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Reger Rizzo & Darnall Client Alert. (January 2018)

Since President Trump was elected, immigration has been a consistent topic of discussion. There have been many changes the Trump administration has tried to make, while Federal judges then work to block those decisions. Here are some of the major changes individuals, and employers, should be aware of:  

  • DACA – In September of 2017, President Trump stated that he would begin to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program. He called on Congress to write legislation to provide these individuals with a plan for the future. A plan has not been agreed upon at this time. The President allowed those DACA holders to apply for a two-year extension that would expire before March 5, 2018.  Any DACA applicant that did not apply for the extension before March 5, 2018 would be ineligible to apply for a renewal. Last week, a Federal Judge decided that DACA protection would have to continue for those that currently have DACA. The United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (“USCIS”) issued a memo on January 13, 2018, stating that they would start accepting DACA renewal applications; however, they would not accept any new applications at this time. In addition, they will not issue advanced parole documents for DACA applicants. Stay tuned as the future of DACA will be all over the media in the next six weeks. 
  • I-9 Compliance – The United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (“USCIS”) continues to change and update the I-9 form, which is used for foreign employees of a company.  It is important to ensure that your company is using the most recent edition of the form, which is the July 17, 2017 edition. In addition to changing the form, Immigration & Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) is ramping up their enforcement. When President Trump took office, one area he wanted to focus on was the enforcement against individuals working without authorization. Last week, ICE raided 98 7-11 stores in 17 states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The purpose of this action is to arrest and detain anyone unlawfully present in the United States or those working without authorization. These stores will also be subject to I-9 compliance audits. Now is the time to make sure your company’s I-9s are in compliance as the penalties can be devastating.     
  • International Entrepreneurial Rule (“IER”) – The IER was issued near the end of the Obama Administration. The rule provides an opportunity for international entrepreneurs to apply for permission to be paroled into the United States and receive temporary work authorization for a startup business. The rule was to take effect in July of 2017, but days before the rule was to go into effect, the administration issued a rule delaying the effective date by eight months and provided notice that they intended to rescind the rule altogether. In December of 2017, a court ruled that the administration’s failure to implement the IER last July was unlawful and that the government’s issue of the rule to delay the implementation of the rule (with the intention of rescinding it) did not comply with the Administrative Procedure Act and is vacated.  It is uncertain if the government will appeal. In the meantime, the USCIS must begin to accept applications. The final application and instructions have yet to be released.   
  • H-1Bs– H-1B visas allow US employers to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. There has been discussion regarding eliminating H-1B extensions beyond the six-year limitation. In addition, there are rumors that work authorization for H-4 dependent spouses will be terminated.  There has also been discussion to decrease the amount of H-1Bs issued every year. At this time, nothing final has come from these discussions.  
  • Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) – TPS can be granted to foreign nationals from certain countries in the United States because of certain circumstances. These circumstances include armed conflict, natural disaster or other conditions that make the country unable to handle the return of their citizens.  The administration reviews the conditions of these countries at the end of the designated time period to determine if the TPS should be extended. Citizens of Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti and El Salvador will have their TPS phased out over the next year. The decision about citizens of Honduras here on TPS will be determined by July of 2018. 

These are just some of the immigration changes that have occurred in the past year. We expect more changes to come under the current administration. If you or your company has questions or concerns, the Immigration Team at Reger Rizzo & Darnall LLP is here to assist you.