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On Monday, President Donald Trump signed a new executive order on immigration that bars people from six predominantly Muslim countries without visas from traveling to the United States. The new order represents a do-over moment for Trump, as his first executive order on immigration—commonly referred to as the “travel ban” or “Muslim ban”—has been met with criticism and has been tied up in courts across the country. Although this new executive order will most likely do nothing to damper its criticism, it has addressed many of the holes that lawyers and judges have poked into the original order.

One of the most noticeable changes to Trump’s executive order is the removal of Iraq from the list of barred countries, leaving only six (Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, and Libya). Although Iraq has been removed from the ban, Iraqi nationals seeking admission into the U.S. will be subject to additional scrutiny.

Another revision to the old executive order is that the new travel ban only applies to people from the six banned countries without visas, and includes exemptions for lawful residents and visitors of the United States. Under the latest executive order, all green card holders and current visa holders are exempt from the travel ban.

The new executive order still bans refugees for 120 days, but no longer indefinitely bars Syrian refugees. At the conclusion of the 120 days, the administration will determine which countries they will reinstate refugee admissions from. At that time, the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. will also likely decline from 110,000 to 50,000. The new ban also does away with the prioritization of religious minorities, one of the provisions of the first ban that was challenged as religious discrimination.

With all the changes made to the executive order, the bad news for business travelers is that the elimination of the Visa Interview Waiver Program remains. This means that every time a visa expires, travelers will be required to attend a sit-down interview with the consular office in their home county for renewal. Previously, visa applicants were able to get their visa applications processed without an interview.

Not only have the contents of the travel ban been revised to increase its legality, but the order’s timing has also been changed to allow smoother implementation. In an effort to avoid the scenes created at airports nationwide in the wake of the original travel ban, the new executive order does not go into effect until March 16, allowing time for travelers to plan, government officials to get processes in place, and legal challenges to occur—in effect minimizing or eliminating the chaos created by the immediacy of the first order.

Immigration in the United States is changing faster than ever. This week alone has seen two policy-shifting events (click here to find out the temporary suspension of premium processing for H-1B visas). Because of this, it is more important than ever to have someone to help you navigate the complexities of immigration law. For more than thirty years, GoffWilson has worked exclusively on immigration law, and can help you meet the challenges of operating in a global world. Contact our office today to discover how GoffWilson can help you.


In our February 8th bLAWg post, we discussed the emergency motion to stay pertaining to the temporary restraining order (TRO) in the federal case, State of Washington v. Trump. Late yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit published an order upholding the TRO and denying the government’s motion for a stay. In its order, the court states, “we hold that the Government has not shown a likelihood of success on the merits of its appeal, nor has it shown that failure to enter a stay would cause irreparable injury….”
Due to the court’s ruling, the prohibitions on President Trump’s January 27th executive order, Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States remain in effect. This means that refugee, immigrant, and nonimmigrant travel to the U.S. from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen can continue. However, as the government is expected to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, and a decision could be issued as early as next week, those that can travel to the U.S. should do so at the earliest available date.
We will continue to post additional information as it becomes available. Those with questions should contact our office.
Looking for additional information on the executive orders? Check out our GoffWilson January 27th and February 2nd bLAWg posts.

On January 25, 2017, President Trump began issuing executive orders pertaining to immigration. A comprehensive review of the first two orders can be found in our earlier bLAWg post, What You Need to Know About Trump’s Executive Orders. On January 27th, the President issued another, more stringent order, Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States, which has been the subject of constant media reports over the past week. Rumors are circulating, causing additional anxiety for many employers and employees alike. GoffWilson has been closely monitoring the situation and can confirm the following as of February 2, 2017:
•U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) has been suspended for 120 days.
•Number of refugees to be accepted into the U.S. reduced from 110,000 to 50,000.
•Syrian refugee admissions to the U.S. have been halted indefinitely.
Immigrant and nonimmigrant entries into the U.S. from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen have been   halted for 90 days (excluding U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents). This has not been expanded to include any other countries. The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has confirmed as of today that no amendment is currently being worked on to expand the list of countries.
•The DOS has provisionally revoked all valid immigrant and nonimmigrant visas for individuals from the countries listed above.
•Visa Interview Waiver Program (VIWP) has been suspended, requiring an in-person visa interview for most applicants. As of today, some consulates still have active VIWP’s, including India. Applicants under the age of 14 and over the age of 79 are still eligible for the VIWP. Additionally eligible are applicants having a previous issuance of the same visa within one year.
•As of today, there have not been any rules, regulations, or orders proposed or issued pertaining to the H-1B process specifically. Furthermore, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has not confirmed whether it has suspended immigration benefit applications for individuals from the affected countries, who are already residing in the U.S.
There are numerous federal lawsuits ongoing that could affect the above-stated points. Just today, Lufthansa announced that it will permit travelers to Boston from all countries until February 5th due to a Massachusetts Federal District Court decision.
We will continue to monitor issues related to the executive orders, so stay tuned for updates.
GoffWilson is your source for immigration updates! Contact our office today with any questions.

