ABIL Commentary: Threats, Opportunities for Employers in 2018

After a tumultuous, difficult year in 2017 with respect to immigration and border issues, attorneys from the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers (ABIL) shared their thoughts on what employers can expect in 2018. Below is a summary of their responses and reports from the field.

Where Things Stand Now

The Trump administration appears to be attempting to keep various campaign promises on immigration and border enforcement that mesh with the President's (and his supporters') overall dim view of foreign people entering the United States. Before he was elected, President Trump made a wide range of anti-immigration promises couched in national security terms. Those promises included, among other things, building a massive wall along the southern border and making Mexico pay for it; immediately deporting undocumented migrants; barring Muslims from entering the United States; "extreme vetting" of immigrants; and creating a "deportation force." The President has waffled on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) “Dreamers,” verbally expressing his support and understanding of their plight and then canceling the DACA program with an exhortation for Congress to handle it.

Executive orders issued since his inauguration have included various entry/travel bans, limits on refugees, and threats to sanctuary cities to pull their federal funding. The first travel ban on people entering from several predominantly Muslim countries was announced seven days after his inauguration with no apparent advance process, discussion, preparation, warning, or guidance to the Department of Homeland Security. The result was chaos and protests at airports. Various court challenges and subsequent travel bans ensued.

Arrests for "noncriminal immigration violators" are up, with 31,888 noncriminal arrests during the first eight months of the Trump administration, according to U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement. On the other hand, deportations have actually decreased by about 14,000 this year, reports say, but Attorney General Jeff Sessions has called for a "concerted effort" by immigration courts to speed up processing of pending immigration cases.

Concerns for 2018

Current concerns for 2018 include:

  • Animosity of the administration toward immigrants: "This is leaching into all areas of USCIS adjudications and the attitude of [U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents toward] travelers with a bona fide legal basis for entry," one attorney reported. "They will do as they please right now until challenged," said another.
  • Creeping arbitrariness and unpredictability: Attorneys report clients being held up at the border or turned away in some cases due to considerations that do not seem to be based in law or regulation. Denials are being issued in some cases filed by employers on behalf of professionals that previously would have been considered routine. Some agents of the federal government appear to believe it is now open season on cracking down, and to be acting accordingly. Officers are no longer required to defer to previous decisions when extensions are requested. An attorney reported an example of such decision-making: a "perfectly clean" request for a three-year L-1 worker was approved without an RFE for one year because "she is an employee at will, so only one year is allowed." Another attorney reported similar treatment for Trade NAFTA clients at certain ports of entry. A third attorney said, "To me the top threat is something that affects everything we do—it is the sense (which is not universal but permeates the ranks) inside [the Departments of Homeland Security and State] that they have impunity and are not bound by the rule of law. Unless and until employers adopt a long-term view and sue—as opposed to the short-term approach of just refiling and hoping for a better result—the agencies are right."
  • More and more demands for additional documents, interviews, and requests for evidence (RFEs): Among other things, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is reportedly considering mandatory interviews for all applications to renew or replace green cards (Forms I-90). Interviews for petitions to remove conditions on residence for certain married couples (I-751) are already a "nightmare." USCIS is phasing in interviews for adjustment of status applications based on employment, including for some who have already filed their applications. Executive orders are requiring visa applications and adjudications to be reviewed for compliance with "extreme vetting" and "Buy American/Hire American" policies, for both initial petitions and extensions. There has been a sharp uptick (45% compared to last year, according to USCIS) in RFEs on H-1B visa petitions for skilled workers.
  • Massive backlogs and delays in applications and petitions increasing as a result of the greater scrutiny, in some cases leading to disruptions in travel, work, and study plans.
  • Attorneys' fees increasing as a result of the additional work.
  • An overall "brain drain" and reduction in quality employees as immigration decreases, deportations increase, and more and more people leave the United States for Canada or other countries perceived to be friendlier to immigration, or never apply to enter the United States in the first place.
  • Arbitrary caps on H-2B workers and lack of a returning worker exemption.
  • A lack of visa categories for unskilled workers who are not temporary (which constitutes about 75% of the entire workforce).
  • Denials of advance parole renewal requests filed by green card applicants if they leave the country.
  • Stress on employers as they find it harder to fill important positions in a timely manner or are accused of not wanting to hire U.S. workers when in some cases there are simply not enough U.S. workers qualified and available to take the jobs.
  • Stress on clients, including would-be immigrants and their families; family separation; stress on attorneys.
  • Travel restrictions on people from certain countries based on a new ban issued in September that the Supreme Court allowed to be put into effect while appeals run their course.
  • Ending temporary protected status for some (e.g., Nicaraguans and Haitians), and making it harder to designate or extend such status in the future.
  • A planned removal of the regulation allowing certain H-4 spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants to obtain employment authorization documents (EADs), with a notice of proposed rulemaking scheduled for February 2018. This is expected to result in lost filing fees and labor turnover costs for employers with workers on H-4 EADs.
  • A proposed electronic registration program for H-1B petitions subject to numerical restrictions, with a notice of proposed rulemaking considered for February 2018, along with possible further restrictions on H-1B visas.
  • A proposal to make it more difficult to obtain a J-1 waiver.
  • Privacy issues: As of the middle of fiscal year 2017, approximately 30,000 travelers had their electronic devices searched at the border or at ports of entry. This was three times the number searched in 2015.

