Articles Posted in Work permits

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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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In this blog post, we share with you some recent updates for the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program. On March 16, 2022, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced the designation of Afghanistan for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for a period of 18 months.


What is Temporary Protected Status?


Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a statutorily authorized program established by the United States Congress in 1990. The program allows migrants whose home countries are considered unsafe, the right to live and work in the United States for a temporary, but extendable, period of time. Though they are not considered lawful permanent residents (green card holders) or U.S. citizens, they are authorized to live in the United States without fear of deportation under temporary protected status. Applicants may also apply for employment authorization by filing Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization with USCIS along with their application for TPS.

A country may be designated for TPS when conditions in the country fall into one or more of the three statutory bases for designation: ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or extraordinary and temporary conditions.

Afghanistan’s recent designation is based on both ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions in Afghanistan that prevent Afghan nationals, from returning safely.


Who can apply?


Individuals eligible for TPS under this designation must have continuously resided in the United States since Tuesday, March 15, 2022. Eligible applicants must be a national of Afghanistan or a person without nationality who last habitually resided in Afghanistan.

Any Afghan nationals who attempt to travel to the United States after Tuesday, March 15, 2022, will not be eligible for Temporary Protected Status.

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We have some breaking news for Ukrainian nationals. In a swift and unprecedented move, the Department of Homeland Security, today announced the designation of Ukraine to receive Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for an 18-month period.


What is Temporary Protected Status?


Established by the U.S. Congress in 1990, temporary protected status (TPS) is a program that allows migrants whose home countries are considered unsafe, the right to live and work in the United States for a temporary, but extendable, period of time. Though they are not considered lawful permanent residents (green card holders) or U.S. citizens, they are authorized to live in the United States without fear of deportation under temporary protected status. Applicants may also apply for employment authorization by filing Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization with USCIS along with their application for TPS.

A country may be designated for TPS when conditions in the country fall into one or more of the three statutory bases for designation: ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or extraordinary and temporary conditions.

Ukraine’s designation is based on both ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions in Ukraine that prevent Ukrainian nationals, and those of no nationality who last habitually resided in Ukraine, from returning to Ukraine safely.


Who can apply?


Individuals eligible for TPS under this designation must have continuously resided in the United States since Tuesday, March 1, 2022. Eligible applicants must be a national of Ukraine or a person without nationality who last habitually resided in Ukraine.

Any Ukrainian nationals who attempt to travel to the United States after Tuesday, March 1, 2022, will not be eligible for Temporary Protected Status.

Ukraine’s 18-month designation will go into effect on the publication date of the forthcoming Federal Register notice. The Federal Register notice will provide instructions for applying for Temporary Protected Status, and an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

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In this blog post, we share great news for E and L dependent spouses!

As we previously reported on our blog, pursuant to a new USCIS policy, E and L nonimmigrant dependent spouses are now considered employment authorized “incident to their status.”

This means that upon admission and issuance of a valid I-94 arrival/departure document showing E or L-2 spousal status, E and L nonimmigrant spouses will automatically be authorized to work without the need to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Previously, E or L dependent spouses were required to apply for an EAD by filing Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization with USCIS.


How does this system work?


Effective January 31, 2022, CBP Office of Field Operations (OFO), in coordination with both USCIS and Department of State, began issuing new classes of admission on the I-94 arrival/departure record for E and L dependent spouses entering the U.S. at a Port of Entry. The new I-94 admission records indicate an “S” designation after the E or L class of admission to indicate that the spouse is authorized to work in the United States. The “S” designation is meant to indicate that the E or L nonimmigrant is a dependent “spouse” of a principal E or L visa holder. Please note that the new designation will not explicitly state that the spouse is “work authorized,” however the “S” designation signals to U.S. employers that the spouse is authorized to work for I-9 employment verification purposes.

Spouses who applied for an extension of their E or L visa status with USCIS, will receive I-94s that carry the new “S” designation at the bottom of their approval notices.


How can I prove that I am authorized to work as an E or L dependent spouse?


If you are an L or E dependent spouse who wishes to work in the United States without having to obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), you must present an I-94 admission document with the “S” spousal annotation.

CBP has confirmed that the agency has been issuing new I-94’s with the “S” spousal annotation to E and L spouses who gained admission to the United States on or after January 31, 2022.


How does the annotation look?


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E/L Spousal Annotation

The I-94 will be annotated with an “S” next to the E or L-2 status designation, signaling to prospective employers that the individual is authorized to work during the validity period of the I-94. Spouses admitted in E or L-2 status should review their I-94 document immediately upon admission to ensure that it contains the appropriate annotation.


What if I gained admission to the United States prior to January 31, 2022 and I do not have the spousal designation on my I-94?


If you are an E or L dependent spouse who gained admission to the U.S. prior to January 31, 2022, and you do not have the “S” spousal annotation on your I-94, you must contact your closest CBP Deferred Inspection Office to determine whether they may, in their discretion, amend your I-94 arrival/departure record to include the “S” spousal annotation without requiring international travel. CBP may or may not agree to amend your I-94.

