Department of Homeland Security

On August 25, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”) Deputy Director for Policy, Joseph Edlow, confirmed the agency no longer intends to furlough 13,000 employees at the end of the month. The message, circulating on social media and now posted on the USCIS website notes that while the doors of the agency will remain open through the end of FY 2020, there will be “aggressive spending” reductions impacting services across the board. USCIS is largely funded by filing fees, which support the agency’s operations, but USCIS claims the fees are not sufficient and accordingly announced a fee increase to take effect later this year.

Deputy Director Edlow warns that there will be operational impacts as a result of foregoing the planned furlough, that may include increased processing times for pending case queries, longer case processing times, and increased adjudication times for adjusting status and naturalizing. The message also notes that there is no guarantee that future furloughs can be avoided, leading him to call on Congress to take long-term action.
Continue Reading USCIS Furlough Averted, but Crisis Still Looms

On August 18, 2020, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that employers have an additional 30-day extension to the flexibilities in rules related to Form I-9 compliance. This relaxation of the requirement to defer the in-person, physical inspection of new hires’ identity and employment eligibility documentation was initially granted in March and will now expire on September 19, 2020. 
Continue Reading The 2020 Summer Defrost Continues: ICE Extends I-9 Flexibility

The trend of recent months to curtail employment-based immigration, purportedly prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, continues unabated. On August 3, 2020 President Trump issued yet another executive order, this one entitled, “Executive Order on Aligning Federal Contracting and Hiring Practices With the Interests of American Workers” (“EO” or “Executive Order”). The new EO focuses on federal contractors (and their subcontractors) who employ H-1B and other nonimmigrant foreign workers. While the Executive Order itself imposes no new entry or other immigration restrictions, it instructs the Department of Labor (“DOL”), Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), and other agencies and departments to take steps that undoubtedly will lay the groundwork to limit H-1B employment in the near future.
Continue Reading Another Day, Another Immigration Executive Order: Now Federal Contractors are Targeted

Posting early morning on July 20, but dated July 18, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirmed that employers have an additional 30-day extension to the flexibilities in rules related to Form I-9 compliance. This relaxation of the requirement to physically inspect all new hires’ identity and employment eligibility documentation was granted earlier this year, extended in May, and in June. The expiration date for these accommodations is now August 19, 2020.
Continue Reading Better Late Than Never: ICE Announces Another Extension to I-9 Compliance Flexibility

As of early Friday morning, July 17, there’s been no announcement by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirming whether it will continue the flexibility granted in the Form I-9 process, temporarily suspending the in-person physical inspection requirement.  ICE originally announced the relaxation on March 20, as employers were beginning to grapple with COVID-19 work-from-home and shelter-in-place orders. The initial guidance allowed companies to review “Section 2 documents remotely (e.g., over video link, fax or email, etc.) and obtain, inspect, and retain copies of the documents within three business days for purposes of completing Section 2.” The relaxation of this requirement was extended through Sunday, July 19. Employers who have been using the virtual process, and will need to switch gears over the weekend, are getting very nervous.   
Continue Reading Still No Word From ICE On Virtual I-9s

The Trump administration, in response to a lawsuit filed by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as several other suits, agreed to rescind its surprise Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) directive. We previously blogged about ICE’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) July 6th announcement, prohibiting foreign students from studying in the United States where their colleges and universities had canceled in-person class instruction.
Continue Reading Trump Administration Defrosts ICE’s International Student Directive

This blog was updated on July 8th to reflect the Harvard and MIT lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced a policy change on July 6 that will substantially disrupt higher education for the fall semester. This major change in policy was issued without any opportunity for notice and comment by the public.

Despite the resurgent COVID-19 pandemic, ICE announced that it will no longer continue to allow 100% online studies programs for F-1 (academic) and M-1 (vocational) students. ICE has directed international students who presently participate in 100% online studies programs must either (1) transfer to an ICE-approved educational institution that allows hybrid (online and in-person) or fully on-campus, in-person courses, or (2) leave the U.S. or (3) remain in the U.S. without the underlying support of the school and suffer the possible initiation of removal (deportation) proceedings. ICE also indicated that it would publish a temporary or interim final regulation to a similar effect.
Continue Reading ICE Gives the Cold Shoulder to Foreign Students

Seyfarth Synopsis: The Supreme Court allows DACA to proceed on the grounds that DHS did not meet the regulatory Administrative Procedures Act requirements in rescinding the program. The Court did not rule on the legality of the DACA program itself.

In the Supreme Court’s June 18th decision on Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California,  the Court rejected an attempt to dismantle the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on the grounds that the Administration failed to abide by regulatory procedures.
Continue Reading A Win for Dreamers: Supreme Court Rejects Bid to end DACA

In anticipation of the 10/21/19 version of the  Form I-9 becoming mandatory for use, on May 1, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) released the new M-274, Handbook for Employers. The M-274 is the handy companion to the Form I-9, and its importance should not be understated. The Handbook contains critical guidance on I-9 compliance, designed to supplement an employers’ understanding of its employment eligibility verification responsibilities and obligations. The M-274 contains 96 pages and should be used in conjunction with the Form I-9 instructions.
Continue Reading The Form I-9 & the New M-274- Handbook for Employers: Like Peanut Butter & Jelly

On April 24, 2020, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a targeted reopening date of June 4, 2020 for offices that are currently closed in response to COVID-19.

What is impacted by this reopening announcement?

This impacts offices that provide in-person services, including field offices, asylum offices and application support centers (ASCs).  On March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services temporarily suspended in-person services at these offices to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Continue Reading USCIS to Reopen Offices on June 4th