Future Concerns

In addition to those noted above, future concerns include:

  • A planned revision (not yet described) of the definition of Specialty Occupation for H-1B workers and additional requirements for H-1B wages, with a notice of proposed rulemaking scheduled for October 2018.
  • Proposed new requirements for F and M students with respect to the practical training period, to include increased oversight of schools and participating students, with a notice of proposed rulemaking scheduled for October 2018.

Hopeful Signs

Although no one has a crystal ball and things look bleak overall for the foreseeable future on the immigration front, there are a few positive indications on the horizon. For example, according to reports, after conferring with President Trump, leaders in Congress are seriously considering introducing a measure in January 2018 to allow DACA "Dreamers" to stay in the United States. As of September 4, 2017, there were 689,821 people with valid DACA status in the country. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was quoted in late December following a meeting with President Trump: "He wants to make a deal. He wants to fix the entire system."

Also reportedly under serious consideration is meaningful EB-5 reform legislation, such as the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, which would allow some EB-5 investors to obtain immigrant visas more quickly because their place in the waiting line would no longer depend on the nation of chargeability. And USCIS began accepting applications again under the International Entrepreneur Rule in December, albeit temporarily while the agency drafts a notice of proposed rulemaking to quash it permanently.

Otherwise, some court challenges are either already working their way through the system (e.g., on the latest travel ban) or may be filed in the future.


In general, ABIL recommends that employers and employees consider:

  • Allowing much more time than before for the application/petition process. Posted processing times are not reliable. Several additional months may be required if there is an RFE or an unanticipated additional security check or other problem.
  • Filing a mandamus action in federal court to compel the agency to act if a case experiences extreme processing delays.
  • Not leaving the United States in the short term if status is in any way uncertain.
  • Contacting your ABIL attorney for advice and help in specific situations.

The U.S. Embassy in London is Moving

The U.S. Embassy in London will be moving to a new location in Nine Elms and will open to the public on January 16, 2018.

The postal address of our new U.S. Embassy in London is as follows:

Embassy of the United States of America
33 Nine Elms Lane
SW11 7US

REAL ID Act: New Security Measures Start January 22

Starting January 22, 2018, passengers who have driver's licenses issued by a state that does not yet comply with the REAL ID Act and that has not received an extension will need to show an alternative form of acceptable identification for domestic air travel. Passengers who have licenses issued by a state that is complying or that has an extension to become compliant with REAL ID requirements may continue to use their licenses as usual.

Starting October 1, 2020, every air traveler must present a REAL ID-compliant license or another acceptable form of identification for domestic air travel. A REAL ID compliant license is one that meets, and is issued by a state that complies with, the REAL ID Act’s security standards.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) noted that REAL ID allows compliant states to issue driver's licenses and identification cards where the identity of the applicant cannot be assured or for whom lawful presence is not determined. Some states currently issue such noncompliant cards to undocumented individuals. These cards must clearly state on their face (and in the machine-readable zone) that they are not acceptable for official purposes and must use a unique design or color to differentiate them from compliant cards, DHS said. DHS cautioned against assuming that possession of a noncompliant card indicates the holder is an undocumented individual, given that several states issue noncompliant licenses for reasons unrelated to lawful presence.

Many states are already REAL ID compliant. DHS reportedly has granted the following states and territories an extension until October 2018 to meet federal standards and make their state-issued IDs compliant: Alaska, American Samoa, California, Guam, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Northern Mariana Islands, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Virginia, and Washington.

