Articles Posted in Employment Authorization Document

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In this blog post, we give you an update on the status of the proposed rule increasing the filing fees for certain applications and petitions filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

As you may remember, on January 4, 2023, USCIS published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register proposing an increase in the filing fees of many types of applications, including but not limited to, the I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, N-400 Application for Naturalization, I-129F petition for alien fiancé(e), Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Permanent Residence, Form I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker for H, L, and O classifications, Form I-526 Immigrant Petition for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization, among many others.

The proposed rule also sought to do the following:

  • Incorporate biometrics costs into the main benefit fee and remove the separate biometric services fee
  • Require separate filing fees for Form I-485 and associated Form I-131 and Form I-765 filings
  • Establish separate fees for Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, by nonimmigrant classification.
  • Revise the premium processing timeframe interpretation from 15 calendar days to 15 business days
  • Create lower fees for certain immigration forms filed online.

Under the Administrative Procedure Act, before the government can implement a proposed rule they must abide by a mandatory notice-and-comment rule-making process. This includes offering a public comment period of at least 60 days from the date of the NPRM’s publication in the Federal Register.

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The Green Card and Employment Authorization Document just got a brand-new look.

In this post, we bring you the lowdown on what you can expect. USCIS recently announced that the agency will be issuing newly redesigned Permanent Resident Cards (also known as green cards) and Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) starting Monday, January 30, 2023.

The previous design was implemented in 2017. To mitigate the risk of fraud and counterfeiting, USCIS redesigns green cards and EADs every three to five years.

The new design includes state-of-the-art technology designed to improve its security and integrity against counterfeiting.

Along with completely redesigned artwork, the new green card and EADs come with tactile printing, enhanced optically variable ink, secure holographic images on the front and back, and a new layer-reveal feature showcasing a partial window on the back photo box, and data fields that have been placed in different areas than on previous versions.

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In this post, we bring you great news regarding COVID-19-related flexibilities for responses to Requests for Evidence, NOIDs, and such related notices issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.


What do I need to know about this new update?


USCIS RFE/NOID Flexibility Continued for Responses to Agency Requests


USCIS announced that it will continue its flexibility policy giving applicants and petitioners more time to respond to Requests for Evidence during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On January 24, 2023, USCIS made the announcement that it will grant one FINAL extension to applicants who have received a request for evidence, notice of intent to deny, or such a related document, an additional 60 calendar days after the response deadline indicated on the notice or request, to submit a response to a request or notice, provided the request or notice was issued by USCIS between March 1, 2020, through March 23, 2023. This is great news because it will allow applicants and petitioners more time to gather documents that are hard to obtain during the COVID-10 pandemic.


What documents qualify for this flexibility in responding?


Applicants who receive any of the below mentioned documents dated between March 1, 2020 and March 23, 2023 can take advantage of the additional 60 days to respond to the request or notice:

  • Requests for Evidence;
  • Continuations to Request Evidence (N-14);
  • Notices of Intent to Deny;
  • Notices of Intent to Revoke;
  • Notices of Intent to Rescind;
  • Notices of Intent to Terminate regional investment centers;
  • Notices of Intent to Withdraw Temporary Protected Status; and
  • Motions to Reopen an N-400 pursuant to 8 CFR 335.5, Receipt of Derogatory Information After Grant.

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We are happy to report that the Biden administration has made the decision to extend Temporary Protected Status for Somalia nationals currently receiving protections under the program from March 18, 2023 through September 17, 2024.

In addition, the re-designation means that certain eligible Somali nationals residing in the United States as of January 11, 2023, will be able to apply for TPS protections for the first time.

The main benefit of applying for this program is that those who are approved for Temporary Protected Status can remain in the country on a lawful basis, will receive protection against deportation (deferred status), and are eligible to apply for employment authorization and travel permission by filing, Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization, and Form I-131 Application for Travel Document, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).


How did this all happen?


Extension of Designation of Somalia for TPS


On January 12, 2023, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, announced an 18-month extension and redesignation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the country of Somalia. This extension and re-designation will be in effect from March 18, 2023, through September 17, 2024 (an 18-month period).

Secretary Mayorkas made this decision after consulting with government officials and taking into consideration the ongoing armed conflict in Somalia, along with natural disasters, disease outbreaks, and worsening humanitarian crisis. Somalia continues to be impacted by terrorism, violent crime, civil unrest, and fighting amongst clan militias making it necessary to extend the designation of Somalia for TPS.

Mayorkas found that these circumstances ultimately prevented Somali nationals from safely returning to their home country stating, “Through the extension and redesignation of Somalia for Temporary Protected Status, the United States will be able to offer safety and protection to Somalis who may not be able to return to their country, due to ongoing conflict and the continuing humanitarian crisis… We will continue to offer our support to Somali nationals through this temporary form of humanitarian relief.”

