ALERT: Recent News from INS, DOS, and DOL
INS FILING FEE INCREASE: INS fee increases are effective February 19, 2002. The new INS fee for Form I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Workers (H-1B; L-1A; L-1B; and TN) is $130.00, an increase of twenty dollars, and for Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (H-4; L-2; and TD), the new fee is $140.00. The new fee for Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker is $135.00, and the new fee for Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status is $255.00; Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization is $120.00; and Form I-131 Application for Travel Document is $110.00 The new fee for Form N-400 Application for Naturalization is $260.00. The DOS non-refundable visa application fee remains $45.00. INS CHANGES TO L and E PROGRAMS: Spousal work authorization for E and L spouses. On January 26, 2002, President Bush signed two bills into law, permitting the spouses of intracompany transferees (L-1A/B) and treaty traders/investors (E-1/2) to work in the U.S. Prior to these new laws, the spouses of such employees did not have authorization to work in the U.S. Please note, however, that we must now await INS issuance of its regulations or policy directive to utilize these new provisions. The INS may require the filing of Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and issuance of the Employment Authorization Document to evidence work authorization, or it may merely require INS endorsement of Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, to reflect work authorization to the spouses. The INS has not yet indicated when it will issue regulations or guidance relating to these new provisions. ∙ L-1 Blanket Pre-Employment Requirement. One of the new laws also changes the length of time the beneficiary must be employed with the foreign company to be eligible to enter the U.S. pursuant to the L-1 Blanket Program. The new law requires that the beneficiary be continuously employed for at least six month with the foreign parent, subsidiary or other affiliate of the U.S. company to be eligible for the L-1A/B visa under the L-1 Blanket Program. Please note that foreign nationals entering the U.S. under individual L-1A/B visas must still demonstrate one year of continuous employment with the foreign parent, subsidiary or other affiliate of the U.S. petitioner. In addition, multinational executives/managers seeking lawful permanent residence under the first preference category must still demonstrate the requisite one-year pre-employment requirement. We must also await INS and Department of State issuance of their regulations or policy directive relating to the L-1 Blanket program, and these offices have not yet indicated when such guidance would be issued. DOS: CONSULATE and EMBASSY POSTS ABROAD: All male nonimmigrant visa applicants between the ages of 16 and 45 are now required to complete the supplemental application Form DS-157. Form DS-157 requires applicants to disclose information including history of military service, participation in an armed conflict, and specialized skills or training such as firearms, explosives, nuclear, biological or chemical experience. While the form is mandatory for the above listed applicants, consular posts may require any and all applicants to complete the form within their discretion. This form is required in addition to the usual application Form DS-156. ∙ The U.S. Embassy Yemen temporarily suspended all public services on January 14, 2002, subsequent to the DOS receipt of reports indicating the existence of a credible terrorist threat to U.S. interest in Yemen. ∙ Travel warnings: A travel warning is in effect for Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. DOS advises American citizens to defer travel to the area and to limit travel to the Old City of Jerusalem to daylight hours. DOS travel warnings remain effective for the obvious hotspots Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as for the Kyrgyz Republic, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Iraq, Iran, Indonesia, Sudan, and the Philippines. INS ENFORCEMENT: The INS is now sending the names of more than 300,000 aliens who remain in the U.S. despite prior deportation or removal orders to the FBI. The FBI will include these names in the National Crime Information Center database enabling local law enforcement to assist with removal efforts. ∙ According to recent media reports, the INS will soon begin searching for the approximately 6,000 young Middle Eastern men identified by the U.S. Department of Justice as having ignored deportation orders. The targeted men are generally from nations that U.S. authorities consider havens for members of the al Qaeda terrorist network, and some have criminal backgrounds. On a separate but related note, many U.S. employers have raised concerns about the legal status of their work force. As such, there has been an increase in the use of the H-2A and H-2B (temporary workers performing agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature and temporary workers performing other temporary services or labor). Program. Employers have also been keenly aware of the need to ensure the accuracy and completeness of H-1B “Public Access” files and Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) files. DOL PROCESSING: The DOL now has a service permitting electronic filing of Labor Condition Applications (LCAs). The new system utilizes web-based forms and a new alternative Form ETA 9035E. DOL response can be expected within minutes after the electronic filing. With this service, employers sign the LCA after it is certified rather than before it is certified.
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