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Articles Posted in Congress

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this post, we are breaking down Biden’s new immigration reform proposal which was recently introduced before Congress. The new proposal, also known as the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, is groundbreaking because it creates an earned path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States on or before January 1, 2021.

While this piece of legislation is still just a bill, it is opening the door for further dialogue from members of Congress and provides a unique window into what a final bill on immigration reform might look like.


How exactly does one “earn” their citizenship with this bill?


Undocumented immigrants who came to the United States on or before January 1, 2021, who can prove that they do not have a criminal record, and are not otherwise ineligible, would be eligible to secure something called “lawful prospective immigrant status” or “LPI” under this new bill.

Essentially, “LPI” would be a provisional temporary type of status that would allow undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States lawfully for a six-year period of time. This provisional status would act as a “gateway” to allow undocumented immigrants to apply for permanent residence and citizenship in the future.

Under the bill, eligible applicants would be granted “LPI” status for a 6-year period, and within that period of provisional status, immigrants would then be eligible to apply for permanent residence after 5 years. After 3 years of being in green card status, such immigrants would then be eligible to apply for U.S. Citizenship.

All applicants would be required to pass background checks and pay taxes under the law.


Would LPI immigrants be able to travel in and out of the country?


Yes. LPI immigrants would be eligible to receive employment authorization and advance parole that would allow them to work and travel in and out of the country.

Additionally, LPI immigrants would be protected from deportation while their applications for LPI would be pending with immigration.


Are there special provisions for DACA recipients, TPS eligible immigrants, and farm workers?


Yes. Under the bill, those with DACA, individuals eligible for TPS, and farm workers with a demonstrated work history would be exempted from the “LPI” provisional status and would be permitted to apply for permanent residence directly without having to wait 5 years to apply for permanent residence, through an expedited “fast track” type of processing.

All others, however, would need to first obtain LPI status and then after 5 years apply for a green card.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! We kick off today’s post with very exciting news. Yesterday, February 18, 2021, President Biden unveiled new legislation that will create an 8-year earned path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States who were brought to this country as children.

While the bill faces an uphill battle in Congress, it is the start of the administration’s efforts to create new momentum to push parties on both sides of the aisle to fix our broken immigration system once and for all.


What does the new bill propose?


The new piece of legislation is based on the President’s immigration priorities as outlined during his first day in office.

While President Biden has been in office for less than one month, he is already moving forward with his most ambitious effort yet – introducing viable immigration proposals before Congress, that will counteract the past four years of harmful policies passed by his predecessor.

In a nutshell, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, as it is known, seeks to create (1) an eight-year pathway to citizenship for nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants (2) a shorter process to legal status for agriculture workers and recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and (3) establishes an enforcement plan that includes deploying technology to patrol the Southern border.

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The nation awoke with a new President of the United States, and although President Joe Biden has been in office for less than one day, his administration is already planning sweeping immigration reforms and policy changes that will unfold throughout the coming months.

This is just the start of President Biden’s plan to reverse the numerous damaging policies and executive orders passed by the Trump administration during the past four years.

This morning, the White House issued a press release outlining President Biden’s commitment to modernize the U.S. immigration system by way of a legislative bill that will be introduced before Congress in a matter of days.

The new bill, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, proposes to overhaul the current immigration system to more effectively manage and secure our country’s border.

According to the Biden administration, the purpose of the bill is to “restore humanity and American values to our immigration system….” providing “hardworking people who enrich our communities every day and who have lived here for years, in some cases for decades, an opportunity to earn citizenship.”

The bill will prioritize family reunification, address root causes of mass migration from Central America, and among other things ensure that the United States remains a refuge for those fleeing persecution.

Most importantly is the bill’s commitment to create a path to citizenship for eligible undocumented immigrants, including Dreamers and essential workers who have been on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Happy Monday! Welcome back to Visalawyerblog. We start off the week with some interesting immigration updates.


USCIS Updates – ASC and Interview Appointments Scheduled on January 19th and 20th will be Rescheduled


In anticipation of the Presidential inauguration on January 20, 2021, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced the temporary suspension of in-person services at all field offices, asylum offices, and application support centers (ASC biometrics offices) on January 19th and January 20th to ensure the safety of employees and individuals with appointments on these dates.

Accordingly, for individuals who had appointments on these dates (either for biometrics or for an interview) USCIS will be rescheduling these appointments and sending notices with the new appointment dates.

Please keep a look out for these notices in the mail within the next few weeks.


Nationals Eligible to Participate in the H-2A and H-2B Visa Program

In other news, last week the Department of Homeland Security released the list of countries eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B visa programs in the Federal Register.

The H-2A and H-2B visa programs allow U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural and nonagricultural jobs.

Typically, USCIS approves H-2A and H-2B petitions only for nationals of countries that the secretary of Homeland Security has designated as eligible to participate in the programs.

