Ken Cuccinelli Named Acting Director of USCIS
Ken Cuccinelli has been appointed acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), effective June 10, 2019. He succeeds Francis Cissna, who left the agency as of June 1, 2019. Mr. Cuccinelli will lead an agency of 19,000 employees and contractors.
Mr. Cuccinelli previously served as Virginia’s attorney general from 2010 to 2014. He also served in the Virginia Senate from 2002 to 2010 and has practiced law for nearly 25 years. He has a law degree from Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University, and a master’s degree in international commerce and policy from George Mason University.
A large group of national, state, and local advocacy organizations outlined Mr. Cuccinelli’s “anti-immigrant views” and urged legislators to oppose his nomination for Director of USCIS in a letter sent June 11, 2019, from the Center for American Progress to leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
USCIS announcement is here; Center for American Progress letter is here.
Visa Bulletin for July Notes Slowdowns or Retrogressions (Visa Unavailability) in Several Employment-Based Immigrant Visa Categories Before End of Fiscal Year
The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for July 2019 includes the following notes:
- It has been necessary to retrogress the Mexico E4 and SR final action dates for July to keep visa issuances within the annual numerical limits. With the start of the new fiscal year in October, the final action dates will be returned to the latest dates established during FY-2019.
- India and Vietnam will each reach their per-country annual limit during July. This has resulted in the Vietnam date being held and has required the imposition of a July final action date for India. For August, both countries will become subject to the same final action date that applies to China-mainland born employment fifth preference (EB-5) applicants and will remain so for the remainder of the fiscal year. Such action will only be temporary, with the EB-5 date for each advancing for October, the first month of fiscal year 2020, as follows:
- India: Most likely advancing to the summer or fall of 2017
- Vietnam: Most likely advancing to the fall or early winter of 2016
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has also announced that the agency will follow the “Final Action Dates” chart for the month for accepting I-485 Adjustment of Status applications.
Details: Visa Bulletin is here (including details on expected potential monthly movement for the next several months); USCIS announcement is here.
New Zealand Nationals Eligible for E-1 (Treaty Trader) and E-2 (Treaty Investor) Visas
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that effective June 10, 2019, certain New Zealand nationals can request a change of status to E-1 treaty trader or E-2 treaty investor. This means that New Zealand nationals now have enhanced access to pursue trade and investment activities in the United States. According to USCIS:
- Eligible New Zealand nationals already in the United States in lawful visa status can file a petition to request a change of status to E-1 or E-2 visa classification, or a qualifying employer can file such a petition on their behalf.
- Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age of E-1 and E-2 visa holders, and employees who are already in the United States, may also seek to change status to E-1 or E-2 as dependents.
USCIS announcement is here.
SSA Responds to California Lawmakers’ Questions on ‘No-Match’ Letters
The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently responded to a letter sent on April 11, 2019, from Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Cal.), along with several California legislators, questioning the decision to reinstate the practice of sending “no match” letters to businesses nationwide. Such letters notify employers when an employee’s Social Security number does not match official records.
Nancy Berryhill, Acting Commissioner for the SSA, responded that the letters advise employers that corrections are needed for the agency to properly post an employee’s earnings to the correct record, while educating employers to use SSA’s online wage reporting tools to improve the accuracy of their wage reporting. She said the no-match letters are “educational.”
The Acting Commissioner said the SSA encourages employers to “take timely action on no-matches,” but noted that “we do not take any action, nor are there any SSA-related consequences, for employers’ non-compliance with our letters.” She also noted that the letter “specifically advises employers not to take an adverse action against an employee based on the letter.”
SSA response is here (which includes the questions from the legislators).
USCIS Officers Required to Remind Sponsors of Affidavits of Support of Their Financial Obligations to Support Intending Immigrants
On June 14, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the implementation of the “Presidential Memorandum on Enforcing the Legal Responsibilities of Sponsors of Aliens,” issued May 23, 2019. USCIS officers will now be required to remind individuals at their adjustment of status interviews of their sponsors’ responsibilities.
- Officers must remind applicants and sponsors that the Affidavit of Support is a legal and enforceable contract between the sponsor and the federal government, and that the sponsor must be willing and able to financially support the intending immigrant.
- If the sponsored immigrant receives any federal means-tested public benefits, the sponsor “will be expected to reimburse the benefits-granting agency for every dollar of benefits received by the immigrant,” USCIS said.
Details: USCIS announcement is here; Presidential Memorandum is here.
USCIS Aims to Decrease Processing Times Based on Location for Applications for Naturalization and to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said it will implement a “national strategy” to decrease differences in processing times based on location for the N-400 Application for Naturalization and I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
USCIS said this may mean scheduling applicants to appear for an interview at a field office outside of their normal jurisdictions. Applicants may receive an interview appointment notice or other types of notices (such as a Request for Evidence) from a field office outside of their normal jurisdiction. However, the agency will still direct applicants to the “nearest application support center” to complete their biometrics appointments. “Applicants should follow the instructions on any notices they receive from USCIS,” the agency said.
Details: USCIS announcement is here.
Green Card Backlogs Are Long, Growing, and Inequitable, CATO Institute Says
A new CATO Institute report says that immigration wait times have doubled since 1991 for applicants immigrating through both employment-based and family-sponsored “quota” categories, from an average of 2 years and 10 months to 5 years and 8 months. In 2018, more than 100,000 legal immigrants waited a decade or more to apply for permanent residence (green card) in 2018. Almost 5 million immigrants are waiting for their green cards now, the report says.