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With the new year comes exciting new changes in immigration. We are happy to report that the government has just announced a brand-new parole process for Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans modeled after the Uniting for Ukraine program and parole program for Venezuelans (introduced in October of 2022), granting eligible individuals two-year parole, including the ability to apply for employment authorization and remain lawfully present in the United States.

Separately, the government has released the CBP One mobile app, a new mechanism for noncitizens (land travelers only) to schedule appointments to present themselves at ports of entry, encouraging safe and orderly arrivals. Once Title 42 is no longer in place, this will be the scheduling mechanism for noncitizens to schedule a time to present themselves at a U.S. port of entry for inspection and processing, rather than arriving unannounced or attempting to cross in-between ports of entry. This includes those who seek to make asylum claims. Those who use the CBP One process will be eligible for employment authorization during their period of authorized stay.

Individuals who use the CBP One app will be able to schedule an appointment to present themselves at the following ports of entry:

  • Arizona: Nogales;
  • Texas: Brownsville, Hidalgo, Laredo, Eagle Pass, and El Paso (Paso Del Norte); and
  • California: Calexico and San Ysidro (Pedestrian West – El Chaparral).

During their inspection process, noncitizens must verbally attest to their COVID-19 vaccination status and provide, upon request, proof of vaccination against COVID-19 in accordance with Title 19 vaccination requirements.

Individuals will be able to schedule appointments in CBP One in the coming days. The CBP One application is free to download and available in the Apple and Google App Stores.


Parole Program for Nationals of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela


The United States government has implemented a new parole program for nationals of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela to prevent those eligible from making a dangerous trek to the United States.

*Please note Venezuela’s parole program has been in effect since October 18, 2022. 

The parole program will allow up to 30,000 qualifying nationals per month from all four of these countries to reside legally in the United States.

Eligible individuals will be able to seek advance authorization to travel to the United States and be considered, on a case-by-case basis, for a temporary grant of parole for up to two years, including employment authorization.

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In this blog post, we share with you an important announcement from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

On December 30, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security announced an extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) benefits for Yemeni nationals for an 18-month period beginning from March 4, 2023, through September 3, 2024.

The Biden administration has made the decision to extend Temporary Protected Status for Yemeni nationals due to ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions that prevent Yemeni nationals from safely returning to their home country.

This means that Yemeni nationals (and individuals having no nationality who last habitually resided in Yemen) who are residing in the United States as of December 29, 2022, are eligible for Temporary Protected Status under Yemen’s designation.

Existing beneficiaries of TPS may re-register for benefits during the 60-day re-registration period that runs from January 3, 2023, through March 4, 2023.

Those who do not currently have TPS but who qualify for TPS benefits can register from January 3, 2023 through September 3, 2024.

It is important for re-registrants to timely re-register during the registration period and not wait until their Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) expire, as delaying reregistration could result in gaps in their employment authorization documentation.

The main benefit of applying for TPS is that those who are approved can remain in the country on a lawful basis, will receive protection against deportation (deferred status), and are eligible to apply for employment authorization and travel permission by filing, Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization, and Form I-131 Application for Travel Document, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

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Welcpuzzle-g75f3e575f_1920ome back to Visalawyerblog! We hope you had a wonderful holiday break and wish you a prosperous new year ahead.

We kick off the new year with some important updates in the world of immigration.

Today, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officially announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that will be posted in the Federal Register tomorrow Wednesday, January 4, 2023 that will increase filing fees for certain types of immigration benefits. An unpublished version is already available in the Federal Register.

A 60-day public comment period will follow the publication of the NPRM on January 4, 2023 and will close on March 5, 2023.

Fees will not change until the final rule goes into effect, and only after the public has had the opportunity to comment and USCIS finalizes the fee schedule in response to such public comments. USCIS will host a public engagement session on the proposed fee rule on January 11, 2023.

According to USCIS, the proposed fee increases are necessary to ensure that the agency will have enough resources to provide adequate services to applicants and petitioners moving forward. The agency has said that after having conducted a review of current fees, it has determined that it cannot cover the full cost of providing adjudication and naturalization services without a fee increase.

The agency cited the COVID-19 pandemic as one of the factors leading the agency to increase its fees. As you may recall, the pandemic caused a dramatic reduction in the filing of new applications, leaving USCIS with a substantial decrease in revenues of 40 percent. This unfortunate drop in applications led USCIS to reduce its workforce accordingly.

With current resources, the agency has said it is incapable of adjudicating applications in a timely manner, when considering that agency caseloads are now returning to pre-pandemic levels.

Among the new proposals included in the NPRM are measures that:

  • Incorporate biometrics costs into the main benefit fee and remove the separate biometric services fee
  • Require separate filing fees for Form I-485 and associated Form I-131 and Form I-765 filings
  • Establish separate fees for Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, by nonimmigrant classification.
  • Revise the premium processing timeframe interpretation from 15 calendar days to 15 business days
  • Create lower fees for certain immigration forms filed online.

