Extension for Medical Examination and Vaccination Record

One of the documents required for immigration benefits is Form I-693. Normally, the validity of this form, once filled, is two years. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both applicants and USCIS has been experiencing unforeseen delays in obtaining/processing this indispensable form.

As a consequence, USCIS has issued a Policy Alert stipulating that applicants with an expired 1-693 may now benefit from an additional two years extension for the validity of this form. As such, if an applicant has received an RFE (Request for Evidence) from the USCIS because their I-693 had expired after two years, but it is valid under the temporary extension to four years and they meet the requirements, the response needs to cite this policy alert.  

We strongly recommend that you consult the updated instructions for Form I-693 in order to determine that the new rules apply to you.

Immigration Tools at Your Fingertips: Downloadable Guides You Can Use Today!

Thanks to our membership in AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association), we can now provide you with some useful tools in the form of some very useful brochures that you can save and have at your fingertips whenever you feel uncertain about the path you might need to take in your immigration journey. If your immigration case belongs to one of the three categories below, you can download the appropriate brochure from its respective link. Stay tuned as we will keep updating our web site and Facebook page with new information regularly. As always, should you need specific answers to more specific questions, feel free to call us or use the chat app on this web site to get in touch with us right away.

  1. Investment Visas and Investment Risk: Must investments be put at risk to get an investment visa?
    Download the pdf guide now
  2. Green Card Processing Delays: after enduring the COVID-19 pandemic for over a year, most U.S. embassies and consulates are not operating at full capacity. Find out how DOJ is prioritizing immigration applications and interviews. Download the pdf guide now.
  3. The Non-Immigrant Visa Waiver Process: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, certain non-immigrant applications have been subject to an interview waiver. This interview waiver process has been implemented more broadly at consular posts around the world and the requirements to qualify have been expanded. The brochure below will help familiarize you with the process. Download the pdf guide now.

Practice Alert: U.S. Citizens May Return to the U.S. on Expired Passports

AILA provides a practice alert on announcements by CBP and DOS that, beginning May 21, 2021, U.S. citizens will be able to return to the United States on an expired U.S. passport through December 31, 2021, if the traveler meets certain requirements. For a quick reference with sample materials and practical advice on legal issues related to citizenship and naturalization, order the downloadable AILA’s U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Law Toolbox

Returning to the US as a Citizen or Permanent Resident: Post Covid -19 Restrictions Checklist

Returning to the US after Covid restrictions

Checklists are always a most useful tool. Having assisted thousands of individuals in their immigration matters, I believe it is important to have a clear understanding of any potential pitfalls prior to traveling.  Here are some of items we cover in our office in our client preparation which I would like to share:

What are the major considerations and steps for U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents to US reestablish domicile and return to the US with their non-citizen family after Covid-19 travel restrictions have ended?

Planning is essential should you wish to file for family members to join you in the U.S. or travel back to the U.S. now that some of the travel restrictions have been lifted following Covid-19.  There will likely be tax considerations and other financial issues to resolve and clarify. Therefore, it is an excellent idea to think it all through and use a checklist such as the one below to gather your documents and evaluate the best approach to your personal situation.

A. First Step – Establish U.S. Domicile

1.​ The affidavit of support which is filed on behalf of the non-citizen wishing to immigrate to the U.S.   must be from the petitioning relative whether or not that Petitioner has US income or assets. The affiant must be domiciled in the U.S.for tax purposes.

2.​ If the Petitioner is domiciled abroad wishes to take up U.S. residence again they by taking steps to move there beginning with finding U.S. employment.

3. The Petitioner should locate a place to live.

4.​ The Petitioner can register any children in school.

5.​ The Petitioner should make arrangements to relinquish residence in the foreign country.

6.​ The Petitioner may enter the U.S. at the same time as the non-citizen with the intent to establish a US principal can establish domicile.

B. Second Step – Financial and Tax Analysis to Determine Household Size and Income Requirements for the Petitioner – the 125% guideline is determined based on household size. 

1.​ Count the number of people to be considered in the household size.  The household size includes sponsor, sponsor’s spouse, and sponsor’s children unless they are at least 18 and were not claimed as dependents.

2.​ Review tax returns of the Petitioner for last 3 years to determine whether they meet the 125% measurement.

3.​ Consult with a tax professional if Petitioner has not filed taxes during the last three years and bring any taxes up to date in accordance with the requirements.

