traveling to the US, and vice versa, on non-immigrant visas, which include tourist, business, student, and official/diplomatic visas. This applies to all sticker visas, electronic visas, and border visas.

The suspensions were prompted by the recent arrest in Istanbul of a U.S. consulate employee, who is a Turkish national. The arrest was made in connection with the employee’s alleged ties to cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has been in exile from Turkey and living in the U.S. since 1999. The Turkish president has blamed Gulen for last year’s military coup attempt in the country, and has pushed for the US to extradite him.

Please reach out to the attorney overseeing your case or Sam Adair for advice on next steps, and follow us on Twitter for real-time updates as they become available.

Presidential Proclamation Further Restricts Travel into United States

On Sunday, September 24, 2017, the president, Donald J. Trump, issued a Proclamation that will have an impact on some of our clients. This Proclamation replaces the previous Executive Orders restricting admissions to the U.S. of citizens of certain designated countries.

Who is Impacted

The new Proclamation will restrict admission to the United States for an indefinite period for certain citizens of the following countries: Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, and Somalia. The travel restrictions under this proclamation vary depending on the country of citizenship and will be outlined in more detail below for each country.

  1. Chad: The entry into the U.S. of nationals of Chad is suspended for both immigrants, and as nonimmigrants on business (B-1), tourist (B-2), and business/tourist (B-1/B-2) visas.
  2. Iran: The entry into the U.S. by Iranian nationals as both immigrants and nonimmigrants is suspended. One exception to this for Iranian nationals are those who are coming to the U.S. on valid student (F and M) and exchange visitor (J) visas.
  3. Libya: The entry into the U.S. of nationals of Libya is suspended for both immigrants, and as nonimmigrants on business (B-1), tourist (B-2), and business/tourist (B-1/B-2) visas.
  4. North Korea: The entry into the U.S. of nationals of North Korea as immigrants and nonimmigrants is suspended.
  5. Syria: The entry into the U.S. of nationals of Syria as immigrants and nonimmigrants is suspended.
  6. Venezuela: The entry of certain government employees of the government of Venezuela and their immediate family members are suspended as well as nonimmigrants on business (B-1), tourist (B-2), and business/tourist (B-1/B-2) visas. Other travelers from Venezuela will be subjected to additional security measures which will likely mean delays in visa issuance and secondary inspection upon arrival at the airport.
  7. Yemen: The entry into the U.S. of nationals of Yemen is suspended for both immigrants, and as nonimmigrants on business (B-1), tourist (B-2), and business/tourist (B-1/B-2) visas.
  8. Somalia: The entry of nationals of Somalia as immigrants is suspended. Additionally, visa adjudications for nationals of Somalia and decisions regarding their entry as nonimmigrants will be subject to additional scrutiny and delays. They are likely to face secondary inspection upon arrival in the U.S.

The order specifically exempts the following categories of people:

  • Lawful permanent residents of the United States;
  • Any foreign national who is admitted to or paroled into the United States on or after the effective date of this order;
  • Any foreign national holding a document other than a visa that is valid on the effective date of this order or issued at any time there after that permits travel to the U.S. (such as an advanced parole document);
  • Any dual national of a designated country who travels to the U.S. on their passport from a non-designated country;
  • Any foreign national who has been granted asylum; any refugee who has already been admitted to the United States; or anyone granted coverage under the Convention Against Torture; or
  • Anyone traveling on a diplomatic or diplomatic-type visa.

The proclamation does list out possible waivers available in limited circumstances that may be available to those impacted by this travel ban, however, at this time it is not clear what the process will be to apply for a waiver and how regularly or freely they will be given. We will continue to monitor developments on this front and update clients accordingly. If you have questions about whether you are covered under this travel ban you should reach out to the attorney overseeing your case or Sam Adair for advice on next steps. Graham Adair is closely monitoring any new developments and we will release information as it becomes available. Please check back to our website for further updates and follow us on Twitter for real time updates as they become available.

Trump Rescinding DACA

It was announced on September 5, 2017 that the executive order on the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) would be rescinded by the Trump Administration on March 5, 2018. This summary is provided to employers who may have employees currently working on Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) that were issued pursuant to DACA. This summary only addresses issues relating to employees who currently hold work authorization pursuant to DACA and not to any new potential applicants for DACA.

First, the rescission of DACA will go into effect on March 5, 2018. The USCIS will continue to accept DACA EAD extension requests until October 5, 2017. Any currently valid EAD cards will continue to be valid through their current expiration dates. Any applications that are filed and received by October 5, 2017 for extensions of previously approved DACA EADs should be granted for an additional two years. These applications for extensions can be filed 180 days prior to the expiration date on the current document.

We recommend that no one who has been granted DACA travel outside of the U.S. even if they are in possession of a valid Advanced Parole document that was previously issued. All pending Advanced Parole travel document applications will be administratively closed and refunded. The administration seems to be signaling that travel is not advisable and since we cannot control the risk here, we are advising against any international travel.

We recommend that you attempt to identify any employees currently working pursuant to DACA, and that they be informed that they can speak to one of the attorneys at Graham Adair about their status in order to determine what steps, if any, can be taken to protect their status going forward. This should happen as soon as possible to ensure that all eligible extensions are filed by October 5, 2017.

