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Seyfarth Synopsis: If Congress fails to pass a funding bill by midnight on Friday, April 28, resulting in a federal government shutdown, it would trigger numerous immigration-related ripple effects on employers, both large and small. The federal government, through its various agencies, plays a key role in authorizing and regulating the employment of foreign citizens

Seyfarth Synopsis: The EO orders the Departments of State, Justice, Labor, and Homeland Security to propose new rules and issue new guidance to “protect the interests of U.S. workers” and “promote the functioning of the H-1B visa program.”

On Tuesday, April 18, President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) instructing the Secretary of State, the

Seyfarth Synopsis: USCIS completes the lottery process and receives 199,000 H-1B cap petitions.

On April 17, 2017, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it received 199,000 H-1B petitions to meet both the Master’s and regular H-1B quotas (or “caps”) for Fiscal Year 2018, which begins on October 1, 2017.  This means

On March 17, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued a cable to all diplomatic and consular posts worldwide calling for the immediate implementation of heightened screening of visa applications.  Through the cable, Secretary Tillerson instructed consular posts to undertake additional screening measures based on the conclusions of the interagency working groups mandated by the President’s Executive Order.  Visa processing screens at U.S. consular posts will be more invasive and time-consuming for certain individuals, particularly those from the countries listed in the President’s most recent Executive Order and those from Iraq.
Continue Reading New Department of State Cable Implements Extreme Vetting Measures

Seyfarth Synopsis: The UK Parliament has passed the EU Withdrawal Bill, paving the way for the Government to invoke Article 50, the mechanism for leaving the European Union, by the end of March 2017. 

On March 13, 2017, the UK Parliament passed the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill.  The Bill’s purpose is to allow the Prime Minister to notify the European Union of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Union, through invocation of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, has previously indicated that she wishes to make the notification, triggering such withdrawal, before the end of March 2017.  The passing of this Bill now makes such a timetable likely.

What Will Happen Next?

Once Article 50 has been invoked, the United Kingdom will enter into a period of negotiation with the European Union.  The parties have a period of two years to negotiate an exit agreement for the UK.  If no agreement has been reached by the end of the two year period, all EU Treaties that apply to the UK will be void, unless the European Council (comprised of the Heads of all Member States) agrees to continue the negotiations.

Continue Reading U.K. Parliament Passes Brexit Bill

USCIS recently announced that the agency will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions beginning on April 3, 2017.  USCIS indicates the purpose of the suspension is to process H-1B petitions that have been pending for many months, including in particular those approaching the 240-day automatic extension limitation, which would thereby reduce overall H-1B processing times.  Please find below a list of frequently asked questions with our insights.

1.  What is the effective date of the suspension?

The premium processing suspension is effective on April 3, 2017.  The last day that USCIS will accept H-1B petitions filed with premium processing is Friday, March 31, 2017.

2. How long will the suspension last?

USCIS states that the suspension may last up to six months.  USCIS imposed a similar suspension in the past and lifted the suspension early.

3.  Does the suspension apply only to H-1Bs or other visa categories?

The suspension is limited to H-1B petitions only.  This includes H-1B petitions seeking to extend status, amend status, change status, consular process, or change employers.

4.  Can H-1B petitions be filed with premium processing in the month of March?  If so, will USCIS continue to honor premium processing cases if they are still pending beyond April 3rd?

Yes, USCIS will accept an H-1B petition filed with premium processing on or before Friday, March 31, 2017.  We anticipate that any H-1B petition filed with premium processing that is receipted on or before March 31st will receive the full benefit of premium processing, even if the adjudication continues beyond April 3rd.  However, based on the posted USCIS announcement, the agency has discretion to refund premium processing fees if the agency has not taken adjudicative action on the case within  the 15-calendar-day premium processing period.

Continue Reading USCIS Suspends H-1B Premium Processing Beginning April 3, 2017

Following the challenges to the January 27, 2017 Executive Order titled Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals, on March 6, 2017 President Trump signed a new Executive Order titled Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.  This new Executive Order will go into effect on March 16, 2017 and includes many changes to the original order, particularly with regard to who is subject to the temporary travel ban.