4.​ If Petitioner’s income is not sufficient, they can provide evidence of other readily available assets to determinesufficiency of assets using:

a. Bank Statements for the last 12 months or statement from bank/financial officer

b. Stocks, bonds and cds with dates acquired

c. Other personal property

d. Real estate, including assets and income of other household members, may be provided

(Note- assets calculation formula – Formula for assets is as follows – asset value less offsetting liabilities must exceed the federal poverty guideline for the household number minus sponsor’s household income by at least 5 times. If the intending immigrant is the spouse or child of a USC (child over 18), the adjudicator may use 3 times the guidelines, rather than 5.)

C. Third Step – Determine Family Members’ Eligibility for Permanent Residence in the U.S.

1. Is the non-citizen an immediate relative of the U.S.C. For example, spouse, parent or child under 21?  If so, the application can be fast tracked.

2. Is the non-citizen an adult child or sibling of the U.S.C.?  If so, the Visa Bulletin should be consulted to determine visa availability and processing time.

3. Should the petition for the non-citizen be filed while the Petitioner still abroad?

4. What is the expected timing?

As always, since everyone’s case is different, we are here to assist you with your particular situation. Feel free to use our contact form HERE and provide us with more information (kept confidential) about your specific circumstances, along with your more personalized questions.

Photo credit: “airplane” by Kuster & Wildhaber Photography is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Venezuela Gets Temporary Protected Status for 18 Months

“The living conditions in Venezuela reveal a country in turmoil, unable to protect its own citizens.”
“It is in times of extraordinary and temporary circumstances like these that the United States steps forward to support eligible Venezuelan nationals already present here, while their home country seeks to right itself out of the current crises.”

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas
Photo Credit: “Venezuela refugee women volunteering at Comedor Fundación Nueva Vida Cúcuta” by Cristal Montanez Venezuela is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

WASHINGTON—Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas is designating Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, until September 2022.

Accoding to dhs.gov web site, “this new designation of TPS for Venezuela enables Venezuelan nationals (and individuals without nationality who last resided in Venezuela) currently residing in the United States to file initial applications for TPS, so long as they meet eligibility requirements.”

Only individuals who can demonstrate continuous residence in the United States as of March 8, 2021 are eligible for TPS under Venezuela’s designation.

Eligible individuals will need to apply within 180 days for TPS (Temporary Protected Status) with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Full details HERE

Warning! Do Not Fall for Immigration “Help” Schemes. The Work Is Just Beginning!

As we have been informing you, since Day One of his swearing in, President Biden proposed a new immigration law and signed the first Executive Orders aimed at improving the life of our immigrant population, and streamlining a new, secure path to integrating those currently out of legal status into our society the right way, the legal and humane way.

Relief is expected to come to many individuals in the United States without permission. While this is great news, it is important to understand that nothing is about to happen over night, and in all likeliness, when it will be fully implemented, it will still apply only to people meeting certain criteria.

Beware!

Keep in mind that an Executive order can only go so far. Only Congress can change the law. So, in the coming weeks and months, despite what you might start hearing on some media channels or online, please remember that the President cannot change the law, although he can surely set the tone and establish the direction of the new policies.

Beware of people or firms that ask for any advance payments to “pre-register” you for any immigration relief service they may provide or help facilitate for you “in the future” based on the anticipated reforms. These are unscrupulous and illegal entities!

Stay Alert!

  • Learn to discern between rumors and news. Trust only mainstream news organizations, and inform yourself from what is clearly presented as news, and not commentary or “analysis” that mentions no facts or specific legislation.that report the news, not speculation.
  • Be prepared with your own paperwork. Keep track and safeguard documents that demonstrate your presence in the United States, such as bills, receipts or accounts of any kind with your name and with dates on them. Any immigration reform that might happen is likely to require from an applicant to prove that they were present in the US for a certain period of time before a specific date it is likely that you will have to prove that you have been living in the United States before a certain date.
  • Respect the law! Regardless of your legal immigration status, you still live in a community that abides by local, state and federal laws. It is in your best interest to observe and respect those laws, so that you will have as little trouble as possible to adjust your status when the time comes. Past mistakes might end up preventing you from being approved, despite the potential offered by new immigration legislation. The best way to avoid their consequences is to not make them in the first place! Also keep in mind that until a new law with new requirements is in place, the existing law is still valid, and people can still end up deported.
  • Be very mindful of individuals who might work for legally established law firms or government agencies, but will take it upon themselves for their own gain to “help” you solve your case and “guarantee” results! This is not only morally wrong, it is also illegal!

As positive as the news from the new White House has started to look, it is important to understand that the work has just begun on overhauling an entire immigration system. Your best course of action is to stay informed from the right sources and when the time for action comes, rely only on a qualified and experienced immigration lawyer to help you see the process through successfully!