The report concludes that “Congress should eliminate the country quotas, exempt spouses and minor children from the overall quotas, and instead link quotas to population and economic growth.”
The report also notes that the quotas (numerical limits) on green cards for individual nationalities are causing longer waits from countries with the highest demand. Indians averaged the longest wait because of such limits—more than 8 years and 6 months. “It will take decades and—in some categories—a half century or more to process everyone else waiting now,” the report notes.
“Immigration Wait Times from Quotas Have Doubled: Green Card Backlogs Are Long, Growing, and Inequitable,” by David J. Bier is here.
IIUSA Expresses Concerns to USCIS About ‘Surge’ in Immigrant Entrepreneur Petition Adjudication Delays
In a letter dated June 11, 2019, Invest in the USA (IIUSA) expressed concerns to Ken Cuccinelli, Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), about a “surge” in delays in processing immigrant petitions for alien entrepreneurs (Form I-526). IIUSA is an industry trade organization representing nearly 370 EB-5 stakeholder organizations.
The letter notes that based on the latest data on the USCIS website, the estimated processing time for I-526 completion is 29 to 45.5 months (as of May 2019). IIUSA’s analysis further found that:
- The processing time for adjudicating I-526 petitions in the Immigrant Investor Program Office recently experienced a significant 32 percent to 60 percent surge within one month.
- In a year-over-year comparison, the estimated I-526 processing time in May 2019 almost doubled from May 2018.
“The ever-lengthening delays in adjudicating investor petitions will further delay the deployment of the EB-5 funding to the project developers, many of which depend on the investment from the investors to complete the economic development projects in their local communities, creating jobs for American workers,” the group warned. The letter includes questions about causes, processing times, petition statistics, and personnel.
IIUSA letter is here.
On Thursday June 20, Ron Klasko was honored for the second time with AILA’s highest award, the Founders Award, which is presented to the person or organization “who has had the most substantial impact on the field of immigration law or policy”. Ron is the first person in the history of AILA to be twice honored with this award. Click here to read about the award and view photos.
On Wednesday, June 12, Elise Fialkowski, Michele Madara, and Feige Grundman hosted a webinar on how imperative it is for companies to have a comprehensive worksite compliance program in the era of BAHA and the increased enforcement actions from the federal government. Click here to watch the recording
IN THE NEWS
H. Ronald Klasko Spoke with BloombergLaw.com about the Rise in Revocations of H-1B Visas
Ron spoke with Bloomberg Law about USCIS’ crackdown on H-1B visas, which has resulted in revocations of H-1B visas that were once approved.
Elise A. Fialkowski in DigitalJournal.com for Leading Panel at the 2019 NAFSA Annual Conference
Elise led a panel entitled “Hot Topics in Advanced Employment-Based Immigration,” which was acknowledged by digitaljournal.com.
Ronald Klasko Quoted in NewsIndiaTimes.com Regarding Skyrocketing H-1B Revocations
Ron was quoted in the News India Times about USCIS’ crackdown on specialty visas, which has resulted in revocations of H-1B visas that were once approved.
William A. Stock Spoke with IndicaNews.com about the Trump Administration’s Plans to Put a Cap on H-1B Visas to India
Bill spoke with Indica News about the possibility of Trump administration’s seeking to limit the amount of H-1B visas awarded to India through Section 212 (f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
RECENT SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS
Elise A. Fialkowski
Elise spoke on a panel entitled Emerging Ethical issues in Global Immigration Compliance at the 2019 AILA/GMS Annual Global Immigration Forum in Orlando on June 18th.
F. Oliver Yang presented on a panel entitled E-5 and Third Country Citizenship for China Nationals for the Etouce Immigration & Investment Industry Elite Convention in Shanghai and Beijing in May and June, respectively.
UPCOMING SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS
Ron will be speaking at the 2019 EB5 Investors Mag EB-5 and Uglobal Expo In Los Angeles on July 18th, 2019.
It was a proud day for Ron’s friends, family, and coworkers as he received AILA’s Founders Award for the second time at the Annual Conference in Orlando on June 20th.
William A. Stock
Human Resource Executive® and Lawdragon recognized William A. Stock as one of the nation’s top corporate employment attorneys for 2019.
ICYMI: RECENT BLOG POSTS AND ALERTS
What You Need to Know About Traveling to the U.S. for Tourism During Summer Holidays
Karuna Simbeck answers the two most frequently asked questions about traveling to the U.S. on a B-2 visa.
Avoiding Status Violations in the Side Gig Economy
Klasko outlines the definition of employment and which common visa categories need to worry about status violations and other misconceptions in this infographic.
EB-5 Processing Times: Suggestions for Actions by Investors and Regional Centers
Ron explains how delayed processing times affect different categories of clients and what options are available to them.
E-2 Visas: Circumventing the Roadblocks
Ron addresses recent headlines regarding roadblocks in the EB-5 process and E-2 visas as a viable option.
India EB-5 Backlog FAQs
Anu Nair created an FAQ to address the concerns of clients and prospective investors about the India EB‑5 backlog.
The KILP Peer Recognition Program (also known as the Ronny Award) is still going strong at the firm! This month the award went to Marcy Papa, a Senior Paralegal, for her support of a new mom as she was struggling to find a work/life balance that worked for her. Each recipient of the Ronny Award receives recognition at a firmwide monthly celebration day, a special gift, recognition on a prominently displayed plaque, and the Ronny Award to keep at their workspace for the entire month.
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This newsletter was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Klasko Immigration Law Partners is an active member.