From the Executive Director - March 2016

3/10/2016

Making the Most of 2016

The snow has melted, the sun is shining and the weather is getting warmer – and CFGI has wasted no time "springing" into action this year. Despite the uncertainty of the U.S. presidential campaign, 2016 has gotten off to a busy and productive start for us, and we are proud to share some recent successes.

As many of you may know, the DHS Known Employer pilot, based on ideas long advocated by CFGI, was announced publicly last week. I initially testified in support of this program before my now-college-bound high school senior was one year old.

While the name of the program has changed over the years, from "pre-certified" to "trusted" to "known," the concept has remained the same – allow reliable employers to pre-certify their applications for routine visas, slashing redundant paperwork and saving money and time. CFGI has advocated for it globally, as well as nationally, and other countries are already experimenting with versions of it.

The new pilot will test DHS's ability to trim costs and process visas faster – up to nine employers will participate in the pilot and five employers have already confirmed participation. The launch has even garnered media attention; Bloomberg interviewed members of our team to provide expert opinion on the program.

We're going to keep a close eye on the pilot to make sure it delivers for employers and is expanded to a full program that works.

We have also made progress on the STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) rule, which has been a source of great concern to our members and their employees. CFGI received an advance copy of the long-awaited final rule, which will be published in the Federal Register on March 11, 2016. It will go into effect on May 10, 2016.

With the help of a dedicated working group, CFGI submitted comments on the proposed rule in November. Many of our recommendations pertaining to STEM fields, site visits and the training plan have been incorporated into to the final rule. While this rule is welcome news, it will present more work for employers and universities. We are preparing a variety of summaries, webinars and tools to help you comply with these new requirements.

In the world of immigration, as you know, progress comes slowly. That is why it is so important to note the "wins" surrounding the DHS Known Employer pilot launch and STEM OPT rule. These are examples of what CFGI – and you – can accomplish by working persistently and with focus over time. We would not achieve any of this progress without the fresh ideas and strong support of our members.

This year's CFGI Symposium, held from June 18-22 in Washington, DC, will be a great opportunity to make your voice heard. The theme of Symposium 2016 is Empower. You – our members – empower us to do the work we do. And we work hard to empower you to do your jobs better and influence immigration policy for the better. At Symposium you will be able to empower yourself by obtaining the information, techniques and tools you need to stay compliant and access global talent.

We are particularly excited that this year's Symposium will take place at the same time as SHRM's annual conference, giving us a unique opportunity to provide you with access to world-class speakers and entertainment, as well as an exhibit hall that rivals Istanbul's Grand Bazaar. This rare combination of our traditional intimate sessions exclusively for immigration professionals and SHRM's inimitable annual conference is not to be missed!

If all of this hasn't convinced you, let me tell you what else we anticipate in June: the Supreme Court is scheduled to decide the status of President Obama's executive actions on immigration, the UK will decide whether to leave the European Union (leaving free movement in doubt) and immigration will continue to be a hot topic in elections around the globe. 2016 is an unprecedented year – and Symposium will be a great time to share our insights and make sure we are ready for whatever lies ahead.

I hope you will make plans to join us as we do all we can to make 2016 a banner year.

Sincerely,

Lynn Shotwell
Executive Director​