Articles Posted in Work permits

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The Green Card and Employment Authorization Document just got a brand-new look.

In this post, we bring you the lowdown on what you can expect. USCIS recently announced that the agency will be issuing newly redesigned Permanent Resident Cards (also known as green cards) and Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) starting Monday, January 30, 2023.

The previous design was implemented in 2017. To mitigate the risk of fraud and counterfeiting, USCIS redesigns green cards and EADs every three to five years.

The new design includes state-of-the-art technology designed to improve its security and integrity against counterfeiting.

Along with completely redesigned artwork, the new green card and EADs come with tactile printing, enhanced optically variable ink, secure holographic images on the front and back, and a new layer-reveal feature showcasing a partial window on the back photo box, and data fields that have been placed in different areas than on previous versions.

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We are happy to report that the Biden administration has made the decision to extend Temporary Protected Status for Somalia nationals currently receiving protections under the program from March 18, 2023 through September 17, 2024.

In addition, the re-designation means that certain eligible Somali nationals residing in the United States as of January 11, 2023, will be able to apply for TPS protections for the first time.

The main benefit of applying for this program is that those who are approved for Temporary Protected Status 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).


How did this all happen?


Extension of Designation of Somalia for TPS


On January 12, 2023, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, announced an 18-month extension and redesignation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the country of Somalia. This extension and re-designation will be in effect from March 18, 2023, through September 17, 2024 (an 18-month period).

Secretary Mayorkas made this decision after consulting with government officials and taking into consideration the ongoing armed conflict in Somalia, along with natural disasters, disease outbreaks, and worsening humanitarian crisis. Somalia continues to be impacted by terrorism, violent crime, civil unrest, and fighting amongst clan militias making it necessary to extend the designation of Somalia for TPS.

Mayorkas found that these circumstances ultimately prevented Somali nationals from safely returning to their home country stating, “Through the extension and redesignation of Somalia for Temporary Protected Status, the United States will be able to offer safety and protection to Somalis who may not be able to return to their country, due to ongoing conflict and the continuing humanitarian crisis… We will continue to offer our support to Somali nationals through this temporary form of humanitarian relief.”

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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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In this blog post, we bring you some unfortunate news. Recently, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it will no longer recognize the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) as an accrediting agency.

Sadly, this means that certain F-1 student visa applicants will be impacted by this change, including those undertaking an English language study program. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has said that such programs are required to be accredited under the Accreditation of English Language Training Programs Act.

Additionally, this change will impact F-1 students applying for a 24-month science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) optional practical training (OPT) extension, because government regulations now require use of a degree from an accredited, Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certified school to receive a STEM OPT extension.

The regulations make clear that the school must be accredited at the time of the application (the date of the designated school official’s (DSO) recommendation on the Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status).


What happens next?


Students who have been impacted by this change will receive notification letters from SEVP informing them that their schools’ certification has been withdrawn.

USCIS has said that students who are enrolled at an ACICS-accredited school should contact their DSOs immediately to understand how this loss of accreditation will impact their status and/or immigration benefits.

To make matters worse, schools accredited by ACICS will not be able to issue program extensions, and students will only be allowed to finish their current session if the ACICS-accredited school chooses to voluntarily withdraw its certification or if is withdrawn by SEVP.

If a student’s ACICS-accredited school can provide evidence of a Department of Education recognized accrediting agency or evidence in lieu of accreditation within the allotted timeframe, the student may remain at the school to complete their program of study.


Requests for Evidence Imminent for I-539 Extend/Change of Status


The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be issuing requests for evidence (RFEs) to individuals who filed Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, on or after August 19, 2022, requesting a change of status or reinstatement to attend an ACICS-accredited English language study program.

Once the individual receives the RFE, they will be given the opportunity to provide evidence in response, such as documentation showing that the English language study program they are seeking to enroll in meets the accreditation requirements.

If the student does not submit a new Form I-20 from a school accredited by an entity recognized by the Department of Education, USCIS will deny a change of status or reinstatement request.

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Happy Halloween! In this blog post, we bring you a brand-new immigration update.

On October 21, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the designation of Ethiopia for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for a period of 18 months. This decision marks Ethiopia’s first designation for TPS.

This designation was made based on ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions in Ethiopia that prevent its nationals from safely returning to their country. Concerns relating to conflict-related violence including killings, rape, and gender-based violence prompted the Secretary of Homeland Security to make this decision. Other temporary conditions further complicate the return of Ethiopian nationals including flooding, drought, and disease outbreaks.

