By: Dawn M. Lurie

On June 9, 2021 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) advised the public about its recent updates to the USCIS Policy Manual. Specifically, the USCIS updates:

  • Clarify the criteria and circumstances for expedited processing
    • The guidance discusses emergencies, restores benefits to non-profits, and discusses the relationship between ICE and USCIS when

By Angelo A. Paparelli

On June 1, 2021, President Biden heralded the 30 days when Spring transitions into Summer as “National Immigrant Heritage Month,” by issuing a Proclamation that paid homage to immigrants’ contributions past, and offered lofty, aspirational goals:

In every era, immigrant innovators, workers, entrepreneurs, and community leaders have fortified and defended us

Late in the day, on May 26, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced a 90-day extension for remote Form I-9 inspection, allowing flexibilities to continue through August 31, 2021.

While the U.S. appears to have turned a corner in the fight against COVID-19, most companies have yet to formulate and implement back to work policies. Thank you to ICE and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), for allowing these employers to head into the holiday weekend without having to worry about the fate of this anticipated extension.  And thank you for the 90 days, rather than the shorter 30 or 60-day extensions issued previously.

The Devil is in the Details

It would not be a exciting blog post, if we didn’t have something interesting to point out. The ICE announcement includes two confusing items:
Continue Reading Nothing “new” Other Than a 90 day Extension of Virtual I-9s

By: Angelo A. Paparelli

Seyfarth Synopsis: This is the fourth installment in a series of recommendations to the Biden Administration on immigration reform previously published by the Cato Institute in “Deregulating Legal Immigration: A Blueprint for Agency Action.”  Read the first, second, and third installments here.  A total of five installments will be published.  Please stay tuned for the final update.

Prohibit Regulatory Actions on USCIS Forms

USCIS should amend its regulations to stop automatically incorporating all form instruction changes into its regulations, bypassing notice and public comment procedures.

USCIS requires employers and applicants for immigration benefits to use forms that it creates to collect information.[i] Along with these forms, USCIS publishes detailed instructions that explain to applicants how they must fill out the form and the types of information or evidence that must be provided. USCIS’s regulations currently assert that all form instruction changes are incorporated into the regulations themselves.[ii] The clause allows the agency to evade a slew of federal statutes and presidential directives including the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the Regulatory Flexibility Act, Executive Orders 12866 and 13563, and OMB Circular A-4.[iii] It allows the agency to effectively change its regulations with only minimal notice under the Paperwork Reduction Act.
Continue Reading Prohibit Regulatory Actions on USCIS Forms

By: Angelo A. Paparelli

Seyfarth Synopsis: This is the third installment in a series of recommendations to the Biden Administration on immigration reform previously published by the Cato Institute in “Deregulating Legal Immigration: A Blueprint for Agency Action.”  Read the first and second installments here.  A total of five installments will be published on a

By: Angelo A. Paparelli

Seyfarth Synopsis: This is the second installment in a series of recommendations to the Biden Administration on immigration reform previously published by the Cato Institute in “Deregulating Legal Immigration: A Blueprint for Agency Action.”  Read the first installment here.  A total of five installments will be published on a weekly

By: Angelo A. Paparelli

Seyfarth Synopsis: This is the first installment in a series of recommendations to the Biden Administration on immigration reform previously published by the Cato Institute in “Deregulating Legal Immigration: A Blueprint for Agency Action.”  A total of five installments will be published on a weekly basis. Please stay tuned for additional

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