• DHS has published a proposed rule in the Federal Register to amend its regulations and rescind the "Safe Harbor Procedures for Employers Who Receive a No-Match Letter," set out in August 2007 and October 2008. No-match letters are issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and DHS informing an employer that information provided on certain employees does not match information in SSA's and DHS's databases. The no-match regulations were meant to provide employers with a set of "safe harbor" procedures to follow after receiving a no-match letter. The no-match regulations were never actually implemented due to ongoing litigation, and SSA has recently advised that it had not sent no-match letters to employers for several years. DHS confirmed that it would be focusing on immigration enforcement and compliance, including emphasis on its E-Verify program.
  • Effective Sept. 8, 2009, federal contractors and subcontractors are required to use the E-Verify system to confirm employment eligibility of newly-hired workers and existing employees directly working on qualifying federal contracts. E-Verify is a web-based system operated jointly by the DHS and SSA, and it allows employers to compare information provided on the Form I-9 with federal government databases to verify workers' employment eligibility. Participation in the E-Verify program, however, does not absolve the employer of the requirements to complete and properly maintain Forms I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, for every employee hired after Nov. 6, 1986. Employers should discuss E-Verify participation and obligations with their immigration counsel.
  • The USCIS has amended its Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to reflect a new form expiration date of Aug. 31, 2012. There were no other changes to the form, and while employers can continue to use the prior form dated Feb. 2, 2009, they are encouraged to begin using the newly-issued Form I-9.
  • The USCIS has proposed a rule which will recognize a U.S. nonimmigrant investor visa classification specific to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (E-2 CNMI Investor). Only those individuals who already hold a long-term investor immigration status under current CNMI laws will be eligible for the new U.S. immigration status. Eligible investors should be issued an initial 2-year status approval, with extensions available through Dec. 31, 2014.
  • Surviving spouses of U.S. citizens who died before the second anniversary of the marriage, who have not remarried, and who are residing in the United States may be eligible to file a request for deferred action. Deferred action would not confer permanent immigration status upon the individual, but may provide some temporary benefit, including tolling a period of unlawful presence in the U.S. and temporary work authorization. There are specific timelines and procedures to follow, and anyone considering this should consult with their immigration attorney without delay.