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U.S. Customs and Border Protection has recently announced that in anticipation of the migrant caravan, lane closures will begin on November 13, 2018 at the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa ports of entry.

At least three northbound vehicle lanes at San Ysidro and one lane at Otay Mesa will be closed. CBP will be installing pre-position port hardening infrastructure equipment to increase security in preparation for the arrival of the caravan.

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On November 9, 2018, the President unveiled a new executive order, this time targeting asylum seekers from Central America.

Over the last few weeks, a large caravan of immigrants from Central America, bound for the United States, has made headlines. In a recent campaign ad, the Trump administration depicted individuals forming part of the immigrant caravan as criminals and violent gang members.

The President has not shied away from commenting on the caravan. In an October tweet, when news first spread of the caravan, the President said, “In addition to stopping all payments to these countries, which seem to have almost no control over their population, I must, in the strongest of terms, ask Mexico to stop this onslaught—and if unable to do so I will call up the U.S. Military and CLOSE OUR SOUTHERN BORDER!”

Trump is now delivering on his promise. Trump has now signed an executive order to temporarily suspend the entry of certain aliens entering through the southern border.

The executive order reads:

Under this suspension, aliens entering through the southern border, even those without proper documentation, may, consistent with this proclamation, avail themselves of our asylum system, provided that they properly present themselves for inspection at a port of entry.  In anticipation of a large group of aliens arriving in the coming weeks, I am directing the Secretary of Homeland Security to commit additional resources to support our ports of entry at the southern border to assist in processing those aliens — and all others arriving at our ports of entry — as efficiently as possible.

But aliens who enter the United States unlawfully through the southern border …. will be ineligible to be granted asylum …. Those aliens may, however, still seek other forms of protection from persecution or torture.

Who does the Executive Order apply to:

Aliens who enter the United States across the international boundary between the United States and Mexico after November 9, 2018. The suspension will expire 90 days after November 9, 2018, or the date on which an agreement permits the United States to remove aliens to Mexico.

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The United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has spoken. In their unanimous opinion, a three-judge panel of judges held that the President’s decision to rescind the DACA program by way of executive order was arbitrary and capricious.

After a long and contentious hearing in the case, Regents of the University of California v. the United States Department of Homeland Security, the judges of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, were ultimately convinced that the government’s decision to rescind the DACA program, “was motivated by unconstitutional racial animus in violation of the Equal Protection component of the Fifth Amendment.”

The Court further decided to leave a preliminary injunction in place to give the district court an opportunity to consider whether the Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their Equal Protection claim against the government.

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Good News for Adjustment of Status Applicants! The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating its policy, extending the validity of Form I-693 Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, submitted along with an application for an immigration benefit (such as an I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status).

Effective November 1, 2018, Form I-693 will be valid for a maximum period of 2 years from the date of the civil surgeon’s signature on Form I-693, provided that the civil surgeon signs the medical examination 60 days before the date the applicant files an application for an underlying immigration benefit with USCIS.

Previously, Form I-693 was only valid for a period of one year from the date of the civil surgeon’s signature.

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As part of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) new plan to modernize services offered by the agency, the agency has announced that it will gradually end self-scheduling of Infopass appointments, to encourage applicants to use online information resources and other online tools that allow applicants to check the status of their case, and other information.

According to USCIS, the Detroit Field Office and five offices in the Los Angeles area will begin the gradual phaseout of Infopass services. Newark, Great Lakes, and San Francisco will be next to gradually phaseout these services during the beginning of fiscal year 2019. USCIS expects to modernize its system completely by the end of fiscal year 2019.

According to USCIS Director Francis Cissna, “Expanding this program is a significant step in our efforts to move more USCIS services and information online. It also frees up agency staff to spend more time adjudicating benefit requests which should help reduce case processing times. USCIS remains committed to pursuing the most effective and efficient ways to administer our nation’s lawful immigration system.”

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In response to a court ordered preliminary injunction, that blocked the government’s plans to end the temporary protected status (TPS) of immigrants from El Salvador, Sudan, Haiti, and Nicaragua, the government has outlined a detailed plan to comply with the judge’s order.

As previously reported, U.S. District Judge Edward Chen issued a preliminary injunction temporarily stopping the United States government from rescinding the temporary protected status designation for immigrants from Sudan, El Salvador, Haiti, and Nicaragua.

