This Spring, the Social Security Administration (SSA) began mailing Employer Correction Request Notices (known informally as “No-Match Letters”) to employers that submitted at least one Form W-2 where the name and Social Security Number (SSN) did not match SSA records. These letters contain specific instructions for employers, but employers should be cautious when responding to these letters.  Below are three reminders for employers to consider.
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immigrationEffective October 1, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will require all applicants who are eligible for a green card based on sponsorship by their employer to appear for an in-person interview at a local USCIS field office. Previously, employer-sponsored applicants for green cards were exempt from the in-person interview requirement after USCIS determined decades ago that in-person interviews were usually unnecessary for this category of applicants. Adjudicating officers were still permitted to conduct in-person interviews for applicants when necessary. All applicants were and will continue to be subject to fingerprinting and background checks.

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immigrationIn agreeing to review two rulings by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on President Trump’s March 6, 2017, Executive Order, the Supreme Court reinstated certain provisions of the Executive Order that the lower courts had blocked. The March 6th Executive Order entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” was to suspend visa issuance for individuals from six countries, including Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 90 days. This provision, often referred to as the “travel ban,” effectively prohibits travel to the United States for individuals from the six affected countries.

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It’s time to begin preparing H-1B petitions for an early April filing and October 1, 2016 effective date.

What is H-1B Classification?
International flagsThe H-1B classification provides work authorization to foreign nationals seeking long-term, but temporary, positions in “specialty occupations” with U.S. employers. A specialty occupation is one which requires theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields including, but not limited to, architecture, engineering, business, mathematics, science, arts, law and medicine, and which require a bachelor’s degree or higher.


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Congress has agreed to an omnibus appropriations bill, which contains a number of immigration-related provisions.  Though the vote on the bill is set for December 18, it is widely expected to pass.  International flagsIn it, Congress has agreed to extend the EB-5 Regional Center program without change until September 30, 2016. The EB-5 Regional Center program permits foreign nationals to obtain a green card if they invest at least $1,000,000 ($500,000 if invested in a targeted employment area) in a U.S. business that creates at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers.  Several bills have been introduced over the past year to reform the EB-5 program; however, House and Senate leaders were unable to agree on the changes to the program before it was to expire on December 16.  Look for changes to the program in upcoming months.
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flagsThe Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released proposed regulations Oct. 19, 2015, on optional practical training (OPT) for F-1 students with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) degrees enrolled at accredited U.S. colleges and universities. The new regulations propose several changes to the existing regulations, including new burdens on colleges and universities with F-1 students and on employers who employ F-1 students working pursuant to OPT.
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International flagsHours before it was set to expire, the EB-5 Regional Center Program received a temporary continuance with the final passage of the Continuing Resolution that provides funding to the federal government until December 11, 2015.  This continuance gives Congress additional time to discuss proposed reforms for the program.  The EB-5 Regional Center Program was set to expire on September 30.
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immigrationAs part of the proposed warming of relations with Cuba, USCIS has announced changes to Cuban family-based immigration policy.  U.S.  immigration policy toward Cuba differs from policy applicable to other countries.  Under the Cuban Adjustment Act, Cubans who enter the United States have a special track to permanent residency.  Further, under the Cuban Family Reunification

flagsU.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced today that it will be extending U.S. employment authorization to certain H-4 spouses of foreign nationals in H-1B status.  Family members of H-1B workers are permitted to enter the United States in H-4 status as dependents of the H-1B worker, but they are not authorized to work.  This change permits spouses in H-4 status to apply for an unrestricted work card provided that the principal H-1B employee:

  1.  Is the beneficiary of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or
  2. Has been granted H-1B status under the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000 (AC21), which permits H-1B employees seeking permanent residency to extend their H-1B status beyond the usual six-years.


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