While this does give Congress some time to act and to legislatively protect the work authorization and status of these individuals, it is not a significant amount of time and therefore any employees currently working pursuant to DACA may be forced off of payroll when their EAD cards expire. We recommend that companies confirm that their I-9 re-verification processes are active and in place to catch any potential issues with expiring work authorization cards.

New In-Person Interview Mandate for Green Card Applicants

The USCIS announced that certain applicants for green cards will now be required to partake in an in-person interview. This new mandate will apply to anyone moving from an employment-based visa to permanent residency. Visa holders who are family members of refugees or people who receive asylum will also be subject to an in-person interview when they apply for provisional status, which must be met before a green card is distributed. This change is expected to significantly slow down the process of obtaining a green card. 

Further details about this new mandate have yet to be announced, but Graham Adair is closely monitoring any new developments, and we will release information as it becomes available. Please reach out to the attorney overseeing your case or Sam Adair for advice on next steps, and follow us on Twitter for real-time updates as they become available.

Temporary Suspension of Nonimmigrant Visa Operations in Russia

On August 21, 2017, the U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Russia announced a temporary suspension of all nonimmigrant visa (NIV) operations across Russia beginning August 23, 2017. The halt is a result of the Russian government’s personnel cap imposed on the U.S. Mission to Russia. Beginning September 1, nonimmigrant visa interviews will only be conducted at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow; NIV interviews at the U.S. Consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and Vladivostok are suspended until further notice.

Because of the cap on staff numbers, visa operations will resume on a greatly reduced scale. The staffing changes will also affect the scheduling of some immigrant visa applicants. Affected applicants will be contacted if there is a change as to the time and date of their interview.

Premium Processing Suspension Lifted for Qualifying Cap-Exempt Organizations

USCIS announced that it is resuming premium processing for petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries who will be employed at qualifying cap-exempt institutions and organizations. Qualifying institutions and organizations include:

  • An institution of higher education;
  • A nonprofit related to or affiliated with an institution of higher education; or
  • A nonprofit research or governmental research organization.

Starting today, qualifying cap-exempt institutions and organizations can submit Form I-907 along with an I-129 petition or they can submit the Form I-907 to upgrade a currently pending I-129 petition to premium processing.

USCIS says it plans to resume premium processing for all other H-1B petitions as workloads permit, but as of right now, the premium processing suspension still stands for all other H-1B petitions.

Sam Adair Talks to the LA Times About Delayed Startup Visa

Sam Adair was recently quoted in Tracey Lien’s Los Angeles Times article “Trump administration delays ‘start-up visa’ program for immigrant entrepreneurs.” In the article, Sam discusses the drawbacks of delaying implementation of the Obama-era startup visa.

“It’s an unfortunate thing, because there are no real winners in this implementation,” Sam said. “It’s bad for the economy, it’s certainly bad for job creation, and it is definitely stifling to innovation.”

Click here to read the full article.

A Restriction on Visitors from Six Predominantly Muslim Nations will be Enforced as the Supreme Court Prepares to Hear a Broader Challenge

On June 26, 2017, the Supreme Court lifted part of the injunction that prevented implementation of President Trump’s Executive Order, Protecting the National from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States. The Supreme Court also agreed to review legal arguments from the two federal court cases stemming from the Executive Order, which calls for a temporary suspension of entry of foreign nationals from six predominantly Muslim countries, this October.

The Supreme Court will allow the executive branch to implement the travel ban under strict limits, stating that the travel ban cannot be imposed on individuals who have “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” On June 28, 2017, the State Department issued a cable to U.S. consulates and embassies on how to apply the limited travel ban that will go into effect this evening. The cable defines individuals having a bona fide relationship with a person in the United States as “close family.” The cable’s definition of “close family” encompasses the following individuals:

  • Parent (including parent-in-law)
  • Spouse
  • Child
  • Adult son or daughter
  • Son-in-law
  • Daughter-in-law
  • Sibling, whether whole or half, including step relationships
  • Fiancée

The cable goes on to say that “close family” does not include the following:

  • Grandparents
  • Grandchildren
  • Aunts
  • Uncles
  • Nieces
  • Nephews
  • Cousins
  • Brothers-in-laws and sisters-in-law
  • Fiancés
  • Any other ‘extended’ family members

The cable states that individuals claiming a bona fide relationship with a U.S. entity must have a formal, documented relationship with the U.S. entity, a relationship that was formed in the ordinary course rather than for the purpose of evading the Executive Order. The cable provides examples of bona fide relationships with U.S. entities, including the following:

  • An eligible I visa applicant employed by foreign media that has a news office based in the U.S.
  • Students who have been admitted to U.S. educational institutions
  • A worker who accepted an offer of employment from a company in the U.S.
  • A lecturer invited to address an audience in the U.S.

Precisely how this cable’s framework will be implemented remains to be seen. We will provide updates on this breaking story as it develops.

Chad Graham Speaks to San Francisco Chronicle About Stricter Visa Vetting

Chad Graham was recently quoted in Trisha Thadani’s San Francisco Chronicle article “For some U.S. Visitors, ‘Extreme Vetting’ is Here.” In the article, Chad discusses how increased visa vetting policies make personal information subject to inspection upon request, and expresses his concerns about how visa processing as a whole can become more subjective as a result.

Read the full article here.

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