Articles Posted in Humanitarian Crisis

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This week in immigration news, we share new developments for Afghan nationals. The Biden administration recently announced its plan to launch a new portal that would facilitate the reunification of Afghans immigrants with their family members.


What is it all about?


The U.S. Department of State run portal would provide a place for Afghans in the United States to search for family members who were separated from them following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan last year.

Previously, Afghans needed the help of nonprofit groups such as the United National Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and U.S. Department of State liaisons to help them locate family members left behind. Individuals were required to complete lengthy questionnaires, provide information, and submit documentation that would be independently verified by state department liaisons.

Now, the state-run portal will provide a central location where users can upload information to help locate their family members. Users will be able to enter their own status on the website, and complete forms to enable their relative to gain entry to the United States.

Additionally, the Biden administration is said to be considering waiving the $535 government filing fee associated the filing of Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, which allows a U.S. citizen to petition the entry of their relative to the United States.

According to a Department of State spokesperson, through the resettlement effort known as Operation Allies Welcome, immediate family members of Afghans who relocated to the United States are strongly being considered for parole. Immediate relatives of U.S. Citizens, lawful permanent residents, formerly locally employed staff members of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, and certain Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants are also being prioritized to receive parole.

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In this blog post, we breakdown the Biden administration’s new Humanitarian Parole program, known as “Uniting for Ukraine,” a new initiative that will allow up to 100,000 Ukrainian nationals displaced by the Russian invasion to live and work in the United States for a period of up to 2 years.


Who is eligible for Uniting for Ukraine?


Ukrainian citizens and their immediate family members who are outside the United States may remain temporarily for a two-year period of parole.

You are not eligible for humanitarian parole under the Uniting for Ukraine program if you are currently physically present in the United States, however you may be eligible to receive Temporary Protected Status instead.

Additionally, children traveling without their parent or legal guardian are not eligible for humanitarian parole under Uniting for Ukraine.

Ukrainians participating in Uniting for Ukraine must have a “supporter,” in the United States who agrees to provide them with financial support for the duration of their stay in the United States. U.S. Supporters are required to file a Form I-134 Declaration of Financial Support with USCIS online, which states that they agree to financial support the Ukrainian national in the United States, also known as the “beneficiary.” There is no fee to file Form I-134 online.


Beneficiaries are eligible for humanitarian parole if they:


  • Resided in Ukraine immediately prior to the Russian invasion (through Feb. 11, 2022) and were displaced as a result of the invasion;
  • Are a Ukrainian citizen and possess a valid Ukrainian passport (or are a child included on a parent’s passport);
    • If not a Ukrainian citizen, are an immediate family member of a Ukrainian citizen beneficiary of Uniting for Ukraine with a valid passport;
  • Have a supporter who filed a Form I-134 on their behalf that has been vetted and confirmed as sufficient by USCIS; and
  • Clear biographic and biometric security checks;
  • Note: To be eligible for this process, children under the age of 18 must be traveling to the United States in the care and custody of their parent or legal guardian.

The supporter must complete and file Form I-134 online with USCIS and be vetted by the U.S. government to protect against exploitation and abuse, and ensure that they are able to financially support the Ukrainians they are agreeing to support.


Who is eligible to be a supporter under Uniting for Ukraine?


Individuals who file Form I-134 on behalf of a beneficiary under Uniting for Ukraine must be:

  • in lawful status in the United States or
  • a parolee or
  • beneficiary of deferred action or
  • Deferred Enforced Departure (DED)

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Today, the Biden administration unveiled a brand-new program, Uniting for Ukraine, which seeks to provide humanitarian parole to an estimated 100,000 Ukrainian nationals who have been displaced by the Russian invasion which began on February 24, 2022 for a period of up to 2 years.


What is Uniting for Ukraine?


Uniting for Ukraine is a new Biden initiative that will allow Ukrainian citizens to apply for humanitarian parole in the United States. Humanitarian Parole is a process that allows foreign nationals to lawfully enter the U.S., provides temporary lawful presence in the U.S., and protects that person from deportation during the parole timeframe that has been granted to the foreign national. Humanitarian parole is a temporary permission to remain lawfully in the United States. It does not provide law permanent residence (a green card) and does not provide a pathway to citizenship.

