Welcome back to our Immigration: Week in Review blog segment.
Each week, we hope to bring you a central immigration news platform with snippets of immigration-related articles and full links if you want further info.
ICE Provides Clarification on “Cap Gap” for F-1OPT Students Changing Status to H-1B
Earlier this week, ICE released a broadcast message clarifying when “cap gap” would apply to F-1 OPT students seeking an H-1B.
Under certain circumstances, cap gap allows students who are applying for H-1B visas to bridge the gap between the end of their OPT period and the start of the H-1B period on October 1st should their OPT expire prior to then.
ICE confirmed this week that an H-1B cap registration selection notice is not sufficient to allow students to avail of “cap gap”. Rather, F-1 students can avail themselves of the cap-gap extension only after an employer files a H-1B petition with the USCIS on their behalf.
Trump Administration Proposes Sweeping Changes to U.S. Asylum System in New Rule
The Trump Administration is proposing a new regulation that would make it exceedingly difficult for migrants to claim asylum in the United States, according to a draft rule released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The 161-page rule, which is set to be published in the Federal Register on June 15th, lists a series of changes that would pose even greater challenges to people seeking asylum in the U.S. The litany of changes proposed in the regulation mark yet another attempt by the Trump Administration to overhaul the U.S. immigration system and attack the most vulnerable of asylum seekers in the process. Seems like welcoming the huddled masses is a thing of the past.
Our friend Aaron Reichlin-Melnick over at the American Immigration Council has written a great Twitter thread where he discusses that “much of this rule is also likely illegal under the asylum statute and likely under international law as well, so it’ll draw very quick challenges in court once issued.” You can also see this article from Fernanda Echavarri at Mother Jones – Trump Ended Asylum at the Border Indefinitely. But Apparently That’s Not Enough.
We will of course monitor this proposed rule as it progresses and we will let you know how you can comment on it and share your views with the Administration.
White House Prepares New Immigration Limits, Using Coronavirus as Cover
In other immigration news, CNN reports that the Trump Administration is preparing to roll out another set of restrictions on legal immigration, citing Coronavirus concerns, according to sources familiar with the deliberations.
A slate of employment visa categories, which allow immigrants to temporarily work in the U.S., are under consideration to be suspended for a period of time, including L-1 visa for intra-company transfers, H-1B visas for workers in specialty occupations, H-2B visas for temporary agricultural workers, and J-1 visas for exchange visitors. Exceptions are expected to be made for COVID-19 related activities, like health care professionals and jobs related to food supply and from the information we have received thus far, the restrictions would likely not apply to those already in the U.S. and would only apply to those trying to enter the U.S. from abroad in those visa categories.
Over recent weeks businesses and industry groups have submitted concerns in letters, underscoring the importance of the high-skilled workforce to the U.S. economy. Until an order comes down this is all still speculation but we will be monitoring this situation closely over the coming days and will share any news here and on Fiona’s Twitter.
National Take Out Night!
In addition to being Pride month, June is also Immigration Heritage Month and the I Am An Immigrant initiative is launching their first ever National Take Out Night!
On Thursday June 18th, they ask you to order from your favorite Black or Immigrant-owned restaurant and post a picture with the meal using the hashtags #ImmigrantHeritageMonth and #NationalTakeoutNight. Plus, who doesn’t love an excuse to order take out?
This month, in the wake of continued violence against Black communities and the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery among many many others, we think it is more important than ever to stand in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Purchasing from Black-owned businesses is a tangible way to show solidarity.
This coming week, we will be sharing some Chicago-area Black-owned and Immigrant-owned restaurants that you can support during #ImmigrantHeritageMonth, #NationalTakeoutNight, and any other time (no excuses needed!).
Kentucky Contractor to Pay $100,000 in Back Wages and Penalties After U.S. Department of Labor Finds H-2B Visa Program Violations
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has fined E.C. Constructions Inc. $24,755 for its violations of H-2B visa program labor provisions. Following a Wage and Hour Division (WHD) investigation, the Rineyville, Kentucky-based stonemason contractor will also pay four employees $76,803 in back wages.
Karen Garnett-Civils, the WHD District Director in Louisville, Kentucky stated that “the U.S. Department of Labor is committed to leveling the playing field for law-abiding employers and protecting vulnerable workers from being paid less than what they have legally earned.”
Remember that immigrant workers have rights too! If you’re employing workers on temporary visas, you must ensure that you’re adhering to the conditions of those visas.