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OIS NEWS - 1/16/2018

Executive and Court Orders on Travel and Immigration: Information and Resources - Updated 1/16/2018

As the primary center for immigration advising and expertise for the UIC international community, the Office of International Services continuously monitors changes to the U.S. immigration system with the goal of keeping our community as informed and supported as possible. While currently it feels as though the immigration landscape surrounding us may be shifting, sometimes on a daily basis, OIS' guiding mission of creating a culturally diverse learning and working environment at UIC that is both welcoming and supportive has not changed. It is our hope that the following information and resources regarding the Executive Orders on travel and immigration can provide our community with guidance during this confusing and potentially stressful time. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to our office by phone (312-996-3121), email (ois@uic.edu), or during Open Advising.

Updates

1/16/2018 UPDATE - Extension for Certain H-1Bs Under AC21 Will Remain in Effect

OIS has learned that USCIS will not undertake any agency action that would eliminate extensions for those H-1B holders who are eligible to apply for three-year extensions of H-1B status beyond six years.

Pursuant to § 104(c)(2)  the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 (AC21), employers of H-1B beneficiaries of an approved EB-1, 2, or 3 petition (I-140) may request extensions of H-1B status in three-year increments beyond the initial six-year limit of H-1B eligibility, provided that the beneficiary is subject to the per-country worldwide immigrant visa cutoff. A USCIS spokesman recently said that § 104(c)(2) of AC21 will remain in effect and that there was never any consideration to change this policy. 

1/08/2018 UPDATE - Temporary Protected Status Ending for El Salvador Citizens in the U.S.

 

On January 8, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that the Temporary Protected Status designation for El Salvador will terminate, with a delayed effective date of eighteen months to September 9, 2019. 

Designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to a country is based on temporary conditions that prevent its citizens from returning safely to that country, such as an ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster, or other extreme condition. Citizens of such countries present in the U.S. at the time of designation may apply for TPS and if approved, can remain present and apply for employment authorization in the U.S. For more information about TPS, please refer to the USCIS website.

12/21/2017 UPDATE - Potential Removal of H-4 Dependent Spouses from Employment Authorization

 

On April 18, 2017, the White House issued Executive Order 13788, “Buy American and Hire American” which called upon the Department of Homeland Security to propose new rules that would replace existing rules relating to the H-1B visa program and to generally create higher employment rates for U.S. workers. OIS has learned that DHS is proposing to remove employment authorization for H-4 dependent spouses that are currently eligible under a final rule issued in 2015.

 

Please note that DHS is required by law to utilize notice-and-comment rulemaking and consider public comments before finalizing any rule, therefore, it is expected that any final rule impacting H-4 employment eligibility would not go into effect until spring or summer 2018. Additionally, if a final rule is issued removing H-4 employment eligibility, it is expected that existing H-4 Employment Authorization Documents will be allowed to expire after the final rule is implemented, however, no H-4s will be permitted to apply for new or extended employment authorization from USCIS.

 

12/05/2017 UPDATE - U.S. Supreme Court Allows Full Enforcement of Travel Ban 3.0

 

On December 4, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered that Proclamation 9645 (pursuant to Sec. 2(e) of Executive Order 13780), placing restricted entry to the U.S. for citizens of eight countries, may be fully enforced while challenges to Executive Order 13780 proceed in lower courts. The eight affected countries are the following: Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. The restrictions described in Proclamation 9645 are country-specific and tailored to the situation of each individual country. Additionally, exemptions, exceptions, and waivers may apply to certain countries.

  

OIS encourages anyone with connections to the affected countries to read through the Proclamation and to connect with OIS Advisors with questions or concerns. This is especially true for any citizen of an affected country considering travel outside the U.S. or a visa renewal.

 

10/17/2017 UPDATE - Hawaii and Maryland Courts Mostly Block New Travel Ban

On October 17, 2017, Judge Derrick K. Watson of the Federal District Court in Honolulu, Hawaii ordered a nationwide freeze on the latest iteration of President Trump's travel ban, which was set to take effect the following day, on October 18, 2017. Shortly thereafter, District Judge Theodore D. Chuang issued a similar ruling in Maryland.

Unlike the previous travel ban, the restrictions that were set to take effect were not "one size fits all" - differing restrictions applied to a set of eight different countries. However, Judge Watson said the latest version of the travel ban "suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor": namely, plain discrimination based on nationality.

