US: Presidential Proclamation on the Travel Ban – Courts temporarily block implementation

Posted by Immigration Law Team|US Immigration
Oct 17
18


In brief

Federal courts issue temporary restraining order blocking travel ban which would have restricted individuals from certain countries from entering the U.S.

Discussion

President Trump signed a Proclamation on 24 September 2017, imposing new indefinite travel restrictions on citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, and North Korea.  The Proclamation also barred entry into the US by certain Venezuelan government officials and their immediate families.  The travel restrictions were set to take effect in full on 18 October 2017.

On October 17, 2017, Federal District Courts in Hawaii and Maryland issued nationwide orders against enforcement of the Presidential Proclamation.  Both judges found that the challengers to the Proclamation were likely to win their claim that the restrictions exceeded the President’s power.

The travel restrictions on certain Venezuelan government officials and on nationals of North Korea remain in place.

To learn more about the Proclamation, please visit our prior alert.

Impact and Recommendations

Citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen can continue to apply for visas and apply for entry into the United States.  However, the Trump Administration is expected to appeal the District Court rulings which could lead to the restrictions being enforced.

Nationals of the countries listed still remain subject to higher scrutiny security checks under the Administration’s extreme vetting policies.

Caution is still advised to those from the affected countries, whether they are in the US and seek to travel internationally, or are currently outside the US and will be seeking re-entry.  US immigration counsel should be sought before any travel.

For further details, please contact a member of our team.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

US: USCIS has resumed Premium Processing for all H-1B petitions

Posted by Immigration Law Team|US Immigration
Oct 17
6


In Brief

As of October 3, 2017, USCIS has resumed premium processing for all H-1B petitions.

Discussion

USCIS’ premium processing service guarantees a 15 calendar day processing time for certain petitions filed at a Service Center, including H-1Bs, L-1s, and certain I-140 petitions. In April, USCIS suspended premium processing for all H-1B petitions for up to a six month period. At the 2017 AILA Annual Conference, representatives of USCIS confirmed that the reason for the suspension of premium processing was to allow adjudicators to focus on adjudicating backlogged H-1B extension cases. With 69% of H-1B petitions being premium processed, and therefore moved to the front of the line, USCIS adjudicators did not have the ability to focus on, and adjudicate, backlogged cases. Although premium processing offers a significant source of revenue for USCIS, the agency made the decision to temporarily suspend the service and then reintroduce it in a phased approach, to avoid an insurmountable surge in caseload. As a result, in June, USCIS resumed H-1B premium processing under the Conrad 30 Waiver program and, in July, it resumed premium processing for certain cap-exempt H-1B petitions. In September, USCIS resumed premium processing for H-1B petitions subject to the annual cap. Finally, on October 3, USCIS announced that it resumed premium processing for all H-1B petitions, including H-1B extensions, amendments, and change of employer petitions.

Impact

Premium processing has been a very important part of the H-1B program and its resumption is significant for employers and employees alike. Below are some examples of how the ability to premium process cases is beneficial to both employers and employees:

–  Premium processing allows for employers to know which cap-subject beneficiaries are approved well in advance of the October 1 start date, thus assisting with workforce planning
–  Cap-subject H-1B workers can know whether they have approved H-1B employment in advance of the October 1 start date
–  Employers can know whether an H-1B change of employer case is approved before having to accrue onboarding costs
–  H-1B workers can move to a new employer with some certainty that their H-1B change of employer case has been approved
–  H-1B workers with expiring driver’s licenses can apply for driver’s license renewals from those states that make it difficult to obtain a driver’s license without an H-1B approval notice
–  H-1B workers who have international travel plans can obtain an H-1B approval prior to departing the US, thus facilitating H-1B visa processing and re-entry into the US

For more information on how the premium processing service may be utilized, please contact a member of our team at
PwC Law LLP.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

Canada: Changes to the Citizenship Act as a result of Bill C-6

Posted by Immigration Law Team|Canada Immigration
Oct 17
4


In brief:

On June 19, 2017, Bill C-6 received Royal Assent, resulting in a number of changes to the Citizenship Act. Several changes came into effect on June 19, 2017, with other changes coming into effect in fall 2017 and early 2018. Today, the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, confirmed that certain key changes to the Citizenship Act will be coming into force as of October 11, 2017.

