Articles Posted in Court Orders

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We are saddened to report that late Friday, July 16, 2021, Federal Judge Andrew Hanen of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, granted the plaintiffs in the case, State of Texas, et al., vs. United States of America, et.al, a permanent injunction, pending ongoing litigation over the legality of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

As a result, new first-time applications for the DACA program will no longer be approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) following Judge Hanen’s ruling.  Friday’s decision in Texas v. United States is sure to be appealed, though there is a reasonable chance it will be upheld, especially by the conservative leaning Supreme Court of the United States.

In his ruling, Federal Judge Hanen declared that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) with the initial creation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and its continued operation. Accordingly, he has ordered that the DACA Memorandum and the subsequent creation of the DACA program be vacated and remanded to DHS for further consideration.

This action removes protections from deportation for thousands of undocumented young adults who came to the United States as children, otherwise known as Dreamers, and casts doubt on the future of the program.

Judge Hanen specifically stated that his ruling does not impact the hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients and others who have relied on the DACA program for almost a decade. This means that while new first-time applications for DACA will no longer be adjudicated by USCIS, Hanen’s ruling will not impact current DACA recipients.

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On June 4th, 2021, the interim guidance memorandum (“The Memo”) was publicly released. The reason the memo sent many, like me, into a frenzy was because of the million people currently in immigration court limbo who have just had their lives transformed by these thirteen pages.

This memo is proof the Biden Administration has set a new tone towards immigration. The memo beautifully states, “the government wins when justice is done,” reminding OPLA attorneys they should remain mindful that “immigration enforcement obligations do not consist only initiating and conduction prompt proceedings that lead to removals at any cost.” The memo provides internal direction to OPLA attorney’s regarding the following: 1. Removal Priority Cases, 2. Prosecutorial Discretion, 3. Ability to cancel NTAs, 4. Authority to Administrative closure or Continuance of Proceedings, and 5. Authority to Terminate  Proceedings.

(It is important to note this memorandum was released For Official Use Only by the Department of Homeland Security. You should seek the advice and counsel of an attorney to review your case specifically.)

  1. REMOVAL PRIORITY CASES

It is directed that OPLA attorneys prioritize agency resources in the following priority categories:

A. Noncitizens who engaged in or suspect to engage in terrorism or whose apprehension is otherwise necessary to protect the national security of the United States.

B. Noncitizens who were apprehended at the border or port of entry, while attempting to enter unlawfully into the United States after November 1, 2020.

C. Noncitizens convicted of an “aggravated felony” or convicted of an offense related to a criminal street gang and determined to pose a threat to public safety.

The memo also provides a non-exclusive list of civil immigration enforcement and removal decisions where the agency should identify any opportunities of a non-citizens process to ensure just fair and legally appropriate outcomes.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! It is the start of a brand new and exciting week in the world of immigration. In this post, we bring you the latest immigration updates from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs.

In a recent post on their Facebook page, the Bureau published a Frequently Asked Questions guide addressing the Immigrant Visa Backlog, including information about what Consulates are doing to help reduce the backlogs, and helpful information for K-1 visa applicants, Diversity Visa lottery applicants, and interview scheduling for employment-based applicants.

Want to know more? Check out the Q & A below:

 


Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Immigrant Visa Backlog


Q: Why are there still immigrant visa interview backlogs?

A: Our number one priority is the safety of our applicants and our staff. The IV (Immigrant Visa) interview backlog has developed because of limitations in staffing and other COVID-related operational constraints preventing us from processing the same volume of applicants as pre-pandemic. In addition, Presidential Proclamation 10014 and geographic COVID proclamations restricted visa processing for many immigrants for nearly a year; it will take time to process the cases that were impacted by these travel restrictions.

Q: What are you doing to decrease the backlog?

A: We are committed to decreasing this backlog by prioritizing certain visas, creating efficiencies in the visa process, and utilizing all available resources until our task is accomplished. Applicants should check the website of their nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for updates on what visa services are currently available.

Q: Are virtual/Zoom interviews available for Immigrant Visa applicants?

A: No. Current regulations require all immigrant visa applicants to appear in person before a consular officer.

Q: I live near a U.S. Consulate, but they do not process Immigrant Visas at that particular location and therefore I am forced to travel a long distance to appear for my interview. Why don’t you process IV interviews at every U.S. Embassy/Consulate?

A: As the best use of limited U.S. government resources, immigrant visa processing is consolidated in certain embassies and consulates. The Department of State continuously reviews the services we provide to best balance our service standards with efficient use of resources.

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Happy Friday! Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this blog post, we bring you a recent success story and share with you how our office was able to expedite our client’s fiancé visa to help him reunite with his U.S. Citizen fiancé, despite the suspension of routine visa services at the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai, India.

As you may recall, during March of last year, in an unprecedented move, the Department of State made the decision to suspend all routine visa services at U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide, in response to significant worldwide challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thereafter in July of 2020, U.S. Embassies and Consulates began a phased resumption of routine visa services, but only on a post-by-post basis as resources and local conditions would allow.

