Articles Posted in First Time Clients

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Good News for Adjustment of Status Applicants! The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating its policy, extending the validity of Form I-693 Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, submitted along with an application for an immigration benefit (such as an I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status).

Effective November 1, 2018, Form I-693 will be valid for a maximum period of 2 years from the date of the civil surgeon’s signature on Form I-693, provided that the civil surgeon signs the medical examination 60 days before the date the applicant files an application for an underlying immigration benefit with USCIS.

Previously, Form I-693 was only valid for a period of one year from the date of the civil surgeon’s signature.

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As part of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) new plan to modernize services offered by the agency, the agency has announced that it will gradually end self-scheduling of Infopass appointments, to encourage applicants to use online information resources and other online tools that allow applicants to check the status of their case, and other information.

According to USCIS, the Detroit Field Office and five offices in the Los Angeles area will begin the gradual phaseout of Infopass services. Newark, Great Lakes, and San Francisco will be next to gradually phaseout these services during the beginning of fiscal year 2019. USCIS expects to modernize its system completely by the end of fiscal year 2019.

According to USCIS Director Francis Cissna, “Expanding this program is a significant step in our efforts to move more USCIS services and information online. It also frees up agency staff to spend more time adjudicating benefit requests which should help reduce case processing times. USCIS remains committed to pursuing the most effective and efficient ways to administer our nation’s lawful immigration system.”

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In response to a court ordered preliminary injunction, that blocked the government’s plans to end the temporary protected status (TPS) of immigrants from El Salvador, Sudan, Haiti, and Nicaragua, the government has outlined a detailed plan to comply with the judge’s order.

As previously reported, U.S. District Judge Edward Chen issued a preliminary injunction temporarily stopping the United States government from rescinding the temporary protected status designation for immigrants from Sudan, El Salvador, Haiti, and Nicaragua.

Before the preliminary injunction the TPS designations would officially terminate as follows:

  • Sudan, TPS Designation was to terminate on November 2, 2018
  • Nicaragua, TPS Designation was to terminate on January 5, 2019
  • Haiti, TPS Designation was to terminate on July 22, 2019
  • El Salvador, TPS Designation was to terminate on September 9, 2019

To comply with the court order, USCIS has notified the court that the agency will be publishing a notice in the Federal Register, announcing that the TPS designations for Sudan, Haiti, El Salvador, and Nicaragua will remain in effect as long as the preliminary injunction remains in effect pending the resolution of the case. The Department of Homeland Security will continue to recognize the validity of TPS-related Employment Authorization Documents (EADs), Form I-94 Arrival and Departure Records, and Forms I-797 Notices of Action otherwise known as Approval Notices, to demonstrate the lawful status sand employment authorization of affected TPS beneficiaries.

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The Washington Post recently reported that President Trump is expected to deliver a scathing speech on immigration this upcoming Tuesday October 30, 2018. The President’s speech will come just a week before the highly contested midterm elections, where more than 425 House seats are up for re-election.

Interestingly, the Post is reporting that President Trump is gearing up to invoke his executive power to prevent Central American migrants from applying for asylum at the Southwest border. Such a move would trigger constitutional challenges in federal court. However, as we know, the President and his administration have not shied away from controversy.

The President is eager to present his agenda to boost his approval ratings and encourage Republican voters to support GOP candidates in battleground states.

Earlier this month the President expressed his sentiments regarding an immigrant caravan consisting of more than 7,000 Central American migrants’ intent on reaching the U.S. border.

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The R-1 visa is arguably one of the most underrated work visas available in the U.S. immigration system. The R-1 visa program enables foreign nationals to travel to the United States for the purpose of engaging in temporary employment, as a minister, or in another religious vocation or occupation on at least a part time basis (20 hrs/week).

To qualify for the R-1 visa, the foreign national must be employed by (1) a non-profit religious organization in the United States or (2) a religious organization that is authorized by a group tax exemption holder to use its group tax exemption or (3) a non-profit religious organization affiliated with a religious denomination in the United States.

In addition, the foreign national must be a member of the religious denomination for at least two years immediately prior to filing for an R-1 visa.

What is considered a religious occupation under the program?

Religious occupations are those whose duties:

  • Primarily relate to a traditional religious function
  • Are recognized as a religious occupation within the denomination
  • Are primarily related to, and clearly involve, inculcate, or carry out the religious creed and beliefs of the denomination

Who may not be eligible for the R-1 visa?

Administrative or support personnel including janitors, maintenance workers, clerical employees, or fund-raisers, or similar occupations that involve soliciting donations. Limited administrative duties that are incidental to religious functions are permissible.

Benefits of the R-1 Visa Program

Dual Intent

The R-1 visa is a dual intent visa. A dual intent visa allows a foreign national to enter the United States as a non-immigrant for a temporary specified period of time, but allows the foreign national to retain the option of applying for a green card in the future.

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In this post, we would like to keep our readers informed about Visa Bulletin projections for the coming months. Charles Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division of the U.S. Department of State provides a monthly analysis of each month’s Visa Bulletin including discussion of current trends and future projections for immigrant preference categories.

