WEEKLY IMMIGRATION UPDATE 8.03.2020
- DHS to Raise Fees Significantly for Many Immigration Benefits – Today DHS published final rule which will apply to cases filed with USCIS on or after October 2, 2020. The rule will significantly increase many immigration fees charged by USCIS, and reduce some others. It also removes certain fee exemptions; changes fee waiver requirements; establishes multiple fees for nonimmigrant worker petitions; alters premium processing time limits; and makes changes related to setting, collecting, and administering fees, among other things. Please see some details below, and look for a special LAC legal update specific to the issue later today.
- Judge Orders Inquiry Into DHS False Statements in Trusted Traveler Case – A U.S. District Judge ordered a “limited inquiry” to address “deeply troubling revelations” about DHS’s admittedly false and misleading statements made in court related to a lawsuit the New York Attorney General filed to prevent the Trump administration from excluding New York applicants from the Trusted Travelers Program.
- Justice Dept. Settles Claim Against Staffing Company for Favoring Temporary Visa Workers Over U.S. Workers – The settlement resolves a claim that a staffing company discriminated against U.S. workers because of their citizenship status when it posted a job advertisement specifying a preference for non-U.S. citizens who held temporary work visas.
- OFLC Transitions Site to New Web Domain – OFLC is transitioning to a new web domain as of August 3, 2020. As of today, the OFLC website becomes part of the main DOL website.
1. DHS to Raise Fees Significantly for Many Immigration Benefits
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a final rule, to be published on August 3, 2020, and take effect 60 days later, that will increase significantly many immigration and naturalization fees charged by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and reduce some others. It also removes certain fee exemptions; changes fee waiver requirements; establishes multiple fees for nonimmigrant worker petitions; alters premium processing time limits; and makes changes related to setting, collecting, and administering fees, among other things. Overall, DHS said it is increasing USCIS fees by a “weighted average” of 20 percent.
The Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, which formerly had no fee, will now have a fee of $50. The Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (non-DACA) fee is increased 34 percent, to $550. The Biometric Services (non-DACA) fee is reduced from $85 to $30. There are increases in some Form I-129 Petitions for a Nonimmigrant Worker, such as the I-129H1 (to $555), the I-129H2A (to $850), the I-129H2B (to $715), the I-129L (to $805), and the I-129O ($705). The Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, has increased to $1,160 (online filing) or $1,170 (paper filing). The Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship (online and paper), has decreased by 15 percent, to $990 and $1,000, respectively.
Additional fees and changes are listed in the final rule. Final rule (pre-publication copy for public inspection),
2. Judge Orders Inquiry Into DHS False Statements in Trusted Traveler Case
U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman ordered a “limited inquiry” to address “deeply troubling revelations” about the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) false statements in court related to a lawsuit New York Attorney General Letitia James filed to prevent the Trump administration from excluding New York applicants from the Trusted Travelers Program. DHS admitted that its statements were inaccurate, for example, a claim that New York’s Green Light Law was the only such state law in the country that shielded information about driver’s licenses from the federal government.
The Department of Justice reinstated New York to the program and apologized for the misleading statements, asking to have the case dismissed as moot, but Judge Furman ordered the additional inquiry for “the sake of ensuring an accurate record and to help the court in deciding how to proceed down the line.” Judge Furman said that “it is necessary for defendants to make a comprehensive record of any and all ‘inaccurate’ or ‘misleading’ statements in their prior submissions, adding that even if the case is dismissed as moot, “the court would retain jurisdiction to pursue such an inquiry and take appropriate action.” The judge therefore ordered DHS and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan to detail all such statements in a report to be filed by August 12, 2020.
- “Judge Probes ‘Deeply Troubling’ False Statements in NY Travel Case,” Courthouse News Service
3. Justice Dept. Settles Claim Against Staffing Company for Favoring Temporary Visa Workers Over U.S. Workers
The Department of Justice (DOJ) reached a settlement agreement on July 27, 2020, with ASTA CRS Inc., a provider of IT staffing and consulting services with offices in Ashburn, Virginia, and Greenbelt, Maryland. This is the ninth settlement under the Civil Rights Division’s Protecting U.S. Workers Initiative, which the DOJ said is “aimed at targeting, investigating, and taking enforcement actions against companies that discriminate against U.S. workers in favor of temporary visa workers.”
