Articles Posted in Policy

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In this post, we share with you some great news for Ukrainian nationals under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in the United States.

The Department of Homeland Security has made the decision to extend Temporary Protected Status for Ukrainian nationals currently receiving protections under the program for 18 months from October 20, 2023 through April 19, 2025.

notice has been published in the Federal Register with information about how to register for TPS under Ukraine’s designation.

The main benefit of applying for TPS protections 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).

The registration process for Ukraine began on August 21, 2023, and will end on April 19, 2025.


Extension of Designation of Ukraine for TPS


On August 18, 2023, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, announced an 18-month extension and re-designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the country of Ukraine. This extension and re-designation will be in effect from October 20, 2023, through April 19, 2025 (an 18-month period).

Secretary Mayorkas made this decision after consulting with government officials and taking into consideration the ongoing armed conflict in Ukraine, and the expansion of Russia’s military invasion that has created a humanitarian crisis, preventing Ukrainians from safely returning.

The extension of TPS for Ukraine will allow approximately 26,000 current beneficiaries to retain TPS through April 19, 2025, if they re-register and continue to meet TPS eligibility requirements.

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We start the week with great news for Cuban and Haitian nationals.

On August 10, 2023, the Department of Homeland Security announced new publications in the Federal Register introducing changes to the Cuban and Haitian Family Reunification Parole processes.

The FRP program allows eligible Cuban and Haitian nationals to seek parole into the United States for the purpose of reuniting with their family members while they wait for their immigrant visas to become available to apply for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence.

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Did you recently file an L-1 petition as an Intracompany Transferee under a previously approved blanket petition? Then you may want to hear about this important new update.

On Thursday August 3, 2023, the U.S. Citizenship, and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced new changes to the way that the agency will be issuing receipts for L-1 nonimmigrant intracompany transferees under a previously approved blanket L petition, including executives, managers, or specialized knowledge professionals.


What’s Changed?


When filing Form, I-129S, nonimmigrant petition based on blanket L Petition, together with Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, the petitioner will now receive two notices: the receipt notice and the approval notice (if the petition is approved).

Previously, petitioners would receive a stamped and signed Form I-129S along with the Form I-129 approval notice. USCIS will now do away with this practice.

Moving forward, the petitioner will receive a separate approval notice for the Form I-129S, which will serve as the endorsement.


Significance of the Approval Notice


The I-129S approval notice will serve as evidence that a USCIS officer has determined the beneficiary is eligible for L-1 status based on an approved blanket L petition and constitutes an endorsement of Form I-129S as required by 8 CFR 214.2(l)(5)(ii)(E). A copy of that notice will also be provided to the beneficiary to be included with their visa and/or admission papers.

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In this blog post, we close out the week with some great news that may be of interest to EB-5 Immigrant Investors.

On Tuesday July 18th the U.S. Citizenship, and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced new changes to the processing of Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor, for EB-5 investment to improve processing times and create greater efficiency.


How Will USCIS Process I-526 Petitions?


The USCIS Immigrant Investor Program Office (IPO) manages Form I-526 petition inventory through workflow queues factoring in whether: a visa is available (or will be available soon) and the underlying project has been reviewed.

Workflow queues are generally managed in first-in, first-out (FIFO) order when a visa is available or will be available soon.

Effective July 18, 2023, IPO will update its approach by grouping petitions by new commercial enterprise (NCE) with filing dates on or before November 30, 2019, within the workflow queue of petitions where the project has been reviewed and there is a visa available or soon to be available, to gain greater processing efficiencies.

In practice this means that multiple petitions with the same new commercial enterprise (NCE) will be assigned to the same adjudicator(s) to help process them more quickly. This is because multiple petitions associated with the same NCE will have an overlap in project documents and issues presented.

This approach will help reduce current EB-5 backlogs, that are stretching to a 4 to 5 year waiting period from date of filing.

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In this blog post, we share with you an important announcement from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Carrier Liaison Program.

The agency has announced that certain nationals participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), who have been physically present in Cuba, or who are dual nationals of Cuba and a country participating in the Visa Waiver Program, will be ineligible to gain admission to the United States using the Electronic System for Travel Authorization also known as ESTA.

According to CBP, beginning January 12, 2021, the Department of State designated Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, causing the above-mentioned individuals to become ineligible for travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program.

Later, on July 6th the Department of Homeland Security updated its Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) online application and mobile application to reflect these changes.


Why has this happened?


The Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 (“the Act”) makes nationals of Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries who have been present in a country designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism (SST), as well as those who are dual nationals of both a VWP country and a country designated as an State Sponsor of Terrorism at the time of applying for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), ineligible for travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program.

Since Cuba has been named a State Sponsor of Terrorism, these restrictions will now be enforced against nationals participating in the VWP program who have been present in Cuba or are dual nations of Cuba and a VWP country.

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This past week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced the implementation of a new Family Reunification Parole (FRP) program for foreign nationals of Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, that falls in line with previous governmental policies aimed at reducing unlawful migration.