Before the preliminary injunction the TPS designations would officially terminate as follows:

  • Sudan, TPS Designation was to terminate on November 2, 2018
  • Nicaragua, TPS Designation was to terminate on January 5, 2019
  • Haiti, TPS Designation was to terminate on July 22, 2019
  • El Salvador, TPS Designation was to terminate on September 9, 2019

To comply with the court order, USCIS has notified the court that the agency will be publishing a notice in the Federal Register, announcing that the TPS designations for Sudan, Haiti, El Salvador, and Nicaragua will remain in effect as long as the preliminary injunction remains in effect pending the resolution of the case. The Department of Homeland Security will continue to recognize the validity of TPS-related Employment Authorization Documents (EADs), Form I-94 Arrival and Departure Records, and Forms I-797 Notices of Action otherwise known as Approval Notices, to demonstrate the lawful status sand employment authorization of affected TPS beneficiaries.

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The Washington Post recently reported that President Trump is expected to deliver a scathing speech on immigration this upcoming Tuesday October 30, 2018. The President’s speech will come just a week before the highly contested midterm elections, where more than 425 House seats are up for re-election.

Interestingly, the Post is reporting that President Trump is gearing up to invoke his executive power to prevent Central American migrants from applying for asylum at the Southwest border. Such a move would trigger constitutional challenges in federal court. However, as we know, the President and his administration have not shied away from controversy.

The President is eager to present his agenda to boost his approval ratings and encourage Republican voters to support GOP candidates in battleground states.

Earlier this month the President expressed his sentiments regarding an immigrant caravan consisting of more than 7,000 Central American migrants’ intent on reaching the U.S. border.

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The R-1 visa is arguably one of the most underrated work visas available in the U.S. immigration system. The R-1 visa program enables foreign nationals to travel to the United States for the purpose of engaging in temporary employment, as a minister, or in another religious vocation or occupation on at least a part time basis (20 hrs/week).

To qualify for the R-1 visa, the foreign national must be employed by (1) a non-profit religious organization in the United States or (2) a religious organization that is authorized by a group tax exemption holder to use its group tax exemption or (3) a non-profit religious organization affiliated with a religious denomination in the United States.

In addition, the foreign national must be a member of the religious denomination for at least two years immediately prior to filing for an R-1 visa.

What is considered a religious occupation under the program?

Religious occupations are those whose duties:

  • Primarily relate to a traditional religious function
  • Are recognized as a religious occupation within the denomination
  • Are primarily related to, and clearly involve, inculcate, or carry out the religious creed and beliefs of the denomination

Who may not be eligible for the R-1 visa?

Administrative or support personnel including janitors, maintenance workers, clerical employees, or fund-raisers, or similar occupations that involve soliciting donations. Limited administrative duties that are incidental to religious functions are permissible.

Benefits of the R-1 Visa Program

Dual Intent

The R-1 visa is a dual intent visa. A dual intent visa allows a foreign national to enter the United States as a non-immigrant for a temporary specified period of time, but allows the foreign national to retain the option of applying for a green card in the future.

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In this post, we would like to keep our readers informed about Visa Bulletin projections for the coming months. Charles Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division of the U.S. Department of State provides a monthly analysis of each month’s Visa Bulletin including discussion of current trends and future projections for immigrant preference categories.

EB-1: The following categories are expected to experience some forward movement in the month of December, however it is not yet known how much advancement will take place: EB-1 Worldwide, EB-1 China, and EB-1 India. It is not expected for these categories to return to current during this calendar year. A cutoff date is expected for EB-1 Worldwide until the first half of the fiscal year.

EB-2 China: is expected to continue to experience forward movement

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After President Trump threatened to cut American funding to the country of Honduras, if the government did not stop an immigrant caravan from making its way to the United States, both the Honduran and Mexican governments acted immediately in a concerted effort to stop the caravan from reaching the southwest border.

The message was sent to the Honduran government via the President’s favor mode of communication; Twitter, “If the large Caravan of people heading to the U.S. is not stopped and brought back to Honduras, no more money or aid will be given to Honduras, effective immediately!” tweeted the President.

Every fiscal year, the United States government sends millions in aid to the Honduran government. In fiscal year 2019, the United States plans to send Honduras $66 million in aid.

Following the president’s tweet, Guatemalan officials swiftly arrested the leader of the caravan and began the process of returning him to Honduras.

Mexican police have been deployed to the southern border ahead of the caravan’s arrival. It is estimated that approximately 1,500 Hondurans, including parents and toddlers, form part of the caravan.  Honduran officials have so far been unable to stop the caravan from crossing the border into Guatemala, where they will continue their long and perilous journey through Mexico and finally to the United States.

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