However, USCIS may approve H-2A and H-2B petitions, including those that were pending as of the date of the Federal Register notice, for nationals of countries not on the list on a case-by-case basis only if doing so is determined to be in the interest of the United States based on the evidence submitted.

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Welcome back to Visalaywerblog! In this blog post we share with you an interesting new piece of legislation that will have a profound impact on the visa quota system for family-based and employment sponsored immigration.

The Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act (S. 386) was unanimously passed by the U.S. Senate on December 2, 2020 and sent back to the House of Representatives for approval.

At its core, the bill seeks to eliminate per-country numerical limitations for employment-based immigrants and increase per-country numerical limitations for family-sponsored immigrants.

Previously, the House of Representatives had passed its own version of the bill, but it has since been amended substantially by the Senate.

Amendments were added to Sections 8 and 9 of the bill. These changes are in addition to those amendments previously introduced by Senator Grassley on H-1B visas, Senator Perdue creating a set aside for Schedule A health care professionals and their family members, and Senator Durbin’s amendments which include a delayed effective date of the bill, transition periods for EB-2 and EB-3 immigrants, early adjustment filing provisions, and an age out protection for children.


What does the December 2020 version of this bill look like?

Among its major provisions are the following.

Green card reforms:

  • The bill would phase out employment-based per county limits on green cards: The main purpose of the legislation is to treat all employment-based immigrant visa applicants on a first-come, first-served basis without regard to birthplace. Under current law, immigrants from no single birthplace can receive more than 7% of the total number of immigrant visas or green cards issued in a year unless they would otherwise go unused. The effect of this provision is that while Indians are half the skilled employer-sponsored applicants, they receive just 10 percent of those green cards and—as a result—are nearly 90 percent of the backlogged applicants.
  • The bill would provide for an 11-year phase out period: The bill’s green card changes would take effect on October 1, 2022. For the EB-2 and EB-3 categories for non-executive level employees of U.S. businesses, the bill guarantees immigrants which are not from the top two origin countries (India and China) a certain percentage of the green cards for 9 years: year 1 (30%), year 2 (25%), year 3 (20%), year 4 (15%), years 5 and 6 (10%), and years 7 through 9 (5%). No more than 25 percent of these “reserved” green cards can go to immigrants from any single country. No more than 85 percent of the other “unreserved” green cards can go to a single country (India). In addition, a minimum of 5.75% of all EB-2 or EB-3 green cards will go to immigrants from these non-top 2 countries for 9 years prioritizing spouses and minor children of immigrants already in the United States and immigrants awaiting visas abroad.

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Happy Monday! Welcome back to Visalawyerblog. We kick off the start of a brand new week with very exciting news.

We are happy to report that on October 1, 2020, Congress passed H.R. 8337, an appropriations bill that will expand the availability of premium processing service provided by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to a larger pool of applicants for immigration benefits.

The legislation calls for expansion of premium processing to most employment-based immigration applications and potentially all USCIS benefits. This move could prove enormously beneficial especially during the Coronavirus pandemic to help move cases along more quickly than ever before. Applicants who request an employment authorization document (EAD) for example can seek premium processing service along with their applications, allowing for EADs to be issued within 15 calendar days.

During this pandemic, the processing of EAD applications has slowed significantly with most taking at least 7 months or longer to be issued. This new legislation will dramatically improve processing times for those that are willing to pay for premium processing service.

Before H.R. 8337, USCIS allowed certain employment-based petitioners to request premium processing service for E-1, E-2, H-1B, H-2B, H-3, L-1A, L-1B, LZ (blanket L-1), O-1, O-2, P-1, P-2, P-3, Q-1, R-1, TN-1 and TN-2 applications for a fee of $1,440 with guaranteed processing of applications within 15 calendar days. For immigrant petitions, premium processing was available, with certain exceptions, for the employment-based first, second and third preferences (EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3).


What types of petitions will benefit from the expansion of premium processing service?

The new legislation will now allow premium processing service for:

(A) employment-based nonimmigrant petitions and associated applications for dependents of the beneficiaries of such petitions;

(B) employment-based immigrant petitions filed by or on behalf of aliens described in paragraph (1), (2), or (3) of section 203(b); [the first three employment-based preferences]

(C) applications to change or extend nonimmigrant status;

(D) applications for employment authorization; and

(E) any other immigration benefit type that the Secretary deems appropriate for premium processing.


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We are just 60 days away from Election day in the United States which falls on Tuesday, November 3rd. Do you know where your candidate stands on immigration? In this post, we cover Presidential nominee Joe Biden’s stance on important immigration issues, and everything you need to know about his vision for America.

We would also like to take this opportunity to remind those of our readers who are American citizens to exercise their right to vote. It is your civic duty and will help shape the nation’s immigration policy for the next four years. For voter registration information please click here.


