NEWSLETTER: March 24, 2017

NEWSLETTER: March 24, 2017

THE H-1B VISA IS STILL AVAILABLE – DON’T BE LEFT OUT!

LESSER KNOWN FACTS ABOUT THE H-1B:

  • The H-1B is available for full-time or even part time employment. Full time employment is defined as 35 hours per week – at a minimum.
  • It is not required that the H-1B petition be filed by the current employer. A U.S. employer can file an H-1B petition for a qualified employee – even if not in their current employment.
  • A cap-exempt H-1B petition is not subject to the April filing deadline.

THERE ARE H-1B VISA ALTERNATIVES:

  1. The H-3 Training Visa – to obtain training not available in the home country;
  2. J-1 Training Visa – to participate in a designated training program – 12-18 months;
  3. E-1 (Trade)-E-2 (Investment Visa) – for nationals of designated countries either starting companies or working for companies already granted E visa status;
  4. E-3 Visa – specialty occupations (for Australian nationals);
  5. O-1 Visa – for those demonstrating “extraordinary ability” in the arts or science;
  6. P Visa – for athletes; artists entertainers and culturally unique programs;
  7. Q Visa – to participate in a cultural exchange program;
  8. TN-1 Visa – for Canadian and Mexican nationals whose occupations are listed: i.e. Management Consultant, Economist, Physician, etc.

ICE AGENTS ARE NOW MAKING ARRESTS IN COURTHOUSES

As reported in the Los Angeles Times, there have been a number of incidents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents making arrests inside the confines of courthouses throughout California, Arizona, Texas and Colorado. While some wear ICE uniforms and others do not, they sweep into courtrooms or lurk outside court complexes just waiting to arrest undocumented immigrants. This has led Tani Cantil-Sakauye, the California Chief Justice, to ask the Trump administration to stop immigration agents from “stalking” the state’s courthouses to make arrests. In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Session, Justice Cantil-Sakauye stated, “courthouses should not be used as bait in the necessary enforcement of our country’s immigration laws . . . enforcement policies that include stalking courthouses and arresting undocumented immigrants, the vast majority of whom pose no risk to public safety, are neither safe nor fair.” While ICE officials have defended the tactic by saying that they make arrests in courthouses only when all other options have been exhausted, activists, attorneys and prosecutors fear that this could deter undocumented immigrants from appearing in court to testify as witnesses or answer warrants, which could ultimately endanger prosecutions.

TRUMP’S BORDER WALL GETS BILLIONS IN BUDGET PROPOSAL

According to the White House’s recently released budget plan for next year, President Trump is proposing a $2 billion down payment on his signature border wall, as well as the hiring of 100 new government lawyers, adding 1,500 law enforcement officials and spending more than $1 billion on detention and deportation. The proposal includes paying for the border security plan by marshaling savings from across the federal government which will largely depend on Congress as it makes spending decisions based on the president’s proposals. Democrats have pledged to put up a gritty fight against the wall and increased immigration enforcement.

IMMIGRATION JUDGES TO BE REASSIGNED TO 12 CITIES TO SPEED UP DEPORTATIONS

According administration officials, the U.S. Justice Department is developing plans to temporarily reassign immigration judges from around the country to 12 cities to speed up deportations of illegal immigrants who have been charged with crimes. While it is still unknown how many judges will be reassigned or when they will be sent, the Justice Department has begun soliciting volunteers. The targeted cities include New York, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, San Francisco, Baltimore, El Paso, Phoenix, Bloomington (Minnesota), Omaha (Nebraska), Harlingen (Texas) and Imperial (California).

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION APPEALS PARTIAL BLOCK OF TRAVEL BAN BY MARYLAND JUDGE

The Trump administration has appealed a federal court order issued in the state of Maryland that partially blocks the president’s revised travel ban. The move came days after federal courts in Maryland and Hawaii struck down parts of Trump’s travel ban, both ruling it discriminatory against Muslims. Maryland issued an emergency halt to the portion of the executive order that temporarily bans the entry of travelers from six Muslim-majority nations. Meanwhile, Hawaii’s temporary order covers two complete sections of the travel ban and restricts Trump from altering the refugee resettlement program. The case will now go to a federal appeals court.