The first week of Trump’s presidency has given the immigrant community a glimpse of what the next four years will look like, and has certainly dispelled any hopes that he would soften his hardline stance on immigration once inaugurated. On Wednesday, January 25, President Trump signed two executive actions, and in those statements are an expansion of enforcement priorities, an expansion of International Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) officers as well as Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers, reinstatement of the Secure Communities Program, and defunding of “sanctuary cities.” Furthermore, Trump reaffirmed to uphold his campaign promise of building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. 
Expansion of Enforcement 
In Trump’s first interview after the election, he told 60 Minutes that he planned on deporting between 2 and 3 million people—and with Wednesday’s executive action, he is one step closer to keeping that promise. One of the primary actions of Trump’s executive order is the expansion of enforcement, or, more simply, broadening the scope of what constitutes a deportable offense. Under the Obama administration, only undocumented immigrants convicted of a felony, serious misdemeanors, or multiple misdemeanors were considered priorities for deportation, but that has changed. 
Under Wednesday’s executive action, enforcement is expanded to include illegal immigrants with “any criminal offense” (a general definition that can include anything from stealing a pack of gum to serious crimes) and individuals who have “committed uncharged acts that constitute a chargeable offense,” which include immigration offenses like illegal entry into the U.S. or driving without a license. It further reaches to include those who engaged in "fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter” (like working under a false social security number), and empowers ICE agents to prioritize anyone they feel is a “risk to public safety or national security” (giving broad and sweeping power to immigration agents).  
While this section of the executive order may pose a frightening reality for undocumented immigrants, it’s not a done deal yet. In order to carry out expanded enforcement, Trump has proposed hiring an additional 10,000 ICE and ERO officers—something he cannot do without congressional approval. Additionally, in order to identify the criminal offenses of undocumented immigrants, Trump will need the cooperation of state and local law enforcement. 
“Sanctuary Cities”
In another move away from Obama-era policies, Trump’s executive order ends the Priority Enforcement Program and reinstates the Secure Communities Program. The Secure Communities Program relies on a partnership between federal, state, and local law enforcement with ICE to identify immigrants in jail who may be deportable. The executive order also calls for the defunding of “sanctuary cities,” a loose term for communities that protect undocumented immigrants.
Although it’s within the President’s power to reinstate the Secure Communities Program, state and local authorities are under no obligation to cooperate with the program. At the moment, at least 39 cities and 364 counties nationwide count themselves as sanctuary communities according to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. Included in that list are major metropolises such as New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and, ironically, Washington D.C. Many of the mayors of these cities have already made very public statements in support of their immigrant communities. Furthermore, any attempt to defund “sanctuary cities” will be challenged in the courts. 
The Wall 
It seems impossible to talk about Trump and immigration without talking about the wall he promised to build during his campaign. Many believed that Trump’s wall would be symbolic, seeing that much of the U.S.-Mexico border runs through desolate terrain. Also, the incredible cost (depending on who you listen to, it could cost as little as $12 billion or upwards of $40 billion) and the fact that the number of undocumented Mexicans in the United States has been declining in recent years seemed to indicate the lack of need for a wall. 
During his campaign Trump promised that the cost of building the wall would be paid by Mexico, but so far Mexico has flatly refused. With the question of who will pay for the wall if Mexico doesn’t looming, many are asking if the wall is even necessary. The 650 miles of fencing already up on the U.S.-Mexico border has cost the U.S. $7 billion, and that fencing is on the most accessible and easy-to-build-on land. Trump’s plan to add 1,000 more miles of fence would quickly exceed that cost when considering the logistics required to build a wall in more remote areas. Not to mention that the proposed fencing conflicts with private land, as well as Native American land. 
Once again, here is where Trump's order runs into difficulty: The executive order allows President Trump to use existing funds to begin building the wall, but Congress will have to appropriate funding if he wants to see it created.   
There’s More 
Buried beneath the main talking points of Trump’s immigration policies, there are further anti-immigrant policies. For example, the White House intends to publish a weekly list of all the crimes committed by immigrants (it doesn’t specify undocumented) and the cities that refused to deport them, and create an “Office for Victims of Crimes Committed by Removable Aliens” that will be dedicated to helping U.S. citizens who have been victims of crimes by undocumented immigrants. 
While this first week of Trump’s presidency has challenged the nation’s immigrant communities, there is concern that it could worsen. There has been a lot of talk about another executive action in regards to how—and how many—refugees will be accepted into the United States. And there is still the question of how Trump will handle DREAMers. 
GoffWilson has spent decades advocating for foreign-born people to come to the United States for their personal betterment and the betterment of the nation. Immigration laws are going to get stricter and more heavily enforced over the next four years, so whether you have questions on how to protect your business or you have personal immigration questions, contact us today to find out how we can assist you.  
“I had always hoped that this land might become a safe and agreeable asylum to the virtuous and persecuted part of mankind, to whatever nation they might belong.” –George Washington

