In this edition, read about the Biden Administration’s Naturalization Campaign, a District Court vacating a final rule affecting wages for H-1B and PERM workers, USCIS’ guidance following the June 30th expiration of the EB-5 Regional Center program, and more.
Biden Administration Kicks Off Cross-Agency Naturalization Campaign
Happy July fourth. The Biden administration announced an interagency campaign to promote naturalization “to all who are eligible.” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said that the strategy “will ensure that aspiring citizens are able to pursue naturalization through a clear and coordinated process.” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said that the interagency strategy for promoting naturalization reflects the collaboration of USCIS; the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, State, Labor, Housing and Urban Development, Defense, Justice, Veterans Affairs, and Agriculture, and the Social Security Administration. These agencies are part of the interagency naturalization working group established pursuant to President Biden’s executive order 14012, issued in February, to prioritize citizenship education and awareness through capacity building and expanded partnerships. USCIS reported that more than 9,400 new citizens will be naturalized in 170 ceremonies between June 30 and July 7, 2021. This year’s Independence Day activities included a naturalization ceremony with President Biden at the White House on July 2 and a ceremony with Secretary Mayorkas administering the oath of allegiance virtually to 22 military service members serving overseas, which took place on June 30.
Details: Interagency Strategy for Promoting Naturalization, July 2, 2021, https://www.uscis.gov/promotingnaturalization
District Court Vacates Final Rule Affecting Wages for H-1B, PERM Workers; OFLC Updates Implementation
The H-1B prevailing wage system is safe! On June 23, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued an order vacating the Department of Labor’s rule that would have greatly increased prevailing wages for H-1B petitions. The case was remanded to DOL, which actually did not oppose the court’s action. In light of the June order vacating the final rule, the operative version of the regulations at 20 CFR §§ 656.40 and 655.731 “continues to be the version in place on October 7, 2020, prior to the publication” of the interim final rule, the Office of Foreign Labor Certification said. The Department will need to issue a new regulation if it wishes to change the current prevailing wage for high-skilled foreign nationals. In April 2021, the Department requested information from the public on data sources for calculating the prevailing wage for H-1B visa holders and employment-based immigrants. DOL may use the information it received from the public if it decides to make changes to the prevailing wage system for foreign-born professionals.
Details: OFLC announcement (scroll down to June 29, 2021), https://www.dol.gov/agencies/eta/foreign-labor
USCIS Releases Guidance Following June 30 Expiration of EB-5 Regional Center Program
The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program expired on June 30, 2021. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services released related guidance on July 1, 2021, noting that the lapse does not affect EB-5 petitions filed by investors who are not seeking a visa under the Regional Center Program. Due to the lapse, USCIS will reject the following forms received on or after July 1, 2021: Form I-924, Application for Regional Center Designation Under the Immigrant Investor Program, except when the application type indicates that it is an amendment to the regional center’s name, organizational structure, ownership, or administration; and Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor, when it indicates that the petitioner’s investment is associated with an approved regional center. USCIS said it will continue to accept and review Form I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status, including those filed on or after July 1, 2021. USCIS is rejecting all Forms I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, and any associated Forms I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and Forms I-131, Application for Travel Document, based on an approved Regional Center Form I-526.
Details: USCIS alert, July 1, 2021, https://www.uscis.gov/working-in-the-united-states/permanent-workers/eb-5-immigrant-investor-program
State Dept. Provides Guidance on COVID-19 Restrictions and Exceptions, Including National Interest
The Department of State released guidance on June 24, 2021, on restrictions and exceptions under four presidential proclamations that suspend entry into the United States of noncitizens who were physically present in any of 33 countries during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. The exceptions include general categories like U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and certain types of workers, as well as national interest.
Details: “COVID-19 Travel Restrictions and Exceptions,” Dept. of State, June 24, 2021, https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/covid-19-travel-restrictions-and-exceptions.html