Discussion:

The citizenship changes which will come into force on October 11, 2017 include:

–  To be eligible for citizenship, applicants will be required to be physically present in Canada for 3 out of the 5 years preceding their application. Under the current regime, applicants must be physically present in Canada for 4 out of the 6 years preceding their citizenship application, including a minimum of 183 days in each of those 4 years.

–  Citizenship applicants will be permitted to count each day they were physically present in Canada as a temporary resident or protected person before becoming a permanent resident as a half-day towards meeting their physical presence requirement for citizenship, to a maximum credit of 365 days. Under the current regime, citizenship applicants may not count any time spent in Canada as a permanent resident or protected person towards the citizenship’s physical present eligibility requirements.

–  Applicants between the ages of 18 and 54 will be required to undergo language testing and write a citizenship examination. At present, applicants between the ages of 14 and 64 must meet language and knowledge requirements.

–  Applicants must provide Canadian tax returns for 3 out of the 5 years preceding their application, when they are required to file such tax returns by law. At present, applicants must submit tax returns for 4 out of the 6 years leading up to their citizenship application.

With this announcement, all of the proposed changes that were announced on June 19, 2017 will come into force as of October 11, 2017.

For a complete list of the changes that were introduced on June 19, 2017, please see PwC Law LLP’s client alert here:

http://immigrationblog.ca.pwc.com/canada-immigration-changes-to-the-citizenship-act

Impact:

The previous and anticipated changes to the Citizenship Act are expected to streamline the citizenship process by simplifying and relaxing the application requirements. These changes are necessary to support the implementation of amendments to the Citizenship Act made pursuant to the Bill C-6, which will facilitate access to citizenship for qualified applicants.

For more information about these changes or obtaining Canadian citizenship, please contact a member of our team at
PwC Law LLP.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

Canada: New Work Permit and Business Visitor Avenues Under CETA

Posted by Immigration Law Team|Canada Immigration
Sep 17
27


In Brief

On September 21, 2017, the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA), a free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union (EU), entered into provisional force. With a mandate to facilitate international trade, CETA’s immigration provisions will make it easier and faster for qualifying EU citizens to enter Canada on a temporary basis for business purposes.

Discussion

CETA includes provisions pertaining to both professional employees and independent contractors, as well as employees of EU-member state companies seeking to work at the operations of related Canadian entities.

1. Contractual Services Suppliers and Independent Professionals

Contractual Services Suppliers are employees of EU enterprises which have service agreements with Canadian entities and which do not have a presence in Canada. To qualify for a work permit under this provision, a contractual services supplier must:

–  Be employed with an EU-based enterprise that has a contract to supply a service to a Canadian service consumer;
–  Have been employed with the EU-based enterprise for at least 1 year prior to the submission of the application;
–  Possess 3 years of professional experience in the sector which is the subject of the contract; and
–  Not receive remuneration for the provision of services from a Canadian entity.

Independent Professionals are self-employed EU nationals with a contract to provide services to a Canadian service consumer. To qualify for a work permit, an independent professional must:

–  Supply a service to a Canadian company on a temporary basis as a self-employed person; and
–  Possess at least 6 years of professional experience in the sector or activity which is the subject to the contract at the time the application is submitted.

Additionally, applicants under both the Contractual Services Suppliers and Independent Professional categories must:

–  Be citizens of an EU member state;
–  Be delivering services in a designated sector such as architecture, engineering, computer and related services, management consulting, mining, financial services, and research and development, among others;
–  Possess a university degree or equivalent qualifications; and
–  Have valid provincial, territorial, or federal certification, licensing, or registration in the Canadian jurisdiction where the service will be supplied (where relevant).

EU professionals who qualify under the above categories may be eligible for a work permit valid for the length of the service contract to a maximum period of 12 months within any 24 month period, or for the duration of the contract, whichever period is less.  Government will also grant extensions on a discretionary basis.

