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On November 18, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued its final rule in the Federal Register which addresses the retention and portability of high-skilled foreign workers. The new regulations, which take effect January 17, 2017, allow greater flexibility to certain foreign workers subject to long green card quota backlogs to change employers without negatively affecting their pending green card applications. The new regulations also codify many agency interpretations that exist as agency guidance memorandums and nonbinding agency communications.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is increasing filing fees for many immigration applications and petitions by an average of 21% beginning on December 23, 2016. While the filing fees for some applications and petitions will remain the same, others will see significant increases.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released the new form I-9 dated November 14, 2016.  Although you may accept the prior version of the Form I-9 for the next two months, you will be required to use this new form starting January 21, 2017.

Tags: I-9

Public comment to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (USDHS) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking creating a new "parole" immigration benefit for certain International Entrepreneurs is due to the agency by October 17, 2016.  Once the comment period ends, the agency is required to consider all of the submitted comments before implementing a final rule. No applications will be accepted for this new immigration benefit until after a final rule is published.

August 1, 2016, marks the date that increased penalties for various immigration-related violations go into effect. The increases are the result of separate rules recently published by the Department of Labor, Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice. According to the agencies, the increased amounts are required adjustments for inflation based on the Consumer Price Index.

On June 23, 2016, in a hotly contested referendum, British voters chose to leave the European Union in a contest dubbed “Brexit” (for “British exit”). It will take some time before the full implications of this decision become apparent to employers with operations in the UK.

In the United States, the debate over protections for transgender employees continues, even as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, some courts, and the U.S. Justice Department take the position that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act provides employment protection for transgender employees on a national level.  In addition, many states, counties and municipalities have enacted their own laws protecting transgender employees in the workplace.  Although many countries outside of the United States do not prohibit discrimination against transgender employees, U.S. citizens living and working overseas may be protected under U.S. law from transgender discrimination and harassment, and U.S. employers may also have a duty to protect transgender employees traveling on company business from violence and harassment in the host country.

The UK Modern Slavery Act, which was signed into law on March 26, 2015, is now in effect.  In addition to setting forth muscular penalties and enforcement mechanisms to address practices including “slavery, servitude,  and forced or compulsory labour” and “human trafficking”, the Act requires qualifying commercial organizations to publically disclose what actions they have taken to eliminate prohibited practices from their businesses and supply chains—or to disclose that they have taken no action.  According to guidance published by Home Secretary Rt Hon Teresa May MP, the disclosure requirement is intended to “require businesses to be transparent about what they are doing and will increase competition to drive up standards” in this area of human rights.

The United States has long been referred to as a melting pot. But, some commentators challenge this notion, offering instead that the United States is more akin to a meal of separate and diverse ingredients; an orchestra of individual musicians who together create a symphony.  While members of the United States’ many ethnic groups still engage in some assimilation – namely the adoption of the English language – they need not totally abandon their cultural heritage in order to fit into the framework of today’s America. This is multiculturalism.

On March 3, 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) launched a pilot program called “Known Employer” to streamline the process by which employers who sponsor foreign national workers send documents and information to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The program utilizes an online platform that allows certain employers who regularly file petitions with the agency to submit one set of corporate documentation and information about the employer’s business for preliminary adjudication by the agency, thereby eliminating the need to submit the same set of documents for each application. The pilot program is currently only open to certain preselected employers. If successful after the scheduled one-year trial period, DHS may expand the program.

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