EB-1: The following categories are expected to experience some forward movement in the month of December, however it is not yet known how much advancement will take place: EB-1 Worldwide, EB-1 China, and EB-1 India. It is not expected for these categories to return to current during this calendar year. A cutoff date is expected for EB-1 Worldwide until the first half of the fiscal year.

EB-2 China: is expected to continue to experience forward movement

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After President Trump threatened to cut American funding to the country of Honduras, if the government did not stop an immigrant caravan from making its way to the United States, both the Honduran and Mexican governments acted immediately in a concerted effort to stop the caravan from reaching the southwest border.

The message was sent to the Honduran government via the President’s favor mode of communication; Twitter, “If the large Caravan of people heading to the U.S. is not stopped and brought back to Honduras, no more money or aid will be given to Honduras, effective immediately!” tweeted the President.

Every fiscal year, the United States government sends millions in aid to the Honduran government. In fiscal year 2019, the United States plans to send Honduras $66 million in aid.

Following the president’s tweet, Guatemalan officials swiftly arrested the leader of the caravan and began the process of returning him to Honduras.

Mexican police have been deployed to the southern border ahead of the caravan’s arrival. It is estimated that approximately 1,500 Hondurans, including parents and toddlers, form part of the caravan.  Honduran officials have so far been unable to stop the caravan from crossing the border into Guatemala, where they will continue their long and perilous journey through Mexico and finally to the United States.

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Photo by Thomas Hawk, Flickr

Extension of TPS Designation for Yemen

The Department of Homeland Security has announced an extension of the TPS designation of Yemen for a period of 18 months, from September 4, 2018 to March 3, 2020.

Re-registration is limited to persons who have previously registered for TPS under the designation of Yemen and whose applications have been granted.

For individuals who have already been granted TPS under Yemen’s designation, the 60-day re-registration period runs from August 14, 2018 through October 15, 2018.

USCIS will issue new EADs with a March 3, 2020 expiration date to eligible Yemeni TPS beneficiaries who timely re-register and apply for EADs

Proposed Rule on Public Benefits

Yesterday, October 10, 2018, a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) was officially published in the federal register for the proposed rule that may soon restrict admission of certain immigrants and non-immigrants reliant or likely to become reliant on public benefits.

The comment period on the proposed rule has begun and will remain open until December 10, 2018. After the period for public comments has closed, the government will review the comments and make any changes to the rule as deemed necessary. The government will then publish a final version of the rule in the federal register, and it will be enforced on or after 60 days from the date of publication of the final rule in the federal register.

Under the proposed rule, receipt of the following types of public benefits would make an applicant a public charge:

  • Federal, state, local or tribal cash assistance for income maintenance
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Supplemental Security Income
  • Medicaid (with limited exceptions for Medicaid benefits paid for an “emergency medical condition,” and for certain disability services related to education)
  • Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy
  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps)
  • Institutionalization for long-term care at government expense
  • Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program
  • Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance
  • Public Housing
  • DHS is considering adding to the list of included benefits the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), formerly known as the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)

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On September 7, 2018, the government published a notice of proposed rule making in the federal register, entitled, “Apprehension, Processing, Care, and Custody of Alien Minors and Unaccompanied Alien Children.”

The proposed rule seeks to amend existing regulations relating to the apprehension, processing, care, custody, and release of alien juveniles in custody.

If the proposed rule is enforced, it will replace the Flores Settlement Agreement reached in 2001 in response to the class-action lawsuit Flores v. Reno. The Flores Settlement Agreement allows detained children the right to a bond hearing and affords them several important protections including:

  • the right to be represented by counsel;
  • the right to have detention assessed by an independent immigration judge, outside of the Office of Refugee Resettlement system;
  • the right to present evidence;
  • the right to examine and rebut the government’s evidence;
  • the right to build a record regarding their custody.

If the government has its way, children in detention will be stripped of these rights.

The government states that consistent with the Flores Settlement Agreement, the proposed rule would ensure that juveniles in government custody are treated with dignity and respect, with a special concern for the vulnerability of minors in custody.

The rule would create an “alternative” to the existing licensed program requirement for family residential centers, including the ability to detain family units together during the entirety of their immigration proceedings.

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Citizens of New Zealand now qualify for the E-2 Treaty Trader Investor Visa thanks to a United States–New Zealand partnership recently signed into law. The KIWI Act, or Knowledgeable Innovators and Worthy Investors Act, signed into law on August 1st, adds New Zealand to the list of eligible countries participating in the E-2 Visa program. This is great news for entrepreneurs from New Zealand seeking to do business in the United States.

Overview of the E-2 Treaty Trader Investor Visa

The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa is a non-immigrant visa type that is only available to foreign nationals of a foreign country with a qualifying treaty of friendship, commerce, navigation, or a similar agreement with the United States. A treaty trader visa is issued for an initial period of 2 years that can be renewed in 2-year increments, with no outer limit on the total period of stay. Dependents of the principal E-2 applicant can apply for derivative E visas to accompany the entrepreneur in the United States.

The E-2 visa allows entrepreneurs from treaty nations to enter the United States and carry out investment and trade activities. Investment activities include the creation of a new business in the United States, or an investment in an existing business in the United States. The investment must be significantly proportional to the total investment, that is, usually more than half the total value of the enterprise or, if a new business, an amount normally considered necessary to establish the business.

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