Articles Posted in Asylum Law

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This week brings positive immigration news indeed. We are happy to report that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has updated its policy guidelines regarding validity periods for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) for asylees and refugees, noncitizens with withholding of deportation or removal, noncitizens with deferred action, parolees, and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitioners.


What is the new policy all about?


In the new policy alert, USCIS points out that under current guidelines the agency has been issuing initial and renewal Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) with a 1-year validity period, to asylees and refugees, noncitizens with withholding of deportation or removal, and VAWA self-petitioners.

Furthermore, in at least some cases involving deferred action or parolees, initial and renewal EADs are being issued for an even shorter duration, than that of the underlying deferred action or parole period, forcing applicants to file multiple applications for Employment Authorization to prevent employment gaps to cover their entire period of deferred action or parole.

The government is now recognizing its incredible inefficiency and is changing its policy to align with the Biden administration’s agenda. The USCIS policy manual has now been revised to state that initial and renewal EADs may be issued with a maximum validity period of up to 2 years for asylees and refugees, noncitizens with withholding of deportation or removal, and VAWA self-petitioners. For deferred action and parolee applicants, USCIS will now issue EADs up to the end of the authorized deferred action or parole period for individuals seeking an EAD in these filing categories.

Please note that replacement EADs will not be affected by this policy change.  USCIS will continue to issue replacement EADs with the same validity date as the original EAD.


When is this new policy effective?


The updated policy guidance, contained in Volume 10, Part A of the USCIS Policy Manual, is effective as of today Monday, February 7, 2022.

Accordingly, USCIS will immediately apply the updated validity period guidelines to EADs issued for impacted categories on or after February 7, 2022.

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Happy Thursday! We are back with a brand-new blog post. Today, we continue discussing President Biden’s recent executive actions on immigration. This time we are breaking down Executive Order entitled, “the Establishment of the Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families.”

So, what exactly does this executive order mean for you and your family?

This new executive order will prioritize the reunification of children who have been separated from their family members at the United States/Mexico border by establishing an Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families.

The heads of several agencies including the Secretary of Homeland Security, Secretary of State, and others will take part in the Task Force and perform the following functions:

  • Identify all children who have been separated from their families at the border between January 20, 2017, and January 20, 2021 Continue reading

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this post, we continue with our efforts to provide our readers with an overview of President Biden’s recent executive orders on immigration.

Last week, we discussed the major provisions of Executive Order, “Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans.”

In today’s blog post, we continue to break down President Biden’s new executive orders focusing specifically on, “Creating a Comprehensive Regional Framework to Address the Causes of Migration, Manage Migration Throughout North and Central America, and to Provide Safe and Orderly Processing of Asylum Seekers at the United States Border,” and what it means for you.


What is this Executive Order all about?


President Biden signed this executive order on February 2, 2021, to create a multi-pronged approach that will help the United States manage and address the root cause of mass migration from North and Central America.

President Biden plans to work with civil society, international organizations, and govenments in the region to create a strategy that will increase opportunities for vulnerable groups of immigrants to apply for asylum protection closer to home. With this order, his administration hopes to streamline the asylum process in these regions by expanding systems and resettlement capacity.

Among its provisions, the order will increase lawful pathways for vulnerable groups of people to immigrate to the United States, while strengthening our asylum system.

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It’s been an exciting week in the world of immigration. As we had been expecting, on Tuesday President Biden signed a fresh batch of executive orders directly impacting our immigration system.

These include (1) Executive Order on, “Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans,” (2) Executive Order entitled, “Creating a Comprehensive Regional Framework to Address the Causes of Migration, Manage Migration Throughout North and Central America, and to Provide Safe and Orderly Processing of Asylum Seekers at the United States Border,” and (3) Executive Order on, “the Establishment of Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families.

In this blog post, we will discuss the major provisions of the Executive Order entitled, “Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion for New Americans,” and what this order means for you.

*Please note we will discuss the other two orders in separate upcoming blog posts.


