May 17th, 2023
Immigration Policy News
- Employers Have 30 Days to Comply with I-9 Requirements Once Covid Flexibilities End
- USCIS Concerns After H-1B Initial Registration Period
- Religious Worker Green Card Retrogression Explained
- Diversity Visa Update
- State Department Plans Pilot for Domestic Visa Renewal
- Immigrants Sweeten the Hospitality Industry
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced on May 4th that employers will have 30 days to comply with Form I-9 employment verification requirements when COVID-related flexibilities expire July 31st. This means that employers will have until August 30, 2023 to conduct a physical examination of identity and employment authorization documents for any individuals who were hired on or after March 20, 2020 and whose documents were only reviewed remotely.
Back in March 2020, due to the pandemic, DHS announced that it would defer the requirement that employers review employment verification documents in-person until 3 business days following the end of the National Emergency or 60 days from the date of the notice, whichever was shorter. Moreover, upon the resumption of normal business operations DHS had announced employers would have three business days to comply with in-person review. Subsequent announcements over the last three years extended these flexibilities and set a clear end date. The May 4th announcement now gives employers more time to ensure they are in full compliance with I-9 requirements.
Concerns at USCIS After H-1B Initial Registration Period
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced at the end of March that it had received enough H-1B registrations to meet its quota, known as the H-1B cap, for FY 2024. An announcement that the H-1B category was once again oversubscribed was nothing new, but the seismic increase in registrations was certainly a shift. One which has raised concerns among all parties, including USCIS.
In 2020, USCIS implemented an electronic registration process for applicants in the H-1B lottery, which was a major efficiency improvement for the organization and those submitting applications.
In the most recent registration period for the FY2024 H-1B cap, USCIS saw a major increase in the volume of registrations compared to past years. Interestingly, USCIS saw an increase in:
- The total number of registrations.
- The number of registrations submitted on behalf of beneficiaries with multiple registrations.
- The number of registrations submitted on behalf of unique beneficiaries with only one registration.
This chart from USCIS shows registration and selection numbers for fiscal years 2021-2024 (as of April 24, 2023).
Cap Fiscal Year
Eligible Registrations for Beneficiaries with No Other Eligible Registrations
Eligible Registrations for Beneficiaries with Multiple Eligible Registrations
It is the second of the observed increases – beneficiaries with multiple registrations – that is the most cause for concern. While USCIS does accept multiple registrations for the same beneficiary, such a dramatic increase in these registrations leads to questions of potential fraud. Specifically, there was an unprecedented 147% increase in the number of eligible registrations for beneficiaries with multiple eligible registrations. A dramatic increase which has led USCIS to question the possibility that some petitioners may have tried to gain an unfair advantage by working together to submit registrations on behalf of the same beneficiary, unfairly increasing their chances of selection.
In response to these numbers, USCIS reminded the public that “each prospective petitioner is required to sign an attestation, under penalty of perjury, that:
- All of the information contained in the registration submission is complete, true, and correct;
- the registration(s) reflect a legitimate job offer; and
- the registrant, or the organization on whose behalf the registration(s) is being submitted, has not worked with, or agreed to work with, another registrant, petitioner, agent, or other individual or entity to submit a registration to unfairly increase chances of selection for the beneficiary or beneficiaries in this submission.”
USCIS has advised that if it finds that a prospective petitioner submitted a registration that violates the signed attestation, it may deny a petition, or revoke a petition approval. It may also refer the individual or entity who submitted a false attestation to appropriate federal law enforcement agencies. USCIS states:
Based on evidence from the FY 2023 and FY 2024 H-1B cap seasons, USCIS has already undertaken extensive fraud investigations, denied and revoked petitions accordingly, and is in the process of initiating law enforcement referrals for criminal prosecution.
Contact us to discuss your H-1B program or to learn more: email@example.com | 301.917.6900
Religious Workers: Why can’t you file for a green card right now if you have an I-360 approval?
Diversity Visa Update
Starting May 6th at noon, diversity visa (DV) lottery entrants were able to check the official State Department website to see whether they were selected to apply for a diversity visa. Selected entrants should follow the specific instructions contained on the confirmation page to move forward in the green card process. Successful applicants must receive their visas before the end of FY 2024 which ends on September 30, 2024, and therefore are encouraged to apply as early as possible. Entrants should anticipate some lagging on the DV Program website due to high traffic.
- Check Status: https://dvprogram.state.gov/
- Instructions for Checking Status: https://dvprogram.state.gov/ESC/Help.aspx#required
State Department Plans Pilot for Domestic Visa Renewal
The State Department announced its plans to launch a pilot program later this year that would allow H-1B and other temporary visa holders to review their visas without leaving the U.S.
Restoring domestic visa renewals will save significant time and expense for visa holders and will reduce workload at consular offices, according to Julie Stufft, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services in the Bureau of Consular Affairs. The domestic renewal option, which was previously suspended in 2004, will initially be available to H and L visa holders and could eventually be expanded.
Immigration advocates, including AILA, have been pushing for domestic renewals after the pandemic left countless visa holders in limbo.
We will continue to provide updates about this pilot program as they arise. Subscribe to our mailing list here.
Immigrants Sweeten the Hospitality Industry
Contact us today to learn how we can support your hospitality business.
Categories: Transcending Borders Newsletter