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USCIS Clarifies Definition of “Functional Manager” in EB-1 / L-1A Cases by Designating Matter of G-., Inc as an Adopted Decision

Matter of G-. involved a multinational technology-based product development corporation that had filed an an EB-1 I-140 (Multinational Manager) petition for an employee who would be engaged as a “Functional Manager”, in other words, one who would be primarily managing an essential function as opposed to managing personnel.  The employer’s I-140 was denied by the Director of the Nebraska Service Center on the basis that the employer had not established that it would employ the Beneficiary in a managerial capacity.

The employer appealed the decision, indicating that the Director had erroneously misstated facts and abused his discretion in denying the petition.  The appeal was sustained by the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO), which held that the employer had indeed sufficiently established that its employee would be engaged a qualifying “managerial capacity” and that he would be primarily managing an “essential function” within the organization.

The AAO’s decision was adopted in a USCIS policy memorandum and will be used to clarify the somewhat imprecise definition of a “Functional Manager” in EB-1 cases (and likely L-1A as well).  In summary, the decision indicates that:

(1) To support a claim that a beneficiary will manage an essential function, the petitioner must establish that the function is a clearly defined activity and is core to the organization.
(2) Once the petitioner demonstrates the essential function, it must establish that the beneficiary’s position meets all criteria for “managerial capacity” as defined in 101(a)(44)(A) of the Act. Specifically, it must show that the beneficiary will: primarily manage, as opposed to perform, the function; act at a senior level within the organizational hierarchy or with respect to the function managed; and exercise discretion over the function’s day-to-day operations.

The decision’s clarification ought to be somewhat helpful to employers and beneficiaries, but it is too early to say, given that every change/update to “Merit Based” immigration this year has been substantially negative.

Matter of G- Inc (PDF)

More than 300,000 Central American and Haitian Immigrants to Lose TPS: May Soon Face Deportation

New York Magazine reports that US Dept. of State has advised US Dept. of Homeland Security officials this week that the 300,000+ Central Americans and Haitians who are currently in the United States in a Temporary Protected Status will no longer be protected from deportation.  This announcement arrives days prior to a highly anticipated DHS announcement on a decision to renew said TPS program.

“Per a letter from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to DHS secretary Elaine Duke this week, the State Department believes that conditions in Central America and Haiti have now improved to the point that TPS designation is no longer necessary. The legally required assessment came as the DHS prepares to announce by Monday whether it will renew TPS protection for more than 60,000 Honduran and Nicaraguan immigrants in early January. Tillerson’s letter doesn’t bode well for them or for two other large groups of American residents: nearly 60,000 Haitian immigrants with TPS whose protection expires in late January, and almost 200,000 Salvadorans whose protection expires next March.

Some of these immigrants have been in the U.S. for as long as two decades, and many own homes and businesses. One study has estimated that TPS holders have almost 275,000 U.S.-born children in their families. Should the designations not be renewed, these immigrants would have at least six months to get their affairs in order and leave the country. If they chose to stay, they could face arrest and deportation.”

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USCIS Resumes Premium Processing for All Petitioners Seeking H-1B Visas

USCIS indicates that it has “resumed premium processing today for all H-1B visa extension of stay petitions. Premium processing is now available for all types of H-1B petitions.”  This includes H-1B amendments, extensions, transfers etc.

AIC Fact Sheet on U.S. Immigration for Global Entrepreneurs implies that the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave has also become the Realm of Red Tape

The American Immigration Council’s fact sheet describes some of the options available to entrepreneurs in the United States along with a description of various obstacles placed in their path by our Immigration Policy.  The report bluntly indicates both that “Global competition for entrepreneurs is growing” and that “Although foreign entrepreneurs have consistently considered the United States a top destination, the U.S. immigration system often forces them to leave.”

It is unfortunate that the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave has also become the Realm of Red Tape.

