Pearl Immigration NewsFlash
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General Release Vol. 131 (February 23, 2012)
Headlines (Details below)
Passenger Prescreening Initiative Expands to Additional Airports
On February 8, 2012, the Department of Homeland Security announced the expansion of TSA Pre✓™, a passenger prescreening initiative, to additional airports across the country. More than 336,000 passengers have been screened through TSA Pre✓™ lanes in the seven pilot locations (Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami and Minneapolis). Under this initiative, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) provides expedited screening for travelers who volunteer information about themselves before flying, which enables TSA to focus their efforts on passengers about which they know less.
TSA Administrator John S. Pistole said the agency is moving away from a one-size-fits-all approach to "a more intelligence-driven, risk-based transportation security system."
Eligible participants include certain U.S. citizens who are frequent flyers with participating airlines (currently American and Delta with US Airways, Alaska Airlines and United joining later this year) as well as members of U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Trusted Traveler programs (Global Entry, SENTRI and NEXUS). If TSA determines a passenger is eligible for expedited screening following the TSA Pre✓™ vetting process, they will embed the information in the barcode of the passenger's boarding pass, which TSA then reads at the security checkpoint. They may refer the passenger to a TSA Pre✓™ lane, where that person will undergo expedited screening, which could mean no longer taking off shoes, belts and light outerwear and/or removing laptops and 311-compliant bags from carry-ons.
TSA said it will continue to "incorporate random and unpredictable security measures throughout the airport" and that no individual will be guaranteed expedited screening. As part of the agency's risk-based security initiative, TSA is testing several other screening initiatives related to providing positive ID verification for airline pilots and the use of expanded behavior detection techniques.
The announcement, which includes a list of airport locations where TSA Pre✓™ will be implemented throughout the year, is available at http://www.dhs.gov/ynews/releases/20120208-tsa-precheck-pilot-expands.shtm.
USCIS Ombudsman Recommends Improving Adjudication Quality for Extraordinary Ability and Other Employment-based Adjudications
In December 2010, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued an I-140 adjudication policy memo and in a recent report, the USCIS Ombudsman noted that stakeholders have raised concerns about consistency in adjudications of extraordinary ability and other employment-based petitions, focusing on the subjective nature of final merits determinations. The Ombudsman noted that USCIS has been challenged in identifying an objective standard and application for a final merits determination, and some Immigration Services Officers (ISOs) report that the I-140 policy memo did little to change their analyses of I-140 petitions.
To improve fairness, consistency and transparency in adjudications of these petitions, the Ombudsman made the following recommendations to USCIS:
The Ombudsman gave the following reasons for these recommendations:
- conduct formal rulemaking to clarify the regulatory standard and, if desired, explicitly incorporate a final merits determination into the regulations;
- in the interim, provide public guidance on the application of a final merits determination; and
- in the interim, provide ISOs with additional guidance and training on the proper application of the "preponderance of the evidence" standard when adjudicating EB-1-1, EB-1-2 and EB-2 petitions.
The Ombudsman noted that the December 2010 I-140 policy memo rescinded and superseded all previously published USCIS policy guidance regarding EB-1 adjudications. It is available at http://www.uscis.gov/USCIS/Laws/Memoranda/i-140-evidence-pm-6002-005-1.pdf.
- stakeholders are concerned that the current I-140 policy memo allows for too much subjectivity in adjudicating petitions;
- stakeholders presented in an amicus curiae briefing to USCIS' Administrative Appeals Office that the decision in Kazarian v. USCIS does not require USCIS to implement a two-part review as provided for in the I-140 memo, and that application of the I-140 policy memorandum has not resulted in a clearer adjudicatory standard;
- ISOs lack guidance that clearly demonstrates the nature and type of evidence that typically establishes whether an individual possesses "extraordinary ability," may be classified as an "outstanding professor or researcher," or has "exceptional ability"; and
- USCIS has not clearly explained the objective factors that USCIS adjudicators should consider when conducting a final merits determination.
More than One Million Employers Use E-Verify; USCIS Announces Expansion of Self Check
Last month USCIS announced that in December 2011, E-Verify reached a milestone: employers are now using E-Verify at more than one million worksites.
On February 9, 2012, USCIS also announced that Self Check, a free online service of E-Verify that allows workers to check their own employment eligibility status, is now available in all 50 states; Washington, DC; Guam; Puerto Rico; the U.S. Virgin Islands; and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Launched in March 2011, Self Check was developed through a partnership between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) to provide a tool for workers to check their own employment eligibility status and guidance on how to correct their DHS and SSA records. It is the first online E-Verify service offered directly to workers. A Spanish-language version was added in August 2011.
The E-Verify announcement can be found here: http://www.uscis.gov/USCIS/Verification/E-Verify/E-Verify_Native_Documents/Newsletters/E-Verify-Connection06.pdf and the self-check announcement can be found here: http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=3dc19bbc3d265310VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=68439c7755cb9010VgnVCM10000045f3d6a1RCRD.
Webinars on Employment Verification
The Department of Justice's Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-related Unfair Employment Practices has announced upcoming monthly webinars on employment verification issues. Workers and worker advocates may join the monthly worker/advocate track webinar, and employers/HR professionals may join the monthly employer track webinar. The next employer/HR webinars are scheduled for March 21 and April 30, 2012. The next worker/advocate webinars are scheduled for March 13 and April 17, 2012. For more information or to register, go to http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/osc/webinars.php.
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:
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The Pearl Immigration NewsFlash provides periodic alerts about noteworthy developments in business-related immigration. It is provided as information only and is not a substitute for legal counsel. If you have questions about the NewsFlash, please contact your PLG attorney or write email@example.com.
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