The New Executive Order

The new Executive Order suspends entry of foreign nationals from countries designated by President Trump as representing a recognized threat, warranting additional scrutiny of nationals seeking to enter the United States.  The six countries included in the temporary ban are Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.  The new Executive Order removes Iraq from the list of impacted countries.  In the Executive Order, President Trump indicates these countries were designated as countries of concern by the Obama administration and Congress, and he cites the Department of State’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2015 (June 2016) to demonstrate the heightened risks posed by nationals of these countries.  The Executive Order imposes a 90-day suspension on entry to the United States to allow the U.S. government to conduct a review and analysis of the national security risks.  As with the previous order, this order leaves open the possibility of including additional countries on the list.

Specifically, the suspension of entry to the U.S. applies only to foreign nationals of the designated countries who are outside the United States on the effective date of the order (March 16, 2017), did not have a valid visa at 5:00 p.m. EST on January 27, 2017, and do not have a valid visa on the effective date of the order.

As for other aspects of the new Executive Order, the Visa Interview Waiver Program will again be suspended, as it was in the previous order.  Visa applicants from all countries will need to apply in person at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.   The Executive Order confirms that no immigrant or nonimmigrant visa issued before March 16, 2017 should be revoked, and any individual whose visa was revoked or canceled as a result of the prior Executive Order should be entitled to a travel document confirming permission to travel to the U.S. and seek entry.  In addition, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) will continue to adjudicate all naturalization, immigrant, and non-immigrant visa petitions and applications regardless of nationality.

Exemption from the Travel Ban

The following groups of foreign nationals are exempt:

Lawful Permanent Residents — also known as “LPRs” or “green card holders” — are not subject to this temporary travel ban.  This includes those individuals who hold passports from any of the six designated countries.

Dual nationals — individuals from one of the six listed countries who are also a citizen of a non-designated country — are not subject to the travel ban if they seek entry to the U.S. using a passport issued by a non-designated country.

Nonimmigrant Visa Holders — provided that the visa stamp was issued prior to January 27, 2017 and remains valid.

Foreign nationals holding a valid Advance Parole document.


Continue Reading Revised Travel Ban: President Trump Signs New Executive Order

Seyfarth Synopsis: This BIG Blog post addresses fourteen Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) from employers and foreign nationals regarding President Trump’s recent Executive Order on immigration.

1.  I’m not from one of the listed countries but have international travel planned. Is there anything I should know or do?

If you are not from one of the listed countries and you have an unexpired visa stamp (or if you are Canadian and do not require a visa stamp), the Executive Order will not affect your ability to travel.  If you do not have an unexpired visa stamp and plan to apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad, you should anticipate visa appointment backlogs when scheduling your appointment.  In addition, we expect that Consular officers will screen visa applicants more thoroughly and will not hesitate to place visa applications under administrative processing, particularly if the applicant possesses a degree in an academic field that is on the government’s Technology Alert List, including degrees in Nuclear Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Biomolecular Engineering, and Cybersecurity.

2.  I’m currently traveling internationally but I am not from one of the listed countries.  Is there anything I need to be aware of about returning to the U.S.?

Similar to the above, despite your country of birth and/or your current citizenship, you must  be prepared for delays when entering into the U.S. Please make sure you are carrying and presenting all of the necessary documents for admission in your visa category.  In addition, we are hearing reports of Customs and Border Protection officers asking to search phone contacts and social media information.  Please keep this in mind as you plan your travel and enter the U.S Specifically, if you have a connecting flight after your initial entry into the U.S., allow additional time between those flights to get through the Customs and Border control screening process.

3.  I already have a “Drop-Box” confirmation; can I still use the Drop-Box?

Although we have heard reports from various U.S. Embassies and Consulates (specifically, those in the UK, Canada, and India) that the “Drop-Box” visa applications are still being honored, you should not rely on using the Drop-Box option and should make an appointment with a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, as the Drop-Box program can be suspended without notice.

Continue Reading Immigration-Related FAQs In Response to President Trump’s Recent Executive Orders, as of February 2, 2017