H-1B visas—those hard-to-get, always-valued professional visas—will be up for grabs in about 60 days! Don’t miss out this year as we expect the cap of H visas (only 65,000 released) to be filled by mid-April. With qualified US workers in short supply, there is more and more call from employers wanting to hire IT consultants, healthcare workers and other high-tech folks all needing H visa status. Keep in mind we can file within the first 5 days of April for a visa that allows the person to work for your company beginning October 1, 2017.
There are always a lot of things to consider for an H visa, such as cap-gap issues, travel, job descriptions, industry standards, staffing and consultant workplace issues, and more. Also, if you hope to employ a graduate now working for you in OPT status when that status runs out, you’ll want to file for the H visa on April 1st. Contact us now—we are immigration pros with decades of experience. We will discuss your options so we can get your H application in on the first day of filing. It’s what we do!

Finally, good news in immigration! While it seemed that the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 have been filled with news about the struggles and uncertainty facing immigrants and people involved with immigration under a new presidency, a recent decision from the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) has made one pathway to a green card easier, that pathway being through a National Interest Waiver (NIW). 
The basic idea of the National Interest Waiver is to allow people with exceptional abilities to qualify for residency in the United States with the presumption that these extraordinary individuals fill valuable roles in technology, engineering, and sciences while working in various sectors such as the medical field, software, and business. Because of the impactful work these individuals do, it’s in the best interest of the country to retain them. 
In spite of our prior successes attaining National Interest Waivers for deserving clients, the standard under prior case law was so high that many deserving people did not want to pursue this path or were denied for not being a strong enough candidate. But now, thanks to the AAO’s new ruling, the standard for a NIW has been lowered and is a viable option for many more deserving individuals!
Under the new framework, you can successfully petition for a National Interest Waiver by meeting a few criteria:
1. Your endeavor will have substantial merit and importance to the United States.
2. Your qualifications will be well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor. 
3. It will benefit the United States to have you here. 
If you are able to meet all the criteria listed above, you may be able to proceed directly to a green card application. This ruling is fantastic news for deserving foreign nationals doing important work in the United States. Do you believe you may qualify for a NIW petition under the new criteria? GoffWilson is ready to review your credentials! Contact our office today for an assessment. Immigration is all we do!

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released a newly revised Employment Verification Form, Form I-9 as of November 22, 2016. Employers are required to use the Form I-9 to verify the identity and employment authorization eligibility of all their employees. The new Form I-9 will become mandatory on January 22, 2017.
On January 12, 2017 at Delta Dental in Concord, NH, we will provide detailed training on how to properly complete each section of the new Form I-9 as well as a review of the requirements for accepting documents as part of the Form I-9 process. We will also discuss how to properly make corrections to the Form I-9.
Session Highlights:
  • Review of all the changes to the Form I-9
  • How to properly complete each section of the Form I-9 with emphasis on the portions of each section that have been changed in the November 22, 2016 version of the Form I-9
  • Proper re-verification procedures
  • How to properly make corrections to the Form I-9 including discussion of December, 2015 guidance from OSC regarding making corrections to the Form I-9
  • Proper procedures for accepting documents in the Form I-9 process including procedures to avoid allegations of discrimination in the Form I-9 process
  • Resources that everyone who completes the Form I-9 should have available to them
  • And much more!
There are only a few good seats remaining—click here to sign up today!

