Articles Posted in Special Immigrants

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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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We kick off the Thanksgiving week with some exciting news.

Recently, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) met with representatives from the Department of State to address some issues of concern relating to several different immigration topics.

We provide a summary of the questions asked and responses from the Department of State down below that was part of a recent roundtable with representatives from Consular Affairs.


Nonimmigrant and Immigrant Visa Applications from Third Country Nationals


Representatives reminded nonimmigrant visa applicants, including students, that they can apply for their visas at any embassy or consulate where they are physically present and obtain a visa appointment.

Additionally, immigrant visa applicants can request to transfer their case to another embassy or consulate if they are unable to travel to the post where their case is assigned.

As to the possibility for virtual visa interviews, the State Department has said immigrant visa applicants are required to appear in person before a consular officer to provide fingerprints, therefore video interviews would be of limited utility.


Interview Waivers


AILA informed the State Department that it appears that some appointment scheduling systems incorrectly identify applicants that are clearly not eligible for interview waivers as eligible and invite them to send in their passports for visa issuance.

In these instances, once the passport is submitted to the post, it is determined that the applicant is not eligible for an interview waiver, the applicant has to be contacted, their passport has to be returned, and they have to then schedule an in-person interview appointment.

The State Department has said it is not aware of this issue happening at posts and recommended that those experiencing issues with applications submitted via interview waiver processes should contact the relevant post for information.


E-2 Treaty Investor Visas  


Question: 9 FAM 402.9-6(A)(a)(4) informs officers that one of the determinations in evaluating E-2 Treaty Investor applications is that the: “Enterprise is a real and operating commercial enterprise,” and is then referred to 9 FAM 402.9-6(C) for further discussion.

The first sentence of 9 FAM 402.9-6(C) states: “The enterprise must be a real and active commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking, producing some service or commodity.” The third sentence of 9 FAM 402.9-6(C) continues the description of the enterprise to state, “It cannot be a paper organization or an idle speculative investment…”Especially in the context of start-up businesses, defining these terms will provide greater clarity and guidance to E-2 visa applicants.

Please confirm: Are the words “operating” at 402.9-6(A)(a)(4) and “active” at 402.9-6(C) used interchangeably?

Answer: Almost. The term “active” at 402.9-6(C) was used to ensure that new enterprises that had not yet begun producing services or commodities, but which were actively taking steps to become operational, could also provide a basis for E visa issuance.

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In this blog post, we follow up on our previous reporting relating to a brand-new program launched by the Biden administration that will allow for the admission of up to 24,000 Venezuelans, closely following in the footsteps of the Uniting for Ukraine program.

Today, October 18, 2022, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services updated its “Venezuela” webpage including all the details regarding this new program. Applications are currently being accepted by USCIS.

We break down the details for you down below.


What is this program all about?


USCIS has launched a new process that allows Venezuelan nationals and their immediate family members to come to the United States in a safe and orderly manner.

Like the Uniting for Ukraine program, nationals of Venezuela who are outside the United States and who lack U.S. entry documents will be considered for admission to the United States on a case-by-case basis.

Those who are found eligible, will receive advance authorization to travel to the United States and a temporary period of parole for up to 2 years for urgent humanitarian reasons and significant public benefit.

After being paroled into the United States, beneficiaries are eligible to apply for discretionary employment authorization from USCIS. To apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), applicants must submit Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, using the (c)(11) category code with the required fee or apply for a fee waiver.

Using the same Form I-765 form, applicants can also apply for a Social Security number (SSN) by following the form instructions.

If you request an SSN in Part 2 (Items 13a-17.b) of your Form I-765, and your application is approved, USCIS will electronically transmit that data to the Social Security Administration (SSA), and SSA will assign you an SSN and issue you a Social Security card. SSA will mail your Social Security card directly to the address you provide on Form I-765.

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The Biden administration is ramping up efforts to secure the Southwest border to curb illegal immigration stemming from the humanitarian and economic crisis in Venezuela.

In a press release issued October 12, 2022, the Biden administration announced that effective immediately, Venezuelans who enter the United States between ports of entry, without authorization, will be returned to Mexico, pursuant to its agreement with the Mexican government.

The U.S. government also announced a new process to efficiently grant admission of up to 24,000 Venezuelans into the country, that mirrors the Uniting for Ukraine program. This effort is designed to encourage lawful and orderly admission to the United States for Venezuelans.

To be eligible for this new program, Venezuelans must:

  • have a supporter in the United States who will provide financial and other support;
  • pass rigorous biometric and biographic national security and public safety screening and vetting; and
  • complete vaccinations and other public health requirements.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog. We kick off the start of a brand-new week with unfortunate news for asylum-based applicants for I-765 employment authorization.

New data from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) indicates that the agency has been woefully inadequate at processing work permits, failing to meet the 30-day required processing time for employment authorization cards, also known as EADs, filed by asylum seekers.

