February 5, 2010

This week in immigration news, there have been several recent reports of H-1B and B-1 foreign nationals encountering increased scrutiny by Customs and Border Protection officers at the Newark and Philadelphia international airports. Though the incidents were apparently limited to these two airports, all H-1B, L-1 and B-1 foreign nationals – particularly those who will work or conduct business at client sites of their employers – should be prepared for more stringent inspections at any entry point to the United States, as the Department of Homeland enhances its enforcement of the rules governing the off-site employment of foreign workers.

In other news, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services suddenly issued and then quickly withdrew a new policy that would prohibit employers from allowing their outside counsel to sign immigration petitions and applications on their behalf under a power of attorney. The policy memo was apparently made public prematurely, but is expected to be re-released after the agency receives input from stakeholders in the immigration community.

These and other items from China, Israel, Brazil, Canada and France follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update. Remember that the Immigration Update is available through both e-mail and Web version by clicking on "View as Web Page" above.


Important Updates in Immigration This Week

February 4, 2010

United States
USCIS Withdraws New Signature Policy for Now

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has withdrawn a recent policy memo that would require applications and petitions submitted on behalf of a corporation or other legal entity to be signed by an authorized officer or employee of the entity. The agency is expected to reissue the memo with a delayed implementation date.
To view entire article, click here.
February 4, 2010

United States
Foreign Nationals Facing Increased Scrutiny at U.S. Ports of Entry

Foreign nationals – particularly H-1B and L-1 workers and B-1 business visitors who will be at a U.S. client site – should be prepared for closer questioning by Customs and Border Protection officials at ports of entry, and should be sure to carry appropriate documentation of their employment or business activities when traveling into the United States.
To view entire article, click here.
February 4, 2010

New Foreign Representative Limit and Reduced Registration Validity Period for Representative Offices in Shanghai

New Restrictions to be Implemented Throughout China in 2010
Representative offices in Shanghai are now subject to a limit of no more than four foreign representatives, including residents of Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan. In addition, registration certificates for representative offices in Shanghai are now valid for up to one year only, down from the prior usual validity period of three years. These new restrictions will apply throughout China as other cities and provinces implement them throughout 2010.
To view entire article, click here.
February 3, 2010

New Work Permit Restrictions and Enforcement Measures Announced

Employers seeking to sponsor foreign nationals for work permits will soon be subject to new restrictions and harsher penalties for noncompliance. Additionally, the Israeli Ministry of the Interior will no longer accept applications to sponsor foreign nationals to work in the areas controlled partially or fully by the Palestinian Authorities.
To view entire article, click here.
Other Immigration News This Week


United StatesUSCIS Updates H-2B Cap Statistics for FY 2010 - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has updated its H-2B cap statistics for Fiscal Year (FY) 2010. The agency is still accepting filings for H-2B employment in the first half of the fiscal year, which ends on March 31, 2010, but case receipts are approaching the quota for this period. As of January 29, 2010, the agency had received filings for 41,947 H-2B beneficiaries, against a receipt target of 47,000 beneficiaries for the first half of the fiscal year. Though the quota for the half-year is 33,000, USCIS uses the beneficiary target figure to account for cases that are ultimately denied, withdrawn, or revoked, as well as cases in which employers actually employ fewer H-2B workers than requested.

USCIS also continues to accept filings for H-2B employment in the second half of the fiscal year, which runs from April 1 to September 30, 2010. The agency had received filings for 13,034 H-2B beneficiaries for the second half of the fiscal year, also against a target of 47,000 beneficiaries.

USCIS’s official cap statistics are available at http://www.uscis.gov/h-1b_count.  

United States: Federal Court Strikes Down Provisions of Oklahoma Employer Sanctions Law - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has struck down two provisions of the Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act of 2007 that sought to regulate the employment of immigrants. The court found that the two provisions—which would have created a new civil action to penalize businesses that employ unauthorized workers and imposed a punitive tax on businesses that decline to verify the employment eligibility of independent contractors—are preempted by federal law. See Chamber of Commerce of the United States et al v. Edmonson, Nos. 08-6127 & 08-6128 (10th Cir., Feb. 2, 2010), available at http://www.ca10.uscourts.gov/opinions/08/08-6127.pdf.  

The court split on the lawfulness of a third provision mandating that all public contractors enroll in E-Verify - which means that, without a majority opinion on this issue, the District Court's injunction preventing the implementation of the E-Verify requirement remains in place.

Brazil: New Procedures for In-Country Registrations - The Foreign Division of the Federal Police Department of São Paulo in Brazil has changed the registration procedures for work permit holders. Foreign nationals holding work permits for employment in São Paulo must now schedule an appointment to register, using a password they can obtain from the Federal Police. Upon receiving the password, the foreign national will automatically receive instructions which will inform him or her of the date and time for the registration. On average, registration appointments occur 15 to 20 days after the request. Priority services are available, but only on a first-come-first-served basis upon presenting a confirmed airline ticket for a flight within the next 24 hours. As a result of these changes, the issuance of Brazilian documents such as CPF (registry of individual taxpayers) and CTPS (employment and social security booklet) will be delayed. Previously, work permits holders could register without an appointment in a single day.

Canada: Canadian Institutions of Higher Education Increase Acceptance Rate for Students from India - Canadian authorities have announced that Canadian universities and colleges have doubled the acceptance rate for students from India, due to the Student Partners Program, a joint program between Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and the Association of Canadian Community Colleges. Once accepted into a Canadian university, these students may qualify, upon graduation, for a post-graduate work permit. This type of work permit may facilitate their way to the Canadian permanent resident status. The full announcement from CIC is available by clicking here.

Government Fees for Immigration-Related Applications Increase – The government filing fees employers must pay when hiring or using the services of a foreign employee increased on January 1, 2010. The fees, which must be paid once at the time of filing, vary based on the nature of the work permit, the length of employment, and the foreign national's proposed salary. For foreign employees who will work in France for 12 months or more, the fees are now 60% of the foreign national's proposed monthly salary, up to a maximum of 2.5 times the legal minimum wage (SMIC) (or € 3,359.42). For foreign employees who will work in France for more than three months but less than 12 months, the fee varies based on the proposed salary and range from €70 to €300.

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