States under review for a renewed extension include New York, Michigan, and Louisiana.

Travelers can check DHS's website for additional information and can check with a state's driver's license-issuing agency about how to acquire a compliant license.

Visit the DHS's REAL ID webpage.

Read the DHS's Transportation Security Administration's list of acceptable forms of identification for airport checkpoints.

DHS Implements New VWP Security Measures

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen announced on December 15, 2017, that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in consultation with the Department of State and other federal agencies, is implementing new security requirements for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). VWP allows citizens of 38 countries to travel to the United States for business or tourism for stays of up to 90 days without a visa. Each year, the United States allows more than 20 million visitors to travel to the United States under the VWP.

The new measures include requiring VWP countries "to use counterterrorism information to better screen travelers," assessing VWP countries "to ensure they implement safeguards against the aviation sector," and requiring certain VWP countries "to initiate public information campaigns to reduce overstays."

Specifically, DHS is introducing the following measures applicable to all countries in the VWP:

  • Requiring VWP countries to fully implement existing information-sharing arrangements by systematically screening travelers crossing their borders against U.S. counterterrorism information;
  • Assessing VWP countries on the effectiveness of safeguards against insider threats in the aviation security environment; and
  • Requiring VWP countries having a two percent or greater rate of business or tourism nonimmigrant visitors overstaying the terms of their admission into the United States to initiate a public information campaign to reduce overstay violations by educating their nationals on the conditions for admission into the United States.

DHS reportedly said that Hungary, Greece, Portugal, and San Marino will launch public campaigns to inform their citizens because two percent of travelers from those countries overstayed their terms of admission.

DHS is also asking Congress to codify existing VWP requirements to bolster efforts in the following areas:

  • Reporting of foreign terrorist fighter information to multilateral organizations, such as INTERPOL and EUROPOL;
  • Systematically collecting and analyzing passenger travel data (Advance Passenger Information/Passenger Name Records); and
  • Concluding arrangements to permit U.S. Federal Air Marshals to operate onboard U.S. air carriers for last point of departure flights to the United States.

As part of its regular cooperation with VWP countries, DHS said it "will develop targeted engagement plans to support implementation of these measures." DHS has assessed that these security enhancements will not hinder lawful trade and travel. Qualified nationals will continue to be able to travel to the United States under the VWP, DHS noted.

DHS also said that travelers in the following categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the VWP:

  • Nationals of VWP countries who have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia, or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited exceptions for travel for diplomatic or military purposes in the service of a VWP country); and
  • Nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria.

In addition, travelers must have an e-passport to use the VWP. An e-passport is an enhanced secure passport with an embedded electronic chip. An e-passport is readily identified by a unique international symbol on the cover.

Read DHS Secretary Nielsen's statement here.

Read additional information on the VWP, including a list of participating countries.

USCIS Announces Restrictions on TN Economist Status

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently published policy guidance on the specific work activities its officers should consider when determining whether an individual qualifies for Trade NAFTA (TN) nonimmigrant status as an economist. The policy guidance states that financial analysts, marketing analysts, and market research analysts are not eligible for classification as a TN economist.

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) TN nonimmigrant status allows qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens to temporarily enter the United States to engage in specific professional activities, including the occupation of economist. The agreement, however, does not define the term economist, which USCIS said has resulted in inconsistent decisions about whether certain analysts and financial professionals qualify for TN status as economists.

USCIS said the new policy is consistent with the Department of Labor's (DOL's) Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. DOL defines economists as people who conduct research, prepare reports, or formulate plans to address economic problems related to the production and distribution of goods and services or monetary and fiscal policy. Economists may collect and process economic and statistical data using sampling techniques and econometric methods. The definition specifically excludes market research and marketing analyst occupations, USCIS said.

With respect to the occupation of financial analyst, USCIS said it recognizes that economists and financial analysts are related occupations and that there may occasionally be some similarity in the activities of these two occupational categories. As differentiated from economists, however, financial analysts "primarily conduct quantitative analyses of information affecting investment programs of public or private institutions," USCIS said. Recognizing that these types of positions are not the same, the SOC separates these occupations into two categories. Therefore, to be consistent with the SOC, USCIS said it is clarifying that economists and financial analysts are two separate occupations for the purposes of qualifying for TN nonimmigrant status pursuant to NAFTA.

