Articles Posted in American Politics

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Former President Donald Trump’s legacy continues to leave a lasting mark on U.S. immigration policy. On July 21, 2022, the conservative leaning Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration from implementing a new immigration policy that would prioritize deportation for those residing in the country illegally who pose the greatest public safety risk. At least for now that means the Biden administration’s measure will be halted.

The Supreme Court justices were almost nearly split in their decision. In a 5-4 vote, the decision stated that Justices Barrett, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Jackson would have allowed the Biden administration to pursue the policy.

The decision sets the stage for arguments in the case United States, et al. v. Texas, et al. to begin in late November.


Why the decision?


The Supreme Court’s decision was made in response to the Biden administration’s emergency request for the court to settle once and for all the legality of enforcing the policy after conflicting decisions were made by federal appellate courts. In September of last year, the Biden administration had implemented a policy calling for a pause to deportation unless individuals had committed acts of terrorism, espionage, or were egregious threats to public safety.

This directive prompted a flurry of lawsuits by Arizona, Ohio, and Montana, and a separate lawsuit by the state of Texas and Louisiana.

Texas and Louisiana argued that the Biden administration had violated federal law by halting the detention of people in the U.S. illegally convicted of serious crimes. The states also argued that they would be burdened by the administration’s decision because they would need to set in to detain such individuals.

For more information about this decision please click here.

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50091854772_d0d3b61325_bMexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is set to visit the White House next month to discuss immigration and make a push for additional U.S. commitments to help curb rates of illegal immigration.

It has been rumored that during his visit, the Biden administration will announce an offer of 300,000 temporary work visas up for grabs for Mexican nationals and Central Americans.

Mexico’s Interior Minister Adan Augusto Lopez confirmed these reports in a business meeting explaining that the U.S. government has agreed to split the number of visas proportionally to both Mexican and Central Americans, in an effort to ease the migration challenges of both countries.

According to Lopez, “The American government agreed to issue, initially, 300,000 temporary work visas; 150,000 will be for Mexicans or for foreigners who are currently in Mexico waiting for the possibility to migrate north.” The Biden administration is expected to announce these measures during President Obrador’s visit in July.

“It’s a high price, in terms of social costs, for our country to be a crossing point for migrants and every day we’re talking with the American government to try to generate (better) conditions,” Lopez said in remarks during a business meeting in Tijuana, Mexico.

While the spokesperson at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico did not return requests for comment, it will be interesting to see how these developments will play out in the coming weeks.

Earlier this month, tensions grew between President Obrador and the Biden administration over the U.S. government’s decision to exclude Nicaragua, Cuba, and Venezuela from attending the Summit of the Americas due to human rights violations. Following the news, President Obrador declined to attend the Summit, and Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard took his place.

President Obrador’s visit will coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, prompting a renewed debate over U.S. immigration policy.

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We kick off the start of a brand-new week with some interesting revelations. On April 28, 2022, President Biden issued a letter proposing a new immigration measure that, if passed, could offer highly educated Russian nationals a pathway to permanent residency.

What is it all about?


The Russian invasion of Ukraine has left scientists and engineers seeking stable ground, with many young STEM talent looking to its European neighbors for employment opportunities.

In a letter to the House of Representatives, the Biden administration called for a measure to be approved as part of requested legislation for emergency supplemental funding to Ukraine.

Biden’s proposals seek amendment of Section 203(b)(2) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1153(b)(2)) effectively welcoming Russian STEM talent to the United States.


What does the measure propose?


By amending Section 203(b)(2), the U.S. government would essentially eliminate the need for Russian nationals, with a master’s or doctoral degree in a STEM field, to obtain an employment sponsor (job offer from a U.S. employer) and eliminate placement in the green card backlogs.

Under Biden’s proposal, adjudication of visas for such individuals would occur within just 90 days if possible, taking into account the need for security assessments. The proposed measure would end after four years (unless extended by Congress).

The measure has been proposed to ensure retention of talented Russian scientists and engineers. Interestingly, the letter highlights that the prospects of obtaining H-1B visa status for this group are lowered considering the numerical limits, and record H-1B registrations that far outweigh the number of available visas. In fiscal year 2023, USCIS announced that it received 483,927 H-1B registrations, a 57% increase over the last year. Only 127,600 registrations were selected to meet the H-1B quota (or 26% of total registrations).


Legislative Text


The legislative text of the provision reads as follows:

“IN GENERAL.— Section 203(b)(2) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1153(b)(2)) is amended by adding at the end the following:

“(D) Notwithstanding subparagraph (B), the requirements of subparagraph (A) that an alien’s services in the sciences, arts, professions, or business be sought by an employer in the United States shall not apply to aliens (and the parents, spouses, and children of such aliens if accompanying or following to join) who—

“(i) are citizens of Russia;

(ii) have earned a masters or doctoral degree in the United States or an equivalent foreign degree in a field involving science, technology, engineering, or mathematics, including but not limited to degrees relevant to the following fields: Advanced Computing, Advanced Engineering Materials, Advanced Gas Turbine Engine Technologies, Advanced Manufacturing, Advanced and Networked Sensing and Signature Management, Advanced Nuclear Energy Technologies, Advanced Particle Detector Instrumentation Technologies, Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Systems and Robotics, Biotechnologies, Communication and Networking Technologies, Cybersecurity, Directed Energy, Financial Technologies, Human-Machine Interfaces, Hypersonics, Advanced Missile Propulsion Technologies, Networked Sensors and Sensing, Quantum Information Technologies, Renewable Energy Generation and Storage, Semiconductors and Microelectronics, Space Technologies and Systems; and “(iii) are seeking admission to engage in work in the United States in an endeavor related to science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.”

