Annual Report to Congress by the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services (“CIS”) Ombudsman
The CIS recently released its annual report on the state of affairs at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”), addressing issues encountered by individuals and employers applying for immigration benefits and reviewing areas for improvement. While the CIS Ombudsman’s recommendations are not binding on USCIS, the Ombudsman serves as an official liaison between USCIS and the public and may recommend changes in USCIS’s administrative practices to mitigate issues and enhance processes. With regard to Employment Authorization Documents (“EADs”), USCIS recently announced a temporary rule to increase the automatic extension period for certain EAD categories in an attempt to reduce interruptions in work authorization for noncitizens who were previously eligible for employment. CIS further recommends that USCIS build on existing automatic extension periods for uninterrupted work authorization while individuals await adjudication; provide better renewal options for nonimmigrant spouses; allow applicants to file earlier renewal applications; continue to expedite EAD requests for workers in certain occupations in the national interest; explore online filing to automate the EAD process; increase flexibility in the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification process; and eliminate the need for a separate EAD application when filing for certain benefits.
Latest Prevailing Wage Data Published
On July 1, 2022, the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (“OFLC”) released the latest prevailing wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (“OEWS”) and has completed the transition to utilize the 2018 Standard Occupation Classification (“SOC”) codes. The prevailing wage, the average wage paid to similarly employed workers in a specific occupation in the area of intended employment, ensures that the hiring of a foreign worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of comparably employed U.S. workers. As such, annual wage estimates have been updated to reflect new data for the year from July 2022 to June 2023. Please note that various SOC occupations may be aggregated into a broad occupation and certain occupations may not have wage estimates or job zone information due to data limitations. Please contact immigration counsel for more information on these changes and how they may affect your company’s future petitions and applications.
Extended Timeline Ends for E-Verify Mismatches
The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) has resumed its regular E-Verify operations and will no longer provide extended timeframes for employees to resolve I-9 Tentative Nonconfirmations (“TNCs”). The timeframes were previously extended at the start of the coronavirus pandemic due to SSA office closures to the public. Employees will again have eight (8) federal working days to contact their local SSA office and resolve TNC mismatches for E-Verify cases referred on or after July 15, 2022. Cases referred between March 2, 2020 to July 14, 2022 will have until September 29, 2022 to resolve TNC mismatches. Discuss your company’s current I-9 policies with your immigration legal counsel and identify any changes you wish you make to ensure I-9 compliance as the government returns to pre-pandemic timelines.
DID YOU KNOW? The Munsch Hardt Immigration Team recently assisted a Healthcare Management company with an I-9 inspection initiated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), helping the company take corrective action and prepare subpoenaed documentation to reduce potential penalties and fines.