To be eligible, Ukrainians must have been residents in Ukraine as of February 11, 2022, have a sponsor in the United States, complete vaccinations and other public health requirements, and pass rigorous biometric and biographic screening and vetting security checks.

Ukrainians who are approved via this process will be authorized to travel to the United States and be considered for parole, on a case-by-case basis, for a period of up to two years. Once paroled through this process, Ukrainians will be eligible for work authorization.


Who can be a sponsor?


Effective Monday, April 25, 2022, U.S. based individuals and entities can apply to sponsor displaced Ukrainian citizens through the Uniting for Ukraine process, which will go live on the Department of Homeland Security website that same day.

Any U.S. citizen or individual, including representatives of non-government organizations, can sponsor Ukrainian applicants. Individuals and organizations seeking to sponsor Ukrainian citizens in the United States will be required to declare their financial support and pass security background checks to protect against exploitation and abuse. Eligibility requirements will include required vaccinations and other public health requirements, as well as biographic and biometric screening, vetting, and security checks.

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The ongoing turmoil in Ukraine, Afghanistan, and Ethiopia has prompted the U.S. Department of State to issue new guidance regarding the possibility of filing a Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative at U.S. Embassies and Consulates overseas for Afghan, Ethiopian, and Ukrainian immediate relatives fleeing conflict zones.

DOS has clarified that U.S. Citizens who are physically present with their Afghan, Ethiopian, or Ukrainian, immediate family members overseas, who have not yet filed the Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), may do so by filing the application locally at their nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate that processes immigrant visas.

Only U.S. Citizens impacted by the large-scale disruptive events in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and Ukraine, are allowed to locally file Form I-130 at U.S. Embassies or Consulates overseas. It is required that the U.S. Citizen be physically present in the country where they wish to file their petition.


Who can you petition for with Local Filing?


DOS has stated that U.S. Citizens may locally file Form I-130 on behalf of their spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents, provided their relative fled:

  • Afghanistan after August 2, 2021
  • Ethiopia after November 1, 2020 or
  • Ukraine after February 1, 2022

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In today’s blog post, we are happy to bring our readers some very exciting news.

On April 26, 2021, the Department of State formally announced a new National Interest Determination for certain categories of nonimmigrant visa applicants currently unable to enter the United States due to COVID-19 related Regional Presidential Proclamations issued earlier this year. This new determination will allow certain travelers to obtain their visas and enter the United States, despite the issuance of COVID-19 related Regional Presidential Proclamations, known as Presidential Proclamations 9984, 9992, and 10143.

These Proclamations were issued early last year to prevent the rapid spread of COVID-19 to the United States, specifically from China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, the Schengen countries, the United Kingdom, and Ireland.

Such Proclamations had the effect of restricting and suspending the entry into the United States, of both immigrants and nonimmigrants, who were physically present within the Schengen Area, Brazil, China, the United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, and Iran, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. Few categories of individuals were exempted from these Presidential Proclamations, including lawful permanent residents of the United States (green card holders), spouses of U.S. Citizens or lawful permanent residents, and others who were similarly exempted.

Individuals who have not been specifically exempted from the Regional Proclamations and have remained physically present in the impacted regions, have been unable to proceed with visa processing. Consulates worldwide have refused to grant visas to these individuals due to the enforcement of the Proclamations.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this blog post we discuss the Biden administration’s recent decision to keep refugee admissions at an all-time low, a decision that has angered lawmakers and pro-immigrant advocates alike.

On April 16, 2021, President Biden issued a controversial Presidential directive that aims to keep the refugee admissions ceiling at the same rate as that under the Trump administration. The new Presidential directive states that the administration will maintain the refugee admissions ceiling at 15,000 per fiscal year, with the majority of refugee allocations given to Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean, and the remainder split among East Asia, Europe and Central Asia, Near East and South Asia, and other regions.

The Presidential directive however leaves open the possibility of raising the ceiling if the quota is reached before the end of the fiscal year, at which time the administration would consider raising the admissions rate anew.

In defense of the President’s actions, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, said in a statement that President Biden is expected to set a final, increased refugee cap for the remainder of the fiscal year before May 15, 2021.

The President’s actions mark a stunning departure from his campaign agenda, which for the first time ever, has fallen short of undoing harmful actions of the previous administration by continuing to narrow the pool of refugees that may be admitted to the United States.

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