USCIS, Civil Rights Division Announce E-Verify Initiatives
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division announced their collaboration on a series of initiatives to "strengthen the efficiency and accuracy of the E-Verify system." A Memorandum of Agreement establishes the relationship and process for case referrals between the two agencies with respect to allegations of discriminatory employer use of E-Verify, and information regarding the misuse, abuse, or fraudulent use of E-Verify. Read the full post here. (March 19)
Online Application Process for Nonimmigrant Visas Fully Operational
The U.S. State Department has unveiled its new nonimmigrant visa application process, Form DS-160, which combines three application forms into a single online platform. Read the full post here. (March 14)
Immigration Reform Bill Might Call for Biometric Identification Cards
A mandatory biometric identification card for U.S. citizens and legal residents could be included in a comprehensive immigration reform bill. The card would contain standard identifying information, but would also contain a biometric identifier, e.g., fingerprints. Read the full post here. (March 12)
ICE Serves 180 Audit Notices on Businesses in Five Southern States
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that it has served Notices of Inspection (NOIs) on 180 businesses and will review these businesses' hiring records to determine their compliance with federal employment eligibility verification laws. Read the full post here. (March 12)
United States: Report Finds E-Verify Fails to Detect 54% of Unauthorized Workers
According to the Wall Street Journal, an independent report commissioned by the Department of Homeland Security found that E-Verify, the federal electronic employment verification system, may be failing to detect 54% of unauthorized workers processed. Read the full post here. (March 5)
Chile: U.S. State Department Revises Travel Alert
In its revised Travel Alert on Chile, the State Department is advising U.S. citizens to avoid tourism and non-essential travel to Chile due to the February 27 earthquake's aftermath. Read the full post here. (March 4)
United States: Bill Would Grant Two-Year Visa to Entrepreneurs with U.S. Investor Backing
Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) have introduced the StartUp Visa Act of 2010 (S. 3029), which would create a new visa category (EB-6) for foreign entrepreneurs. Foreign entrepreneurs would qualify for a two-year visa upon demonstrating that a qualified U.S. investor will dedicate at least $250,000 to his or her startup venture. Read the full post here. (March 4)
Reuters reports that Bolivian lawmakers have proposed a new labor law to reward punctual workers, as part of a labor reform prompted by Bolivians' tendency to arrive late for everything from social events to business meetings. Workers would receive a bonus for arriving at work on time every day for a month. The bill also would require companies to provide workers who reside more than 1.25 miles from the workplace with a travel subsidy and a stipend for buying refreshments during breaks.
The bill is expected to pass without significant alteration, as it is sponsored by Bolivia's ruling party, Movimiento al Socialismo (the Movement for Socialism).
Global: Increase in Use of Trusted Traveler Programs
The number of individuals using "trusted traveler" programs that permit prescreened passengers to expeditiously clear customs has increased in recent years. Read the full post here. (February 27)
United States: House Bil Would Impose Criminal Penalties for Employing Unauthorized Aliens
Representative Frank Kratovil (D-MD) has introduced the Criminal Penalties for Unauthorized Employment Act of 2010 (H.R. 4627), which would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act by establishing criminal penalties--and increasing the existing civil penalties--that can be levied against individuals with "hiring authority" who employ unauthorized aliens. Read the full post here. (February 26)
The European Parliament's women's rights committee voted in favor of extending paid maternity leave from 14 to 20 weeks and granting two weeks' paid paternity leave. Previously, the European Commission proposed extending leave to 18 weeks. As reported by euobserver.com, parliament will vote on the proposed legislation on March 25. If the measure passes, the process by which member states review the text and parliament passes the final version could take 18 months.
Some suggest that requiring employers to provide additional paid leave is inappropriate given the current economic climate, and that small businesses will suffer. Resistance is particularly strong in the United Kingdom where compliance costs would almost triple, reports Personneltoday.com. Currently in the United Kingdom, one year of leave is available; the first six weeks are compensated at 90% of the employee's salary, and then at the statutory amount of £123 per week for the remainder. If passed, the measure could cost
By a vote of 381 to 253, the European Parliament adopted its annual resolution on equality between men and women. The resolution includes a request that the European Commission "support any moves to establish paternity-leave entitlement on a Europe-wide basis." The resolution contends that by establishing paternity leave entitlement, better protection will be afforded to women in the labor market. In addition, the resolution notes with "regret" that the Social Partners' Framework Agreement on Parental Leave from July 2009 "fails to address the issue of paid leave as a way of achieving male-female equality."
United States: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to Issue Revised Notices of Approval for Forms I-129 & I-539
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that approximately 500 Notices of Approval (Form I-797) issued between January 20 and January 27, 2010 contained incorrect or missing information. Read the full post here. (February 12)
India: Work Permit Rules May Be Relaxed
The Indian government may be relaxing the rules that prevent business visa holders from working in India. For instance, the government is identifying activities within the IT industry for which companies may employ--for limited periods--foreign nationals who do not hold work permits. Read the full post here. (February 12)
Acknowledging that innovations have outpaced legislation designed to protect privacy rights, the European Commission intends a comprehensive revision of its data protection rules, according to euobserver.com. In the years since the 1995 Data Protection Directive was enacted, privacy concerns have been intensified by developments such as behavioral advertising, airport body scanning devices and Facebook, the global social media site that has drawn criticism for its attitude towards users' privacy. Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Information Society and Media, indicated in a recent speech that privacy issues are a top priority. While recognizing the importance of innovation, she stressed that privacy rights should not be compromised, individuals should be able to object to companies' collection of their personal data, and that businesses needed to consider these issues from the outset of product development.
United States: Audit Reveals E-Verify Errors by the Social Security Administration
The Social Security Administration failed to run electronic employment verification (E-Verify) checks on 19% of the employees it hired in 2008 and 2009. Read the full post here. (January 21)
United States: USCIS Memo Outlines Employer-Employee Relationship for H-1B Purposes
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services' Associate Director for Service Center Operations has issued a detailed memo regarding how to determine, when evaluating H-1B visa petitions, whether an employer-employee relationship exists and will continue to exist. Read the full post here. (January 21)