2. Intra-Company (Intra-Corporate) Transferees

The Intra-Company Transferee provisions in CETA are similar to those in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and other free trade agreements, with the addition of a new sub-stream for graduate trainees.

To qualify for a work permit under this category, an Intra-Company Transferee must:

–  Have been employed with, or been partners in, an EU-member state entity for at least 1 year;
–  Have a job offer with a related company in Canada; and
–  Meet the eligibility criteria for the Senior Personnel, Specialist, or Graduate Trainee sub-streams.

For the purposes of CETA, Senior Personnel refers to individuals who provide direction and oversight for a company or department / division within the company, and generally have discretionary decision-making powers and the latitude to hire and fire employees.  Specialists are similar to specialized knowledge personnel under the NAFTA Intra-Company Transfer categories, and must have advanced and uncommon knowledge of the company’s products or services.

Qualifying Senior Personnel and Specialists are eligible for work permits valid for the length of the contract or for up to 3 years, whichever time period is less. Extensions of up to 18 months are possible at the adjudicating officer’s discretion.

To qualify for a work permit as an Intra-Company Transferee, Graduate Trainees must:

–  Possess a university degree; and
–  Take up employment with an enterprise in Canada for career development purposes, or to obtain training in business techniques and / or methods.

Graduate Trainees who qualify under this category may be eligible for a work permit valid for the length of their contract or for up to 1 year, whichever is less. No extensions are permitted under this category.

3. Investors

The investor provisions of CETA apply to applicants who:

–  Will establish, develop, or administer the operation of an investment in a capacity that is supervisory or executive;
–  Are the investor; and
–  Are employed by an enterprise that has committed to or is in the process of committing a substantial amount of capital to the investment.

Investors who qualify under this category may be eligible for a work permit valid for 1 year, with possible extensions at the discretion of the adjudicating officer.

4. Business Visitors

CETA includes provisions relating to both short-term business visitors and those entering Canada for investment purposes. EU nationals may enter Canada under CETA’s short-term business visitor provisions to attend meetings and consultations, training seminars, conduct research for an EU-member state headquartered enterprise, attend trade fairs and exhibitions, sales, purchasing, and provide after-sales or after-lease services, among other activities.

Short-term business visitors cannot:

–  Engage in selling goods or services to the general public;
–  Receive remuneration directly or indirectly from a source in Canada; and / or
–  Be engaged in the supply of a service, with certain exceptions.

Business visitors for investment purposes must be employed in a managerial or specialist position, and be entering Canada to establish an enterprise, but must not engage in direct transactions with the general public or receive direct or indirect remuneration from a Canadian source.

Under both categories, business visitors will be granted entry for a maximum of 90 days in any 6 month period.

Impact

In keeping with CETA’s mandate to facilitate the exchange of goods and services, CETA’s mobility provisions are somewhat more limited than other free trade agreements, such as NAFTA. Nevertheless, CETA does offer some new avenues for citizens of participating EU member states to enter Canada as business visitors or to obtain work permits. CETA will be particularly useful for Canadian companies looking to bring in EU-based contract or independent service providers, as well as for EU investors and graduates looking to take up employment in Canada for training purposes. As certain provisions in CETA – particularly those relating to intra-company transferees and business visitors – mirror provisions found elsewhere in Canadian immigration law, employers should consult with their legal counsel to determine the most advantageous route for their employees.

For more information on CETA, please contact a member of our team at PwC Law LLP.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

US: Presidential Proclamation on the Travel Ban

Posted by Immigration Law Team|US Immigration
Sep 17
26


In brief

President Donald Trump signed a Proclamation on September 24, 2017, imposing new indefinite travel restrictions on citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and North Korea.  Entry into the US by certain Venezuelan government officials and their immediate families is also barred.  The travel restrictions will take effect on October 18, 2017, with certain sections of the Proclamation already in effect as of September 24, 2017.

Background

In an effort to encourage foreign governments to improve their information-sharing and identity-management protocols and practices and to regularly share identity and threat information with US immigration screening and vetting systems, President Trump has issued a new proclamation.  In order to support the US Government’s ability to confirm the identity of individuals seeking entry into the US as immigrants and nonimmigrants, a baseline of the necessary information required by foreign governments was established in a review produced by the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secretary of State, and the Directory of National Intelligence.