Our firm has been representing clients successfully for over three decades. Leslie Snyder, P.A. is a highly respected attorney with experience in various aspects of the immigration law, an ally you will be only happy to have on your side to win the battle, no matter how hard and tedious it might get.

H-1B Registration Period Opens on March 9

USCIS announced that the initial registration period for the fiscal year (FY) 2022 H-1B cap will open at noon Eastern on March 9 and run through noon Eastern on March 25. During this period, prospective petitioners and representatives will be able to fill out petitioner and beneficiary information and submit their registrations.

A confirmation number will be assigned to each registration submitted for the FY 2022 H-1B cap. This number is used solely to track registrations; you cannot use this number to track your case status in Case Status Online.

Prospective H-1B cap-subject petitioners or their representatives are required to use a myUSCIS online account to register each beneficiary electronically for the selection process and pay the associated $10 H-1B registration fee for each registration submitted on behalf of each beneficiary. Prospective petitioners submitting their own registrations (U.S. employers and U.S. agents, collectively known as “registrants”) will use a “registrant” account that will be available soon. Representatives may add clients to their accounts at any time, but both representatives and registrants must wait until March 9 to enter beneficiary information and submit the $10 fee. Prospective petitioners or their representatives will be able to submit registrations for multiple beneficiaries in a single online session. Through the account, they will be able to prepare, edit, and store draft registrations prior to final payment and submission of each registration.

If we receive enough registrations by March 25, we will randomly select registrations and send selection notifications via users’ myUSCIS online accounts. We intend to notify account holders by March 31.

An H-1B cap-subject petition may only be filed by a petitioner whose registration for that beneficiary was selected in the H-1B registration process.

We will conduct public engagements and other outreach activities to ensure that representatives and registrants are familiar with the electronic registration process. 

Additional information, step-by-step registration instructions, and helpful videos are available on the H-1B Electronic Registration Process page.

Results Notifications

On March 31, USCIS will begin notifying employers as to which workers were selected in the lottery. For each person chosen in the lottery, USCIS will provide their employer with a selection notice.  If the person is selected in the H-1B lottery, the notice must be printed by the employer and submitted together with the person’s H-1B petition.

A registrant’s USCIS online account will show one of the following statuses for each registration:

• Submitted: The registration has been submitted and is eligible for selection. If the initial selection process has been completed, this registration remains eligible, unless subsequently invalidated, for selection in any subsequent selections for the fiscal year for which it was submitted.

• Selected: Selected to file an H-1B cap petition.

• Not Selected: Not selected – not eligible to file an H-1B cap petition based on this registration.

• Denied: Multiple registrations were submitted by or on behalf of the same registrant for the same beneficiary. If denied as a duplicate registration, all registrations submitted by or on behalf of the same registrant for this beneficiary for the fiscal year are invalid.

• Invalidated-Failed Payment: A registration was submitted but the payment method was declined, not reconciled, or otherwise invalid.

H-1B Selection Process Rule Effective Date Delay

USCIS has also announced that DHS is delaying the effective date of the H-1B Selection Process final rule until Dec. 31, 2021. USCIS will apply the regulations currently in place (random selection) to the initial registration period, and, any subsequent registration period for the FY 2022 registration process that takes place before Dec. 31, 2021.

Additional information is available in the Federal Register notice

Restoring Faith in Our Immigration System

The title says it all! It is the new Executive order signed today by President Biden, at the White House.

Long awaited and certainly long overdue, this certainly sets a new tone in US immigration policy:

The Federal Government should develop welcoming strategies that promote integration, inclusion, and citizenship, and it should embrace the full participation of the newest Americans in our democracy.

Full text of Executive Order Here

This is actually the third in a series of Orders signed by the President today, aimed at setting US Immigration policy onto a new course, changing the path for the better.

The first order, is the reestablishment of an Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families.

“It removes the stain on our reputation for what these separations caused.” – President Biden declared.

The second order is “Executive Order on Creating a Comprehensive Regional Framework to Address the Causes of Migration, to Manage Migration Throughout North and Central America, and to Provide Safe and Orderly Processing of Asylum Seekers at the United States Border”.

It is obvious that there are real changes coming, and many questions will surely arise. As always, we are here to help answer them and provide the best help possible for theparticular needs of our clients. Do not hesitate to contact us no matter what those questions might be. A brief description of your particular situation will help us prepare the answers most appropriate for you. You can send it to us HERE

President-Elect Joe Biden to Propose 8-Year Citizenship Path

The signs are promising for our clients!

