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Immigration News Update January 22

USCIS to Begin Accepting International Entrepreneur Rule Applications

Following a court ruling on Dec. 1 in which a judge ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to rescind its delay of processing International Entrepreneur Rule (IER) applications, those applications are moving forward. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on Dec. 14 that it is taking steps to implement the IER in accordance with the court decision.

IER was proposed during the administration of President Barack Obama. It would allow some foreign nationals to remain in the United States for up to five years while their businesses are developing. To qualify, the foreign entrepreneurs would need to meet specified criteria, including job creation, and cases would be reviewed by the DHS on a case-by-case basis.

Some Musicians Can Pursue B-1 Visas

Musicians or members of musical groups who are coming to the United States to participate in unpaid showcase performances do not necessarily need to apply for O or P visas. If the musician or musical group will be participating in a conference that shows skills, compositions and performances developed abroad, according to the American Immigration Lawyers Association the B-1 visa should be permitted.

Consular posts have been advised that such individuals may qualify for the B-1 visa if they can demonstrate their planned activity is something like an audition rather than a public performance for a paying audience. They must also show they will not perform elsewhere than in the showcase.

An individual with a B-1 visa is a business visitor. Individuals applying should demonstrate they will engage in a commercial activity; have a foreign residence that they continue to maintain; the principal place of business is the foreign country; the applicant only intends to stay in the U.S. temporarily; and the applicant’s salary comes from abroad.

Applicants should be prepared to explain the purpose and nature of a trip to the U.S. and provide supporting documentation. 

Applicants that intend to perform for a paying audience should pursue the appropriate work-related visa. 

Prevailing Wages in Highly-Skilled Immigration

A crucial part of any H-1B application is proof that the foreign worker will be paid a salary comparable to a U.S. worker. Despite existing research, members of President Donald J. Trump’s administration have expressed a belief that foreign workers undercut U.S. workers who would perform the same job. There are legislative proposals that would require employers who wish to employ highly-skilled temporary foreign workers to pay the median or mean wage for the occupation. Wage determinations are often inaccurate because the data is not specific enough. 

Determining the prevailing wage is crucial for nonimmigrant H-1B petitions and for immigrant visa classification cases for highly skilled workers. It is important to be as clear and specific as possible, but also to understand how the Department of Labor produces prevailing wage determinations.

White House to Campaign for Eliminating Family-Based Immigration

According to a report by Associated Press reporters Zeke Miller and Jill Colvin, the White House is about to start a campaign to persuade the American public that the immigration system should be revamped with family-based cases being phased out while merit-based cases take priority. White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said that data supports this policy shift.

AP noted that White House officials outlined their strategy, saying that immediate change is needed. Expect the subject to get significant play in President Donald J. Trump’s Jan. 30th State of the Union address. The President and Cabinet officials will promote this issue on conservative media. Critics note the administration’s supporting data has been misleading.

Scaling back or eliminating family-based immigration is a radical departure from policies of the past three decades. A merit-based system would favor education and job potential. The AP report indicated it appears that President Trump wants to trade giving legal status to approximately 700,000 Dreamers, undocumented young people brought to the U.S. by their families, for this dramatic overhaul to the immigration system.

Researchers have countered that family-based immigration is at the heart of this country. 

It is of crucial importance that people who favor the continuation of family-based immigration contact their representatives in federal and state government to make their voices heard.

Visa Waiver Tightens Security

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of 38 countries, including France, Japan and Great Britain, to enter the United States without a visa for business or tourism and stay no more than 90 days. Last week, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen announced that DHS is taking steps to strengthen national security and immigration enforcement with regard to the VWP.

Enhancements will include requiring VWP countries to use counterterrorism information to better screen travelers, assessing VWP countries to ensure they implement the safeguards, and requiring certain VWP countries to initiate public information campaigns to reduce people overstaying the allotted 90 days.

TPS Extended for Honduras

Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which allows people to remain in the U.S. under a humanitarian program for citizens of countries that are war ravaged or plagued by natural disasters, has been extended to July 5, 2018 for nationals of Honduras. 

TPS status for nationals of Nicaragua is set to expire on Jan. 5, 2018. Individuals have until Jan. 5, 2019 to depart the U.S. or transition to an alternate status. 

DHS Ends TPS for El Salvador 

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced their decision to end the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nationals of El Salvador. Individuals have until Sept. 9, 2019 to leave the United States, find another legal way to stay in the United States or face deportation. 

TPS has also been terminated for Sudan, Nicaragua and Haiti. This year DHS will review whether to extend TPS for Syria, Nepal, Honduras, Yemen and Somalia.