The program will benefit nationals of such countries whose family members are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents and have received approval to join their family in the United States.

Nationals of these countries can be considered for parole on a case-by-case basis for a period of up to three years while they wait to apply to become a lawful permanent resident. This means that those who are eligible for parole will have the opportunity to lawfully reside inside of the United States while applying for lawful permanent residence for a period of up to three years.

The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas, said that “These new processes promote family unity and provide lawful pathways consistent with our laws and our values,” and will allow for the expansion of safe, orderly, and lawful pathways to reduce “dangerous, irregular migration to the United States.”

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In this blog post, we alert our readers to a new broadcast message issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) provided updated guidance explaining that Consular officers have the authority to issue F or M student visas for up to 365 days in advance of an international student’s program start date.

However, in its broadcast ICE has clarified that this new guidance DOES NOT change the requirement for issuing Forms I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), nor paying the I-901 SEVIS Fee, nor regulations governing admission into the United States.

Despite the advance issuance of an F or M visa, ICE clarifies that students can only enter the United States 30 days before their program start date as listed on their Form I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.

Students who attempt to enter the United States more than 30 days before their program start date may be found inadmissible by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

ICE notes to help ensure smooth entry into the United States, students and school officials should confirm the following prior to arrival at a U.S. port of entry:

  • Students have an active I-901 SEVIS Fee payment on the Form I-20 that they are traveling under.
  • The name of the school on the Form I-20 matches the name of the school on the visa.
  • Student financial information remains up to date in SEVIS.
  • Students do not attempt to enter the United States more than 30 days in advance of their Program Start Date.

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In this blog post, we share recent guidance released by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for supporters and beneficiaries of Uniting for Ukraine and nationals of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, requesting humanitarian parole to the United States.

Individuals participating in these programs must have a supporter in the United States who agrees to provide financial support for the duration of their parole in the United States. The first step in the process is for the U.S.-based supporter to file a Form I-134A, Online Request to be a Supporter and Declaration of Financial Support, with USCIS for each beneficiary they seek to support, including minor children. The U.S. government will then review the supporter information provided in the Form I-134A to ensure that they are able to financially support the beneficiaries they are agreeing to support.

USCIS has cautioned applicants that they have been receiving many duplicate filings of Form I-134A, as well as multiple inquiries submitted to the USCIS Contact Center regarding these filings.

To avoid any errors and ensure the proper submission of the form, USCIS has provided the following important tips.


Duplicate Filings of Form I-134A


Some potential supporters have been filing multiple Forms I-134A for the same beneficiary. These duplicate filings add to USCIS workload, which delays processing.

The agency encourages applicants to refrain from filing more than one Form I-134A for the same beneficiary because this could delay the processing of the application for the beneficiary you are agreeing to support.

Those who have not received a decision on a Form I-134A they have filed on behalf of a beneficiary, are advised to check their case status through their USCIS online account.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this blog post we share with you some breaking news regarding the COVID-19 vaccination requirement for non-immigrant international travelers.

On May 4, 2023, the State Department announced that the Biden administration will end the COVID-19 vaccine requirements for international air travelers at the end of the day on May 11, 2023, which marks the end of the federal COVID-19 public health emergency.

After this date, beginning May 12, noncitizen nonimmigrant air passengers will no longer need to show proof of being fully vaccinated with an accepted COVID-19 vaccine to board a flight to the United States.

Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security has released its own statement announcing that the COVID-19 vaccine requirement will also end for non-U.S. citizen travelers seeking entry through land parts of entry and ferries as indicated below:

Beginning May 12, 2023, DHS will no longer require non-U.S. travelers entering the United States via land ports of entry and ferry terminals to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and provide related proof of vaccination upon request. DHS intends to rescind these Title 19 travel restrictions in alignment with the end of the Public Health Emergency and the termination of the Presidential Proclamation on air travel.

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In this blog post, we share with you new guidance released by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regarding instances where the last day of filing a benefit request or response to a Request for Evidence or a Notice of Intent to Deny, Revoke, Rescind, or Terminate, falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or federal holiday.

USCIS recently issued a policy alert clarifying that the agency does not accept paper-based applications or petitions on Saturdays, Sundays, or federal holidays.

In light of this, USCIS has clarified that, in instances where the last day of a period for filing a paper-based benefit request, such as the last day before a requestor’s or beneficiary’s birthday, or the last day of a qualifying time period, falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or federal holiday, USCIS will consider the filing to be timely if received by the end of the next business day.

Similarly, the USCIS update also clarifies that where the last day to respond by mail to a mailed Request for Evidence or a Notice of Intent to Deny, Revoke, Rescind, or Terminate falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or federal holiday, USCIS will consider the response timely if received by the end of the next business day.  

With respect to electronically-submitted responses, they are considered received immediately upon submission. These filings, therefore, are not affected by the fact that USCIS does not accept deliveries on Saturdays, Sundays, and federal holidays, and are not impacted by the new policy clarification.

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