EO – Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration System and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion for New Americans


First, we will discuss the President’s initiative to create a new task force that will promote integration and inclusion of foreign born immigrants, dismantle harmful policies arising from the public charge ground of inadmissibility, promote naturalization, and initiative to revoke former President Trump’s memorandum on enforcing the legal responsibilities of sponsors of aliens.

Task Force on New Americans

This executive order was created in order to promote integration and inclusion for immigrant communities including asylees and refugees. In line with this new executive order, the President has ordered his cabinet agencies to coordinate their efforts to pass policies that both welcome and support immigrants to the United States. To that end, the government will convene a Task Force on New Americans to positively impact local immigrant communities.

As discussed in section 3 of the order, the Department of State, the Attorney General, and the Department of Homeland Security will review and revise any existing regulations, orders, guidance documents, policies, and agency actions to ensure that they conform with the President’s agenda to welcome and support vulnerable immigrants. As part of this process, the government will be dismantling barriers that make it difficult to receive immigration benefits, including actions taken by the previous administration that do not promote fair access to the legal immigration system – such as potentially rescinding USCIS fee increases, and other such areas of concern.

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With just a few weeks into the new year, the judicial branch has been hard at work issuing decisions that spell trouble for the Trump administration.

On Wednesday, January 15th a federal judge in Maryland issued a temporary injunction preventing the Trump administration from implementing the President’s executive order “Enhancing State and Local Involvement in Refugee Resettlement,” issued by the President on September 26th of last year.

As part of the executive order, the President authorized state and local governments to refuse the placement or resettlement of refugees in their communities stating that, the Federal government, as an exercise of its broad discretion, “should resettle refugees only in those jurisdictions in which both the State and local governments” consent to receive refugees under the Department of State’s Reception and Placement Program.

The government by its order sought to tighten the placement of refugees in the United States by allowing refugees into the United States only if both the State and local government consent to their placement in the State or locality.

In response to a lawsuit filed by refugee-resettlement organizations challenging the executive order, U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte said that the plaintiffs were “clearly likely to succeed in showing, that, by giving states and local governments veto power over the resettlement of refugees within their borders, the [executive] order is unlawful.”

To preserve the status quo, until a final decision is made on the merits, Judge Messitte issued a temporary injunction blocking the government from enforcing any part of the executive order on a nationwide basis.

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The Trump administration is in full gear to expedite the removal of hundreds of asylum seekers, most of which are arriving from Central America.

As early as October of 2019, the Washington Post made public the existence of a confidential pilot program coordinated by the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice designed to swiftly deport asylum-seekers within a matter of days.

Under the program, Prompt Asylum Claim Review, the government would take a maximum period of 10 days to consider applications for asylum from individuals arriving at the U.S./Mexico border. Those denied would be swiftly removed from the country and returned to their homeland.

As a result, asylum determinations that usually take years to be made, will now be made in a matter of days.

It is easy to see how this type of accelerated removal from the country raises serious due process concerns and delegitimizes the complex asylum process.

A recent lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union against the Department of Homeland Security reveals that asylum seekers placed in this program are given only one window of approximately 30 minutes to one hour to call family members or retain counsel, and even where detainees have successfully retained counsel, CBP has denied attorneys physical access to speak to detainees, prohibited in-person meetings, and telephonic access. Where attorneys have tried to reach clients before their credible fear interviews, or hearings before an immigration judge, CBP has forced a detainee to proceed without opportunity to counsel with their attorney.

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In its latest attempt to limit the entry of asylum seekers to the United States, the Trump administration has published a new proposal in the Federal Register entitled, “Procedures for Asylum and Bars to Asylum Eligibility,” adding minor crimes to the list of offenses that would bar individuals from obtaining asylum.

The proposal primarily seeks to establish additional bars on eligibility for asylum seekers who have committed certain offenses in the United States after entering the country, including minor offenses. Offenses which have been committed in a foreign country will not be counted. Therefore, the proposal targets asylum seekers who were once present in the United States, now returning to the United States seeking asylum protection, or asylum seekers waiting for a decision on a pending asylum case in the United States who have committed an offense after entering the country.