Be sure to register for our I-9 Training in January. Don’t be left out!
Here are some reasons you should register right now:
  1. You want to be current on the new I-9 Form required in January 2017
  2. You need a refresher
  3. You want to know the substantive violations that do not have a 10-day notification/correction period
  4. You want to know the violations subject to a Notice of Intent to Fine
  5. Review common mistakes made in completing I-9s, how to correct flawed forms, and how to avoid them
  6. Your remote hires, recent merger, or federal contracts present considerable challenges that can be met following this informative seminar
  7. You have new staff who need training on best practices for I-9s
  8. HRCI credit and a certificate are provided to you so you maintain your HR accreditation
  9. A delicious complimentary continental breakfast 
Need we say more?
Visit the seminar page for more information or click here to register now.

On November 8, 2016, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the addition of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the list of 83 countries whose nationals are eligible to participate in the H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Labor Certification Program. The H-2B program permits U.S. employers to bring foreign workers into the country to fill temporary jobs in non-agricultural fields. H-2B workers typically fill seasonal jobs lasting less than 9 months in fields such as hospitality, landscaping, food service, and the like; however, they can also supplement a year-round company’s permanent workforce due to “peakload need” or a specific occurrence. The U.S. limits the number of H-2B workers each fiscal year to 66,000, divided into 33,000 workers per 6-month period running from October 1 to March 31, and again from April 1 to September 30. Due to the shortage of available workers for these positions in many areas around the country (such as heavy tourist areas), the annual quotas are often reached well before the end of each 6-month time frame.
In April 2015, the H-2B program was completely overhauled with the introduction of many new rules and processes. With the modified procedure, employers must now complete multiple steps with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) prior to filing an H-2B petition with the USCIS, including testing the U.S. labor market to ensure there are no available domestic workers to fill the temporary job. In addition, the timeframe for employers to initiate DOL processing is now 75–90 days prior to the job start date, a reduction from the previous 120-day timeframe. It is important to note that this timeframe begins only after employers have obtained a certified Prevailing Wage Determination from the DOL (an H-2B requirement that takes approximately 60 days to receive). Therefore, employers looking to bring H-2B workers into the U.S. for the Summer 2017 season need to begin now in order to have sufficient time to complete the process and still have the employees arrive in time for the season.
Besides the obvious benefit of the H-2B program supplying U.S. employers with much-needed temporary support, the program also provides companies with a significant cost benefit. By filing a single H-2B petition, an employer can bring multiple foreign workers into the U.S. to fill temporary positions (so long as the workers will be performing the same role at the same location). This makes the H-2B program a great, affordable option for employers needing numerous temporary workers.
Have you thought about how to get workers for your busy summer season? Interested in pursuing an H-2B petition? Have questions about whether the H-2B could be the right fit for your company? GoffWilson is here to help! Contact our office today for more information. It’s what we do!

On or before November 22, 2016, the much-anticipated revised Form I-9 will be released. Employers will have until January 21, 2017 to transition to the new form, but after this date, all prior versions of the form will no longer be accepted. Anyone using an out of date Form after 1/22/17 will be subject to substantial fines as we reported in a prior blawg. In addition to modified fields and requirements, the proposed Form I-9 changes are expected to include many “smart” features for when the form is completed electronically. These include:
Safeguards on certain fields to ensure information is entered correctly
Drop-down lists
Embedded instructions
Easy-access buttons that allow users to access the instructions, print the form, and clear the form
A barcode that can be used to streamline audit processes
These “smart” features are designed to aid employers in completing the Form I-9. However, they can also create additional complications. Companies without electronic I-9 processes in place that are simply using the updated PDF version of Form I-9 must be mindful of which sections they are completing. Working with an employee to complete Section 1 on your computer creates a need for completing the Preparer Section of Form I-9. Additionally, companies considering switching to electronic Form I-9 completion need to be aware of the specific rules of use.
Once the revised Form I-9 is released, employers are encouraged to seek training on its proper completion. I-9 Audits are predicted to increase next year to ensure employers are using the new form as mandated. Non-compliant companies can expect hefty fines due to the August 1st U.S. Department of Justice fee increase, which was previously discussed in our August 23rd blawg post.
GoffWilson offers I-9 training in public and private settings several times throughout the year. Upcoming sessions are scheduled for January 12, 2017 in Concord, NH and January 26, 2017 in Burlington, MA. Contact our office today to sign up or for more information! Also stay tuned to our bLAWg for more updates on the new Form I-9 once it is released. I-9 Compliance and keeping your company up to date is what we do!

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