Enhanced Immigration Vetting Being Implemented
In April 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order entitled “Buy American, Hire American,” which instructed the U.S. Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of Labor, and Department of Homeland Security to propose new rules, guidance, and reforms to ensure stricter enforcement of all current laws, “protect the interests of U.S. workers,” and prevent fraud and abuse within the U.S. immigration program. In August 2017, the Foreign Affairs Manual was updated to provide guidance to consular officers administering the issuance of U.S. visas.
Over the past few months, clients have reported a significant increase of the number of Requests for Evidence (RFEs) issued on immigration filings with the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) including H-1B specialty occupation petitions (cap-subject and change of employer) and L-1B specialized knowledge intracompany transferee petitions. Some clients have also reported an uptick in visa refusals and denials at consular posts abroad, as well as more difficult screening questions, for various non-immigrant visa types including L-1 intracompany transferees and E-2 treaty investors.
Additionally, the USCIS will begin requiring in-person interviews for employment-based Adjustment of Status (aka green card) applicants starting October 1, 2017. Current USCIS policy allows for waivers of in-person interviews for the majority of employment-based non-immigrant visa holders.
What Employers and Foreign Nationals Can Expect
Employers should work with counsel to ensure that current company immigration programs are compliant with all legal requirements. Visa applicants should consult with counsel to thoroughly prepare for visa interviews in advance, and expect longer consular processing times. Adjustment of Status applicants should also be prepared for longer green card processing times.
Gibney will continue to closely monitor these developments. For more information on this alert, please contact your designated Gibney representative, or email email@example.com.