In cases where CBP will not amend your I-94 to include the spousal annotation, you may consider discussing with your immigration attorney whether you should depart the United States and re-enter at a U.S. port of entry to secure the new spousal annotated I-94. You must exercise caution before making any international travel plans. An immigration attorney will need to evaluate whether you have the proper documentation to gain re-admission after temporary foreign travel and determine whether your planned travel would result in the issuance of a new annotated I-94. Certain brief international trips may not result in a new I-94 issued by CBP.

Please note that if you are an E or L spouse admitted prior to January 31, 2022, and you have filed an application to extend your L or E status while in the U.S., USCIS is expected to issue the “S” spousal annotation on I-94’s printed at the bottom of USCIS-issued approval notices.

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This week brings positive immigration news indeed. We are happy to report that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has updated its policy guidelines regarding validity periods for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) for asylees and refugees, noncitizens with withholding of deportation or removal, noncitizens with deferred action, parolees, and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitioners.


What is the new policy all about?


In the new policy alert, USCIS points out that under current guidelines the agency has been issuing initial and renewal Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) with a 1-year validity period, to asylees and refugees, noncitizens with withholding of deportation or removal, and VAWA self-petitioners.

Furthermore, in at least some cases involving deferred action or parolees, initial and renewal EADs are being issued for an even shorter duration, than that of the underlying deferred action or parole period, forcing applicants to file multiple applications for Employment Authorization to prevent employment gaps to cover their entire period of deferred action or parole.

The government is now recognizing its incredible inefficiency and is changing its policy to align with the Biden administration’s agenda. The USCIS policy manual has now been revised to state that initial and renewal EADs may be issued with a maximum validity period of up to 2 years for asylees and refugees, noncitizens with withholding of deportation or removal, and VAWA self-petitioners. For deferred action and parolee applicants, USCIS will now issue EADs up to the end of the authorized deferred action or parole period for individuals seeking an EAD in these filing categories.

Please note that replacement EADs will not be affected by this policy change.  USCIS will continue to issue replacement EADs with the same validity date as the original EAD.


When is this new policy effective?


The updated policy guidance, contained in Volume 10, Part A of the USCIS Policy Manual, is effective as of today Monday, February 7, 2022.

Accordingly, USCIS will immediately apply the updated validity period guidelines to EADs issued for impacted categories on or after February 7, 2022.

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We are happy to share some great news for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) applicants! On November 29, 2021, the United States Citizenship, and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that TPS applicants may now file Form I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status and I-765 Application for Employment Authorization entirely online for certain country designations.


Who is eligible to apply online?


First-time TPS applicants and TPS beneficiaries who are re-registering are eligible to file Form I-821 and Form I-765 online, provided they are a national under one of the following current designations for TPS:

  • Burma (Myanmar)
  • El Salvador
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Nepal
  • Nicaragua
  • Somalia
  • South Sudan
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Venezuela
  • Yemen

Applicants can request an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) by submitting a completed Form I-765 with their Form I-821 online, or they may choose to submit their Form I-765 separately later. TPS applicants are recommended to file both forms together to help receive their Employment Authorization Document more quickly.


Where can I file?


To file Form I-821 online, eligible TPS applicants should visit the myUSCIS page to log into or create a USCIS online account. Through their myUSCIS account, applicants will be able to track the status of their application, review requests for more evidence, download a copy of their receipt notice, and have the ability to communicate with USCIS about their application through a secure inbox.


Why the change?


The new online filing capability is part of USCIS’ efforts to streamline the application process and reduce workloads by easily and conveniently retrieving applications and supporting documentation electronically. Previously, TPS online filing was only available to individuals from certain countries. The expansion of the online filing capability will now give USCIS the ability to process applications and EADs on a more timely basis through its secure and convenient platform.

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We are happy to deliver some amazing news for H-4, E, and L dependent spouses! On November 12, 2021, following a settlement agreement known as Shergill v. Mayorkas, the United States Citizenship, and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a new Policy Memorandum (Policy Alert PA-2021-25) outlining that the agency will automatically allow for employment authorization for dependent E, L, and certain H-4 spouses of principal visa holders, without requiring spouses to file I-765 application for employment authorization to be eligible to work in the United States.

The new Policy Memorandum also rescinds the agency’s previous 2002 Memorandum which did not allow dependent spouses in E, L and certain H-4 visa holders to automatically qualify for work authorization in the United States.

Following this new settlement, E, L, and certain H-4 spouses will be able to work just by having their valid visas, and they will not need to file any separate applications nor need an employment authorization card (work permit) to lawfully work in the United States.

While some doubt initially arose regarding whether E dependent spouses would qualify for automatic employment authorization, USCIS has now explicitly confirmed that it will indeed consider E and L dependent spouses to be employment authorized incident to their valid E or L nonimmigrant status.

