USCIS Releases Three Enhancements to E-Verify Program

USCIS has launched three enhancements to its E-Verify program to improve its effectiveness and efficiency, and to increase customer satisfaction. The new Temporary Protected Status Auto Extension upgrade makes it easier for the E-Verify system to confirm that employment authorization has been automatically extended for TPS beneficiaries. The Case Details Page Redesign reduces the amount of data fields so that case details can print on a single page. The Updated Further Action Notices and Tentative Nonconfirmation emails will now include the myE-Verify Case Tracker link, which enables employees to check the status of their own E-Verify Case regardless of whether they have a myE-Verify account.

Deportation Rates Lowest Since 2006

According to the latest reports, the Obama administration has deported fewer immigrants over the past 12 months than at any time since 2006. Over the past year, a total of 231,000 people were deported; roughly 136,700 were convicted criminals. This number does not include Mexican nationals who were caught at the U.S./Mexico border and quickly returned home.

The total deportation number dropped 42 percent since 2012.

“[Immigration and Customs Enforcement] has refined its priorities to improve the quality of its removals by focusing on the most serious public safety and national security threats as well as recent border crossers,” said I.C.E. spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea said. “As a result, overall removals may show a decline, consistent with a substantial drop in overall apprehension, among other factors.”

DHS Sets FY16 Limit for CNMI-Only Transitional Worker Program

According to a notice published in the October 22 Federal Register, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will allow up to 12,999 nonimmigrants in fiscal year 2016 for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)-Only Transitional Worker program (CW-1). Under this program, employers in the CNMI can apply for temporary permission to hire foreign nationals who are ineligible for any existing nonimmigrant employment-based visas.

This CW program will be in effect until December 31, 2019. DHS reduced the FY16 CW-1 limit by 1,000 in order to meet the CNMI’s existing labor market needs and provide opportunity for growth, while still meeting a regulatory requirement to reduce the numerical limit each year.

USCIS Permanently Closing Vienna Field Office

USCIS has stated that it will permanently close its field office in Vienna, Austria on December 31, 2015. The office will no longer be open to the public or accepting applications after November 30, 2015.

The USCIS field offices in Frankfurt, Rome and Athens will take over the Vienna office’s jurisdiction. This jurisdiction includes: Austria, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

Final Rule Establishes Standards for H-2A Herder Jobs

The Department of Labor announced a final rule this week regarding the employment of foreign workers in jobs related to the herding of livestock on the range. This includes the herding of sheep and goats.

The H-2A Herder Final Rule covers all jobs related to the herding or production of livestock on the range. Because of the scarcity of U.S. workers in such occupations, it has been difficult to set an appropriate minimum wage, leading to wage stagnation for nearly 20 years. This new rule sets standards for minimum wage for this subcategory of worker.

Under this rule, the monthly pay rate for all such occupations will use the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and a 48-hour workweek. Beginning in 2017, the monthly pay rate will be adjusted annually based on the Employment Cost Index calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Immigration Relief Measures May Help People Affected by South Carolina Floods

USCIS offers immigration relief measures that may be helpful to people affected by unforeseen circumstances, like ones caused by recent major flooding in South Carolina. Some immigration benefits that may be available upon request include:

A change or extension fo status for a nonimmigrant currently in the U.S., even in cases in which the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has passed

The re-parole of people previously granted parole by USCIS

Expedited processing of advance parole requests

Expedited adjudication of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing economic hardship

Expedited adjudication of employment authorization applications, where appropriate.

Consideration of fee waivers because of inability to pay

E-Verify Records Older than 10 Years to be Deleted From Electronic System

Starting January 1, 2016, E-Verify records that are more than 10 years old will be deleted from the electronic system. Users will no longer be able to access in E-Verify cases created before December 31, 2005. This is being done to comply with a federal retention and disposal schedule.

E-Verify has created a new historical records report to provide information to users. If you seek a record of your cases that are over 10 years old, you will need to download the new Historical Records Report prior to December 31, 2015. This report includes all transaction records for cases that are more than 10 years old. Get instructions at the USCIS website.

USCIS Adds Secure Laminates to Certain Forms

On October 5, 2015, USCIS started applying secure laminates to some of its secure immigration forms. These secure, transparent laminates offer an extra layer of fraud protection and authenticity to the forms. They contain state of the art technology to limit counterfeiting, prevent tampering and allow for quick, accurate authentication.

Forms affected by this change include Form I-797F, the Transportation Letter, and Form I-512L, the Parole Authorization Letter.

Department of State Publishes Instructions for 2017 Diversity Visa Program

The Department of State has published instructions for applying for the 2017 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program. This program, which is administered annually by the Department of State, will provide 50,000 diversity visas. There is no cost to register for the program.

Applicants who are selected to participate in the program must meet a few simple yet strict eligibility requirements. These selectees are chosen through a random computerized drawing. Diversity Visas are distributed among six geographical regions; no country may receive more than seven percent of the available Diversity Visas in any year.

For 2017, natives of the following countries are not eligible to apply; more than 50,000 natives of these countries immigrated to the U.S. in the previous five years:

Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.

People who were born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible.

Read the instructions online.