In response to the DHS announcement, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas explained, “Ethiopian nationals currently residing in the U.S. who cannot safely return due to conflict-related violence and a humanitarian crisis involving severe food shortages, flooding, drought, and displacement, will be able to remain and work in the United States until conditions in their home country improve.”

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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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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! We hope you had a wonderful weekend.

In this blog post, we share with you some exciting news for Venezuelan nationals receiving benefits under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program.

The Biden administration has made the decision to extend Temporary Protected Status for Venezuelan nationals currently receiving protections under the program until March 10, 2024. In addition, the re-designation means that certain eligible Venezuelan nationals will be able to apply for TPS protections for the first time.

The main benefit of applying for this program is that those who are approved for Temporary Protected Status 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).


How did this all happen?


Extension of Designation of Venezuela for TPS

On July 11, 2022, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, announced an 18-month extension and redesignation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the country of Venezuela. This extension and re-designation will be in effect from September 10, 2022, through March 10, 2024 (an 18-month period).

Secretary Mayorkas made this decision after consulting with government officials and taking into consideration the ongoing conflict in Venezuela, lack of access to food, water, healthcare, and other conditions.

Mayorkas found that these circumstances ultimately prevented Venezuelan nationals from safely returning to their home country stating, “After careful consideration, and in consultation with the Secretary of State, today I am extending that designation. This action is one of many ways the Biden administration is providing humanitarian support to Venezuelans at home and abroad, together with our regional partners. We will continue to work with our international partners to address the challenges of regional migration while ensuring our borders remain secure.”

Currently, there are an estimated 343,000 individuals potentially eligible for TPS under the existing designation of Venezuela. The program’s extension will mean that these beneficiaries can re-register for benefits and retain TPS status through March 10, 2024, so long as they can demonstrate that they continue to meet the TPS eligibility requirements.

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Are you a national of Cameroon interested in applying for Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?

Then you may be interested to know that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be hosting a webinar on Thursday September 8, 2022, from 2 to 3 pm Eastern Time all about the application criteria. As previously reported, beginning April 15, 2022, DHS designated Cameroon for TPS benefits for a period of 18 months. The registration period is set to close on December 7, 2023.

Individuals eligible for TPS under Cameroon’s designation must have continuously resided in the United States since April 14, 2022 and demonstrate continuous physical presence in the United States since June 7, 2022.

Any nationals of Cameroon who attempt to travel to the United States after April 14, 2022, will not be eligible for Temporary Protected Status.

TPS applicants must meet all eligibility requirements and undergo security and background checks to gain approval.


What will be discussed during the webinar session?


During the webinar, USCIS will provide an overview of the designation of Cameroon for TPS and then hold a question-and-answer session. USCIS cautions the public that it will not be addressing case-specific questions, questions outside the scope of the engagement, or issues under active litigation.

To Register for the Webinar:

  1. Individuals must visit the registration page.
  2. You will be asked to provide your email address and select “Submit.”
  3. On the next screen, you will see a notification that you successfully subscribed to this event.

Once your registration is complete, you will receive a confirmation email with additional details.

If you have not received a confirmation email within three business days, you may email at public.engagement@uscis.dhs.gov.

For more information about Cameroon’s TPS designation please click here.

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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 this blog post, we share with you the latest immigration updates from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.


I-589 Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal Receipt Notice Delays


More blunders are being made at USCIS service centers. On July 28, USCIS announced delays in the issuance of receipt notices for Form I-589, Applications for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, stating that applicants may not receive their notices in a timely manner.

With respect to the 1-year filing deadline for asylum, the filing date will still be the date that USCIS received your properly filed Form I-589 (not the date it was processed).

Applications that were not properly filed will be rejected and deficiencies will be noted in the filing. USCIS reminds applicants that if they have not received their receipt notices in a timely manner, they should not submit multiple Forms I-589, as it will result in case delays.

USCIS has provided the following reminders to help applicants determine whether their form I-589 was properly filed to prevent further delays:

  • You must submit your application for asylum within one year of arriving in the United States (one-year filing deadline), unless you can establish that there are changed circumstances that materially affect your eligibility for asylum or extraordinary circumstances directly related to your failure to file within one year.
  • You must type or print all of your answers in black ink.
  • You must provide the specific information requested about you and your family and answer all the questions on the form. If any question does not apply to you or you do not know the information requested, answer “none,” “not applicable,” or “unknown.”
  • If you file your application with missing information, we may return it to you as incomplete.

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