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Happy Monday! We are glad to bring you the latest updates relating to Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Recently, USCIS added Ukraine and Sudan as new countries eligible to participate in Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for a period of 18 months. The agency has now announced that the TPS registration process for Ukrainian and Sudanese nationals will begin tomorrow, Tuesday, April 19, 2022.


Ukraine and Sudan’s TPS Registration Period Begins April 19th 


We bring Ukrainian and Sudanese nationals good news. Beginning April 19, 2022, through October 19, 2023, such individuals can begin the registration process to receive Temporary Protected Status in the United States.


Who can apply?


To be eligible for TPS under the Ukraine designation, individuals must demonstrate continuous residence in the United States since April 11, 2022, and continuous physical presence in the United States since the date listed in the Federal Register notice authorizing the TPS designation. To be eligible under the Sudan designation, individuals must demonstrate continuous residence in the United States since March 1, 2022, and continuous physical presence since the designation date in the Federal Register notice.

As a reminder, TPS applicants must meet all eligibility requirements and undergo security and background checks to gain approval.

USCIS estimates that with this new designation, approximately 59,600 Ukrainians currently residing in the United States will be able to benefit from the new Temporary Protected Status designation. Ukrainians who were outside of the United States after April 11, 2022, are ineligible for TPS benefits and must apply for any visa they are eligible to receive at the appropriate Embassy.

For its part, only about 3,090 are expected to benefit under the TPS designation for Sudan.

Those who are eligible may e-file their applications for TPS under the Ukraine or Sudan designations by using Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status, during the 18-month initial registration period that runs from April 19, 2022, through October 19, 2023. Applicants may also request an Employment Authorization Document by e-filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with the Form I-821.

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The ongoing turmoil in Ukraine, Afghanistan, and Ethiopia has prompted the U.S. Department of State to issue new guidance regarding the possibility of filing a Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative at U.S. Embassies and Consulates overseas for Afghan, Ethiopian, and Ukrainian immediate relatives fleeing conflict zones.

DOS has clarified that U.S. Citizens who are physically present with their Afghan, Ethiopian, or Ukrainian, immediate family members overseas, who have not yet filed the Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), may do so by filing the application locally at their nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate that processes immigrant visas.

Only U.S. Citizens impacted by the large-scale disruptive events in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and Ukraine, are allowed to locally file Form I-130 at U.S. Embassies or Consulates overseas. It is required that the U.S. Citizen be physically present in the country where they wish to file their petition.


Who can you petition for with Local Filing?


DOS has stated that U.S. Citizens may locally file Form I-130 on behalf of their spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents, provided their relative fled:

  • Afghanistan after August 2, 2021
  • Ethiopia after November 1, 2020 or
  • Ukraine after February 1, 2022

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! We kick off the start of a brand-new week with some long awaited and very happy news for EB-5 immigrant visa investors wishing to participate in the Regional Center program.

As you may know, the EB-5 Regional Center Program is a statutorily authorized program that must be extended by Congress in order to operate. Unfortunately, for months on end, members of Congress failed to pass a bill to reauthorize the Regional Center program leaving thousands of prospective applicants in limbo, and those waiting to file green cards with big worries. Following the program’s expiration at midnight on June 30, 2021, it remained in a period of lapse amid negotiations within Congress for a new government appropriations funding bill to be passed to extend the program.

As luck would have it on March 10, 2022, Congress reauthorized the EB-5 Regional Center Program through fiscal year 2027 in appropriations legislation passed by the government. While this is a big relief for many would-be Regional Center investors, the new legislation has also introduced some important changes to the program.

The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022, as it is called has resurrected the EB-5 Regional Center Program until September 30, 2027, but introduces some new increases in the minimum EB-5 investments.

Once enacted, the new law will increase the new minimum investment amount to $1,050,000 for standard EB-5 investments (from the previous minimum investment of $1,000,000); $800,000 for investments in Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs) (from the previous $500,000 investment); and $800,000 for minimum investment for infrastructure projects. New changes also allocate a portion of the EB-5 immigrant visa quota to investments in rural areas, high unemployment areas, and infrastructure projects.

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In the blog post we share some exciting H-1B news! While the FY 2023 H-1B season is about to get underway, today February 28, 2022, USCIS announced that it has received enough petitions to reach the fiscal year 2022 cap that began last March, including the advanced degree exemption.

