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Articles Posted in Refugees

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this blog post we cover the latest immigration news of the week.

USCIS Launches Online Form to Report Fraud

On March 3rd USCIS announced the launch of a new online form available on the USCIS website that can be used to report suspected immigration fraud and abuse including asylum/refugee fraud, religious worker visa fraud, employment-based visa fraud, investor visa fraud (EB-5 program), student visa fraud, marriage or fiancé visa fraud, unauthorized practice of law (notarios), and other types of immigration fraud.

This “USCIS tip form” provides space for the form user to describe alleged fraud or abuse in detail. According to USCIS, the tip form was created to make the tip process more effective and efficient, so that the agency can better collect information and make an assessment regarding the credibility of tips sent to the agency.

Previously fraud reporting was done by email, making it difficult for USCIS to respond and investigate tips.

This new online system for reporting fraud represents the Trump administration’s commitment to crack down and prevent various forms of visa fraud.

Over the years, the Trump administration has signed various directives and executive orders such as “Buy American, Hire American” aimed at rooting out fraudulent H1B, asylum/refugee, and EB-5 investor visas. The Trump administration has also worked to limit or slow down the issuance of these visas by issuing aggressive requests for evidence in the case of H1B visas and increasing the minimum investment amount for EB-5 investors.

Presidential Proclamation Suspending Entry of Certain Immigrants and Nonimmigrants who Pose a Risk of Transmitting the Coronavirus

On February 3rd the Department of State issued an important announcement reminding travelers of a Presidential proclamation signed on January 31st barring entry to the United States of immigrants or nonimmigrants who traveled to China within the 14 days immediately prior to arrival in the United States.

The proclamation went into effect on Sunday, February 2.

Travelers should note that the proclamation does not apply to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents of the United States.  Foreign diplomats traveling to the United States on A or G visas are excepted from this proclamation.  Other exceptions include certain family members of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, including spouses, children (under the age of 21), parents (provided that the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident is unmarried and under the age of 21), and siblings (provided that both the sibling and the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident are unmarried and under the age of 21).  There is also an exception for crew traveling to the United States on C, D or C1/D visas.

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With just a few weeks into the new year, the judicial branch has been hard at work issuing decisions that spell trouble for the Trump administration.

On Wednesday, January 15th a federal judge in Maryland issued a temporary injunction preventing the Trump administration from implementing the President’s executive order “Enhancing State and Local Involvement in Refugee Resettlement,” issued by the President on September 26th of last year.

As part of the executive order, the President authorized state and local governments to refuse the placement or resettlement of refugees in their communities stating that, the Federal government, as an exercise of its broad discretion, “should resettle refugees only in those jurisdictions in which both the State and local governments” consent to receive refugees under the Department of State’s Reception and Placement Program.

The government by its order sought to tighten the placement of refugees in the United States by allowing refugees into the United States only if both the State and local government consent to their placement in the State or locality.

In response to a lawsuit filed by refugee-resettlement organizations challenging the executive order, U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte said that the plaintiffs were “clearly likely to succeed in showing, that, by giving states and local governments veto power over the resettlement of refugees within their borders, the [executive] order is unlawful.”

To preserve the status quo, until a final decision is made on the merits, Judge Messitte issued a temporary injunction blocking the government from enforcing any part of the executive order on a nationwide basis.

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As previously reported, the government has issued a new final rule in the Federal Register entitled “Visas: Ineligibility Based on Public Charge Grounds,” giving consular officials wide discretion to deny immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applications on public charge grounds.

In line with this new rule, today October 24, 2019, the Department of State issued a 60-day notice in the Federal Register alerting consular applicants of the agency’s plan to require immigrant visa applicants to complete Form DS-5540, a Public Charge Questionnaire to determine whether the applicant is likely to become a public charge. Public comments will be accepted up to December 23, 2019. Comments may be submitted by going to www.Regulations.gov and entering ‘‘Docket Number: DOS–2019–0037’’ in the Search field.

Why is Form DS-5540 being proposed?

According to the 60-day Notice:

The Department seeks to better ensure that aliens subject to the public charge inadmissibility ground are self-sufficient and will not rely on public resources to meet their needs, but rather, will rely on their own capabilities, as well as the resources of sponsors.

Through the DS–5540, the Department will collect information in a standardized format regarding applicants’ ability to financially support themselves following entry into the United States, without depending on government assistance.

Fields primarily pertain to the applicant’s health, family status, assets, resources, financial status, education, skills, health insurance coverage, and tax history. The DS–5540 would also require applicants to provide information on whether they have received certain specified public benefits from a U.S. Federal, state, local or tribal government entity on or after October 15, 2019.

Consular officers will use the completed forms in assessing whether an applicant is likely to become a public charge and is thus ineligible for a visa under section 212(a)(4)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (‘‘INA’’).

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On Wednesday, the Trump administration announced a proposal that will change the settlement agreement reached in Flores v. Reno, an agreement that limited the amount of time and conditions under which the U.S. government could detain immigrant children.