As the new President is getting sworn in, America’s immigrants have a new hope to a more decisive plan of action for their full integration into the American society. Among the many sweeping reforms President Biden will present, an eight-year path to citizenship for all immigrants will be unveiled, The Times reports.

Under the legislation, those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfill other basic requirements. From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalization, if they decide to pursue citizenship.

https://time.com/5930687/us-immigrants-citizenship/

Check back often on our web site for updates on the upcoming news!

Photo credit: “Vice President Joseph Biden 6” by West Point – The U.S. Military Academy is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Do Not Let Your International Travel Jeopardize Your Immigration Status

If you are scheduled to travel to the US, please be advised that yesterday the CDC issued an Order requiring all air passengers arriving to the US from a foreign country to get tested no more than 3 days before their flight! You will need to provide proof of the negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the airline before boarding the flight. This Order will go into effect on January 26, 2021.

Important! Remember!

If you or someone you know are travelling internationally, and are awaiting your final interview at USCIS, please remember that you will not be able to enter a USCIS field office without first having been in the U.S. for a minimum of 14 days!

USCIS field offices are automatically cancelling scheduled any final interview for anyone who has been outside the U.S. within 14 days prior to it.

USCIS is using its own information to track if you have been outside of the U.S. We caution you to schedule your international travel accordingly.

As always, we are here to help. If you have any questions or need assistance with any of these new developments, please do not hesitate to contact us.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/testing-international-air-travelers.html

Image credit: “A Trio of Surgical Masks” by Wootang01 is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Update – Citizenship Changes

USCIS News
Applicants for naturalization filing after December 1, 2020 will be required to take the 2020 version of the civics test. They will need to study 128 questions about American government and history. 

The naturalization test has two parts: an English and civics test. The English portion has not changed. In fact, the officer will read through your application with you in the office to confirm that all of your answers are correct and that there have been no changes since you filed.  You have the opportunity to add and correct information at the interview.

With the 2020 version of the civics test, the USCIS officer will ask you to answer 20 out of the 128 civics test questions which can be viewed here:  https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/crc/128%20Civics%20Questions%20and%20Answers%20(2020%20version).pdf in English.  There is even an audio version!  https://www.uscis.gov/citizenship-resource-center/the-2020-version-of-the-civics-test/128-civics-questions-and-answers-with-mp3-audio-2020-version.  You must answer at least 12 questions correctly to pass the 2020 version of the civics test. All questions on the test are asked orally.

There are no changes to the English portion of the naturalization test. You must demonstrate an understanding of the English language, including the ability to read, write, and speak basic English.  

As always, should you need assistance with your immigration matter, we are only one phone call away! You can also chat with an assistant 24/7 by using the chat icon on the bottom-right of the page.

Or you can leave us a longer message if you wish, on our Contact page

Dramatic Reversal on DACA

A federal judge has reversed the Trump administration’s restrictive rule on the DACA program. This Obama administration legislation protected undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children from deportation.

“#DACA for #Dreamers Unidos soñamos #dreamact #cir #immigrationreform #cirnow #immigration” by Steve Rhodes is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

According to N.P.R., yesterday “Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn instructed the Department of Homeland Security to begin accepting new applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program as soon as Monday”

Court documents state that DHS has until Monday to post a public notice “displayed prominently on its website and on the websites of all other relevant agencies, that it is accepting first-time requests for consideration of deferred action under DACA.”

Approximately 640,000 undocumented young immigrants are protected under DACA. As of this July, due to restrictions imposed by the Trump administration on this Obama-era program, about 300,000 young people from other countries living in the U.S. were ready to apply This new decision effectively green lights the process for them.

Read more about this at NPR’s web site.

USCIS Announces a Revised Naturalization Civics Test

WASHINGTON — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced today plans to implement a revised version of the naturalization civics test. The agency first announced plans to revise the civics test in July 2019.

USCIS revised the civics test as part of a decennial update to ensure that it remains an instrument that comprehensively assesses applicants’ knowledge of American history, government and civic values.

The civics test is administered to applicants who apply for U.S. citizenship and is one of the statutory requirements for naturalizing. Applicants who apply for naturalization on or after Dec. 1, 2020, will take the updated version of the test. Those who apply before Dec. 1, 2020, will take the current version of the test.

“USCIS has diligently worked on revising the naturalization test since 2018, relying on input from experts in the field of adult education to ensure that this process is fair and transparent,” said USCIS Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow. “Naturalization allows immigrants to become fully vested members of American society, with the same rights and responsibilities as citizens by birth, and offering a fair test, which prepares naturalization applicants for these responsibilities, is of upmost importance to our agency.”