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We start off the week with some exciting news for naturalization applicants filing N-400, Application for Naturalization.

On December 9, 2022, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced new updates to its policy guidance including a new procedure that will allow USCIS to automatically extend the validity of a Permanent Resident Card for a period of 24-months, through the issuance of an N-400 Application for Naturalization, receipt notice. This means that generally Permanent Residents with a pending N-400 Application, will no longer need to file Form I-90 to renew their green cards.

This policy is effective as of today, Monday, December 12, 2022, and applies to all applications filed on or after December 12, 2022.

Lawful permanent residents who filed for N-400 naturalization PRIOR to December 12, 2022, will NOT receive an N-400 receipt notice with the 24-month extension, and will be required to file Form I-90 if their green card expires, or request an appointment to receive an ADIT stamp in their passport to maintain valid evidence of their status as required under the law.


What You Need to Know


Previously, naturalization applicants who did not apply for naturalization at least six months before the expiration date on their green cards needed to file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, (green card) to maintain proper documentation of their lawful status.

Applicants who applied for naturalization at least six months prior to their green card expiration were eligible to request an appointment to receive an Alien Documentation, Identification, and Telecommunications (ADIT) stamp in their passport, which served as temporary evidence of their LPR status.

This policy is no more.

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We close off the week with some new announcements from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regarding TPS extensions for Haitian nationals, and USCIS commitments to improve immigration in the new year – fiscal year 2023.


TPS Extended for Haitian Nationals


On December 5, 2022, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, announced that the TPS designation for Haiti will be automatically extended for 18 additional months. Haitian nationals with TPS benefits will have the opportunity to re-register for an extension of their TPS benefits for a period of 18 months from February 4, 2023, through August 3, 2024.

This automatic extension has been granted because the Secretary has determined that conditions continue to exist to support Haiti’s TPS designation due to extraordinary and temporary conditions in the country including a prolonged political crisis, insecurity, gang violence, and catastrophic earthquakes. According to Secretary Mayorkas, “The conditions in Haiti, including socioeconomic challenges, political instability, and gang violence and crime – aggravated by environmental disaster – compelled the humanitarian relief we are providing today.”

As a reminder, Haitians entering the United States after November 6, 2022, are not eligible for TPS benefits and, will be subject to removal from the United States if they have no legal basis to remain in the country.

TPS will apply only to those individuals who have already been residing in the United States as of November 6, 2022, and who meet all other requirements to receive the TPS extension. Those who attempt to travel to the United States after November 6, 2022, are NOT eligible for TPS benefits.

Soon, the Department of Homeland Security will publish a notice in the Federal Register explaining the eligibility criteria and procedures to re-register for TPS, renew Employment Authorization Documents (EADs), and submission of initial TPS application under the re-designation.

For more information, please click here.

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In this blog post, we bring you some unfortunate news. Recently, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it will no longer recognize the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) as an accrediting agency.

Sadly, this means that certain F-1 student visa applicants will be impacted by this change, including those undertaking an English language study program. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has said that such programs are required to be accredited under the Accreditation of English Language Training Programs Act.

Additionally, this change will impact F-1 students applying for a 24-month science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) optional practical training (OPT) extension, because government regulations now require use of a degree from an accredited, Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certified school to receive a STEM OPT extension.

The regulations make clear that the school must be accredited at the time of the application (the date of the designated school official’s (DSO) recommendation on the Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status).


What happens next?


Students who have been impacted by this change will receive notification letters from SEVP informing them that their schools’ certification has been withdrawn.

USCIS has said that students who are enrolled at an ACICS-accredited school should contact their DSOs immediately to understand how this loss of accreditation will impact their status and/or immigration benefits.

To make matters worse, schools accredited by ACICS will not be able to issue program extensions, and students will only be allowed to finish their current session if the ACICS-accredited school chooses to voluntarily withdraw its certification or if is withdrawn by SEVP.

If a student’s ACICS-accredited school can provide evidence of a Department of Education recognized accrediting agency or evidence in lieu of accreditation within the allotted timeframe, the student may remain at the school to complete their program of study.


Requests for Evidence Imminent for I-539 Extend/Change of Status


The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be issuing requests for evidence (RFEs) to individuals who filed Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, on or after August 19, 2022, requesting a change of status or reinstatement to attend an ACICS-accredited English language study program.

Once the individual receives the RFE, they will be given the opportunity to provide evidence in response, such as documentation showing that the English language study program they are seeking to enroll in meets the accreditation requirements.

If the student does not submit a new Form I-20 from a school accredited by an entity recognized by the Department of Education, USCIS will deny a change of status or reinstatement request.

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