Virginia, US

Nov 21 2014

Fragomen Immigration Update: November 14 - 21, 2014

Australia, Czech Republic, Kenya, Nigeria, Romania, Rwanda, United States

In United States immigration news, President Obama has offered a collection of initiatives that, among other things, should permit earlier filing of employment-based adjustment of status applications, broaden employment authorization opportunities for STEM-degree graduates of U.S. institutions, and expand employment authorization for certain spouses of skilled nonimmigrants in line for a green card. Actions will also include an expansion of DACA relief and deferred action to certain parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Several of these proposals are only preliminary, and may change as they move through the process. 

Holders of Subclass 400 (Temporary Work) visas will be able to request to stay in Australia for a maximum stay of up to six months, effective November 23, 2014. Employers and foreign nationals will be required to demonstrate a strong business justification in order to take advantage of the longer stay option, according to new draft policy guidelines.

Romanian employers filing work permit applications for non-EU foreign nationals could face delays and additional labor market testing requirements due to the implementation of a new adjudication system, known in Romania as the ‘Approval Scheme.’ 

In Kenya, procedural changes and increased enforcement of local understudy requirements have led to delayed work permit processing at the Kenyan Department of Immigration Services and have increased uncertainty regarding the outcome of pending applications. 

These items and other news from Czech Republic, Nigeria, Rwanda and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, November 21, 2014

President Announces Plans for Business Immigration, Removal Relief

The President has offered a collection of initiatives that, among other things, should permit earlier filing of employment-based adjustment of status applications, broaden employment authorization opportunities for STEM-degree graduates of U.S. institutions, and expand employment authorization for certain spouses of skilled nonimmigrants in line for a green card. Actions will also include an expansion of DACA relief and deferred action to certain parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Several of these proposals are only preliminary, and may change as they move through the process.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Australia, November 19, 2014

Maximum Stay Period for Subclass 400 Visa Increased, But Longer Stays Must Have Strong Business Justification

Holders of Subclass 400 (Temporary Work) visas will be able to request to stay in Australia for a maximum stay of up to six months, effective November 23, 2014. Employers and foreign nationals will be required to demonstrate a strong business justification in order to take advantage of the longer stay option, according to new draft policy guidelines.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Kenya, November 17, 2014

Increased Enforcement Efforts, Procedural Changes Lead to Delays

Procedural changes and increased enforcement of local understudy requirements have led to delayed work permit processing at the Kenyan Department of Immigration Services and increased uncertainty regarding the outcome of pending applications.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Romania, November 14, 2014

Additional Labor Market Testing Requirements, Delays Possible Under New Adjudication System

Romanian employers filing work permit applications for non-EU foreign nationals could face delays and additional labor market testing requirements due to the implementation of a new adjudication system, known in Romania as the ‘Approval Scheme.’

To view entire article, click here.

 

Other Immigration News This Week

United States: DHS Designates TPS for Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone – Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson announced the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone for 18 months, due to the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in West Africa. Effective November 21, 2014 through May 21, 2016, eligible nationals of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone who are currently residing in the United States may apply for TPS and obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). 

To be eligible for TPS, applicants must demonstrate that they satisfy all eligibility criteria, including that they have been both “continuously residing” in the United States since November 20, 2014 and “continuously physically present in” the United States since November 21, 2014, and must undergo security checks. Details on eligibility and filing requirements are available in the Federal Register notices and on the TPS website at www.uscis.gov/tps

Liberians currently covered under the two-year extension of Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) based on President Obama’s September 26, 2014 memorandum may apply for TPS within the initial 180-day registration period. Liberians covered by DED who already possess or have applied for an EAD do not need to apply for a new EAD related to the TPS designation. However, such individuals who are granted TPS may request a TPS-related EAD at a later date as long as the TPS designation for Liberia remains in effect. 

United States: USCIS Updates H-2B Cap Count - USCIS reports that as of November 17, 2014, it had received filings on behalf of 12,658 H-2B beneficiaries for the first half of FY 2015. Of these, 11,128 had been approved and 1,530 remained pending. The cap for each half-year is 33,000, but USCIS accepts filings in excess of the cap because some cases will be denied or withdrawn and because employers may ultimately employ fewer H-2B beneficiaries than reflected in their petitions. 

Czech Republic: Fast Track Process Suspended Until 2015 - Applications submitted under the Fast Track program after November 20, 2014 will not be accepted or processed until January 1, 2015, according to an announcement from the Ministry of Trade of Czech Republic. In the meantime, companies can submit a standard application or wait until January to file a Fast Track application. Accepted applications will be processed as usual. Companies registered for the Fast Track program should receive official notification of the suspension from the Ministry. 

Nigeria: Government Proposes Significant Fee Increases - The Federal Ministry of Interior has confirmed that it is considering a proposal for a 100-200 percent fee increase for Business Permits, Expatriate Quota Permits, renewals, Naturalization and Special Immigrant Status Permits, among others, by the end of the year. The Ministry has also proposed expedited and online application services for these and other permits. 

Rwanda: Entry Visas Required for Eight Nationalities - Effective November 1, 2014, nationals of Australia, Germany, Israel, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, the UK and the US require a visa to enter Rwanda. Visas can be obtained upon arrival in Rwanda, in Rwandan missions abroad, or online. The visa is valid for 30 days and the entry fee is USD 30.

 

Global Immigration News Links 

  • Congress cannot use spending bills to defund U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services - the main agency that would carry out President Obama’s executive order on immigration, according to Bloomberg.
  • CNN reports that congressional Republicans are vowing to fight President Barack Obama's plan to make immigration changes through executive action, but they are struggling with how to proceed without triggering another government shutdown. Some Republicans are hoping the Supreme Court will overturn the executive orders.
  • Austin Fragomen and Careen Shannon discuss how a federal court criticized USCIS’s narrow interpretation of L-1B visa eligibility. In a recent decision with potentially broad applicability to sponsoring employers, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit overturned USCIS’s denial of an L-1B visa petition and criticized the agency’s inconsistent adjudication of L-1B specialized knowledge cases.
  • The Migration Policy Institute launched a data tool offering national and state-level estimates of the 11.4 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, including population size, countries and regions of origin, recency of arrival, and educational enrollment and attainment, among other statistics.
  • New plans from the UK Labor party could impose a £10 fee to incoming visitors from nations with visa waivers for the UK, which would be used to fund UK border guards.
  • Switzerland’s vote to cap immigration to 0.2 percent is in part fueled by the desire to reduce or maintain urban sprawl and retain agricultural area.
  • As Italians cross the Switzerland border daily for work, Swiss people in Ticino are finding it hard to ignore the battle for jobs as companies can pay Italians less than native Swiss, increasing the concern and need for immigration reform.

 

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