The revised test includes more questions that test the applicant’s understanding of U.S. history and civics, in line with the statutory requirements, and covers a variety of topics that provide the applicant with more opportunities to learn about the United States as part of the test preparation process. The revised test will not change the passing score, which will remain at 60%. Candidates must answer 12 questions correctly, out of 20 in order to pass.

USCIS will maintain the current guidelines for statutorily established special considerations for applicants who are 65 years old or older and have at least 20 years of lawful permanent resident status. These applicants will be asked 10 questions and must answer a minimum of six questions correctly in order to pass.

The test items and study guides can be found on the Citizenship Resource Center on the USCIS website. USCIS has also updated the USCIS Policy Manual (PDF, 323.82 KB) accordingly; see Volume 12, Part E, English and Civics Testing and Exceptions, Chapter 2, English and Civics Testing.

USCIS piloted the test with community-based organizations and volunteers across the country in summer 2020. The data collected from this pilot was used to help USCIS make determinations about the language and grammatical structure of individual test items, linguistic and cognitive weights assigned to each test item, and to identify those items appropriate for applicants who are 65 years or older, have held lawful permanent resident status for at least 20 years and are granted special consideration by statute.

Trump’s Immigration Decision Blocked by California Judge

“us visa” by bastamanography is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

“This court rejects the position that the proclamation implicates the president’s foreign affairs powers simply because it affects immigration,”

US District Judge Jeffrey White

The statement refers to the June ban on H1-B, H-2B, J and L visas, which effectively halts granting those types of visas to multi-national companies looking to hire foreign nationals, as well as investors and cultural exchange beneficiaries.

Though limited in scope, US District Judge Jeffrey White’s injunction effectively allows thousands of companies to continue counting on an influx of foreign nationals to fill positions that have suffered from a shortage of US nationals.

The ruling applies exclusively to organizations that sued the administration and challenged the June ban on the visas mentioned above: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, National Retail Federation, TechNet, a technology industry group, and Intrax Inc., which sponsors cultural exchanges.

While Judge White explicitly stated that his ruling is limited to only those organizations, he also outlined its importance, stating that it will benefit “hundreds of thousands of American businesses of all sizes from a cross-section of economic sectors,” including Microsoft Corp. and Amazon.com Inc.

The National Association of Manufacturers represents 1,400 companies that would have been directly affected by the June ban. They stated the ruling will help with “crucial, hard-to-fill jobs to support economic recovery, growth and innovation when we most need it.”

This is the second time in three days that White blocked a significant change on immigration. On Tuesday, he stopped a wave of incoming fee increases for citizenship and several other immigration benefits benefits. Those increases were due to take effect within three days from the decision.

EB-5 Regional Center Program Reauthorized Through December 11, 2020

Congress Passes Continuing Resolution Beneficial to EB-5 Investor Visa Applicants

As part of the Continuing Resolution passed on Sept. 30th, Congress has ensured continuation of the EB-5 Regional Program, which effectively means investor visa applications will suffer no lapse or delay in processing.

H.R.8337 – Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act is the bill that establishes appropriations to federal agencies and extends expiring programs that address health care, surface transportation, agriculture, veterans benefits, and other issues.

“As a job-creation program, EB-5 will continue to be an effective tool for job growth and recovery during this difficult time for our country. As an immigration tool, it will provide our clients an expeditious path to permanent residency in the United States.” – CMB Regional Centers

As always, contacting our firm to help you navigate through the uncertainty of your particular situation is also a safe bet. Our experience and expertise is sure to be one of your best allies.

Injunction Stops USCIS Immigration Fee Hike

Immigration Breaking News
Immigration Breaking News: Fee Hike Halted by US District Judge

Great news for immigration benefit applicants! Today, a US district judge in California issued a preliminary injunction that temporarily halts implementation of major fee increase for most US Immigration applications. This injunction has nationwide effect.

On August 4, 2020, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a final rule to drastically increase fees on most immigration benefit filings. These new fees were scheduled to be effective for cases postmarked on October 2, 2020 or later.

In all likeliness, USCIS these increases might still take effect. For the moment, however, immigration applicants may file cases using the current USCIS filing fee structure. We will keep you up-to-date with this and any other major development in the immigration landscape. To be sure you are promptly alerted, we recommend you bookmark our Immigration News page and come back to it often.

As always, contacting our firm to help you navigate through the uncertainty of your particular situation is also a safe bet. Our experience and expertise is sure to be one of your best allies.