Immigration under Joe Biden

If elected President of the United States, Joe Biden has stated that he will enact a number of policies during his four-year term. Among these policies, he promises to take urgent action to undo destructive policies implemented by the Trump administration, modernize the immigration system, reassert America’s commitment to asylum-seekers and refugees, and implement effective border screening.


Comprehensive Immigration Reform

First and foremost, Joe Biden supports working with Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration solution that would offer nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship. As vice president, Joe Biden worked alongside former President Obama to push forward a bill that would do just that. Unfortunately, the Republican-led Congress refused to approve the bill, leaving millions of undocumented immigrants in limbo including Dreamers.

Joe Biden advocates for the creation and expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) program,  the Central American Minors program, which allows parents with legal status in the U.S. to apply to bring their children from Central America to live with them, and the creation of a White House task force to support new Americans to integrate into American life and their communities.

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We would like to wish our readers a very great start of the week. In this blog post, we will be covering recent and exciting developments in immigration law.


K-1 Visa Applicants

We have great news for K-1 fiancé visa applicants. Today, August 31, 2020, the Department of State issued an important announcement for K visa applicants. Effective August 28, 2020, the Department of State has given Consular sections the authority to grant K visa cases “high priority.” This directive applies to Consulates and Embassies worldwide and gives Consular posts the discretion to prioritize the scheduling of K visa interviews, as country conditions allow during the Coronavirus pandemic.

DOS has encouraged applicants to check the website of their nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for updates on what services that post is currently able to offer.

Revalidating the I-129F Petition

DOS has also stated that while the I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) is valid for a period of four months, consular officials have the authority to revalidate the I-129F petition in four-month increments.

In addition, the announcement states that for most cases impacted by the suspension of routine visa services or COVID-19 travel restrictions, it will not be necessary to file a new I-129F petition.


Interview Waiver Eligibility for Certain Non-Immigrant Visa Applicants

The Department of State announced on August 25, 2020, that Consular officials at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad can temporarily waive the in-person interview requirement for individuals applying for a nonimmigrant visa in the same classification.

Previously, interview waiver eligibility was limited to applicants whose nonimmigrant visa expired within 12 months. The new announcement temporarily extends the expiration period to 24 months.

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Congress is moving quickly to avert the financial crisis currently plaguing the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). On Saturday August 22nd the House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill aiming to provide much needed emergency funding to help USCIS meet its operational needs.

Earlier this year, USCIS made clear that without additional funding the agency would need to furlough two-thirds of its workforce by the end of August, even after announcing an increase in fees set to go into effect on October 2nd. The agency has been struggling to stay afloat in the wake of the Coronavirus.

While the bill still needs to pass the Senate and be signed into law by the President, this is very promising news and a step in the right direction for applicants waiting in line for their applications to be processed on a timely basis.

Should the bill be successful it will stop the agency’s planned furloughs and inject much needed capital to help USCIS deal with the significant backlogs across the board. The Senate is expected to return to chambers in September and will likely take up the issue as soon as possible.

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In complete defiance of a recent federal court order, mandating acceptance of initial requests for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the Department of Homeland Security today issued a memorandum that states that effective immediately, the agency will reject all pending and future initial requests for DACA including all associated employment authorization applications, and reject all pending and future I-131 advance parole requests for beneficiaries of DACA. The agency has stated that it will refund all associated fees, without prejudice should DHS decide to accept initial requests for DACA in the future.

The memorandum orders, “DHS personnel to take all appropriate actions to reject all pending and future initial requests for DACA, to reject all pending and future applications for advance parole absent exceptional circumstances, and to shorten DACA renewals [to one year] consistent with the parameters established in this memorandum.”

Most shocking of all is that the memorandum limits the period of deferred action pursuant to the DACA program and associated employment authorization to just one year for DACA renewals filed after July 28th, when previously deferred action and employment authorization was issued for two years.

These actions are appalling and reflect judicial defiance that has never before been seen. These actions will surely set off a string of new lawsuits in the coming weeks. We must all stay tuned for new developments during this uncertain time for DACA.


Actions to be Taken by DHS as of July 28, 2020

The memorandum provides a list of actions DHS plans to take effective immediately which further detail the actions that will be taken by DHS as of today:

  • Reject all initial DACA requests and associated applications for Employment Authorization Documents, and refund all associated fees, without prejudice to re-filing such requests should DHS determine to begin accepting initial requests again in the future.
  • Adjudicate all pending and future properly submitted DACA renewal requests and associated applications for Employment Authorization Documents from current beneficiaries.
  • Limit the period of any deferred action granted pursuant to the DACA policy after the issuance of this memorandum (and thereby limit the period of any associated work authorization) to one year.
  • Refrain from terminating any grants of previously issued deferred action or revoking any Employment Authorization Documents based solely on the directives in this memorandum for the remaining duration of their validity periods.
  • Reject all pending and future Form I-131 applications for advance parole from beneficiaries of the DACA policy and refund all associated fees, absent exceptional circumstances.

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