Multiple studies have indicated that America is no longer the only go-to country for foreign entrepreneurs; a growing number of would-be entrepreneurs are choosing to start their businesses in countries that offer greater financial and social incentives. As a result, the United States is losing out on the new businesses, jobs, tax revenue, and innovation that these entrepreneurs could be generating for the U.S. economy. Meanwhile, other countries (such as India and China) are implementing policies that persuade their own best and brightest to remain at home, while also attracting talent from other nations through new entrepreneurial programs.
In short, entrepreneurs seeking the greatest opportunity for themselves and their families can choose from a range of countries. While job availability, wages, and working conditions are important in making this decision, so are a number of other considerations—such as how much red tape and bureaucracy is involved in the initial visa process, a possible future job change, the adjustment from a temporary to a permanent immigration status, and the process of bringing family members from the home country to the United States.

How the Trump Admin’s ‘Merit-Based’ Immigration System actually works: Kill or Handicap the H-1B Visa

Reuters has a great piece on how Trump’s infamous ‘Merit-Based’ Immigration System actually works – issue a record # of queries, delays and denials on US companies’ petitions filed for their professional employees: Doctors, Engineers, IT and others. That these substantial changes impeding and eliminating aspects of the H-1B program have been undertaken without Congressional authorization is apparently of little concern to the Admin.

“Data provided by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services shows that between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31, the agency issued 85,000 challenges, or “requests for evidence” (RFEs), to H-1B visa petitions – a 45 percent increase over the same period last year. The total number of H-1B petitions rose by less than 3 percent in the same period.”
The article also touches on the newly trending issue of “Level 1 Wage” queries which essentially involves USCIS weaponizing, without notice, a US DOL regulation on prevailing wages (the latter not intended nor written to serve in the capacity USCIS is using it for):

In addition to querying applications more often, the Trump administration is targeting entry-level jobs offered to skilled foreigners. The lawyers say this violates the law governing H-1Bs, because it allows for visa holders to take entry-level jobs.

Several attorneys said they view the increase in challenges and focus on entry-level jobs as a stealth campaign by the administration against the H-1B program in the absence of public regulatory changes or changes passed by Congress, which could be debated and decided in the open.

As I’ve stated before: H-1B workers have filled our massive skills gap and created intellectual property, businesses and jobs for America. They are Makers, not Takers.  It is therefore particularly disheartening to witness illogical attempts to reject these professionals, especially when other nations are outcompeting the U.S. in eagerly recruiting STEM workers.

As a Country, we need to shake off the illusion that we can “coast” through this increasingly competitive world on the basis of our previous generation’s achievements.  The future of our Nation and our Industry lie in our leadership within the STEM sectors.  Instead of rejecting or delaying tens of thousands of these high-skilled H-1B immigrants every year due to insufficient H-1B Cap numbers, newly created/surprise “Level 1” wage issues, or making these professionals wait up to 12 years for a green card, we should be bending over backwards to facilitate their immigration.

USCIS Resumed Premium Processing H-1B Cap Petitions Subject to the Fiscal Year year (FY) 2018 Cap on September 18, 2017

VIA USCIS.GOV

WASHINGTON — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) resumed premium processing today for all H-1B visa petitions subject to the Fiscal Year year (FY) 2018 cap. The FY 2018 cap has been set at 65,000 visas. Premium processing has also resumed for the annual 20,000 additional petitions that are set aside to hire workers with a U.S. master’s degree or higher educational degree.

H-1B visas provide skilled workers for a wide range of specialty occupations, including information technology, academic research, and accounting. When a petitioner requests the agency’s premium processing service, USCIS guarantees a 15-day processing time. If the 15- calendar day processing time is not met, the agency will refund the petitioner’s premium processing service fee and continue with expedited processing of the application. This service is only available for pending petitions, not new submissions, since USCIS received enough petitions in April to meet the FY 2018 cap.

In addition to today’s resumption of premium processing for H-1B visa petitions subject to the FY 2018 cap, USCIS previously resumed premium processing H-1B petitions filed on behalf of physicians under the Conrad 30 waiver program, as well as interested government agency waivers and for certain H-1B petitions that are not subject to the cap. Premium processing remains temporarily suspended for all other H-1B petitions, such as extensions of stay.