Exceptions to the Presidential Travel Ban Proclamations

“Mayor Garcetti welcomes Mr. Vayeghan at LAX. He is the first person subjected to the President’s travel ban who was able to return to America as the result of a recent court order” by Mayor of Los Angeles is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Many immigrants are apprehensive about the travel bans instituted by the President at the beginning of the year. The situation seems to change from a day to the next. Executive Orders and Proclamations that affect immigration abound. There seems to be a silver lining in the otherwise clouded immigration landscape. There are exceptions to the travel ban, and the State Department updates us on those quite regularly.

The latest update advises that National Interest Exceptions to Presidential Proclamations 10014 & 10052 include, among others: certain business travelers, investors, treaty traders, academics, and students from the Schengen Area, U.K., and Ireland.

Most Important Update

What is the most important information in the State Department’s update? The one that advises concerned travelers to the US to inquire at the nearest Consulate or Embassy if they may be in one of the categories of National Interest Exception:

“Until complete resumption of routine visa services, applicants who appear to be subject to entry restrictions under P.P. 10014, P.P. 10052, and/or regional-focused Presidential Proclamations related to COVID-19 (P.P. 9984, 9992, 9993, 9996, and/ or 10041) might not be processed for a visa interview appointment unless the applicant also appears to be eligible for an exception under the applicable Proclamation(s). Applicants who are subject to any of these Proclamations, but who believe they may qualify for a national interest exception or other exception, should follow the instructions on the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate’s website regarding procedures necessary to request an emergency appointment and should provide specific details as to why they believe they may qualify for an exception.”

Travel.State.Gov

The stated motive for the travel ban was the protection of US workers, especially those in essential services. It might be helpful to consult the Homeland Security’s ADVISORY MEMORANDUM ON ENSURING ESSENTIAL CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE WORKERS ABILITY TO WORK DURING THE COVID-19 RESPONSE

We advise that you take the time to parse the detailed update on the State Department’s web site. It will help you determine whether you are possibly subject to the travel ban exceptions.

As always, contacting our firm to help you navigate through the uncertainty of your particular situation is also a safe bet. Our experience and expertise is sure to be one of your best allies.

EB-5 Investor Visas: USCIS Clarifies Guidance on Initial and Further Deployment of Investment Capital

A new USCIS policy memorandum clarifies requirements for deployment of capital for EB-5 applicants (investor visa). This establishes that the purchase of financial instruments on the secondary market will generally not satisfy such requirements. It clarifies that capital may be further deployed into any commercial activity that is consistent with the purpose of the new commercial enterprise, within its lawful bounds.

This clarification supersedes the language that allowed municipal bonds as a specific type of potentially permissible financial instrument in the context of further deployment. It also provides that further deployment must be through the same new commercial enterprise and within the geographic area of the same regional center, including any amendments to the regional center’s geographic area approved before the further deployment. 

It also explains that, based on an internal review and analysis of typical EB-5 capital deployment structures, USCIS generally considers 12 months as a reasonable amount of time to further deploy capital, but will consider evidence showing that a longer period was reasonable.

You can download the .pdf file with the entire update HERE

As always, contacting our firm to help you navigate through the uncertainty of your particular situation is also a safe bet. Our experience and expertise is sure to be one of your best allies.

Immigration News

USCIS began producing a “Security Enhanced U.S. Travel Document.” 

On Thursday, USCIS announced a new version of the U.S. travel document, which functions similarly to a passport. The document can be used by lawful permanent residents in place of Form I-327, Permit to Reenter the United States, and by refugees in place of Form I-571, Refugee Travel Document. The document can also be used instead of a passport in some cases. The enhanced security features include a redesigned booklet cover, four montages containing three images, each of notable U.S. architecture, used throughout the booklet, and a combination of first-, second- and third-level security features (overt, covert and forensic). Previous versions of the travel document are still valid until their expiration date. 

Several USCIS forms have been updated

USCIS posted updated editions of Form N-400, Application for NaturalizationForm N-470, Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes, and Form EOIR-29, Notice of Appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals from a Decision of a DHS Officer. The edition dates are 9/17/19, 9/10/19, and July 2019, respectively. For Form N-400, the 12/23/16 edition will be accepted through 12/15/19.

A new PA law will require construction employers to use E-verify

The Pennsylvania state government recently passed the “Pennsylvania Construction Industry Employer Verification Act.” Starting in October 2020, this new law prohibits construction employers from knowingly employing unauthorized employees, and requires them to use E-verify.Use of E-verify will be enforced by the Department of Labor and Industry, but also creates a rebuttable presumption in court that the employer did not knowingly employ and unauthorized person.

