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USCIS issues interim final rule revising definition of “Specialty Occupation.”

DHS issued an Interim Final Rule (IFR) regarding the H-1B visa program. The rule now restricts the program in several ways, including revising the definition of H-1B specialty occupation to include the requirement of a specific relationship between the required degree field and the duties of the offered position, and restores the requirement that employers provide contracts, work orders, itineraries or similar evidence to prove employer-employee relationship when sending H-1B workers to third party worksites. While this requirement was defeated in federal court, the rule restores the requirement. The IFR takes effect December 7, 2020.

BIA Rules on Expert Witness Testimony

Sustaining DHS’s appeal in part and remanding the record to the immigration judge, the BIA ruled that in assessing whether to admit expert witness testimony, an immigration judge should consider whether it is sufficiently relevant and reliable and, if it is admitted, how much weight it should receive and how probative and persuasive it is.

President Trump announced he will nominate acting DHS Secretary Wolf to the permanent position.

On Tuesday, President Trump said he would be nominating current acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf to the position permanently. This announcement comes after the Government Accountability Office found that Wolf’s appointment to the position of acting secretary failed to follow federal law.

Supreme Court Rules Asylum Seekers Cannot Seek Federal Court Review of Expedited Removal Orders

In Department of Homeland Security v. Thuraissigiam, the U.S. Supreme Court held that restrictions on the ability of asylum seekers to obtain review of expedited removal orders under a federal habeas statute do not violate the Constitution’s suspension clause or due process clause

A federal appeals court has allowed a fast-track deportation policy to continue.

Last year, the Trump administration attempted to expand expedited removal to any alleged undocumented immigrant who had been present in the U.S. for less than two years. On June 23, the D.C. Circuit overturned an injunction that had blocked the policy from being implemented. This means that the Trump administration may go forward with the policy and bypass immigration judges for many deportation cases. Part of the court’s reasoning was that the policy was not covered by the Administrative Procedure Act and therefore the DHS secretary had sole discretion in this area.

USCIS Publishes Final Rule on Employment Authorization for Asylum Applicants

Today, USCIS published a final rule making multiple changes to the regulations governing asylum applications and eligibility for employment authorization based on a pending asylum application. The rule is effective on August 25, 2020. On the Immigration Impact blog, the American Immigration Council’s Aaron Reichlin-Melnick writes that the rule “will strip most asylum seekers of the right to seek work authorization” and that, in response to concerns that the rule would force many into desperate straits, DHS suggested that asylum seekers become familiar with state homelessness resources.

An “internal disconnect” led to confusion about court dates at the border.

DHS recently sent out conflicting information on how asylum seekers in Mexico would receive new immigration court dates. First, DHS told asylum seekers to come to a port of entry one month after their originally scheduled court date in order to receive a new hearing date. A week later, DHS sent a notice out telling some asylum seekers to report on their original court date to receive a new date. Later, DHS clarified that the first instruction was the correct one. The DHS official who sent out the conflicting information said that it was due to an “unintentional internal disconnect” within DHS.

A government watchdog reported that DHS underestimated family separations.

According to a new Inspector General report published on June 2, DHS reported only a fraction of the families who were separated at the border by CBP. The government watchdog found that at least 60 families were separated in May-June 2018, when DHS had reported only 7. These separations occurred at the height of the Trump administration’s now-ended “zero tolerance” policy. CBP took issue with the report’s suggestion that CBP separated families without regard to their health, safety, and reunification.

21 House Republicans penned a letter supporting a work program for graduate students

21 Republicans in the House of Representatives sent a letter this week to DHS and the Secretary of State. In that letter, they argued that Optional Practical Training (OPT) should stay “fully intact” so that the U.S. continues to be “an attractive destination for international students.” Optional Practical Training, which has been a particular target of the Trump administration, allows graduate students to work and get practical training in the U.S. after graduation.

An “internal disconnect” led to confusion about court dates at the border.

DHS recently sent out conflicting information on how asylum seekers in Mexico would receive new immigration court dates. First, DHS told asylum seekers to come to a port of entry one month after their originally scheduled court date in order to receive a new hearing date. A week later, DHS sent a notice out telling some asylum seekers to report on their original court date to receive a new date. Later, DHS clarified that the first instruction was the correct one. The DHS official who sent out the conflicting information said that it was due to an “unintentional internal disconnect” within DHS

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