U.S. Immigration Updates– Week of February 6, 2023

Green Cards and Employment Authorization Documents Redesigned

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on January 30, 2023, that it has begun issuing newly designed permanent resident cards (green cards) and employment authorization documents (EADs). Current cards remain valid until their expiration dates (unless otherwise noted, such as through an automatic extension of a green card or EAD as indicated on a Form I-797, Notice of Action, or in a Federal Register notice).

Security-related changes include “improved detailed artwork; tactile printing that is better integrated with the artwork; enhanced optically variable ink; highly secure holographic images on the front and back of the cards; a layer-reveal feature with a partial window on the back photo box; and data fields displayed in different places than on previous versions,” USCIS said.

USCIS noted that some green cards and EADs issued after January 30, 2023, may still display the existing design format because USCIS will continue using existing cardstock until current supplies are depleted. Both versions of the cards are acceptable for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification; E-Verify; and Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE), USCIS said. Some older green cards do not have an expiration date. “These older Green Cards without an expiration date generally remain valid; however, USCIS encourages applicants with these older cards to consider applying for a replacement card to prevent fraud or tampering should the card ever get lost or stolen,” the agency said.

SOURCE: ABIL Immigration Insider, February 5, 2023; and https://www.uscis.gov/newsroom/news-releases/uscis-redesigns-green-card-and-employment-authorization-document


DOJ Raises Penalties Against Employers for Immigration-Related Violations

The Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a final rule adjusting for inflation several immigration-related civil monetary penalties against employers assessed or enforced by DOJ components. Penalty ranges have been increased for the unlawful employment of immigrants, certain immigration-related paperwork violations, and unfair employment practices.

SOURCE: ABIL Immigration Insider, February 5, 2023; and https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2023-01-30/pdf/2023-01704.pdf


New USCIS Data Show H-1B Denial Rates Remain Low

Following the Trump administration, when H-1B denial rates reached as high as 24%, employers now see denial rates, on average, of 2%, the lowest on record. Despite fewer denials, companies face the prospect of 80% of H-1B registrations failing to result in hiring a foreign-born employee due to the low annual limit on H-1B petitions.

The H-1B denial rate declined during the final year of the Trump administration after judges declared many of its H-1B-related actions unlawful. That forced a legal settlement and changes to restrictive immigration policies that resulted in the denial rate for new H-1B petitions for initial employment in FY 2021 dropping to 4%, far lower than the denial rate of 24% in FY 2018, 21% in FY 2019 and 13% in FY 2020.

H-1B petitions for “continuing” employment are primarily for existing employees. The denial rate for H-1B petitions for “continuing” employment was 2% in FY 2022, far below the 12% denial rate in FY 2018 and FY 2019.

H-1B visas play a vital role in the U.S. immigration system—and the U.S. economy—because they are usually the only practical way to hire long-term international students or other high-skilled foreign nationals. At U.S. universities, international students account for 74% of the full-time graduate students in electrical engineering and 72% in computer and information sciences, and 50% to 70% in mathematics, materials sciences and other technical fields.

Today, employment for people with computer-related skills goes far beyond well-known tech companies and includes nearly all businesses and organizations in America with a digital footprint. That is one reason the H-1B annual limit of 85,000 is so inadequate, equaling 0.05% of the U.S. labor force. Congress established the cap of 65,000 on new H-1B petitions before the spread of the World Wide Web, smartphones, e-commerce, social media, electric vehicles and numerous other innovations that have fueled the demand for people with technical skills. Increasing output by growing the labor supply would reduce inflationary pressure and improve the U.S. standard of living, according to economists.

SOURCE: Stuart Anderson, Forbes, February 7, 2023: https://www.forbes.com/sites/stuartanderson/2023/02/07/new-uscis-data-show-h-1b-denial-rates-remain-low/?sh=1b34b04138c7

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