Department of Homeland Security
On January 30, 2023, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) began issuing newly redesigned U.S. Permanent Resident Cards (i.e., Green Cards) and Employment Authorization Documents (“EADs”) as part of its fraud prevention program. The new cards are equipped with updated technologies including holographic images, tactile printing, and optically variable ink, among other features, to prevent document tampering, counterfeiting, and fraud. Green Cards and EADs that have not been updated will still be valid through their expiration dates. USCIS recommends that Green Card holders without an expiration date apply for a replacement card to prevent fraud and document tampering in case their cards are lost or stolen. Some individuals who have Green Cards or EADs issued after January 30th may still receive the prior card design as USCIS tries to deplete their current supply of existing cards. Consult with immigration counsel to obtain assistance with Green Card renewal applications and discuss I-9 employment eligibility verification issues that might arise in light of the redesigned documents.
Department of State
In 2023, the U.S. Department of State anticipates launching a pilot program that will allow H and L visa holders to renew their visas in the U.S. rather than traveling to a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad for visa renewal. This process, previously known as “stateside processing,” was discontinued in 2004 when national security regulations were enhanced and the Department of State lacked adequate resources to collect and process biometrics within the U.S. As visa renewal wait times continued to increase abroad and were exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, many applicants were forced to remain abroad pending visa appointment availability. The re-implementation of stateside processing will allow greater flexibility for individuals who seek to renew their visas and will hopefully reduce the extensive backlog of visa appointments for U.S. Consulates abroad. Continue monitoring Immigration Insights for the latest update on the implementation of the Department of State’s new pilot program.
DID YOU KNOW?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Munsch Hardt Immigration Team assisted companies to ensure corporate compliance with federal regulations concerning H-1B workers and nationwide “shelter in place” mandates. As the landscape of remote work continues to develop, it is critical for employers to carefully consider and consult with immigration counsel to strategize “work from home” policies in accordance with H-1B regulations.