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On December 7, 2009, the Department of Homeland Security published its semi-annual regulatory agenda for regulations selected to be reviewed or developed over the next twelve months. Included in the agenda are the following significant regulatory items, as well as their expected dates of completion.
First, in February 2010, U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) plans to issue a final rule on the electronic signature and storage of Form I-9. The final rule will respond to comments and make minor changes to the interim final rule published June 15, 2006. The rule permits employers to complete, sign and store Forms I-9 electronically and also allows employers to scan and store existing Forms I-9 if certain standards are met.
Second, in March 2010, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend the regulations regarding the processing of nonimmigrant visa petitions subject to numerical limitations. Initially, the program would be used solely for H-1B visa petitions.
Currently, USCIS uses a random selection process to select employers for a limited number of H-1B visa slots. Employers must prepare and file complete H-1B visa petitions before knowing whether they fall within the numerical cap for the visa slots. Under the proposed rule, employers electronically register for consideration of available H-1B slots and find out whether they’ve been selected to participate in the H-1B program before preparing and filing H-1B petitions. The proposed registration process would thus alleviate administrative burdens on USCIS in processing excessive applications, and it would also alleviate the cost and burden to employers in preparing and submitting H-1B petitions before knowing whether they are within the numerical cap.