In reality routine visa services at the majority of U.S. Embassies and Consulates have remained suspended with posts granting appointments only for emergency and mission-critical services.

Due to these visa suspensions, K visa applicants have been unable to proceed with visa issuance, with many applications sitting idle at the National Visa Center (NVC) waiting to be forwarded to the local Consulate for interview scheduling.

Most recently K visa applicants expressed their frustrations by filing a class action lawsuit known as Milligan v. Pompeo in an effort to force visa interview scheduling.

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We have very exciting news for our DACA community. Yesterday, December 7, 2020, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued the long-awaited public notice we have all been waiting for.

Pursuant to a federal court order issued on November 14, 2020, by Judge Nicholas George Garaufis of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, which invalidates the July 28, 2020 “Wolf memorandum,” DHS has been ordered to immediately reinstate the DACA program to policies that were in effect prior to September 5, 2017 (the attempted rescission of the program by USCIS).


In order to comply with the federal court order, USCIS has issued an official public notice on its webpage confirming that effective December 7, 2020 the agency will:

  • Accept first-time requests for consideration of deferred action under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) based on the terms of the DACA policy in effect prior to September 5, 2017, and in accordance with the Court’s December 4, 2020, order;
  • Accept DACA renewal requests based on the terms of the DACA policy in effect prior to September 5, 2017, and in accordance with the Court’s December 4, 2020, order;
  • Accept applications for advance parole documents based on the terms of the DACA policy prior to September 5, 2017, and in accordance with the Court’s December 4, 2020, order;
  • Extend one-year grants of deferred action under DACA to two years; and
  • Extend one-year employment authorization documents (EADs) under DACA to two years.

Additionally, USCIS will take appropriate steps to provide evidence of the one-year extensions of deferred action and employment authorization documents under DACA to individuals who were issued documentation on or after July 28, 2020, with a one-year validity period under the Wolf Memorandum.

With this announcement, DHS will comply with Judge Garaufis’ order while it remains in effect, but the agency has stated they may seek relief from the order. Therefore, you should take advantage and file your initial request for DACA and/or advance parole as soon as possible.

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We are very happy to bring you this late breaking news.

Today December 04, 2020, a federal judge from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, issued a ruling that requires the Trump administration to post a public notice within 3 calendar days that it will accept new initial requests for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) applications effective immediately.


Overview of DACA Litigation 

This order builds on the judge’s previous ruling which declared the actions of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf unlawful, given the court’s finding that Wolf was not lawfully serving as acting DHS secretary when he signed rules limiting applications and renewals for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

As you may recall back in 2017 the Trump administration engaged in aggressive tactics to eliminate the DACA program, however the U.S. Supreme Court successfully blocked such attempts, ultimately allowing DACA renewals to continue to be accepted.

In its opinion, the Supreme Court stated that the government did not follow the law – namely the Administrative Procedure Act – when it sought to eliminate DACA. Thus, the court found that because the government did not go through the appropriate process to dismantle DACA it would remain in place. Interestingly, the Supreme Court made clear that while the government did not go through the appropriate process to eliminate DACA, that it had the power to do so provided the government followed the appropriate procedures. The justices also stopped short of requiring the government to accept initial requests for DACA.

The following year on July 28, 2020, the Trump administration continued to stand its ground in blocking acceptance of initial DACA applications with the release of a scathing memorandum authored by Wolf. In it Wolf directed DHS personnel to (1) reject all pending and future initial requests for DACA (2) reject all pending and future applications for advance parole absent exceptional circumstances, and (3) to shorten DACA renewals to a two-year period.

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Welcome back to Visalawerblog! We hope you had a relaxing thanksgiving weekend. In this blog post we share an important update for K visa applicants impacted by the Coronavirus proclamations.

The Department of State recently issued a statement explaining how the agency will comply with a preliminary injunction issued by a federal judge in the case Daniel Milligan, et al., v. Michael Pompeo et al.

In that case a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the Department of States from relying on the Coronavirus proclamations to suspend K visa adjudications for those residing in the Schengen countries, the United Kingdom, Ireland, China, Iran, and Brazil.

Unfortunately, the judge stopped short of issuing a broad injunction to lift the ban on entry to the United States for K visa applicants impacted by these proclamations.

This means that while the government must proceed with K visa processing, once a K visa has been issued, applicants residing within an impacted area remain barred from entering the United States unless they meet a national interest exception.

To put it simply – the injunction simply stops the government from refusing to process K visas based on the Coronavirus proclamations. It does not allow K visa applicants from impacted areas to enter the United States once K visas have been issued unless the applicant meets a national interest exception. According to the judge, the government may still prevent entry to such applicants as deemed necessary during the pandemic.


What are the Coronavirus proclamations?

Back in January the President began issuing a series of Coronavirus proclamations that restrict and suspend the entry of immigrants and nonimmigrants, who were physically present within Brazil, China, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Iran, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.

