USCIS Provides Clarification on Third-Party Placement of STEM OPT Workers
USCIS recently updated their STEM OPT (Optional Practical Training)
webpage, with a change in their interpretation of regulations regarding STEM OPT extension eligibility. The current STEM OPT extension regulations were implemented in 2016 and stated that an Employer must have a formal training plan, along with the completion of Form I-983, for employees in STEM OPT status.
USCIS is interpreting the 2016 regulations to state that any placement of a STEM OPT employee to any third-party work site is prohibited and that the STEM OPT worker
to ensure that there is a valid employer-employee relationship. can only be placed at the worksite of the employer
It seems that this is a recent change in position. Previously, it was reasonable to conclude that third party placement of STEM OPT workers were permissible per the regulations as this type of working arrangement was not specifically addressed or explicitly prohibited within the regulations. The rational for this change is to allow Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) to easily conduct site visits, which they state they are unable to do when the STEM OPT worker is at a third-party site.
USCIS Letter to Senator Grassley on Strengthening the Integrity of Nonimmigrant Worker Programs
On 4/4/18, USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna provided an update to Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) on USCIS efforts to narrow eligibility for, or eliminate altogether, specific nonimmigrant worker programs including the H-1B, H-2B, TN, and L-1B visa programs. Director Cissna’s
letter provides updates on the initiatives undertaken by USCIS to implement the “Buy American and Hire American” Executive Order signed by President Trump one year ago. The letter confirms that USCIS plans to propose regulatory changes to remove H-4 spouses from the class of individuals eligible for employment authorization. The letter also indicates that USCIS is working on proposed regulations to establish an electronic registration program for petitions subject to the H-1B cap and to revise the definition of specialty occupation.
USCIS to Use More Secure Mail Delivery Service Starting April 30, 2018
USCIS has begun phasing in use of the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) Signature Confirmation Restricted Delivery service to mail Permanent Resident Cards and other secure documents beginning April 30, 2018.
The first phase will affect documents that need to be re-mailed because they have been returned as non-deliverable. These documents include Permanent Resident Cards (also called Green Cards), Employment Authorization Cards, and Travel Booklets. Applicants who have changed mailing addresses during the course of the application process are more likely to have their secure documents sent with the new delivery method, which USCIS will expand to all secure documents in the future.
As part of the new delivery method, applicants must present identification to sign for their documents upon delivery. They also have the option to designate an agent to sign on their behalf by completing the Postal Service’s
PS Form 3801, Standing Delivery Order (PDF) or PS Form 3801-A, Agreement by a Hotel, Apartment House, or the Like (PDF). Applicants can sign up for USPS Informed Delivery to receive delivery status notifications. Applicants will also have the option to arrange for pickup at a post office at a convenient date and time by going to the USPS website and selecting “hold for pickup.”
Signature Confirmation Restricted Delivery increases the security, integrity, and efficiency of document delivery. The Signature Confirmation Restricted Delivery process provides better tracking and accuracy of delivery information, improving service to applicants.
Filing DACA Applications in the Wake of Federal Court Rulings
On April 24, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia held that DHS’s decision to rescind DACA was “arbitrary and capricious” and vacated the termination of the program. The court held that its decision meant that DHS must accept and process new DACA applications, as well as renewal DACA applications – however, it stayed its order for 90 days to give the government a chance to respond.
This decision of the court differs from previous court rulings because it affects new applications – i.e. initial applications from individuals who have never applied for DACA previously but who are eligible to apply. However, the court’s decision is on hold for 90 days. In the interim, the government has the chance to better explain its decision to rescind the program. That means that the court may reconsider its decision before the 90 days is over, and before its decision to allow new applications would go into effect.
As a result of the decision being on hold for 90 days, there are NO new changes to the program as of now.
E-Verify Modernization Launch
On April 23, USCIS announced the E-Verify program modernized its system to improve users’ experience, reduce errors, and increase the speed and accuracy of the employment eligibility verification process. Improvements include:
Enhanced usability features to help users enter correct information and make E-Verify more user friendly.
Streamlined case creation and management to increase results speed and accuracy.
Improved overall data integrity and system compliance.
These and other enhancements found on the
E-Verify Enhancements April 2018 webpage were made from feedback and extensive testing from E-Verify users.
Credit Card Payment Now Available for Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document
The USCIS Phoenix Lockbox facility is now accepting
Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document. As of April 18, 2018, the Nebraska Service Center no longer accepts this form and forwards N-565 applications to the Phoenix Lockbox. With the transfer to a Lockbox facility, applicants may now pay the filing fee by credit card using Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions.
Please reach out to your Greenspoon Marder LLP
Immigration & Naturalization Practice Group attorney for any further questions or concerns.