Some attorneys warn that TN Economists—even those who were previously approved—could experience increased scrutiny when returning to the United States. Strategies may include arguing that a position meets the definition of an economist, amending the position description, avoiding international travel, or considering nonimmigrant alternatives. Contact your Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers attorney for advice in specific situations.

Read the USCIS policy memo.

EB-5, Special Immigrant Religious Worker Categories Extended to January 19

The Department of State's Visa Bulletin for January 2018 states the following with respect to scheduled expiration of two employment-based visa categories. Both have been extended at least until January 19, 2018, with passage of a short-term continuing resolution in Congress:

Employment Fourth Preference [EB-4] Certain Religious Workers (SR):

Pursuant to the continuing resolution, signed on December 7, 2017, the non-minister special immigrant program expires on December 22, 2017. No SR visas may be issued overseas, or final action taken on adjustment of status cases, after midnight December 21, 2017. Visas issued prior to this date will only be issued with a validity date of December 21, 2017, and all individuals seeking admission as a non-minister special immigrant must be admitted (repeat, admitted) into the U.S. no later than midnight December 21, 2017.

The final action date for this category has been listed as "Unavailable" for January. If there is legislative action extending this category for FY 2018, the final action date would immediately become "Current" for January for all countries except El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras which would be subject to a December 1, 2015 final action date, and for Mexico which would be subject to a June 1, 2016 date.

Employment Fifth Preference [EB-5] Categories (I5 and R5):

The continuing resolution signed on December 7, 2017 extended this immigrant investor pilot program until December 22, 2017. The I5 and R5 visas may be issued until close of business on December 22, 2017, and may be issued for the full validity period. No I5 or R5 visas may be issued overseas, or final action taken on adjustment of status cases, after December 22, 2017.

The final action dates for the I5 and R5 categories have been listed as "Unavailable" for January. If there is legislative action extending them for FY 2018, the final action dates would immediately become "Current" for January for all countries except China-mainland born I5 and R5 which would be subject to a July 22, 2014 final action date.

Read the January 2018 Visa Bulletin.

USCIS Reaches H-2B Cap for First Half of FY 2018

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that it has reached the congressionally mandated H-2B cap for the first half of fiscal year 2018.

December 15, 2017, was the final receipt date for new H-2B worker petitions requesting an employment start date before April 1, 2018. USCIS will reject new cap-subject H-2B petitions received after December 15 that request an employment start date before April 1, 2018.

USCIS continues to accept H-2B petitions that are exempt from the congressionally mandated cap. This includes the following types of petitions:

  • Current H-2B workers in the United States petitioning to extend their stay and, if applicable, change the terms of their employment or change their employers;
  • Fish roe processors, fish roe technicians, and/or supervisors of fish roe processing; and
  • Workers performing labor or services in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and/or Guam from November 28, 2009, until December 31, 2019.

USCIS is currently accepting cap-subject petitions for the second half of FY 2018 for employment start dates on or after April 1, 2018.

U.S. businesses use the H-2B program to employ foreign workers for temporary nonagricultural jobs. Congress has set the H-2B cap at 66,000 per fiscal year, with 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the first half of the fiscal year (October 1 through March 31) and 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the second half of the fiscal year (April 1 through September 30).

USCIS encourages H-2B petitioners to visit the H-2B fiscal year 2018 cap season webpage.

Cuba News: USCIS Rescinds Matter of Vazquez as Adopted Decision; U.S. Embassy in Havana Temporarily Suspends Operations

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has made several announcements recently with respect to Cuba, including issuing a new policy memorandum that rescinds Matter of Vazquez as an Adopted Decision, and temporarily suspending operations at its field office in Havana.

Rescission of Matter of Vazquez as an Adopted Decision

A new policy memorandum rescinds Matter of Vazquez as an Adopted Decision. The new memorandum supersedes all prior guidance regarding the determination of Cuban citizenship for purposes of adjustment under the Cuban Adjustment Act. Read the memo.

Temporary Suspension of Operations in Havana

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that due to staff reductions at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, USCIS will temporarily suspend operations at its field office in Havana, effective immediately. During this time, the USCIS field office in Mexico City, Mexico, will assume Havana's jurisdiction.

USCIS says that individuals who live in Cuba must follow the filing instructions, read the announcement.

Visit The U.S. Embassy website for Cuba.

