USCIS Memo on H-1B Employment Relationships Harmful

January 26th, 2010

Donald Neufeld’s, Associate Director, Service Center (USCIS) Operations, memo of January 8, 2010, providing guidance on the requisite employer-employee relationship for H-1B purposes, is utterly wrongheaded and harmful to our nation’s economy.   It seems that as our economy has crumbled, USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) and DHS (Department of Homeland Security) have made a special effort to retard the US economy’s growth and restrict innovation by resorting to deleterious, old-fashioned and prejudicial immigration policies.  Neufeld’s memo is particularly harmful in that it will restrict the competitiveness of US companies in the midst of the most challenging global marketplace the US has ever faced. 

In particular, Neufeld states that in order for there to exist a proper employment relationship for H-1B purposes, the employer must maintain control over the beneficiary employee, even at third party sites.  However, companies rely on contracting IT professionals for their projects so as to avoid high costs and flexibility to grow and streamline as necessary.  Why should H-1B employers not be allowed to contract out their IT employees to third party sites at end clients?  So long as the employer is paying the employee the prevailing wage and the employee is working in the profession designated on the H-1B petition, the employer should be able to delegate control over the specific project to the end client.  However, Neufeld’s memo prohibits such delegation of control in the situation that he calls the “Third-Party Placement”/”Job Shop.”

The US’s immigration policies need to be more liberal and expansive, allowing for creativity and innovation in the workforce so that American employers can create jobs and compete more effectively with businesses worldwide.  Why not rid of the esoteric and regulatory-laden H-1B visa, as well as the L-1 and O-1, and have one temporary working visa that allows for professionals and nonprofessionals, intracompany transferees and extraordinary ability aliens and any other assortment of workers to work in the US so long as there is employment for them (either self-employment or through another employer).  Other requirements could be worked out in terms of a prevailing wage and recruitment to protect US workers.  It’s time to think outside the box!

USCIS Announces TPS and Other Relief for Haitians

January 18th, 2010

USCIS has announced that it will grant temporary protected status (TPS) to Haitians in the US as of January 12, 2010.  TPS allows individuals from countries facing catastrophes to remain temporarily in the US and also obtain work authorization.  In this case, Haitians will be granted TPS for 18 months.

According to USCIS, “TPS is a temporary immigration status granted to eligible nationals of a certain country (or persons without nationality who last habitually lived in that country) designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security because that country has experienced temporary negative conditions, such as armed conflict or an environmental disaster, that prevent nationals of the country from returning safely or for the country to handle their return adequately.  TPS beneficiaries are allowed to remain in the United States and can legally work for a set time period.”

USCIS will open the registration period on the date the Federal Register notice is published and will continue to accept applications for 180 days from that date. An application will be considered as being properly filed if it is postmarked on or before the last day of the registration period.  The individual must file the Form I-821 and the Form I-765 (for the work authorization).  There are also filing fees involved:  $50 for the Form I-821 TPS, $340 for the I-765 work authorization and an $80 biometrics fee for those 14 years of age or older.  If not applying for work authorization, then the I-765 and filing fee need not be filed.

The supporting documentation includes two passport-style photos, a Haitian passport or birth certificate and evidence of residing in the US since January 12, 2010, and being physically present in the US since the date of the publication of the Federal Register Notice.

USCIS offers the following guidance for those without a Haitian passport or birth certificate:  “If you do not have a Haitian passport and are unable to obtain your birth certificate from Haiti, you will need to submit secondary evidence.  This secondary evidence can be any other documentation you already have in your possession from Haiti, showing that you are a national or citizen of Haiti.  Secondary evidence can also be in the form of your baptismal certificate from Haiti, sworn affidavits from close family members providing the specific details of the date and place of your birth and how they know this information.  If any document is not in English it must be accompanied by an English translation.  The person translating the document must certify that he or she is competent in English and the foreign language from which the document is translated and that the translation is true and correct to the best of his or her ability, knowledge and belief.

If you are a person with no nationality that last habitually resided in Haiti, you must show that you are stateless.  That is, that you have no nationality at all.  You must submit a statement explaining why you are stateless.  You must also submit any documentation you may have from Haiti showing that you last habitually resided there.  If that documentation is not available, you may submit sworn affidavits from close friends and family members who have direct knowledge of your residence in Haiti. Again, any documents not in English must be accompanied by a certified English translation.”

A TPS applicant may still apply for another immigration status and his or her TPS application will not affect the applicant’s current immigration status.

A TPS applicant may apply for travel permission, advance parole, to depart the US while in TPS status.  However, one should be very careful about traveling outside the US, since prior unlawful status could trigger a 3 or 10-year bar to reentry into the US.

According to USCIS, the following indivudals are ineligible for TPS:

  • A person who has been convicted of any felony, or two or more misdemeanors committed in the United States; and
  • A person subject to several other criminal and security-related bars to asylum. This would include participating in the persecution of another individual or engaging in or inciting terrorist activity. 

USCIS Memo Defining H-1B Employer-Employee Relationship

January 13th, 2010

A USCIS memo from Donald Neufeld, Associate Director of Service Center Operations, dated January 8, 2010, sets out guidlines for determining whether an employer/employee relationship exists for H-1B purposes and requires that such relationship continue throughout the course of the requested H-1B validity period.  Emphasis is placed on the control that the employer has over the employee and USCIS provides a list of criteria to determine whether this control and supervision exists.  It also provides examples of relationships and situations that do and do not constitute employer/employee relationships for H-1B purposes as well as a list of documents to file in support of the requisite relationship.

It will be interesting to see if USCIS now starts to require such information and documentation for all H-1B petitions, especially with petitions where the employee is works at a third party site.  Up until now, USCIS has been arbitrary in asking for such evidence.  Hopefully, it will only require such evidence in cases where there is a likelihood that the employee may not be under the control of the employer, such as where the employee works at various sites nationwide.

10th Circuit Rules in Favor of K-2 for Adjustment of Status

January 13th, 2010

In Colmenares Carpio v. Holder, Jan. 12, 2010, the 10th Circuit ruled that a K-2 visa holder who timely applies for an adjustment of status under must be under twenty-one when he or she seeks to enter the United States, not when USCIS finally adjudicates his or her subsequent adjustment of status application.

A child under 21-years-old may apply for a K-2 visa as a dependent of his K-1 fiance parent.  Once the child arrives in the US, he or she must file for adjustment of status along with his or her parent within 90 days of entry on the K-2 visa and after the parent marries the US citizen petitioner.  If not, the child is subject to removal from the US.

The issue in the case at bar was whether the K-2 child must be under 21 at the time of entry into the US or at the time a final decision is made on the Form I-485 application for adjustment of status to legal permanent resident.  The court interpreted the immigration statutes governing K-2 adjustments liberally and found that the K-2 must be under 21 at the time of entry.

A “Wiser” Lou Dobbs?

January 11th, 2010

What an absolute political turn-around to hear Lou Dobbs, on the Bill O’Reilly Show on January 8, 2010, sound like a kindler, gentler (as he puts it -“wiser”) soul.  If Lou Dobbs can advocate a comprehensive immigration reform that allows for undocumented workers to remain in the US based on practical and humanitarian reasons, then how can CIR not pass?  This is the most heartening news development I have heard for a very long time.  Let’s hope that it breeds some rationality in the hearts of the reactionaries.