These Coronavirus proclamations are as follows:

  • China Visa Ban – Proclamation 9984 issued January 21, 2020 – No termination date
  • Iran Visa Ban –Proclamation 9992 issued February 29, 2020 –No termination date
  • European Schengen Area Visa Ban—Proclamation 9993 issued March 11, 2020—No termination date
  • Ireland and UK Visa Ban –Proclamation 9996 issued March 14, 2020 –No termination date
  • Brazil Visa Ban—Proclamation 10041 issued May 25, 2020 –No termination date

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Happy Friday! Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this blog post, we bring you a recent success story and share with you how our office was able to expedite our client’s fiancé visa to help her reunite with her U.S. Citizen fiancé despite being subject to Presidential Proclamation 9993 also known as the “Schengen” visa ban.

We recognize that these are truly challenging times in the world of immigration and would like our readers to know that they are not alone. For many, there are alternatives and solutions that can be explored by our knowledgeable immigration attorneys to help them reunite with their family members. From our staff members to our attorneys, we are with you every step of the way on your immigration journey.

For a comprehensive consultation to discuss solutions to your immigration issues, you may contact us at 619-819-9204.


Overview of the Schengen Ban

To understand our client’s situation let’s first discuss the Schengen visa ban. Beginning in January of 2020, President Trump issued a series of Coronavirus proclamations to combat the rapid spread of Coronavirus cases in the United States.

Specifically, the President signed “Proclamation 9993,” into law on March 11, 2020, which restricts and suspends the entry into the United States of immigrants and nonimmigrants, who were physically present within the Schengen Area, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.

As a result of P.P. 9993, U.S. Consulates and Embassies around the world have refused to issue visas for those residing in the Schengen area including K fiancé visas until further notice. There is unfortunately no termination date for PP 9993 which means that visa applicants residing in the Schengen area will be stuck in “limbo” at least for the time being.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! We kick off the start of the weekend with some exciting news for K-1 visa petitioners and their foreign fiancés. Yesterday, November 19, 2020, a federal judge from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a decision finding that the government acted unlawfully in suspending visa issuance for K visa beneficiaries subject to the Coronavirus Presidential Proclamations. See Daniel Milligan, et al., v. Michael Pompeo et al.

The plaintiffs in this case – 153 U.S. Citizens and their foreign fiancés – brought suit against the United States government challenging a series of Coronavirus proclamations passed by President Trump that prohibit certain foreign fiancés from receiving their K-1 visas and entering the United States. Such K visa applicants who have been impacted by these Coronavirus Proclamations include those who have been physically present in the Schengen countries, the United Kingdom, Ireland, China, Brazil, and Iran, within the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry to the United States. As you may be aware, U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide have refused to process visas for this class of immigrants because of these Coronavirus proclamations. The issue has now been settled – the government may not stop visa processing simply because these individuals are subject to these proclamations.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit also include couples who have been kept apart during the Coronavirus pandemic due to the State Department’s protracted delays in visa processing and Consular refusal to schedule visa interviews worldwide due to the pandemic.


Plaintiffs Arguments 

In their suit, the plaintiffs requested a preliminary injunction to immediately stop the State Department’s visa processing suspension based on two arguments (1) the State Department has unreasonably delayed visa processing for K visa applicants not subject to the COVID proclamations and (2) the State Department has unlawfully stopped visa processing for K visa applicants subject to the COVID proclamations.

Since the start of the pandemic, the majority of K visa applications have been stuck at the National Visa Center awaiting transfer to the Embassy or Consulate for visa scheduling. Still others have completed the interview process and have been awaiting K visa issuance for months on end with no reassurance from the Consulate regarding visa issuance in the near future.

The central issue for the court to resolve was whether the plaintiffs in the case met their burden of proof to demonstrate a likelihood of success with respect to their arguments.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! Happy Friday. In this post we bring you very important yet unfortunate news regarding ongoing litigation in the fight to invalidate the public charge rule known as “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds.”

As we previously reported, on November 2, 2020, a federal judge from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, issued a ruling in the case Cook County Illinois et al. v. Chad Wolf et al. which immediately set aside the public charge rule. The judge’s ruling allowed applicants to proceed with adjustment of status filings without having to include Form I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency.

Now things have changed.

In a stunning rebuke of the lower court’s decision, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has put the public charge rule back in place. As a result, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may continue to enforce the public charge rule as before.

What did the appellate court decide?

On November 4, 2020, the appellate court placed an “administrative stay” on the November 2nd decision stopping the lower court from invalidating the public charge rule.

What does this mean for applicants for adjustment of status?

As a result of this decision, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may continue to implement the public charge rule until another order of the Seventh Circuit or another court states otherwise.

Accordingly, all applicants for adjustment of status must include Form I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency as well as all appropriate fees and supporting documentation.

What does this mean for employers and foreign nationals?

Until further notice, adjustment of status applications and nonimmigrant extension and change of status applications must continue to be submitted with public charge forms and documentation.

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