USCIS is Accepting Applications under International Entrepreneur Rule (IER) But Plans Proposed Rule to Eliminate IER

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on December 14, 2017, that it is taking steps to implement the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER) in accordance with a recent court decision. USCIS noted that while the agency implements the IER, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will also "proceed with issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) seeking to remove the Jan. 17, 2017, IER. DHS is in the final stages of drafting the NPRM."

USCIS explained that although the IER was published during the previous administration with an effective date of July 17, 2017, it did not take effect because DHS issued a final rule on July 11, 2017, delaying the IER's effective date until March 14, 2018. USCIS said this "delay rule" was meant to give USCIS time to review the IER and, if necessary, to issue a rule proposing to remove the IER program regulations. However, a December 1, 2017, ruling from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in National Venture Capital Association v. Duke vacated USCIS's final rule to delay the effective date.

The IER was intended to provide international entrepreneurs a new avenue to apply for parole, enter the United States, and invest in establishing and growing start-up businesses, USCIS noted. The rule established new criteria to guide the adjudication of parole applications from certain foreign entrepreneurs, providing them with temporary admission. The rule did not afford a path to citizenship.

Read the instructions and form.

Click here for The IER.

Read the vacated final rule.

I'M BROKEN! Supreme Court Allows Trump Travel Ban to Proceed; State Dept. Issues Guidance

On December 4, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court granted the Trump administration's motions for emergency stays of preliminary injunctions issued by U.S. District Courts in Hawaii and Maryland. The preliminary injunctions had prohibited the government from fully enforcing or implementing the entry restrictions of Presidential Proclamation 9645, "Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists or other Public-Safety Threats" to nationals of six countries: Chad, Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia. The Supreme Court's orders allowed the government to implement those restrictions fully beginning December 8, 2017, until related litigation is resolved. The District Court injunctions did not affect implementation of entry restrictions against nationals from North Korea and Venezuela. Those individuals remain subject to the restrictions and limitations listed in the Presidential Proclamation. The Proclamation does not restrict the travel of dual nationals as long as they are traveling on the passport of a non-designated country.

The Department of State (DOS) issued a statement on December 4 providing guidance on several details related to the travel ban. Among other things, the statement said:

We will not cancel previously scheduled visa application appointments. In accordance with the Presidential Proclamation, for nationals of the eight designated countries, a consular officer will make a determination whether an applicant otherwise eligible for a visa is exempt from the Proclamation or, if not, may be eligible for a waiver under the Proclamation and therefore issued a visa.

No visas will be revoked pursuant to the Proclamation.  Individuals subject to the Proclamation who possess a valid visa or valid travel document generally will be permitted to travel to the United States, irrespective of when the visa was issued.

We will keep those traveling to the United States and our partners in the travel industry informed as we implement the order in a professional, organized, and timely way.

The DOS provided the following details on the travel restrictions by country:

Nationals of the eight countries are subject to various travel restrictions contained in the Proclamation, as outlined in the following table, subject to exceptions and waivers set forth in the Proclamation.

CountryNonimmigrant VisasImmigrant and Diversity VisasChadNo B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 visasNo immigrant or diversity visasIranNo nonimmigrant visas except F, M, and J visasNo immigrant or diversity visasLibyaNo B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 visasNo immigrant or diversity visasNorth KoreaNo nonimmigrant visasNo immigrant or diversity visasSomaliaNo immigrant or diversity visasSyriaNo nonimmigrant visasNo immigrant or diversity visasVenezuelaNo B-1, B-2 or B-1/B-2 visas of any kind for officials of the following government agencies[:] Ministry of Interior, Justice, and Peace; the Administrative Service of Identification, Migration, and Immigration; the Corps of Scientific Investigations, Judicial and Criminal; the Bolivarian Intelligence Service; and the People's Power Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and their immediate family members.YemenNo B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 visasNo immigrant or diversity visas

The DOS statement provides the following list of exceptions:

The following exceptions apply to nationals from all eight countries and will not be subject to any travel restrictions listed in the Proclamation:

