US Citizenship and Immigration Services

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

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

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

Late Friday afternoon, April 3, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security posted the following questions and answers in response to stakeholders queries on Form I-9 obligations in the midst of COVID-19.  We applaud the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for taking the lead on coordinating these responses and anticipate they will continue to be responsive to employer queries. The Q&A reiterates the original Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) guidance, including confirming a hard deadline on timing- three days to complete the I-9 initially via a virtual/remote method and then three days to update with an in-person inspection once the business resumes normal operations. The Q&A also provides clarification on how to complete a Form I-9 with an expired driver’s license (sneak peek: use the actual expired date and write COVID-19 on the Form). Curiously the Q&A references electronic systems that don’t offer an additional information box field but suggests attaching a note to the I-9. The Q&A also confirms our suggestion, the person who views the documents  in -person should enter their name and date in the Additional Information Box.
Continue Reading New COVID-19 Q&As Related to Form I-9 and E-Verify

In-Person Services Suspended Until At Least May 3

In response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) developments, as of April 1, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated its office closures suspending routine in-person services until May 3rd.

What does this mean for cases in progress?

USCIS will reschedule appointments for applicants with permanent resident (green

Updated on March 30, 2020. USCIS has now clarified that the response date flexibility also applies to certain Notices of Intent to Revoke (NOIR) and Notices of Intent to Terminate (NOIT) regional investment centers, as well as certain filing date requirements for Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.  In summary, the USCIS announcement applies to an RFE, NOID, NOIR, NOIT or appealable decision within AAO jurisdiction and the issuance date listed on the request, notice or decision is between March 1, 2020 and May 1, 2020, inclusive. Unfortunately this guidance still does not address the issues relating to requests, dated prior to March 1st, but due now, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Seyfarth will keep you updated with any further clarifications.

Posted on March 27, 2020. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the difficulties applicants and petitioners are facing in meeting immigration related deadlines, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it has extended response deadlines by 60 days for certain types of Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and Notices of Intent to Deny (NOIDs). It is important to note that this accommodation does not change individual status expiration dates, or auto extension dates for employment authorizations.
Continue Reading A Step in the Right Direction: USCIS announces RFE AND NOID Extensions