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled immigration status can be considered in sentencing

A man was sentenced to prison time instead of probation in part due to his immigration status. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled on Friday that when deportation is a “certainty,” considering immigration status during sentencing does not violate constitutional due process. The court affirmed the lower court decision that prison time was permissible for this reason.

The House introduced a bipartisan bill to reverse a Trump policy affecting children of some service members and federal employees abroad

In August, the Trump administration released policy guidance making it more difficult for some children born abroad to service members and government employees to attain U.S. citizenship. USCIS clarified the impact was low, but affected about 20-25 people per year. On Wednesday, members of the House Judiciary Committee introduced bipartisan legislation to undo the change and make the process for children in this situation to gain U.S. citizenship simpler. 

The Supreme Court has taken a case on the rights of asylum seekers.

 On Friday, the Supreme Court agreed to consider a case on the rights of undocumented asylum seekers to challenge their expedited removal orders. The Trump administration appealed after the 9th Circuit ruled that asylum seekers could make their claim in federal court after they are denied and ordered for expedited removal. Oral arguments in front of the Supreme Court have not yet been scheduled.

Federal authorities will gather DNA from immigrants at the border.

Attorney General Barr announced on Monday that the Department of Justice will collect DNA samples from immigrants and asylum seekers crossing the border. Under the plan, federal authorities would gather an estimated 748,000 individuals’ DNA each year. The stated purpose of the plan is to create a database of immigrants to help fight crime, and the DOJ plans to add this genetic information to the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System. Immigrant advocates have denounced the rule over privacy concerns and the lack of meaningful choice, especially for vulnerable asylum seekers. The rule was published in the Federal Register on October 22, and is now open for a 20-day comment period. 

More flights containing approved refugees have been canceled. 

Last month, many refugees preparing to be resettled in the United States were met with canceled flights when the State Department issued a moratorium on their travel until October 21. On October 18, the State Department announced the moratorium would continue until October 28. This caused already-rescheduled flights with refugees to be canceled again. This is especially concerning for some refugees who have medical exams or security checks near expiration, which was not an issue when they were originally scheduled for resettlement in September.

White House aides determined that Trump’s top DHS picks are ineligible

McAleenan’s departure left the top DHS role empty. President Trump has two top picks for DHS acting secretary: acting USCIS Director Cuccinelli and acting CBP Commissioner Morgan. However, a federal statute called the Vacancies Act limits who can be appointed to act in secretary roles without Senate confirmation. The role must go to a ranked official elsewhere in the executive branch who has already been confirmed by the Senate. The president’s advisors told the president that neither Cuccinelli nor Morgan fulfill this requirement. Either could serve as DHS Secretary if they were confirmed by the Senate, but that route is not certain to succeed. 

As always, contacting our firm to help you navigate through the uncertainty of your particular situation is also a safe bet. Our experience and expertise is sure to be one of your best allies.

New Presidential Directive Attempts to Restrict Asylum Policies

“Horrible and Foolish Loopholes”

President Trump has taken yet another step in tightening asylum policies. In a memorandum released last night, the new presidential order prevents anyone who crossed the border illegally to get a work permit, it considerably reduces the adjudication terms of asylum requests to a maximum of 180 days (it used to take years), and it imposes fees for humanitarian refugee status applicants to the United States.

These are all measures meant to address what the President has recently called “horrible and foolish loopholes” in the immigration law. Lumping the visa lottery in with “chain migration”, “catch and release”, Mr. Trump claims that people coming into the US this way are from countries that “are not giving us their finest.”

The Washington Post has a new article HERE detailing the latest presidential directive, along with a video of his assertions on immigration.

Here at Leslie I. Snyder immigration firm, we want to remind you that asylum seeking is not illegal immigration. People from countries in political turmoil run from oppression and seek asylum.

The United States recognizes the right of asylum for individuals as specified by international and federal law.

As always, contacting our firm to help you navigate through the uncertainty of your particular situation is also a safe bet. Our experience and expertise is sure to be one of your best allies.

Driver’s License for Florida Undocumented Immigrants?

Under current Florida law, in order to obtain a Driver’s License, you need to be a citizen or legal resident alien. This might change in the near future. Both the Florida Senate and House introduced last month two separate proposals. These might allow foreign passports, birth certificates, and Mexican consular cards to be used as proof of identity.