The three categories that incorporate this baseline are: (1) identity-management information, (2) national security and public-safety information, and (3) national security and public-safety risk assessment. DHS collected information and evaluated each country against the baseline. DHS identified 47 countries as either “inadequate” or “at risk” and encouraged all foreign governments to improve their performance with respect to the baseline. After the 50-day engagement period, DHS identified the following countries as still being “inadequate” in respect to the baseline: Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. Somalia was also identified as a country that falls short of the baseline for identity-management information. It was also identified as a terrorist safe haven. On September 24, 2017 President Trump suspended entry for certain nationals of the 7 countries identified. For nationals of Somalia, entry as immigrants is suspended and applications for nonimmigrant visas will be subject to additional scrutiny.

These restrictions will be reevaluated against the baseline in 180 days from September 24, 2017 and every 180 days thereafter.

Impact

President Trump’s Proclamation makes the following significant changes to his previous Executive Order:

–  Foreign nationals from Sudan are no longer included in the travel restriction
–  The travel restrictions are indefinite
–  The restrictions are targeted at countries that the DHS says fail to share sufficient information with the US or have not taken the necessary security precautions
–  Citizens of Iraq will not be subject to the travel restrictions but will face enhanced screening and vetting requirements.

The following chart provides a country-by-country breakdown of the new travel restrictions:

Country Nonimmigrant Visas      Immigrant and Diversity Visas
Chad No B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 visas      No immigrant or diversity visas
Iran No nonimmigrant visas except F, M, and J student visas      No immigrant or diversity visas
Libya No B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 visas      No immigrant or diversity visas
North Korea No nonimmigrant visas      No immigrant or diversity visas
Syria No nonimmigrant visas      No immigrant or diversity visas
Venezuela No B-1, B-2, or B-1/B-2 visas of any kind for officials of the following government agencies: Ministry of Interior, Justice, and Peace; the Administrative Service of Identification, Migration, and Immigration; the Corps of Scientific Investigations, Judicial and Criminal; the Bolivarian Intelligence Service; and the People’s Power Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and their immediate family members      No restrictions
Yemen No B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 visas      No immigrant or diversity visas
Somalia Subject to additional scrutiny      No immigrant or diversity visas

Please note that the Proclamation does allow for the granting of waivers on a case-by-case basis. US immigration counsel should be sought for assessment of waiver eligibility.

Recommendations

Citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and North Korea who already have travel plans to the US and a valid nonimmigrant visa or immigrant status are advised to enter the US before October 18, 2017. Citizens of these countries who are already present in the US and are in valid immigrant or nonimmigrant status are advised not to leave the US after October 18, 2017, as they may be barred from reentering. US immigration counsel should be sought before any travel.

PwC continues to monitor this matter and will be sure to update you as changes occur.

For further details regarding the Proclamation, or any other immigration matters, please contact a member of our team.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

Canada: Changes to the Citizenship Act as a result of Bill C-6

Posted by Immigration Law Team|Canada Immigration
Sep 17
20


In brief

On June 19, 2017, Bill C-6 received Royal Assent, resulting in a number of changes to the Citizenship Act. Several changes came into effect on June 19, 2017, and others were expected to come into effect in fall 2017 and early 2018. Today, the Canada Gazette published additional information regarding some of the proposed changes to the Citizenship Act.  

Discussion

Some of the changes which were anticipated for Fall 2017 were published by the Canada Gazette today, and are coming into force. These changes will be implemented once all updates to the program delivery instructions and manuals, application kits, guidelines, IT systems and web pages are completed.

For a complete list of the changes that were introduced on June 19, 2017, please see PwC Law LLP’s client alert here: 

http://immigrationblog.ca.pwc.com/blog/canada-immigration-news/canada-changes-to-the-citizenship-act-as-a-result-of-bill-c-6

The changes which were published by the Canada Gazette today include:

–  The tax filing requirement for those applicants required to do so under the Income Tax Act, have changed from four taxation years in a period of six years to three taxation years in a period of five years to match the proposed change to the physical presence requirement.

