One of the most frustrating aspects of immigration practice is dealing with government delay-something which, more often than not, is a given these days. Family adjustment of status cases used to relatively quick, but we have noticed a significant lag in processing times recently. For all practical purposes, most people will have to patiently endure the wait until their case is adjudicated. Fortunately, the regulations do provide some interim relief in the way of work authorization: many adjustment applicants may apply for an employment authorization document ("EAD") on Form I-765 that will allow them to work legally and apply for social security numbers while their cases are pending. What happens, though, if the work permit application itself is taking an excessively long time to process? One of the most common questions we get is whether there is any way to speed up the process.
One of the most pressing questions that prospective permanent residents here in the US often ask is, "When Can I Start Working?" Within the context of family-based adjustment of status cases--which is what this is discussion is limited to--this topic is rife with misunderstanding. Many people, to their detriment, misunderstand the difference between applying for adjustment of status and being authorized to work.
In February of 2015, USCIS announced that it would finally be implementing a rule that extends employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses. The expansion of work permission is part of President Obama's 2014 Executive Action on Immigration. While the expanded DACA and DAPA programs are currently on hold pending appeal of a Texas Court decision, this regulation is scheduled to go into effect May 26, 2015 and there has been no vocal opposition that should prompt any affected parties to worry that it will somehow be halted. There are a couple of salient points to be aware of, however:
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced a proposal to allow certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1Bs to work with legal authorization. Under current regulations, H-4 dependents are not eligible for an Employment Authorization Documents (EAD). Given that most H-1B specialty workers are usually admitted for an initial period of three years, and more often than not, apply for a three year extension, their spouses often find themselves in the unenviable position of staying here in the US without being able to find meaningful work and contribute to their households. Not only has this proven to generate economic hardship for those H-1Bs already in the pipeline for permanent residence, it has actually deterred many skilled and talented workers from pursuing green cards here out of concern for their spouses. The government has finally recognized the detriment caused by the loss of these workers and proposed some interesting revisions that could affect an estimated 100,600 H-4 status holders in the first year of implementation alone.
What is E-Verify?
Our office is frequently asked by our new immigrant clients, as well as those here on working visas, what is required to get a driver's license. In New Jersey, the Motor Vehicle Commission (or what people commonly refer to as the "DMV") regulates licensing. Their web page can be found here. http://www.state.nj.us/mvc/index.htm. New Jersey has a 6-point verification test in which applicants must demonstrate proof of identity by showing a total of at least 6 points in order to qualify for a driver's license or non-driver identification card. Each document is assigned a certain number of points. Individuals must show at least one Primary Document and one Secondary Document. While US Citizens rarely have problems in meeting the six points, non-citizens, on the other hand, sometimes find it challenging to gather enough documents to accumulate the necessary points. The actual brochure can be assessed on the website. The point of this entry is merely to highlight the point value of some common documents.
Last week, USCIS extended Temporary Protected Status (or "TPS") for nationals of El Salvador. The extension will run an eighteen additional months from March 10, 2012 to September 9, 2013. In order to be granted protection under this program, eligible nationals from El Salvador must re-register during the re-registration period. (If an individual is not currently registered for TPS, he/she might want to consult with an attorney or USCIS to see whether he/she qualifies under "late registration".) As with other TPS eligible countries, re-registrants may also apply for a work authorization card. Applicants should note that the Federal Register erroneously indicates that the re-registration period is from January 9 to March 9, 2012. The correct dates are January 9 thru March 12, 2012. Obviously, applicants should not wait to the last second to apply.
USCIS recently announced a new look for the Employment Authorization Document as well as the N-560, Certificate of Citizenship. These new documents bear technology that will increase security and deter counterfeiting and tampering. The work permit will notably no longer have the initial letter "A" before the alien registration number. Employers who do hire foreign nationals need to make it their business to get familiar with the new look, as aliens with newly issued cards will be presenting documents that will appear different than what is currently out there. Employers, of course, need to be aware of their I-9 obligations as well as the general criminal and civil penalties for hiring someone who is not authorized to work. While the average small business may not run afoul of any criminal penalties, the civil sanctions are serious:
New Jersey Polish-Americans hope that a pending bill working its way through Congress finds President Barack Obama's approval pen, the Bergen Record recently reported.
An article in The Economic Times recently reported that higher costs and increased government scrutiny have lowered applications for H-1B visas, which are temporary work visas for skilled professionals.