Under this new proposal, the ineligibility bar would apply to the following individuals:

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As we approach the end of the year, in this blog post, we look back at the major policy changes implemented by the Trump administration in the year 2019 that have had a profound impact on the way our immigration system functions today.

JANUARY 

Government Shutdown Woes

The start of 2019 began on a very somber note. From December 22, 2018 to January 25, 2019 Americans experienced the longest government shutdown in American history (lasting a period fo 35 days) largely due to political differences between the Republican and Democratic parties on the issue of government funding to build a border wall along the U.S. Mexico border.

The government shutdown created a massive backlog for non-detained persons expecting to attend hearings in immigration court. Because of limited availability of federal workers, non-detained persons experienced postponements and were required to wait an indeterminate amount of time for those hearings to be re-scheduled.

To sway public opinion, 17 days into the government shutdown, the President delivered his first primetime address from the Oval office where he called on Democrats to pass a spending bill that would provide $5.7 billion in funding for border security, including the President’s border wall.

With no agreement in sight, on January 19, 2019, the President sought to appease Democrats by offering them a compromise solution. In exchange for funding his border wall and border security, the President announced a plan that would extend temporary protected status of TPS recipients for a three-year period and provide legislative relief to DACA recipients for a three-year period. The President’s proposal however did not provide a pathway to residency for Dreamers, and was quickly rejected by Democrats.

On January 25, 2019, with still no solution and pressure mounting, the President relented and passed a temporary bill reopening the government until February 15, 2019.

Meanwhile, immigration courts across the country were forced to postpone hundreds of immigration hearings, with Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky being the most deeply affected by the shutdown.

Changes to the H1B Visa Program

On January 30, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security announced proposed changes to the H-1B visa program including a mandatory electronic registration requirement for H1B petitioners filing cap-subject petitions beginning fiscal year 2020, and a reversal in the selection process for cap-subject petitions. The government outlined that it would first select H-1B registrations submitted on behalf of all H-1B beneficiaries (including regular cap and advanced degree exemption) and then if necessary select the remaining number of petitions from registrations filed for the advanced degree exemption. Moreover, only those registrations selected during fiscal year 2020 and on, would be eligible to file a paper H1B cap petition.

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A new lawsuit filed in the Northern District of California now allows Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) applicants to challenge long standing delays in receiving their immigration records from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The U.S. District Court has certified two class action lawsuits allowing FOIA applicants and attorneys requesting FOIA records on their behalf to join in the class action so that class members may receive timely determinations on their FOIA requests. This decision was made in response to significant delays that applicants face in obtaining their immigration records from the agency.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick who granted the class action request wrote in his order that delays in receiving immigration records are particularly precarious for, “Noncitizens in removal proceedings” who “particularly rely on FOIA requests because discovery is not available. Consequently, obtaining A-Files from defendants is critical in immigration cases; delays in obtaining A-Files leave noncitizen and their attorneys “in legal limbo” that inflicts substantial hardship.”

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On September 9, 2019, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a proposed rule in the Federal Register aimed at (1) removing a regulatory provision which states that USCIS has 30 days from the date an asylum applicant files the initial Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (EAD), to grant or deny the initial employment authorization application and (2) removing a provision that requires an asylum applicant to submit an I-765 Renewal of Employment Authorization to USCIS 90 days prior to the expiration of the employment authorization document’s validity.

Why the Change?

Initial applications for employment authorization from pending asylum applicants are the only category of employment authorization applications adjudicated by USCIS that have a required processing timeline attached to them.

Because of this, the agency must frequently divert resources away from other legal immigration application processing categories in order to meet the 30-day deadline for asylum seekers. These categories include family members of certain high skilled employees and those seeking adjustment of status in the United States, among others.

The proposed regulation is meant to improve the process for granting or denying an initial application for employment authorization documents (EADs) by reforming the current 30-day timeline pertaining to pending asylum applicants.

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