For now, the new restrictions that were set to take effect on October 18 will not take effect. However, the litigation is almost certain to be appealed, and the Supreme Court is likely to ultimately weigh in. Foreign nationals from the affected countries may proceed with travel, but they should be aware that ultimately the ban could go back into effect and should understand the risks should they choose to do so.

09/01/2017 UPDATE – USCIS to Expand In-Person Interview Requirements for Employment-Based Permanent Residency Applicants

 

On March 6, 2017, Executive Order 13780 “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” was signed by the President, which called on federal agencies to implement increased screening and vetting procedures, such as in-person interviews.

 

As a result, United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that beginning October 1, 2017, it will expand in-person interviews for employment-based adjustment applicants who have or will file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (AOS). At UIC, this decision could impact those employees (faculty and non-faculty) who are beneficiaries of an approved I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker under all employment-based categories, including but not limited to EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3, and who have a pending AOS (form I-485) on October 1, 2017, or who file a new AOS after that date.

 

The purpose of the in-person interview will be to verify the information within an individual’s pending form I-485, discover any new information that may be relevant to the adjudication process, and to determine the credibility of the individual seeking permanent residence in the United States.

 

The Office of International Services will continue to monitor any developments relating to this USCIS announcement and inform the UIC community as needed.

 

You may reach us at ois@uic.edu or 312-996-3121.

 

6/30/2017 UPDATE – U.S. Department of State and Department of Homeland Security issue guidance on implementation of travel ban

On June 29, 2017 U.S. Department of State (DOS) issued guidance on implementation of the travel ban at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad in light of the Supreme Court’s decision to partially allow Executive Order 13780. The same day, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) posted Frequently Asked Questions outlining how the ban will be interpreted at U.S. borders and ports of entry.

 

While students admitted to a U.S. school, workers who have accepted an offer of employment from a U.S. employer, and lecturers invited to address a U.S. audience should not be impacted by the travel ban, members of the UIC international community may find these resources helpful in understanding the full scope of the travel ban.

 

6/27/2017 UPDATE – Supreme Court allows portions of travel ban to move forward for those lacking a bona fide relationship with the United States

On June 26, 2017 the U.S. Supreme Court announced that portions of the travel ban (Executive Order 13780) could be enacted while the court prepares to hear arguments on the case in October. The Court’s decision does, however, exempt from the ban individuals who “have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” While the government must further clarify the practical application of what constitutes a “bona fide relationship with the United States,” the Supreme Court provided as likely examples: Students who have been admitted to a U.S. school; Workers who have accepted an offer of employment from a U.S. employer; and Lecturers invited to address an American audience.

 

While this decision appears to protect the travel of international students, scholars, and employees from the six affected countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen), the Office of International Services will closely monitor the application of this decision at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad. Additionally, OIS is in direct communication with the UIC students, scholars, and employees from the six affected countries and will continue to provide advisement, support, and advocacy as needed.

 

Members of the UIC international community with questions or concerns about this update are encouraged to connect with OIS along with reviewing the reminders and resources listed at the bottom of this page. 

 

4/20/2017 UPDATE - White House Executive Order (EO) “Buy American and Hire American”

On April 18, 2017, the White House issued the EO “Buy American and Hire American”. The “Hire American” portion of the EO addresses the current H-1B visa program only, and calls on the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Labor to propose new rules and new guidance that would replace existing rules relating to the H-1B visa program only. (Applies to both university and non-university employers in the U.S. who employ H-1B beneficiary-employees.) The general purpose of the “Hire American” portion of the EO is to create higher wages and employment rates for U.S. workers.

 

The EO explicitly states that federal agencies should suggest changes to the existing H-1B visa program that would give preference to those foreign nationals that have the most-skill or will be the highest-paid H-1B beneficiary-employees. Although no specific time-frame was stated in the EO by which the federal agencies would need to submit the suggested new rules and new guidance of the H-1B visa program, the EO directs the federal agencies to do so as soon as possible.

 

You may read the full EO “Buy American and Hire American” issued April 18, 2017 here.

 

Our understanding is that these changes to the H-1B visa program could lead to the following:

 

  • In addition to giving preferential treatment to those foreign national H-1B employees that have higher skills or will be paid the highest, if implemented the EO would give foreign nationals that have been awarded a Master’s degree from a U.S. university higher preferential treatment under the annual H-1B lottery.

 

  • Enhance the enforcement of federal agencies to further prevent employer fraud and abuse of the H-1B visa program.