NEW YORK CITY SCHOOLS SEND LETTERS HOME TO PARENTS REASSURING THEM THAT THE CITY WILL NOT ALLOW IMMIGRATION AGENTS TO ROAM SCHOOLS UNFETTERED

As reported in the New York Times, New York City schools have been sending letters home to students’ families to reassure them that the city is not keeping records of their immigration status and that immigration agents would not be roaming schools unfettered. This has been replicated in school districts throughout the country as many have sent reminders that they are never to ask families about their immigration status, and the protocol on what to do if federal immigration officers show up at the schoolhouse door, which includes demanding to see a warrant first. While the Department of Homeland Security has declared schools off limits, many school districts prefer to be prepared.

TRUMP’S CRACKDOWN FOCUSES ON UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS – BUT NOT ON THE BUSINESSES THAT HIRE THEM

Despite President Trump’s views on deportations and building a wall on the Mexican border, his Executive Orders on immigration have thus far made no mention of targeting employers. As the Los Angeles Times reports, this is unsurprising as immigrants have historically received most of the blame in the never-ending political and rhetorical war over illegal immigration, while businesses have largely received a relative pass from enforcement. For example, although more than 2.5 million people have been deported in fiscal years 2009 through 2016, only 1,337 business managers have been arrested on charges including illegal hiring, tax evasion and money laundering.

DEVICES BANNED ON FLIGHTS FROM 10 AIRPORTS

The U.S. has recently barred passengers from airports of 10 Muslim-majority countries from carrying laptop computers, iPads and other devices larger than a cellphone aboard direct inbound flights. According to two senior American counter-terrorism officials, this measure comes after recent intelligence shows that the Islamic State is developing a bomb that can be hidden in portable electronics, such as in laptop batteries. The affected airports include airports in Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Turkey, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Lebanon and two airports in both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Nevertheless, the ban on electronics does not affect American-operated airlines as they do not fly directly to the United States. In all, an estimated 50 flights each day into the United States will be affected. It is uncertain how long these restrictions will be in place.

NEW EMERGENCY APP FOR UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS

An advocacy organization group along with a tech team has created an App to offer a small peace of mind for immigrants facing possible deportation, known as Notifica. Designed with both English and Spanish language capabilities, Notifica allows users to preload up to 15 SMS text messages for friends, family, attorneys and other essential contacts to assign them certain responsibilities in the event the immigrant is detained. This includes appointing someone to care for their children and informing someone to advise their doctor that they are away from their medication. The intended contacts will receive the alerts in less than 2 seconds, even if they do not have the app themselves, and although payment capabilities have been intentionally omitted, users have the option to use the App to call into MigraWatch hotline to deploy their PIN-protected message.

CAN MASSACHUSETTS POLICE DETAIN SOMEONE FOR A U.S. IMMIGRATION VIOLATION?

The Supreme Judicial Court, Massachusetts’ highest court, is scheduled to hear a case on April 4, 2017 regarding whether Massachusetts law enforcement officers have authority to arrest and detain someone for civil immigration purposes, on a request for detainment by ICE, or whether this violates a person’s civil rights. We will keep our readers informed as this case develops.

EUROPE WANTS TO MAKE U.S. CITIZENS APPLY FOR VISAS

The European Union parliament has recently voted to end the visa waiver program that has allowed U.S. passport-holders to travel freely throughout Europe for stays of less than 90 days without a visa. According to several reports, the vote resulted from a lack of reciprocity between the European Union (E.U.) and the United States as the E.U. requires reciprocity for all members of its visa waiver program and the U.S. State Department has refused to admit Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania to its visa waiver program. While the U.S. State Department identified a failure to meet security requirements as a reason for refusing to admit such nations into the visa waiver program, members of the E.U. parliament regard the recent vote to end the visa waiver program with the U.S. as more about diplomatic reciprocity than security. The E.U.’s executive branch can nevertheless stop the process of ending the visa waiver program with the U.S. despite the recent vote.