USCIS has sent non-selection notifications to registrants’ USCIS online accounts. If you were not selected in the FY 2022 cap the following status will be shown in your online account:

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

The agency will continue to accept and process cap-exempt petitions including petitions filed to:

  • Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
  • Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
  • Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
  • Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in additional H-1B positions.

If you were not selected in the H-1B fiscal year 2022, there is still good news. The H-1B fiscal year 2023 season is just about to begin, and you may have a shot at being selected.

Those who wish to apply for the H-1B FY 2023 cap must submit an electronic registration on the USCIS website.

The H-1B initial registration period for the FY 2023 cap is scheduled to open tomorrow at noon ET, March 1, 2022 and the registration period will remain open until noon ET on March 18, 2022.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this post, we continue to share with our readers some important new updates regarding travel to the United States for Americans with expired passports currently overseas.

Our readers may remember in May of 2021, the State Department announced a policy that would enable stranded U.S. Citizens stuck overseas, to use their expired passports to make a direct return to the United States, provided their passports expired on or after January 1, 2020. The policy was to be in effect until December 31, 2021.

This temporary form of relief was granted in response to the extensive waiting period to renew a U.S. passport from outside the United States. Unlike Americans inside the United States, those abroad are required to apply for passport renewal in person at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Due to the limited operational capacity of U.S. Embassies and Consulates during the global pandemic, many Americans were finding themselves stranded abroad.

On December 21, 2021, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Carrier Liaison Program issued a press release informing U.S. Citizens that the State Department is extending this policy through March 31, 2022.


What criteria do I need to meet to use my expired passport for direct travel to the United States from overseas?


If you are overseas and your passport expired on or after January 1, 2020, you may now use your expired passport to return directly to the United States until March 31, 2022.

You qualify for this exception if all the following are true:

  • You are a U.S. citizen.
  • You are currently abroad seeking direct return to the United States.
  • You are flying directly to the United States, a United States territory, or have only short-term transit (“connecting flights”) through a foreign country on your direct return to the United States or to a United States Territory.
  • Your expired passport was originally valid for 10 years. Or, if you were 15 years of age or younger when the passport was issued, your expired passport was valid for 5 years.
  • Your expired passport is undamaged.
  • Your expired passport is unaltered.
  • Your expired passport is in your possession.

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The bad news continues for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program. As our readers will know, the EB-5 Regional Center program has been in a period of lapse following Congressional failure to reauthorize the program after its expiration at midnight on June 30, 2021. Such reauthorization was expected to be included in the government’s appropriations funding bills, but no such action has yet taken place to extend the program.

In a glimmer of hope, on December 3, 2021, President Biden signed H.R. 6119 into law, “Further Extending Government Funding Act” which includes a short-term continuing resolution that funds the federal government through February 18, 2022. EB-5 Regional Center legislation extending the program is expected to be included in future appropriation bills.

With its hands tied on the matter, on October 4, 2021, USCIS updated its website to indicate that it would not be accepting new I-526 petitions based on a regional center investment, but would be placing all pending I-526 petitions based on the Regional Center program in “abeyance,” (a temporary hold), as well as placing all pending I-485 green card applications based on a Regional Center investment on hold at least through the end of 2021, pending further action from Congress. No acting is being taken on applications placed on hold.

I-829 Petitions filed by conditional permanent residents under the Regional Center program remain unaffected. USCIS has confirmed that such applications are being accepted and processed by the agency.

Acting upon the government lapse, for its part, the Department of State has stopped processing immigrant visa applications for EB-5 Program applicants altogether.

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A new House reconciliation bill adds new language that could open a path to permanent residency for highly skilled immigrants without waiting for their priority date to become current.

The new bill, known as H.R. 5376 “the Build Back Better Act,” is the latest initiative backed by the Biden administration to strengthen the middle class and enhance economic ingenuity.  Interestingly, the bill provides a framework that would improve and reform our immigration system with particular benefits for highly skilled immigrants.

If passed section 60003 of the reconciliation bill would exempt an alien (and the spouse and children of such alien) from the numerical limitations described in the employment-based immigration section of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and allow the alien and any follow-to-join dependents to adjust their status to permanent residence provided such alien submits or has submitted an application for adjustment of status and . . . is the beneficiary of an approved petition . . . that bears a priority date that is more than 2 years before the date the alien requests a waiver of the numerical limitations; and pays a supplemental fee of $5,000.” (Emphasis added.)

If passed these legislative measures would be extremely beneficial to highly skilled workers because it would allow employees in the visa backlogs to file for adjustment of status without waiting for a priority date to become available. Following this proposal, once a labor certification application would be approved by the Department of Labor, an employee could be eligible to file his or her I-485 adjustment of status application concurrently with his or her I-140 petition for alien worker and apply for temporary work authorization while the applications would remain pending with USCIS.

The House reconciliation bill would also allow family-based immigrants inside the United States to gain permanent residence outside the numerical limits if their priority date is “more than 2 years before” and the individual pays a $2,500 supplement fee. EB-5 category (immigrant investor) applicants would need to pony up a $50,000 supplement fee. The provisions to pay a supplemental fee to receive a green card outside the numerical limits would expire on September 30, 2031.

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