Both proposals are introduced by Democrats. The Senate bill is sponsored by Javier Rodriguez of Miami. Senator Rodriguez justifies his initiative with the following arguments: “It doesn’t matter your immigration status. If you are on the roads, you should have access to a driver’s test and the ability to get car insurance”

The House bill is co-introduced by Representative Anna Eskamani of Orlando. In a statement to Fox News channel 35 Orlando, she affirms: “I always ask the question about why not build trust with those who are already marginalized, versus pushing them farther and farther away from us. I think what this bill does is it helps to build that trust. It also helps ensure public safety.”

If any of the proposals becomes law, Florida will become the 13th state to allow undocumented immigrants to be able to obtain driver’s licenses in the US.

As always, contacting our firm to help you navigate through the uncertainty of your particular situation is also a safe bet. Our experience and expertise is sure to be one of your best allies.

Final Rule for H-1B Visa Program

Effective April 1, 2019, the H-1B Visa Program will have new amended regulations. The final rule reverses the order by which U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) selects H-1B petitions under the H-1B regular cap and the advanced degree exemption. It introduces an electronic registration requirement for petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions. The rule will be published in the Federal Register on Jan. 31, and will go into effect on April 1, though the electronic registration requirement will be suspended for the fiscal year (FY) 2020 cap season. 

From the USCIS web site:

Effective April 1, USCIS will first select H-1B petitions (or registrations, once the registration requirement is implemented) submitted on behalf of all beneficiaries, including those that may be eligible for the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will then select from the remaining eligible petitions, a number projected to reach the advanced degree exemption. Changing the order in which USCIS counts these allocations will likely increase the number of petitions for beneficiaries with a master’s or higher degree from a U.S. institution of higher education to be selected under the H-1B numerical allocations. Specifically, the change will result in an estimated increase of up to 16% (or 5,340 workers) in the number of selected petitions for H-1B beneficiaries with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education.

USCIS will begin accepting H-1B cap petitions for FY 2020 on April 1, 2019. The reverse selection order will apply to petitions filed for the FY 2020 H-1B cap season. Petitioners may file an H-1B petition no more than six months before the employment start date requested for the beneficiary. USCIS will provide H-1B cap filing instruction on uscis.gov in advance of the filing season.

Importantly, after considering public feedback, USCIS will be suspending the electronic registration requirement for the FY 2020 cap season to complete user testing and ensure the system and process are fully functional. Once implemented, the electronic registration requirement will require petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap petitions, including those that may be eligible for the advanced degree exemption, to first electronically register with USCIS during a designated registration period. Only those whose registrations are selected will be eligible to file an H-1B cap-subject petition. USCIS expects that the electronic registration requirement, once implemented, will reduce overall costs for petitioners and create a more efficient and cost-effective H-1B cap petition process for USCIS and petitioners.

Additionally, USCIS will publish a notice in the Federal Register to announce the initial implementation of the H-1B registration process in advance of the cap season in which it will implement the requirement. Prior to implementation, USCIS will conduct outreach to ensure petitioners understand how to access and use the system. Once implemented, USCIS will announce the designated electronic registration period at least 30 days in advance for each fiscal year it is required.

For more information on USCIS and our programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), Instagram (/uscis), YouTube (/uscis), Facebook (/uscis), and Linkedin (/uscis).

As always, contacting our firm to help you navigate through the uncertainty of your particular situation is also a safe bet. Our experience and expertise is sure to be one of your best allies.

It’s Official: New York State Will Aid Undocumented Students

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has confirmed he will sign into law a new measure passed by the New York State Senate. The bill offers undocumented students access to state financial aid and scholarships for higher education.

New York Democrats became a majority in the State Senate in November after a decade of being a minority. Immigration protections are now on the front of their agenda. The new bill constitutes a pro-immigrant countermeasure to President Trump’s federal immigration policies that have been seeking to undo the protections of The Dream Act, put into place by the Obama administration over ten years ago.

The provisions of the new law will include allowing undocumented residents to obtain state driver’s licenses and reducing maximum jail sentences for certain misdemeanors that could otherwise lead to deportation.

” The New York bill will affect an estimated 146,000 young people who were educated in New York public schools but have been ineligible to receive financial aid under federal and state law, according to analysis by the New York State Youth Leadership Council and N.Y.U. Law School’s Immigrant Rights Clinic. ” – notes the New York Times in an article yesterday.

Read the entire article HERE.

The Immigration Offices of Leslie I. Snyder, P.A. strive to keep our clients informed with the latest developments affecting US Immigration policies. We provide assistance on immigration issues ranging from family integration, immigrant and non-immigrant visas, business, employment, adjustment of status, citizenship.

As always, contacting our firm to help you navigate through the uncertainty of your particular situation is also a safe bet. Our experience and expertise is sure to be one of your best allies.