 

  • Increase the prevailing wage component as it relates to some or all fields.
  • Increase or create new H-1B filing fees to be paid by petitioning employers.

Please also note that the EO does not apply to existing H-1B beneficiary-employees nor existing H-1B employers, and will not apply to future H-1B beneficiary-employees and employers until a final rule or regulation is passed.

 

The Office of International Services will continue to monitor any developments relating to the H-1B visa program, and we welcome you to contact our office if you have any additional questions about these matters. You may reach us at ois@uic.edu or 312-996-3121.

 

3/16/2017 UPDATE - U.S. District Courts block March 6, 2017 Executive Order (EO) on travel and immigration

On March 15, 2017, the U.S. District Court in Hawaii issued a nationwide temporary restraining order, preventing the Government from enforcing EO 13780’s 90-day entry bar and 120-day refugee entry ban, which had been scheduled to go into effect on March 16, 2017. On March 16, 2017, the U.S. District Court in Maryland issued a nationwide preliminary injunction, preventing the Government from enforcing EO 13780’s 90-day entry bar but not the 120-day refugee admission.

 

While encouraged by these temporary halts to the EO’s restriction on travel to the U.S. for nationals of Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen, the Office of International Services continues to advise UIC students, scholars, and employees from these six countries to consult with OIS prior to making arrangements for international travel. Additionally, any member of the UIC international community with questions about the EO should feel free to contact us by phone (312-996-3121), email (ois@uic.edu) or during Open Advising.

 

 

3/6/2017 UPDATE - Notable points from the March 6, 2017 Executive Order (EO) on travel and immigration

Lines in italics are OIS annotations

  • Entry into the United States by nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen is suspended for 90 days from the 12:01 am (EST), March 16, 2017 effective date.
  • The EO applies to the nationals of the six countries who:
    • are outside the United States on the March 16, 2017 effective date;
    • did not have a valid visa at 5:00 p.m., eastern standard time on January 27, 2017; and
    • do not have a valid visa as of the March 16, 2017 effective date.
      • The visa is the stamp in the passport issued by a United States consulate overseas.
  • The EO provides certain exemptions. A few are listed below:

o   any lawful permanent resident of the United States;

  • Permanent residents are often referred to as "green card holders."

o   any foreign national who is admitted to or paroled into the United States on or after the effective date of this order;

  • This line refers to someone holding a "combo card" or advanced parole obtained by filing a Form I-485.

o   any dual national of a country designated under section 2 of this order when the individual is traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country;

  • For example, a Canadian national who also holds a passport from one of the six countries named in the EO.

o   any foreign national who has been granted asylum; any refugee who has already been admitted to the United States; or any individual who has been granted withholding of removal, advance parole, or protection under the Convention Against Torture…

  • Iraq has been removed from the original list, but is still subjected to additional, discretionary border inspection.
  • United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and consular officials may grant a waiver of this EO to foreign nationals on a case-by-case basis, especially if one can prove they have been previously admitted to the United States for a “continuous period of work, study…” or have another significant reason to reenter the United States.
    • Details regarding the appropriate circumstances for such waivers are listed in the EO.
  • There are several details listed regarding the status of refugees; the program will be suspended for 120 days.
  • The “Visa Interview Waiver Program” has been suspended for all non-diplomats, meaning that all visa applicants must have an in-person interview.
    • This will slow down visa application times at many consulates which previously allowed interview waivers.

Reminders

  • The Office of International Services encourages members of the UIC international community to:
    • Contact OIS regarding any concerns you may have about how the EO could impact your immigration status at UIC. Advisors can be reached by email (ois@uic.edu), phone (312-996-3121) or during Open Advising.
    • Maintain valid visa status and carry printed copies of your immigration documentation. Within the context of January 25, 2017 Executive Order on Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements it is also advised to abide by all laws of the United States.
    • Contact OIS prior to international travel to review necessary documentation and current guidance for successful travel.

External Resources for Further Education

  • Full text of the September 24, 2017 Presidential Proclamation, “Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists of Other Public-Safety Threats

  • Full text of the June 26, 2017 Supreme Court decision regarding challenges to Executive Order 13780

  • Full text of the Executive Order, "Buy American and Hire American"

  • Full text of the Executive Order, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Fact Sheet and Q&A on the Executive Order
  • Presidential Memorandum on Implementing Immediate Heightened Screening and Vetting of Applications for Visas and Other Immigration Benefits

Additional Internal Resources for the UIC Community