- Are the principal beneficiaries of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker;
- or Have been granted H-1B status under sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000, as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act. The Act permits H-1B nonimmigrants seeking lawful permanent residence to work and remain in the United States beyond the six-year limit on their H-1B status.
- creating a single administrative tribunal for all immigration appeals, to harmonize and reconcile the “crazy quilt” of immigration legal interpretations issued by various administrative tribunals;
- expanding access to legal counsel whenever an individual is interviewed by federal immigration authorities;
- eliminating the systemic penalties and consequences of regulations that chill the right of administrative and judicial appeal;
- adopting an expansive definition of immigration successorship in interest;
- creating an agency to support and protect the economic benefits of immigration within the Department of Commerce or another cabinet department;
- creating explicit immigration protections and benefits for small businesses;
- establishing an IRS-style “private-letter-ruling” procedure for immigration stakeholders;
- developing a streamlined, fast-track process for immigration guidance; and
- deferring I-9 and IRCA enforcement when employees intend to file for DACA or DAPA.
The decision in this case is available at https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_6gbFPjVDoxSmF1NjdHVGhoOExwTFRHU1V2UkpiVlk2Sldv/edit?pli=1.
- ABIL Global: Belgium
Several developments have been announced.
2015 salary thresholds and requirements. Belgium has established 2015 salary thresholds for fast-track work permits B and the European Union (EU) Blue Card. One of the requirements for some Belgian fast-track work permits B and for the Blue Card is a salary threshold: the annual gross remuneration must exceed an amount that is adjusted on a yearly basis. Work permits are processed by the Belgian Regions: Flanders, Brussels, and Wallonia.
The new salary thresholds effective January 1, 2015, are:
- for highly skilled work permits: €39,802 in all 3 Regions (€39,422 for 2014);
- for executive level work permits: €66,406 in Flanders and €66,405 in Brussels and Wallonia (€65,771 for 2014);
- for Blue Cards: €51,466 in all three Regions (€50,974 for 2014).
Wallonia and Brussels have adopted legislation confirming that the salary must be paid in exchange for labor, and that the salary amount must be certain/fixed before the start of the employment in Belgium. Flanders applies the same rule.
The ministries issue a fast-track work permit B for highly skilled labor only if it is clear that the employee’s salary will exceed the threshold. The ministries take into account only amounts that will definitely be paid. A discretionary bonus cannot be considered when processing a work permit application.
Mandatory fee for some residence requests. The Belgian federal government has introduced a mandatory “contribution to the administrative costs” (mostly referred to in the press as a “foreigners’ tax”) with regard to some requests for residence authorization by foreigners. The government said this measure is in response to the continuing increase in the number of such applications and the resulting workload.
The federal government agreed to this measure on November 27, 2014. A government bill, also including several other measures, was filed in the Belgian Parliament on November 28, 2014, and the law was approved on December 19, 2014. Before the fee can become effective, it must be implemented by means of a Royal Decree. The fee will probably amount to €215 for work permit holders and €160 for family members.
Most foreigners will need to pay the fixed amount to file an application for residence authorization, either in Belgium or abroad through a Belgian embassy or consulate. If the fee is not paid, the application will be considered inadmissible. The fee will be paid by, among others, work permit holders and their family members; students; some researchers; and Blue Card applicants.
Members of the European Economic Area, Swiss citizens and their family members, asylum seekers and recognized refugees, victims of human trafficking, and unaccompanied minors will be exempt from the new fee.
- Firm In the News
Cyrus Mehta (bio: http://www.abil.com/lawyers/lawyers-mehta.cfm) has had several recent speaking engagements:
- Speaker, “Immigration Executive Action and LGBT Americans/South Asians—What’s Good, What’s Left Out, And Our Next Steps,” National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, New York City, February 12, 2015.
- Plenary Session—”Overview of Recent Developments in Immigration Law” and Discussion Leader, “Life With No H-1B Visa,” 36th Annual Immigration Law Update South Beach, American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) South Florida Chapter, February 5 and 6, 2015.
- Speaker, “Discussion of Ethics and President Obama’s Immigration Accountability Executive Action,” Ethics 101 CLE, AILA-New York Chapter, January 21, 2015.
Mr. Mehta was interviewed on BBC World News about President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. The video is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yD0spRisCl8&feature=youtu.be.
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