Reno v. Flores prevented the government from holding immigrant children in detention for over 20 days. The Trump administration is now seeking to do away with that prohibition and hold undocumented families traveling with children for an indefinite period of time.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan, announced the administration’s plans to publish a final rule in the Federal Register to do away with the Flores rule. The rule would become effective 60 days after publication. The proposal however will likely be met with great opposition and result in years long litigation.

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On August 1, 2019, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that Syrian nationals currently receiving benefits under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) may re-register through March 31, 2021, to maintain their status under the program.

Re-registration instructions and information on how to renew employment authorization will soon be published on the USCIS website and the federal register.

Applicants must re-register by submitting Form I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status to maintain TPS benefits, and may submit a properly completed Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization to renew employment authorization documents (EAD) at the same time. Alternatively, TPS applicants may file Form I-765 at a later date.

Those who are eligible to apply will receive new employment authorization documents with a new expiration date.

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Today, April 5, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the Secretary of Homeland Security is extending the designation of South Sudan for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, from May 3, 2019, through November 2, 2020. The extension allows currently eligible TPS beneficiaries to retain TPS through November 2, 2020, so long as they otherwise continue to meet the eligibility requirements for TPS.

Current beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) under South Sudan’s designation who want to maintain their status through the 18-month extension period ending on Nov. 2, 2020, must re-register between April 5, 2019 and June 4, 2019.

All applicants must submit Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status and request an EAD by submitting Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, when they file Form I-821 or separately at a later date.

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House Democrats are making a move to help Dreamers achieve permanent residence. A new bill dubbed HR 6, the Dream and Promise Act, seeks to provide undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, the opportunity to obtain permanent residence. In addition, the bill includes a proposal that would allow certain types of immigrants fleeing war or natural disasters the opportunity to apply for permanent residence.

The Dream and Promise Act would cancel the removal (also known as “deportation”) of and grant conditional permanent resident (CPR) status to a person who is inadmissible or deportable from the U.S. if the person:

  • has been continuously physically present in the U.S. for at least four years before the date of the bill’s enactment;
  • entered the U.S. before turning 18;
  • (a) has been admitted to a college, university or other higher educational institution; or (b) has earned a high school diploma, GED, or equivalent post-secondary education credential; or (c) is enrolled in a secondary school or education program that assists students in obtaining a high school diploma, GED or similar state-authorized exam, certificate or credential from a career or technical school providing education at the secondary level,or in obtaining a recognized post-secondary credential;
  • provides biometric and biographic data, with alternative procedures available for those with physical impairments;
  • passes a background check;
  • registered for military selective service if required to;
  • pays a fee no greater than $495, though fee exemptions may apply;

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The immigrant caravan from Central America has now reached the Southwest border. Thousands of migrants are now waiting in Tijuana for an opportunity to apply for asylum at the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa ports of entry.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, tensions begin to mount as members of the immigrant caravan rushed the border fence at the San Ysidro port of entry, attempting to enter the United States illegally. In response, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers shut down both south and northbound traffic at the San Ysidro border crossing south of San Diego for approximately six hours.

The decision to close the San Ysidro port of entry during the holiday weekend was unprecedented considering that the San Ysidro port of entry is one of the busiest land border crossings in the world with 70,000 northbound vehicles and 20,000 northbound pedestrians seeking to cross each day. Many Americans were left stranded in Mexico waiting for the port of entry to re-open to re-enter the country after Thanksgiving.

The saga unfolded on November 25, 2018 when San Diego MTS suspended trolley services at the San Ysidro Transit Center due to increased tensions at the border. Passengers seeking to cross into Mexico were forced to transfer to bus routes traveling to the Otay Mesa border. In similar fashion, Caltrans San Diego announced several closures.

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On November 9, 2018, the President unveiled a new executive order, this time targeting asylum seekers from Central America.

Over the last few weeks, a large caravan of immigrants from Central America, bound for the United States, has made headlines. In a recent campaign ad, the Trump administration depicted individuals forming part of the immigrant caravan as criminals and violent gang members.

The President has not shied away from commenting on the caravan. In an October tweet, when news first spread of the caravan, the President said, “In addition to stopping all payments to these countries, which seem to have almost no control over their population, I must, in the strongest of terms, ask Mexico to stop this onslaught—and if unable to do so I will call up the U.S. Military and CLOSE OUR SOUTHERN BORDER!”

Trump is now delivering on his promise. Trump has now signed an executive order to temporarily suspend the entry of certain aliens entering through the southern border.

The executive order reads:

Under this suspension, aliens entering through the southern border, even those without proper documentation, may, consistent with this proclamation, avail themselves of our asylum system, provided that they properly present themselves for inspection at a port of entry.  In anticipation of a large group of aliens arriving in the coming weeks, I am directing the Secretary of Homeland Security to commit additional resources to support our ports of entry at the southern border to assist in processing those aliens — and all others arriving at our ports of entry — as efficiently as possible.

But aliens who enter the United States unlawfully through the southern border …. will be ineligible to be granted asylum …. Those aliens may, however, still seek other forms of protection from persecution or torture.

Who does the Executive Order apply to:

Aliens who enter the United States across the international boundary between the United States and Mexico after November 9, 2018. The suspension will expire 90 days after November 9, 2018, or the date on which an agreement permits the United States to remove aliens to Mexico.

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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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