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. While the situation seems to change from a day to the next as far as Executive Orders and Proclamations that affect immigration, 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.

The most important information in the State Department’s update is 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

Since 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, to determined 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

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. 

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.

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 that 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.

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, and 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).

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.