• U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced a new filing option for Canadian North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) TN status applicants. As of October 1, 2012, the USCIS processing centers have started accepting Form I-129 Petitions for Nonimmigrant Worker filed on behalf of Canadian citizens seeking TN status classification.. This is a departure from the prior practice permitting original TN applications for Canadian citizens to be filed at the U.S. border only (i.e., outside the country). Under the new approach, Canadian nationals and their U.S. employers are able to choose between filing TN applications at the border or with the USCIS's offices within the United States. The latter route would provide TN applicants with an approval notice for their TN proceedings before they travel to the U.S. and "activate" that status at the border, while border applications that bypass the USCIS petition processing would continue to require border officer adjudication "on the spot," as the applicant is requesting U.S. entry. Specific TN application situations require case-by-case analysis and we recommend a thorough discussion of the two application filing options with your immigration counsel, as part of immigration planning for your Canadian national employees.
  • The USCIS has accepted approximately 100,000 Employment Authorization Document applications under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. A small number of applicants have already received their DACA-based EAD cards and are applying for U.S. jobs or updating their current employers with documentation on their new temporary work authorized status in the U.S. Importantly, employers of DACA beneficiaries must comply with all of the usual employment eligibility requirements and should remember to complete Forms I-9 for DACA workers and establish appropriate timelines for employment eligibility re-verification as required by the I-9 regulations. As a reminder, an EAD application filing under DACA (or any other immigration category) does not in and of itself provide a foreign national with work authorization in the U.S. Rather, the employer must ensure that the worker presents acceptable I-9 documentation at the time of hire and any subsequent re-verifications.