United States: USCIS Denying Pending Advance Parole Applications For Abandonment Due To International Travel

Advance Parole allows an individual to travel internationally during the pendency of an adjustment of status (AOS) application. Those individuals who hold a valid H or L visa also have the option of using that visa to travel while the AOS application is pending. For many years, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regularly approved Advance Parole applications for individuals who traveled abroad during the pendency of their parole applications so long as those individuals re-entered on a valid H or L visa. Very recently, however, USCIS has changed its long-standing policy and has begun denying Advance Parole applications in all instances where the H or L visa holder has traveled abroad while the parole application was pending. USCIS has not announced whether it will treat differently Advance Parole renewal applications when the applicant travels internationally on a current, valid Advance Parole document while the renewal is pending.

On the positive side, this sudden and unannounced rule change should have no practical effect on your employees who have valid H or L visas (as they can continue to travel on those visas). On the negative side, however, it could have an impact if you were not planning on extending or cannot extend the underlying H or L status while the AOS application is pending. In those cases, the employer will need to choose to either extend the employees' underlying H or L status or have the employees remain in the U.S. until the Advance Parole application is approved, which is normally about 90-120 days after filing.

We are working with other concerned parties to have USCIS reverse this very ill-considered and sudden policy change. But until that policy is reversed, we want you to be aware of it and its implications for your employees' cases. Please don't hesitate to contact us if you would like to discuss this issue.

USCIS Issuing Requests for Evidence on H-1Bs Submitted With Level 1 Wages

As USCIS ramps up its adjudication of FY2018 H-1B cap cases filed last April, the agency has begun issuing thousands of Requests for Evidence (RFEs) nationwide, asserting that the duties listed in the H-1B job description do not correspond to the wage level listed on the Labor Condition Application (LCA) submitted along with the H-1B petition. Usually, the RFE is issued in connection with an H-1B submitted with a Level I (entry level) wage. The RFEs assert either that a Level 1 wage is too low given the complexity of the job duties stated in the H-1B petition or that the position is not a "specialty occupation" because a Level 1 wage indicates the position is an entry-level one not truly requiring a bachelor's degree. As most of the RFEs have been issued in connection with April 1 H-1B cap case filings, it is not possible to now increase the salary to a Level 2 or higher level.

It appears that the large number of RFEs being generated are part of a concerted effort on the part of the Trump administration to discourage use of the H-1B visa by forcing employers to pay their H-1B employees higher wages than are otherwise required by either the immigration regulations or the labor market. We will continue to work with you to develop the strongest possible responses to each RFE we receive, and will keep you apprised on the update of all of your cases. In the meantime, if you have any concerns about your H-1B filings, please contact us.

Customs and Border Protection Expands Global Entry Program to Indian Citizens

Effective immediately, citizens of India are eligible to participate in Global Entry, a popular program that allows expedited clearance for preapproved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Global Entry participants are allowed to skip long immigration inspection lines at U.S. airports, and instead process their immigration admission to the United States through Global Entry kiosks upon arrival in the U.S. (or at Customs and Border Protection Pre-Clearance, found in certain foreign airports). As an added benefit, Global Entry members are eligible for TSA Pre-Check, a program that expedites traveler screening through TSA security checkpoints at more than 150 busy airports throughout the U.S.

We anticipate that a substantial number of Indian citizens will seek to enroll in the Global Entry program. Though intended for frequent international travelers, there is no minimum number of trips necessary to qualify for the Global Entry program. Global Entry is now available to U.S. citizens and permanent residents, and citizens of Argentina, Colombia, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, Panama, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland and now India. Canadian citizens who are members of the NEXUS U.S.-Canada trusted traveler program also have Global Entry benefits.

To enroll, travelers must submit an online application to CBP and pay a $100 fee. CBP screens the application and contacts the applicant to schedule an in-person interview, which normally takes place at one of the more than 50 Global Entry-participating airports in the U.S. Once approved, travelers may enter the United States by using automated Global Entry kiosks, which are now available in most major U.S. airports, including JFK, Newark, Washington (Dulles), Los Angeles/LAX and San Francisco/SFO, as well as major airports in Canada (including Toronto (Pearson), Montreal (Pierre Elliott Trudeau), and Calgary), Saudi Arabia (Abu Dhabi), Aruba, and Puerto Rico. Additional information about the Global Entry program and how to apply is available at http://www.globalentry.gov/about.html.

USCIS Issuing Redesigned Green Cards and Employment Authorization Documents

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has begun issuing redesigned Permanent Resident Cards (also known as a Green Cards) and Employment Authorization Documents (EADs). The redesigned cards contain enhanced graphics and fraud-resistant security features, such as a unique graphic image and color palette and embedded holographic images. New Green Cards and EADs will also display the recipient's photo on both sides, but will no longer display the individual's signature. The redesigns are being implemented as part of an ongoing effort between USCIS, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to enhance document security and deter counterfeiting and fraud.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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