The new November 12, 2021, Policy Memorandum outlines the following:

  • Certain H-4, E, or L dependent spouses to qualify for an automatic extension of their existing employment authorization and accompanying employment authorization document (EAD) if they properly filed an application to renew their H-4, E or L-based EAD before the document expires and they have an unexpired Form I-94 evidencing their status as an H-4, E, or L nonimmigrant;
  • The automatic extension of the EAD will continue until the earlier of: end date on Form I-94 evidencing valid status the approval or denial of the EAD renewal application, or 180 days from the date of expiration of the prior EAD document; Form I-94, evidencing unexpired nonimmigrant status (H-4, E or L), Form I797C receipt for a timely – filed EAD renewal application stating “Class requested as “(a)(17),” “(a)(18) or ((c)(26)”, and the facially expired EAD issued under the same category);

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In this blog post we share amazing news with our readers regarding the settlement of a recent class-action lawsuit filed against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The agreement reached under the settlement will immediately allow for automatic renewals of employment authorization for: L-2 spouses of L-1 nonimmigrants and qualifying H-4 dependent spouses who (a) properly file an application to renew their H-4 based employment authorization document before expiration (b) have an unexpired Form I-94 showing their status as an H-4 nonimmigrant and (c) who will continue to have H-4 status beyond the expiration date of their employment authorization document. Shergill v. Mayorkas, No. 21-1296 (W.D. Wash.)


What does this new settlement mean?


 Effective immediately, the Shergill settlement will make it a lot easier for L-2 and H-4 dependent spouses to continue working in the United States without having to apply for a renewal of their employment authorization and without interruptions to their employment. As many are already aware, the processing of I-765 employment authorization applications is currently subject to extreme delays due to the pandemic and burdens on USCIS offices. This new settlement will prevent L-2 and certain H-4 dependent spouses from being stuck in these backlogs. Not to mention L-2 and certain H-4 spouses will no longer have to pay the required $410 filing fee to renew their employment authorization. Following this new settlement, L-2 spouses and certain H-4 spouses will be able to work just by having their valid H-4 and L-2 visas, and they will not need to file any separate applications nor need an employment authorization card (work permit) to work in the United States.


Guidelines for Dependent Spouses under the Settlement Agreement


Under the terms of the Shergill settlement agreement, as it relates to L-2 dependent spouses, USCIS will now interpret 8 CFR § 274a.13(d) to recognize that employment authorization for such spouses is now linked (incident) to their visa status. USCIS will also allow up to 180-day automatic employment authorization extensions when the applicant has already had the H-4 or L-2 status extension granted either through USCIS or through travel.

Automatic Renewals of Employment Authorization for applications that already have valid H-4 status

  • Pursuant to the settlement agreement, USCIS is now interpreting the law so that H-4 nonimmigrants who have timely filed their I-765 EAD renewal applications and continue to have H-4 status beyond the expiration date of their EAD, qualify for the automatic extension based on their (c)(26) EAD.
  • This automatic extension will terminate on the earlier of: the end date of the H-4 status, adjudication of the EAD renewal application, or 180 days from the previous card’s expiration date.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this blog post we share with you some recent news regarding a new class action lawsuit that has been filed by 49 plaintiffs against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), seeking relief from the extreme processing delays currently taking place for I-765 applications for employment authorization (EADs) filed by individuals seeking adjustment of status (AOS) in the United States, and for I-765 applications filed by E-2 dependent spouses with USCIS.

Currently, USCIS reports that I-765 work permit applications based on a pending I-485 adjustment of status application are taking between 20 to 21.5 months to process at the California Service Center; while it is taking 9 to 9.5 months to process work permit applications at the National Benefits Center; and 9.5 to 10.5 months to process such applications at the Nebraska Service Center.

The new legal challenge against the government has been mounted by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP, Joseph and Hall PC, Kuck Baxter Immigration LLC, and Siskind Susser PC.

The lawsuit seeks to hold the government accountable once and for all for the exorbitant processing times taking place for work permit applications to be adjudicated, especially those at the California Service Center. Under the law, applicants for adjustment of status are afforded the option of applying for temporary employment authorization while their green card applications are pending with USCIS, through what is supposed to be an easy procedure that involves filing a simple I-765 application for employment authorization. In normal circumstances, such employment authorization applications took on average 7 to 9 months to be adjudicated. Since the onset of the pandemic however USCIS has not been able to adjudicate these applications within reasonable timeframes.

Processing times have gotten worse and worse to the point that applicants are receiving their green card interview appointments before even coming close to receiving an approved employment authorization document. This has resulted in applicants being unable to seek employment while waiting for their green card applications to process. This has caused great cause for concern for individuals who have a job offer lined up or who need to work to maintain their households. Further, the American economy is experiencing more and more labor shortages as they struggle to get individuals back to work. The situation at the USCIS level is making it even more difficult for American businesses to find qualified workers.

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