  1. Any national who was in the United States on the applicable effective date described in Section 7 of the Proclamation for that national, regardless of immigration status;
  2. Any national who had a valid visa on the applicable effective date in Section 7 of the Proclamation for that national;
  3. Any national who qualifies for a visa or other valid travel document under section 6(d) of the Proclamation;
  4. Any lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States;
  5. Any national who is admitted to or paroled into the United States on or after the applicable effective date in Section 7 of the Proclamation for that national;
  6. Any applicant who has a document other than a visa, valid on the applicable effective date in Section 7 of the Proclamation for that applicant or issued on any date thereafter, that permits him or her to travel to the United States and seek entry or admission, such as advance parole;
  7. Any dual national of a country designated under the Proclamation when traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country;
  8. Any applicant traveling on a diplomatic (A-1 or A-2) or diplomatic-type visa (of any classification), NATO-1 -6 visas, C-2 visa for travel to the United Nations, or G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-4 visa; except certain Venezuelan government officials and their family members traveling on a diplomatic-type B-1, B-2, or B1/B2 visas[;]
  9. Any applicant who has been granted asylum; admitted to the United States as a refugee; or has been granted withholding of removal, advance parole, or protection under the Convention Against Torture.

Exceptions and waivers listed in the Proclamation are applicable for qualified applicants. In all visa adjudications, consular officers may seek additional information, as warranted, to determine whether an exception or a waiver is available.

Meanwhile, the 9th and 4th Circuits held arguments on the travel ban on December 6 and 8, 2017, respectively. Both courts are likely to issue rulings relatively quickly. The cases are then likely to go to the Supreme Court.

Read the Supreme Court's brief orders here and here.

Read The DOS statement, which provides additional details about qualifications and procedures, along with frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Read The related Presidential Proclamation.

Read a related Department of Homeland Security FAQ released in September 2017.

USCIS Issues FAQ on Rejected DACA Requests, Resubmissions

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently released frequently asked questions (FAQ) on rejected Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) requests, and resubmissions.

The FAQ notes that the due date for new, initial DACA requests was September 5, 2017. The due date for DACA renewal requests was September 5, 2017, for recipients whose DACA status expired before that date and was October 5, 2017, for recipients whose DACA expired or will expire between September 5, 2017, and March 5, 2018.

For those whose DACA requests were delivered by the deadline but were not officially "received" by USCIS until the following day and were rejected and returned to applicants for that reason, the FAQ states that USCIS "will identify you and send you a letter inviting you to resubmit your DACA request. You will have 33 days from the date of the letter to resubmit your request. You may wish to keep a copy of all materials included in your resubmission. USCIS expects to be able to identify and send letters to all persons in this situation."

Those in the situation noted above who have not yet been contacted by USCIS may contact Lockbox Support before resubmitting their DACA packages for reconsideration. Email Lockbox Support.

Read The USCIS FAQ, which includes additional details about who may resubmit and why.

U.S. Mission in Canada Implements New Appointment Scheduling System for E Visas

On December 5, 2017, the U.S. Mission in Canada (E Visa Unit, American Consulate General, Toronto) sent an alert announcing a new appointment scheduling system for E visa applications. The Mission said this is "strictly a processing change that will allow us to receive and review E-visa applications before the applicant schedules an in-person interview (as opposed to the old system, which permitted applicants to schedule an appointment before submitting an application or supporting documentation)."

Under the new system, the U.S. Mission explained, E visa applications will be sorted into two processing streams based on the time needed to review the required documentation:

  • New Cases and Renewals—First-time applicants and those wishing to renew the registration status of their E visa company will be offered a "deferred interview" appointment. While applicants will still need to first create an appointment profile and pay the required visa application fee online at, the interview will be deferred until applicants have electronically submitted their application and supporting documents via email to the S. Consulate in Toronto. Once their application has been reviewed, which requires at least 10 business days, the U.S. Mission will send applicants instructions on how to make an appointment for an in-person interview. Applicants will be unable to schedule an appointment until then. Only applications in the queue for "New Cases and Renewals" will be considered for company registration or re-registration.

  • Employees of Registered Companies and Dependents—Employees of currently registered E visa companies, and qualifying family members of current E visa holders, may schedule the next available appointment in Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, or Toronto.

New Publications and Items of Interest

A new SAVE newsletter, SAVE Verifier, is intended for benefit-granting agencies, stakeholders, and benefit applicants for the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program.

The latest E-Verify webinar schedule from USCIS is available.