The settlement resolves a claim that ASTA’s Maryland office discriminated against U.S. workers because of their citizenship status when it posted a job advertisement specifying a preference for non-U.S. citizens who held temporary work visas. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, ASTA will train its employees on the antidiscrimination requirements, change its policies and procedures to comply with the law, and be subject to two years of monitoring requirements, including providing regular reports to the DOJ.
4. OFLC Site Transitions to New Web Domain
The Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) announced that it is transitioning to a new web domain as of August 3, 2020. As of that date, the OFLC website will become part of the main DOL website. The visual display will change, but the content will remain the same, OFLC said.
Users who try to access OFLC website pages at the current URL will be automatically redirected to the new location and should encounter no service disruptions, OFLC said. After the transition, the agency encourages users to OFLC announcement (scroll down to July 29, 2020)
New Publications and Items of Interest
Immigrant and Employee Rights Section webinars. The Department of Justice’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section, of the Civil Rights Division, is offering free webinars June through August for workers, employers, and advocates. For more information or to register, see https://www.justice.gov/crt/webinars (scroll down for the listings by date).
COVID-19 resources. The response of the U.S. immigration agencies to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is constantly evolving, making it difficult to report relevant information that is not rendered immediately obsolete. The list of online resources below is intended to serve as a quick reference to the most current available agency information.
- Coronavirus.gov: Primary federal site for general coronavirus information
- USA.gov/coronavirus: Catalog of U.S. government’s response to coronavirus
- CDC.gov/coronavirus: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information
- American Immigration Lawyers Association: (links to practice alerts on this site are restricted to members)
Immigration Agency Information
Department of Homeland Security: DHS.gov/coronavirus
- USCIS: USCIS.gov/coronavirus
– Overview and FAQs: https://www.ice.gov/coronavirus
– Requirements for ICE Detention Facilities: https://www.ice.gov/doclib/coronavirus/eroCOVID19responseReqsCleanFacilities.pdf
– Updates and Announcements: https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/coronavirus
– Accessing I-94 Information: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home
Department of Labor:
– OFLC Announcements (COVID-19 announcements included here): https://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/
– COVID-19 FAQs:
- Round 1 (Mar. 20, 2020): https://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/pdf/DOL-OFLC_COVID-19_FAQs_Round%201_03.20.2020.pdf
- Round 2 (Apr. 1, 2020): https://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/pdf/DOL-OFLC_COVID-19_FAQs_Round%202_04.01.2020.pdf
- Round 3 (Apr. 9, 2020): https://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/pdf/DOL-OFLC_COVID-19_FAQs_Round%203.pdf
State Department: https://www.state.gov/coronavirus/
- Travel advisories: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/covid-19-information.html
- Country-specific information: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/COVID-19-Country-Specific-Information.html
- J-1 exchange visitor information: https://j1visa.state.gov/covid-19/
- Executive Office for Immigration Review: https://www.justice.gov/eoir/eoir-operational-status-during-coronavirus-pandemic
Agency Twitter Accounts
- EOIR: @DOJ_EOIR
- ICE: @ICEgov
- Study in the States: @StudyinStates
- USCIS: @USCIS
Immigrant and employee rights webinars. The Department of Justice’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER), of the Civil Rights Division, is offering a number of free webinars for the public in April, May, and June. These include webinars for workers, employers, and advocates. For more information, see https://www.justice.gov/crt/webinars.
E-Verify webinar schedule. E-Verify has released its April 2020 calendar of webinars at https://www.e-verify.gov/calendar-field_date_and_time/month/202004.
This newsletter was prepared in collaboration with ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, comprised of twenty U.S. immigration lawyers who head some of the top immigration practices in the country. Larrabee Albi Coker LLP is an active member of ABIL.
Legal Disclaimer: This newsletter is provided for informational purposes only and does not substitute for legal advice based on the circumstances of a specific matter.