USCIS published a final rule adopting an interim rule to improve the Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9) process. After receiving approximately 75 comments in response to the interim rule, which has been in effect since April 3, 2009, USCIS made no changes in the final rule.
The rule prohibits employers from accepting expired documents, revises the list of acceptable documents by removing outdated documents and making technical amendments; and adds documentation applicable to certain citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
The final rule is effective on May 16, 2011. Employers may continue to use the current version of the Form I-9 (Rev. 08/07/2009) or the previous version (Rev. 02/02/2009). The Final Rule is summarized at page 743 of this issue and reprinted at Appendix A.
DOL Charges Public School System with H-1B Program Violations
On April 4, 2011, The Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division announced that it had found Maryland's Prince George's County Public Schools system in willful violation of the H-1B program laws. Investigators found that the school system illegally reduced the wages of 1,044 foreign teachers hired under the program by requiring the teachers to pay fees, such as attorney's fees and the $500 Fraud Prevention and Detection fee that should have been covered by the school system. The foreign teachers in aggregate paid a total of $4,224,146 in fees. Due to the "willful nature" of some of the violations, the school system has been assessed $1.7 million in civil penalties and may be debarred from filing new petitions on top of the $4.2 million in back wages owed the teachers. The news release may be found at www.dol.gov/ > Newsroom > News Releases >Current News Releases.
It was reported that DOL and school officials had been working on a settlement for the past six months; the sticking point being the label of "willful violator" (Robert Samuels, Federal investigation: Pr. George's owes foreign teachers millions, Washington Post, April 4, 2011, available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/federal-investigation-pr-georges-owes-foreign-teachers-millions/2011/04/04/AFucbodC_story.html.) It was subsequently reported that the school district relied upon a recruiting agency and that the processing fees were "folded" into the agency's services. (Robert Samuels, Prince George's schools suspend foreign hiring after being fined, Washington Post, April 5, 2011, available at http://www.washington post.com/local/education/federal-investigation-pr-georges-owes-foreign-teachers-millions/2011/04/04/ AFucbodC_story.html).
BITS AND PIECES
USCIS - USCIS announced on April 8 that it continues to accept H-1B nonimmigrant petitions that are subject to the fiscal year 2012 cap; it began accepting petitions on April 1. USCIS received only 5,900 H-1B petitions counting toward the 65,000 cap and 4,500 petitions toward the 20,000 cap exemptions for individuals with advanced degrees during those eight days.
DOS - The official opening of the El Paso Passport Agency took place on April 8. The agency is located at 303 N. Oregon Street in El Paso. The new location alleviates the need for local residents to travel to the Houston Passport Agency, 750 miles away, or the Western Passport Center in Tucson, 300 miles away. The State Department has opened passport agencies in San Diego, St. Albans, VT, and Buffalo, NY, and added public counters at existing passport centers in Portsmouth, NH, and Hot Springs, AR, in recent months. A passport agency will open in Atlanta in May.
DOS -- On April 8, 2011, the Department of State announced the availability of the 2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. The reports may be found at http://www.state.gov/ > Democracy and Global Affairs > Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor > Human Rights > Country Reports > 2011.
EOIR - EOIR announced the publication of a new ethics and professionalism guide for immigration judges. EOIR worked with the National Association of Immigration Judges to develop the content of the guide. The guide addresses issues such as judicial temperament, ex parte communications, and professional competence. It will ultimately be a part of the revised EOIR Ethics Manual. The guide is now available at: http:www.justice.gov/eoir/sibpages/IJConduct/EthicsandProfessionalismGuideforIJs.pdf.
DHS - While the 2010 Statistical Yearbook is not anticipated until August 2011, the 2010 data tables for Legal Permanent Residents and Naturalizations are available on the DHS website, http://www.dhs.gov/index.shtm > Immigration > Immigration Statistics > Yearbook of Immigration Statistics > 2010 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics.
[This is an excerpt from the May 1, 2011, issue of Bender's Immigration Bulletin.]
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