–  Applicants are no longer required to be physically present in Canada for 183 days in the 4 out of 6 years preceding their application, as this provision has been repealed. The subparagraph outlining the requirement to provide evidence of this requirement will be removed.

 –  The age range for those applicants who are required to meet the language requirements for citizenship has been amended from those between the ages of 14 and 64 years, to those who are between the ages of 18 and 54 years.

Impact

The previous, current and anticipated changes to the Citizenship Act are expected to streamline the citizenship process by simplifying and relaxing the application requirements. These changes are required in order to support the implementation of amendments to the Citizenship Act made pursuant to the Bill C-6, which will facilitate access to citizenship for qualified applicants.

Practitioners may want to revisit any ongoing citizenship applications they have, in order to determine whether applicants may be impacted by the above-referenced changes.

For more information about these changes or obtaining Canadian citizenship, please contact a member of our team at
PwC Law LLP.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

US: Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will be winding-down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program

Posted by Immigration Law Team|US Immigration
Sep 17
6


 

In brief

In a statement on September 5, 2017, President Donald Trump announced that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will be winding-down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Background

Enacted by former President Barack Obama in 2012, DACA granted two distinct benefits to foreign nationals who entered the US before the age of sixteen without valid status or who overstayed their valid status. Foreign nationals who were enrolled in high school or a GED program, have obtained a high school degree, or completed a GED program were eligible to request protection from deportation and employment authorization

Impact

Pending applications for initial DACA requests that were received by Tuesday, September 5, 2017, will continue to be processed.  Any applications received after this date will not be processed.

Individuals who have already been granted DACA benefits that will expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018 should submit DACA renewals before October 5, 2017 in order to extend their benefits for an additional two years.  Applicants who have already filed renewals should expect the benefits to be processed per the standard timeframes.

All existing DACA approvals and associated Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) will be honored until their date of expiration.

Recommendation

We recommend that eligible DACA recipients timely file extensions and all limit their international travel, regardless of whether they have an approved Advance Parole document. If international travel cannot be avoided, a consult with an attorney is highly recommended to discuss the risks.

In the meantime, President Trump has advised DHS that DACA recipients continue to remain a low enforcement priority, unless they are criminals, involved in criminal activity, or members of a gang. The President has asked Congress to legislate the question of DACA benefits within the next six months, and has subsequently announced that he will “revisit” DACA if Congress has not acted.

For further details regarding the recent change in policy regarding DHS and DACA, or any other immigration matters, please contact a member of our team.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

Canada: Changes to the Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship Program

Posted by Immigration Law Team|Canada Immigration
Sep 17
5


In brief

On September 1, 2017 Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) published updates to the Parents and Grandparents Sponsorship Program.

Discussion

IRCC announced an update to the newly implemented application intake process for the Parents and Grandparents Program. Under the new process, which took effect January 3, 2017, Canadian citizens and permanent residents who wanted to sponsor their parents and grandparents to reside in Canada had to first complete an online form and join a pool of applicants from which they would be randomly selected.

As of this year, 10,000 individuals were selected and invited to submit an application to sponsor their parents and grandparents. They were given 90 calendar days to submit their applications which fell due on August 4, 2017. However, IRCC did not receive 10,000 complete applications by the deadline and thus a second round of emails will be sent on September 6, 2017, to invite additional potential sponsors to submit an application.

In this second round of invitations, only those who have been randomly selected will receive an email inviting them to submit an application. These potential sponsors will have until December 8, 2017 to submit their completed applications to IRCC, excluding those potential sponsors who were invited in the first round, but did not submit their applications. Those potential sponsors will not have another chance to submit their applications in 2017.

As of September 6, 2017, potential sponsors can confirm whether or not they have been selected by looking up their unique Confirmation Number and comparing it to the list of numbers that were randomly selected.

Impact

Those who were not randomly selected in the first round of invitations now have an opportunity to submit an application, if they are selected in this second round of random selection. Potential sponsors should check their Confirmation Number as well as their emails, to see whether they have been selected to apply.   

For more information on sponsorship applications under the Parent and Grandparent Program, please contact PwC Law LLP.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »