Is USCIS going to request your Social Media IDs?

social media.jpgUSCIS published a proposed regulation that would allow them to ask for social media ids (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) for certain nonimmigrants seeking entry into the US.  It would affect those filing the online application for a visa waiver entry.  The “optional” question would be placed in the application so that USCIS could look at people’s social media pages to determine if there is a ground’s of inadmissibility that they did not report – most importantly, if they are involved in terrorist activities or in supporting terrorist groups.

This is an attempt by USCIS to ensure that those coming in through the visa waiver program, who are not required to go through the sometimes lengthy background checks that other non-immigrants are required to go through, are vetted in someway prior to entry.  In this way, USCIS is attempting to show that it is trying to secure our borders from undesirable foreigners.

While I certainly applaud USCIS for trying, I think that this is not really the way to go.  Why do I say this?  First, this is optional.  While many people may give the information as they feel that it could prejudice them if they did not, it is still not required and USCIS, therefore, cannot deny an application simply because someone failed to give the information.  In addition, at this point, terrorist organizations can simply make sure that those that will be entering the US do not put anything on their social media feeds.  Lastly, it also opens the door for USCIS to start requiring such information.  If they require this, maybe next they will want to “require” access to your cell phone, or access to private messages, etc.  Where will it stop in terms of what they can and cannot request from you whether or not you are accused of doing something or even suspected of doing something illegal?  It is a slippery slope and it would seem to only make sense to open up this Pandora’s box if the benefit outweighed the risks.  As I do not think that this is the case, I would not be in favor of this measure.

Apparently most of the 800 people who sent in comments on the proposed rule were of the same mind and castigated USCIS for even thinking of such a rule.  What do you think?  Leave a comment with your views below.

USCIS Changing Filing Location for Some H-1Bs

UnknownUSCIS just yesterday issued the following press release relating to where to file certain H-1Bs:

On July 1, 2016, the Nebraska Service Center (NSC) will begin accepting Form I-129 for H-1B and H-1B1 (Chile/Singapore Free Trade) petitions if the petitioner requests a “Continuation of previously approved employment without change with the same employer” (Box b. on Part 2, Question 2, Page 2 of the current Form I-129) with a requested action in Question 4 to:

  • Notify the office in Part 4 so the beneficiary can obtain a visa or be admitted. (Box a. on Part 2, Question 4, Page 2 of the current Form I-129);
  • Extend the stay of the beneficiary because the beneficiary now holds this status. (Box c. on Part 2, Question 4, Page 2 of the current Form I-129); or
  • Extend the status of a nonimmigrant classification based on a free trade agreement. (Box e. on Part 2, Question 4, Page 2 of the current Form I-129)

The NSC will also accept any:

If you are filing a standalone Form I-539 and/or Form I-765 for H-4 nonimmigrants, please refer to the Filing Addresses for Form I-539 page or the Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-765 page for proper filing addresses.

The California Service Center (CSC) and the Vermont Service Center (VSC) may continue to accept these petitions during the transition period, which ends Aug. 31, 2016.

These petitions should be mailed to:

USPS Mail: Courier (FedEx, UPS, etc.) Mail:
USCIS

Nebraska Service Center
PO Box 87129
Lincoln, NE 68501-7129

USCIS

Nebraska Service Center
850 ‘S’ Street
Lincoln, NE 68508

Petitioners should continue to file all other H-1B/H-1B1 petitions with the CSC and the VSC based on the instructions on the Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-129 page.

Additionally, petitioners who are statutorily exempt from the H-1B numerical limitation, or are filing a cap-exempt petition to employ the beneficiary at an institution of higher education, nonprofit entity related to or affiliated with an institution of higher education, a nonprofit research organization, and/or a governmental research organization should continue to file their H-1B cap-exempt petitions with the CSC.

To summarize, just H-1B’s in which the petitioner is asking for “Continuation of previously approved employment without change with the same employer” will be sent to Nebraska.  All other H-1Bs will be filed as normal.  This goes into effect on July 1, 2016, but the Vermont and California service centers will also accept these applications through August 31, 2016.

If you have any questions leave a comment below or send me an email.  Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.

UPDATE: Final Rule on H-1b1, E-3, CW-1 and EB-1s Published

Several days ago we wrote about the final rule that was about to be published (See this blog post).  The final rule has been published this week and all provisions have been implemented as we reported.  To refresh your memory, below is a summary of the changes:

Changes for those on H-1B1, E-3 or CW-1 non-immigrant visas

Currently, if you are in H-1B status and your employer files a renewal application, you are allowed to continue working for your employer for up to 240 days past the expiration of your old I-94 while the renewal application is pending.  The final rule will extend this to those in H-1B1, E-3 and CW-1 status as well.

Changes to EB-1B regulations

The new rule will also amend the current regulations regarding the EB-1B Outstanding Scholar or Researcher green card application.   It would allow the submission of “comparable evidence” to that listed in the regulatory requirements, if the evidence listed in the regulatory requirements does not readily apply.  Some examples given by USCIS were the award of important patents or the award of  prestigious peer-reviewed grants.  While this type of evidence was typically given to show the meeting of one of the criteria (original contributions of significance in the field), I think that this amendment serves a bigger purpose.  Generally in Extraordinary Ability cases, which has the same language already, when comparable evidence is used, USCIS’s response varies, but in many cases they state that if at least three of the regulatory criteria apply to the field, comparable evidence is not allowed.  These examples clearly show that comparable evidence is not that limited, and should be extended to cases in which the categories do not readily apply to that particular individuals situation.  Time will only tell if USCIS will adopt this reasoning or continue with their current limited reading of “comparable evidence”.

Please do let us know if you have any questions about the final rule. Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.