USCIS plans to resume premium processing for all other remaining H‑1B petitions not subject to the FY 2018 cap, as agency workloads permit. However, remaining petitioners may submit a request to expedite their application if they meet the specific agency criteria. USCIS reviews all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis, and requests are granted at the discretion of the office leadership.

USCIS will release future announcements when we begin accepting premium processing for other H-1B petitions, not subject to the FY 2018 cap.

Trump Administration Rescinds Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

By rescinding DACA, the Administration has closed the door to 800,000 #Dreamers who consider America home.  Dreamers are making America greater every day, building stronger communities and contributing their talents to our industry. By abandoning these young people, the Administration is conceding far more than it gains from fulfilling a reprehensible campaign promise. We now look to Congress to live up to America’s fundamental principles and stand up for Dreamers.

Politico reports that USCIS Plans Adjustment of Status (Green Card) Interview Requirement – Including for All Employment Based Applicants

VIA AILA.org

On August 25, 2017, Politico reported that USCIS is planning a change in policy to require interviews for all employment-based adjustment of status applicants and will be expanding the interview requirement to other categories. On August 28, 2017, the same reporter tweeted what appears to be the first page of a USCIS press release confirming that, effective October 1, interviews will be phased in for all employment-based adjustment applicants and for all I-730 refugee/asylee petitions. The press release also states that this is part of an “incremental expansion of interviews for benefits that lead to permanent residence,” thus signaling that the interview requirement could be expanded to other categories. An August 25 NBC News article provides some additional context as to what the future might hold.

AILA has been in contact with agency officials to verify this information and will continue to reach out to obtain updates. As with other announcements, it appears that this policy originated from high levels within the Administration. At this time it remains unclear how this will be implemented operationally, including resource allocation, timing, and process.

The Proposed “RAISE Act” would Giveth little but Taketh a lot.

The Washington Post’s David Nakamura provides details on Sens. Tom Cotton (Ark.) and David Perdue (Ga.)’s new bill entitled “Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment [RAISE] Act”.

In a nutshell, the new bill: a) Focuses on “Merit Based” Green Cards through a Canadian style points system b) Does away with the 50K Diversity Lottery green cards, c) Caps Refugee cases to 50K a year, d) Limits or does away with Family Based Immigration for “Extended Relatives” including adult children and siblings of US Citizens (termed “Chain Migration”), and d) Reduces the total number of Green Card issued annually by about half.

USCIS Resumes H-1B Premium Processing for Certain Cap-Exempt Petitions

Via USCIS.gov

USCIS indicates that it will resume premium processing for certain cap-exempt H-1B petitions effective immediately.

Premium processing will resume for petitions that may be exempt from the cap if the H-1B petitioner is:

* An institution of higher education;

* A nonprofit related to or affiliated with an institution of higher education; or

* A nonprofit research or governmental research organization.

Premium processing will also resume for petitions that may also be exempt if the beneficiary will be employed at a qualifying cap-exempt institution, organization or entity. 

AIC’s New Fact Sheet Indicates that 20-25% of all STEM Workers are Foreign Born

The American Immigration Council just released a fact sheet entitled “Foreign-born STEM Workers in the United States” and noted the importance of said workers to America,

“STEM workers are essential to the U.S. economy in terms of productivity and innovation. As of 2015, the foreign-born comprised one-fifth to one-quarter of the STEM workforce, depending on what occupations are included within the definition of STEM. Notably, the total number of foreign-born STEM workers in the U.S. workforce has increased dramatically since 1990, both in absolute numbers and as a share of the total workforce. This is true at the national and state levels. Additionally, foreign-born workers make up an increasing share of STEM workers in all occupational categories.”

To view the fact sheet in its entirety, see:

USCIS Completes Data Entry for FY2018 H-1B Cap Subject Petitions

USCIS announced that it has completed data entry of all FY2018 H-1B cap-subject petitions selected in the computer-generated random process. USCIS will now begin returning all H-1B cap-subject petitions that were not selected.