Advisories and tips:

Government Agency Links

Follow these links to access current processing times of the USCIS Service Centers and the Department of Labor, or the Department of State's latest Visa Bulletin with the most recent cut-off dates for visa numbers:

Attorneys at Hodkinson Law Group

Kehrela Hodkinson

Principal/Immigration Lawyer - California State Bar, 1980

Since 1994, Mrs. Hodkinson has exclusively practiced U.S. immigration law in London. She represents a broad range of corporate and individual clients in connection with temporary (non-immigrant) visas and both employment and family-based permanent (immigrant) visa petitions.

She also provides advice relating to complex issues of waivers on grounds of inadmissibility, maintenance, and abandonment of permanent resident status, and renunciation (expatriation) of U.S. citizenship.


Kehrela Hodkinson's

Kehrela Hodkinson quoted in Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, regarding potential issues of inadmissibility resulting from arrest of professional golfer, Thobjorn Olesen.

August 6th, 2019

Discussion Leader on Panel entitled Consular Processing: What Things go Wrong”, American Immigration Lawyers Association, Orlando, FL

June 1st, 2019

Renunciation of US Citizenship – Why Would a Client “Give It All Up”.

April 15th, 2019

Invited to serve on the Editorial Board of the AILA Law Journal which will cover current and pragmatic topics related to the rapidly changing immigration law landscape and will be produced biannually, commencing 2019.

December 1st, 2018

Discussion Leader for an American Lawyers Association teleconference on the topic of visa processing in London.

December 1st, 2018

Kehrela Hodkinson, US immigration lawyer and founder of Hodkinson Law Group, told The Independent any presidential order over birthright citizenship would face “many constitutional challenges”, including requests for an injunction against implementation, much like what happened with Mr Trump’s initial travel ban on a number of Muslim-majority countries.

October 30th, 2018

Interviewed by The Independent, a UK newspaper, regarding the immigrant visa category by which Melania Trump’s parents obtained their permanent resident status.

February 22nd, 2018

A chapter The Waivers Book, 2nd Edition, published by American Immigration Lawyers Association

December 1st, 2016
Memberships and affiliations

Kehrela Hodkinson's
Memberships and affiliations

ABIL (Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers)

Founding member of ABIL, which is comprised of 19 of the top U.S. business immigration law firms, has over 140 attorneys devoted to business immigration in 21 major U.S. cities, plus Cologne, Hong Kong, London, Monterrey, Mumbai, Shanghai, Tokyo, Toronto, and Vancouver. Founding member and first Chair of Rome District Chapter of American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Multiple leadership roles in the American Immigration Lawyers Association

  • 2011-2012 B-1 in lieu of H-1 Task Force
  • 2011-2012 Department of State Liaison Committee
  • 2011-2012 Military Assistance Program Task Force
  • 2011-2012 Rome District Chapter Pro Bono Committee Chair
  • 2010-2011 Department of State Liaison Committee
  • 2010-2011 Distance Learning Committee
  • 2010-2011 Rome District Chapter Pro Bono Committee Chair
  • 2009-2010 Midyear Conference Committee
  • 2009-2010 Department of State Liaison Committee
  • 2008-2009 Chair Rome District Chapter
  • 2007-2008 Interim Chair Rome District Chapter

American Bar Association

International Bar Association

American Women Lawyers in London

Society of English and American Lawyers

Nominated by peers to the International Who’s Who of Business Immigration Lawyers

Sharon L. Noble

Of Counsel

Sharon Noble has exclusively practiced U.S. immigration law since 1996, concentrating on business-related immigration matters with an emphasis on both non-immigrant visa petitions for corporate employees, individual investors and entrepreneurs as well as employment based immigrant petitions, extraordinary ability petitions and outstanding researcher petitions. Ms. Noble worked with Ms. Hodkinson in London for seven years before returning to the United States in 2003. She is now Of Counsel to Hodkinson Law Group, working remotely from California. Prior to 1996, Ms. Noble practiced corporate real estate and health care law in Los Angeles. With Ms. Noble’s prior corporate experience, she possesses a strong business background and exceptional writing skills, both of which have proven invaluable to her immigration practice.


Sharon L. Noble's

A chapter The Waivers Book, 2nd Edition, published by American Immigration Lawyers Association

December 1st, 2016

Tasha N. Cripe

Of Counsel

Tasha Cripe continues to assist our clients in the preparation and filing of non-immigrant and immigrant visa petitions and applications of waivers of grounds of inadmissibility. She is a member of the Illinois State Bar and is actively involved in The American Immigration Lawyers Association Military Assistance Program.

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