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Monthly U.S. immigration law news roundup: USCIS temporarily increases automatic extension of expiring work permits for certain applicants

Welcome to the Garfinkel Immigration news roundup, where every month we will summarize and provide links to the latest stories impacting U.S. immigration.

Below is the April 2024 edition of the Garfinkel Immigration news roundup:

Artificial Intelligence (AI), the White House, and impact on immigration

Written by Hannah F. Little, Esq., Managing Partner, N.C. Board Certified Immigration Law Specialist.

President Joe Biden issued policy guidance in late October 2023 entitled Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence. The executive order established “new standards for AI safety and security, protected Americans’ privacy, advanced equity and civil rights, stood up for consumers and workers, promoted innovation and competition, advanced American leadership around the world, and more,” according to the White House.

The executive order contained a few key provisions that promise a significant positive impact on foreign nationals who work in Artificial Intelligence (AI) or in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields.

Specifically, the EO used “existing authorities to expand the ability of highly skilled immigrants and nonimmigrants with expertise in critical areas to study, stay, and work in the United States by modernizing and streamlining visa criteria, interviews and reviews.”

Read the full Garfinkel Immigration white paper here.

Work Permit Relief Coming for 800,000 Immigrants in New Rule

This story from Bloomberg News discusses U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services’ (USCIS) continued processing delays putting immigrants at risk of losing their legal employment status. According to the story, a majority of work permit renewal applications take up to 16 months to process at the USCIS.

To combat the issue, the USCIS implemented a new rule on April 8, 2024, which will provide relief to an estimated 800,000 immigrants seeking to renew their work permits. The new rule preserves certain immigrants’ ability to continue working up to 540 days beyond their work permit expiration date if they timely filed a renewal application.

“USCIS Director Ur Jaddou said the agency has made progression reducing processing times for most work permit categories over the past year, but the agency at the same time has received a record number of applications,” according to the Bloomberg article. “The temporary increase of the automatic extension period will help avoid lapses in employment authorization, she said. The rule will also provide the agency a window ‘to consider long-term solutions by soliciting public comments, and identifying new strategies to ensure those noncitizens eligible for employment authorization can maintain that benefit,’ she said in a statement.”

While the rule is temporary, it will apply to individuals who apply to renew their work permits by September 30, 2025.

Read the full Bloomberg News article here.

U.S. Job Numbers Show Immigration Opponents Wrong About The Economy

Stuart Anderson, Senior Contributor to Forbes, analyzes the link between migration and economic growth in the U.S., particularly during a time of increased migration and a historically low U.S. unemployment rate.

Contrary to what anti-immigrant activists have argued, “America experiences economic growth due to ‘growth in the labor force and its productivity,’” the article reports. “Economists note that by increasing the labor supply, immigrants have tamed immigration and contributed to higher economic growth.”

Read the full Forbes article here.

Labor Department’s PERM Program Failing Immigrants and Employers

In this Forbes article, Senior Contributor Stuart Anderson explains the first step of the green card process, known as the PERM process. The PERM process currently takes “approximately two years to complete,” but “it should take 45 to 60 days to decide a PERM case,” according to the article.

The article reports that these significant processing delays at the Department of Labor (DOL) are putting U.S. employers in jeopardy and at risk of losing critical workers.

The article discusses how Congress can and should create a more equitable green card system to reform the country’s employment-based immigration system. It further calls on the DOL to reevaluate and modernize its current processes, technology, and requirements that are significantly outdated and contribute to delays in the overall process.

Read the full Forbes article here.

How immigration politics clash with reality in the swing state of Arizona

This story from NPR analyzes how immigration and border crossings are a way of life in cities that straddle the United States-Mexico border, such as Nogales, Arizona, and how the upcoming election may affect trade, commerce, and family ties that connect the two sides.

Community leaders and residents in these regions rely on a “binational way of life” for the border economy and “fear an election year will only delay any hope of long-term solutions for their towns and the families looking to come through,” according to the article.

“President Biden has spent the last several months advocating for a tougher stance on border security, while former President Donald Trump has painted a dire picture of pressures at the southern border … the voters feel left behind by both political parties … ” the NPR story read.

Read the full NPR story here.

Immigration reform can’t pass Congress. Here’s how that’s hurting Kansas, Missouri farmers

Daniel Desrochers, a correspondent for The Kansas City Star’s Washington, describes the challenges that Kansas and Missouri farmers face in finding workers for their farms, due to the limitations of the H-2A visa program.

The H-2A visa program is currently open to seasonal workers only, limiting farmers from the ability to hire year-round workers, a critical need in an industry amid a lasting labor shortage. According to the story, immigration reform, particularly with the H-2A program, could significantly address the labor shortage issues in the agricultural industry. Farmers in Kansas and Missouri are urging Congress to bring more flexibility in the program in order to grow their businesses and farms.

“Congress has been unable to pass comprehensive immigration reform for decades,” the story reads. “And as partisan politics harden divisions on issues like border security and legal pathways to citizenship, it has become even more difficult to reform programs where there appears to be some common ground, like the H-2A visa program.”

Read the full The Kansas City Star article here.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact Garfinkel Immigration Law Firm at 704-442-8000 or via email with any questions.

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