By Angelo A. Paparelli

The English nursery rhyme was wrong.  Not only do sticks and stones break our bones, but words can also hurt us.  A lot.  This is the lesson recently imparted by Tracy Renaud, the Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  In a recent internal memorandum, Renaud is insisting on a new set of descriptors for the foreign citizens whom her agency serves, banishing into exile the word, “alien,” and the phrase, “illegal alien.” Henceforth, USCIS will use more inclusive language such as “noncitizen,” “undocumented noncitizen,” or “undocumented individual.” See the reports in Axios and BuzzFeed News.

This is a welcome change.  For far too long, the exhausting and fearsome journey of U.S. immigration has been made more difficult by the hurtful taunt, “alien,” a word employed throughout the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).  Reportedly, the Biden Administration in its comprehensive reform bill would likewise excise the offensive word, and substitute “noncitizen” at every point where  “alien” now appears in the INA, the U.S. Code, uncodified statutes, and all agency regulations and executive branch communications (something California did in 2015, while opting instead for “foreign national,” rather than “noncitizen”).  In addition, we understand that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers have likewise received instructions to remove the word, “alien,” from its template notices to employers that, following a Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification)  investigation, “unauthorized aliens” have been found on the employer’s payroll.
Continue Reading Inclusive Immigration: USCIS Nixes “Alien” Terminology But Much More Must Be Done

Buried within the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) website is seemingly recent guidance regarding how to update “virtual” Forms I-9 after companies return to “normal business operations.” While it’s unclear when the guidance was actually published, we have been predicting an update to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Form I-9 Examples Related to Temporary COVID-19 Policies released in late June and further updated on July 27. So the fact that this guidance is now appearing comes as no surprise.

By way of background, on March 20, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced interim guidelines to temporarily ease I-9 compliance for employers operating remotely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. ICE has since issued several extensions to the “virtual” guidance, with the latest one currently set to expire on November 19. Under this guidance, employers are authorized to complete the Section 2 verification or Section 3 re-verification process remotely, relaxing the USCIS Form I-9 instructions mandating an in-person review of work eligibility and identification documents. ICE expects the worksite to be 100% remote to utilize the relaxed guidance. This exception, therefore, is not available when employees are physically present at an employer’s work location.

As we have discussed in prior blog postings, virtual I-9 completion is a “two-touch” process. Physical inspection must take place within three business days after normal operations resume. While “normal operations” have not yet been defined by the government, we expect that individual companies – not the government – will define the resumption of “normal operations.” Accordingly, we continue to recommend that businesses memorialize decisions, including “phase-ins” and other timelines, individual employee anomalies, and any related protocols adopted relating to the timing of returning to work.


Continue Reading Hidden ICE Guidance On Virtual I-9s

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

By: Tieranny Cutler, Cheryl Gardner & Jason Burritt

Seyfarth Synopsis:  U.S. employers, applicants for immigration benefits, and other stakeholders should be aware of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) application fee increases and form changes scheduled to take effect on October 2, 2020.
Continue Reading USCIS to Implement Significant Fee Changes on October 2, 2020

By Angelo A. Paparelli

Much like patient vintners, federal immigration agencies often take time to offer up a grand cru.  One such agency, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Homeland Security component that administers the legal immigration system, just produced a long-awaited, delectable quaff. On May 5, it issued a policy memorandum that anointed as binding precedent an administrative appellate decision which at long last blesses modern practices in business transformations.
Continue Reading No Whine before its Time: USCIS Recognizes Immigration Successorship in Interest for Multinational Executives and Managers

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

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

Seyfarth Synopsis: E-Verify has offered guidance to employers to address concerns with expiring State Drivers’ Licenses and Identification Documents. The guidance, though, fails to address the situation where states have not granted temporary Driver’s Licenses or IDs extensions.

In response to queries sent by Seyfarth and other groups, E-Verify provided additional guidance addressing the COVID-19 National Emergency. We expect E-Verify to release a full  FAQ in the next week. Today’s guidance addresses the expiration of State Drivers’ Licenses and Identification Documents where employees are unable to renew these documents because of closures or limited services at Department of Motor Vehicles (DMVs).  In light of the National Emergency many states have extended the validity of these documents.
Continue Reading E-Verify COVID-19 Guidance on Expired Driver’s Licenses and State IDs

Seyfarth Synopsis: The outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has resulted in unprecedented travel restrictions, U.S. consular appointment cancellations, and changes to USCIS operations. To help navigate these challenges, Seyfarth is providing a brief summary of recent developments from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of State, and U.S. Department of Labor.

Updates from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Continue Reading COVID-19 Immigration Updates From the Agencies