By law, USCIS must process work permits (EADs) within 30 days of receipt of an asylum seekers I-765 application for employment authorization. However new data shows that USCIS has not been meeting this required timeline throughout 2022, and processing has been declining to a record low.

Data released by USCIS, as part of ongoing litigation, shows that during the last three weeks of February 2022, 93 percent of I-765 applications had been pending for at least 30 days. In March 2022, this figure plummeted to just 68 percent of I-765’s being processed within the 30 days.  Sadly, in recent months, the data shows that processing of EADs has been getting worse and worse on a monthly basis. For instance, in April of this year, this figure dropped to 41 percent of I-765 applications being processed within 30 days. In May the drop continued to just 21 percent, and in June to just 6 percent. Finally, this past month of July, the agency processed less than 5 percent of EAD applications within the required 30-day window. This trend puts on full display the asylum visa processing crisis with no end in sight.

The drop in EAD processing coincides directly with a court ruling handed down in February. USCIS appears to be clearing out the backlog by first processing work permit applications pending the longest, creating substantial delays for more recent applications for employment authorization.

The data indicates that the vast majority of applications USCIS processed over the past three months had been pending for more than 120 days (nearly 4 months).

Due to the EAD processing crisis, USCIS now faces a backlog of more than 77,000 pending work permit requests received by the agency within the past three months alone.

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In today’s blog post, we share some interesting Question and Answer responses recently provided by the Department of State’s Office of the Assistant Legal Adviser for Consular Affairs (L/CA), in a meeting with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

The responses below provide some important insight into current immigration policies and procedures taking place amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Here, we summarize the most interesting questions covered during the January 20 meeting:


Department of State/AILA Liaison Committee Meeting


January 20, 2022 Q & A Highlights


Q: What role do Consular sections assume when determining whether an individual is exempt from the CDC COVID-19 vaccine requirement to gain entry to the U.S.?

A: Consular sections’ role in the process is to ensure that an individual’s request for a [vaccine] exception is filled out in full, and to transmit those requests to the CDC.


Q: If consular posts are involved in transmitting information in support of a humanitarian exception to CDC, what is the process, if any, for making such a request of a consular post outside the context of a visa interview?

A: Travelers should contact the consular section of the nearest embassy or consulate using the information provided on that embassies or consulate’s website


Q: What is the Department of State doing to alleviate the substantial backlogs created by the slowdown of operations at Consular posts and Embassies worldwide?

A: The Department is planning to hire foreign service officers above attrition in FY 2022. The majority will be assigned to a consular position after initial training. Additionally, the Department continues to recruit Limited Non-career Appointment (LNA) Consular Professionals. With very limited LNA hiring in FY 2020 and a pause on LNA hiring in FY 2021 due to CA’s budgetary constraints, Consular Affairs plans to hire more than 60 LNAs in FY 2022

Consular Affairs is working with State’s office of Global Talent Management to ramp up hiring in FY 2022, but many posts will not see these new officers until the second half of FY 2022 or FY 2023, particularly for officers assigned to positions requiring language training. Increased hiring will not have an immediate effect on reducing current visa wait times. Because local pandemic restrictions continue to impact a significant number of our overseas posts, extra staff alone is not sufficient to combat wait times for interviews.


Q: Can Consular Affairs please advise regarding efforts to resume routine consular services?

A: Consular sections abroad must exercise prudence given COVID’s continuing unpredictability. The emergence of the Omicron variant has prompted countries to reevaluate plans to relax travel bans, thereby leading consular sections abroad to recalibrate plans to resume services. Some posts have already fully resumed routine services. Others, in an abundance of caution and out of concern for the health of both consular staff and clientele, are slowly reintroducing some routine services.

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Welcome back to the start of a brand-new week! We are excited to announce brand new developments in the world of immigration specifically for U visa victims of crimes.

On June 14, 2021, the United States Citizenship, and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a new policy alert, informing U visa applicants that the agency will now be exercising its discretion to issue four year Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) (also known as work permits),  as well as four-year “deferred action” status to certain U visa applicants, including those who have filed new U visa petitions, and those whose U visa petitions remain pending with USCIS, based on a new discretionary process called a “bona fide determination.”

This is a groundbreaking new development for U visa applicants because victims of crime will now be eligible to receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), as well as “deferred action” status, while their U visa applications remain pending with USCIS. With this new policy change, U visa applicants will no longer need to wait 5+ years for their U visa approval, in order to become eligible for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), and be protected from deportation.

Previously, only principal U visa applicants whose petitions were approved by USCIS, were authorized to work based on their approved status with immigration. Only those with an approved Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-918) would automatically be issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). All other applicants with pending petitions were forced to wait in the visa queue for a visa to become available due to the mandatory U visa cap. This process on average has taken up to 5 years.

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