Immigration Update

Aug 22, 2022 | Immigration Updates

In this edition, find the latest news on alternative documentation for I-9 verifications, warnings of agency spoofing and scammers, clarification of eligibility determinations for L-1 visas, and more.  

DHS Proposes to Allow for Alternatives to Physical Document Examination for I-9 Verification

On August 18, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed a rule to allow for alternative document verification procedures for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. The proposed rule would create a framework under which the Secretary of Homeland Security could authorize alternative options for document examination procedures for some or all employers.  

According to the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), such procedures could be implemented as part of a pilot program; upon the Secretary’s determination that such procedures offer an equivalent level of security; or as a temporary measure to address a public health emergency declared by the Secretary of Health and Human Services under the Public Health Service Act, or a national emergency declared by the President under the National Emergencies Act.  

The NPRM notes that in light of advances in technology and remote work arrangements, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is exploring alternative options, including making permanent some of the COVID-19 pandemic-related flexibilities to examine employees’ identity and employment authorization documents for the Form I–9. The rule would not create such alternatives but would instead formalize the authority for the DHS Secretary “to extend flexibilities, provide alternative options, or conduct a pilot program to further evaluate an alternative procedure option (in addition to the procedures set forth in regulations) for some or all employers, regardless of whether their employees physically report to work at a company location.” DHS said it would introduce any such alternative procedure in a future Federal Register notice. 

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EOIR Warns of Scammers Spoofing Agency Phone Number, CBP Warns of Scammers Posing as U.S. Border Patrol Agents and CBP Officers

The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) announced that it has recently been notified of phone calls that spoof the Arlington Immigration Court as part of a misinformation campaign. The callers often “spoof,” or fake, the immigration court’s main line, 703-305-1300, so the calls appear to be coming from EOIR on the recipient’s caller ID. 

In this scam, fraudulent callers posing as EOIR employees or officers advise individuals that their social security number has been compromised and request money from the victims. 

Questions about individual immigration court cases may be directed to the Automated Case Information Hotline at 1-800-898-7180, the Automated Case Information System, or the Immigration Court Online Resource. 

In addition, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) has warned of scammers calling residents nationwide, often with the following pre-recorded message: “A box of drugs and money being shipped has your name on it and it has been intercepted.” There is then a prompt to speak to a CBP agent which will result in a scammer ultimately asking for banking information. 

These calls are phone scams/phishing attempts. The Department of Homeland Security and CBP do not make calls soliciting money. If such calls are received, they should be reported as soon as possible. CBP phone scams can be reported at the Federal Trade Commission online at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/?orgcode=USCP2.

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USCIS Clarifies Eligibility Determinations for L-1 Nonimmigrant Managers, Executives, and Specialized Knowledge Workers

On August 16, 2022, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a policy alert to clarify how the agency determines eligibility for L-1 nonimmigrants seeking classification as managers or executives (L-1A) and specialized knowledge workers (L-1B). 

The update does not make changes to existing policy or create new policy. The update consolidates and updates guidance previously included in the Adjudicator’s Field Manual, Chapter 32, as well as related appendices and policy memoranda. 

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Reports: Visa Delays and Unprecedented Wait Times Cause Problems for Workers, Employers 

According to reports, visa delays, backlogs, and unprecedented wait times at U.S. embassies and consulates are causing disruptions for workers and companies, particularly those employing workers in temporary statuses who need to renew their visas outside the United States.  

For example, excluding student and visitor visas, wait times for visas in Istanbul, Turkey, exceed 16 months; in New Delhi, India, wait times hover at nine months for the thousands of highly skilled temporary workers coming to the United States on H-1B and L-1 visas. Business visa processing in Chile can take up to three years. 

The delays are thought to be at least partly the result of increased travel demand related to the COVID-19 pandemic, staffing issues at embassies and consulates, and a two-year shutdown of processing guest worker visas by the Trump administration. Some business groups and immigration attorneys advocate measures such as allowing remote interviews or permitting those with expiring visas to renew in the United States rather than requiring them to leave the country as a way of relieving backlogs. Reportedly, the Department of State (DOS) is considering such options. Meanwhile, DOS said it has doubled hiring of consular staff in fiscal year (FY) 2022 over FY 2021, and noted that “[n]early all U.S. embassies and consulates have resumed full visa services.” 

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COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements Updated for Ukraine Parolees

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has updated the COVID-19 vaccination requirements for beneficiaries paroled into the United States under the “Uniting for Ukraine” program. Effective August 10, 2022, all beneficiaries aged 6 months and older must submit an attestation that they received COVID-19 vaccinations both before traveling to the United States and after arrival in the United States, unless they are eligible for an exception.  

Previously, beneficiaries younger than five years old qualified for an exception to the COVID-19 vaccination requirement because the vaccine was not approved or licensed for use in that age group. 

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