In 2018, we saw a wave of anti-immigration policies, rules and proclamations intended to obstruct U.S. immigration.
Driving the news: The House and Senate failed to reach a compromise on immigration legislation, leaving the Trump administration to use everything within its executive power to address the issue. Many of those efforts were blocked (at least temporarily) by the courts.
In light of President Trump’s refusal to sign a bill to prevent a #GovernmentShutdown that does not include border wall funding, a partial government shutdown is currently in effect. Approximately 25 percent of government functions are shut down. Immigration-related agencies that are impacted by the shutdown include the Department of Homeland Security and its immigration-related components (CBP, ICE, USCIS, CIS Ombudsman), the Department of Justice (EOIR), and the Department of State. See below for information as to how these agencies operated during prior shutdown periods. We will update this page with additional information from the agencies as it becomes available.
U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services: USCIS announced that a lapse in annual appropriated funding does not affect USCIS’s fee-funded activities. USCIS offices will remain open, and all individuals should attend interviews and appointments as scheduled. USCIS will continue to accept petitions and applications. Please attend your biometrics appointments, citizenship interviews and visa appointments.
EOIR Immigration Court: Detained cases and court hearings will proceed as scheduled. Non-detained docket cases will be reset for a later date after funding resumes. Immigration courts will issue an updated notice of hearing to respondents or, if applicable, respondents’ representatives of record for each reset hearing.
U.S. Custom & Border Protection: The www.cbp.gov website will not be updated during the government shutdown. Transactions submitted via this website might not be processed and we will not be able to respond to inquiries until after appropriations are enacted. Inspection and law enforcement personnel are considered “essential.” Ports of entry will be open; however, processing of applications filed at the border may be impacted.
Immigration and Custom Enforcement: ICE enforcement and removal operations will continue, and ICE attorneys will typically focus on the detained docket during a shutdown. The ICE Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) offices are unaffected since SEVP is funded by fees.
Department of Labor (DOL) will not be impacted by a government shutdown. (more…)
Next Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court (with Trump new appointee, Justice Kavanaugh) will decide Nielsen v. Preap and determine whether thousands of longtime U.S. residents face indefinite detention without a hearing. Nielsen is a class action brought by a group of immigrants in the Ninth Circuit who have been or are being detained under 8 U.S.C. § 1226, a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act. That section authorizes federal authorities to detain any alien who may be subject to “removal”—the technical term for deportation. That term covers a lot of immigrants—border-crossers arrested after entering the U.S. illegally, tourists or students who have overstayed their visas, and lawful permanent residents who have committed certain crimes.
The issue to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court is whether a criminal alien becomes exempt from mandatory detention under 8 U.S.C. § 1226(c) if, after the alien is released from criminal custody, the Department of Homeland Security does not take him into immigration custody immediately.
The statute creates two classes of “removable” aliens—first, ordinary detainees who have NOT committed crimes but are facing removal on other grounds and second, “criminal aliens” facing removal because of criminal convictions.
For the “criminal alien” group, the statute says that “when the alien is released” from imprisonment, the government “shall take [him or her] into custody.” These immigrants get no bond hearing; they must be held in detention until their cases are resolved.
This is the issue in Nielsen v. Preap: It is not whether authorities can detain these aliens—they can. But does the statute really deny bond hearings to “criminal aliens” who have been released and has returned to a community, established a family and put down roots, and lived a blameless life since that brush with the law? In other words, can criminal aliens be detained indefinitely without bond ONLY when release from prison straight into ICE custody OR can criminal aliens be detained indefinitely without bond when release from prison straight into ICE custody AND even is released into the community and later apprehended by ICE.
Please beware that starting October 1, 2018, the tuberculin skin test (TST) will no longer be accepted for US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) I-693 Form Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record.
All applicants ages 2 and up will now be required to obtain a TB blood test (interferon-gamma release assay or IGRA) as the initial TB screening method.
This new TB blood test will bear the following consequences:
- Children will be subjected to venipuncture (blood work)
- There will be an increase in the price of the medical exam
- The sealed envelope will be ready in 4-5 business days instead of 2 days as previously promised.
Questions regarding Form I-693 Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record:
Q1. Can a civil surgeon accept identification issued in an applicant’s maiden name if she also provides a marriage certificate? How does the civil surgeon notate this if the Form I-693 is completed in her married name but the identity document is in her maiden name?
A1. Yes. A civil surgeon can accept government-issued identification (more…)
Blue folder with the label Immigration Law
Effective September 11, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will deny an immigration application or petition without first issuing a Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) if initial evidence is not submitted or if the evidence in the record does not establish eligibility. So, it will be important to file your immigration petitions will ALL required evidence as lack of evidence and civil documents will lead to a denial. In some cases, denials can lead to deportation in immigration court. USCIS will not send applicants a letter asking for the missing evidence or document (known as Request for Evidence (RFE)). Unfortunately, an innocent mistake or misunderstanding of what documents should have been submitted with the immigration petition will lead to a denial of your application. Note, USCIS will still cash your check and accept the filing fee but will deny your application. It is very important to understand that immigration is more than filing out a form – immigration benefits are based on a complex set of Federal immigration laws. Consult with an Attorney Gail Seeram, an experienced immigration lawyer named Best Lawyer 2016-2019 before submitting an application that may be denied!
Examples of cases where the issuance of an immigration denial may be appropriate without prior issuance of a Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID):
- Waiver applications submitted with little to no supporting evidence of extreme hardship or a qualifying relative;
- Submitting an affidavit of support that doe not meet the poverty guideline or the sponsor not have required income;
- Family-based visa petitions (I-130) filed for family members under categories that are not authorized by statute; and
- At the discretion of the officer.
This means that visa applicants can suddenly find themselves on a path toward deportation. This also seems to be another attack on legal immigration and the administration seems to be seeking to deport legal applicants for minor technicalities.
Whenever possible it is now even more important to file applications/petitions as early as possible to give applicants the best chance of having their case adjudicated before their status or visa expires. It is essential to make sure the files are complete and accurate.
TSA (Transportation Security Administration) has created a new secret watch list also known as a “95 list” to monitor people who may be targeted as potential threats at airport checkpoints. “While people on the list are not necessarily subject to additional scrutiny, it seems likely that agents would single them out for additional attention, and there is no way to get off the list,” said Faiza Patel, a director of the Liberty and National Security Program at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice.
Federal security directors, top TSA. security officials at airports and top Air Marshals supervisors can nominate individuals to be put on the watch list. Only the TSA administrator, his deputy and the top two officials at the agency’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis may add or remove people from the database
Individuals can be placed on the “95 list” for the following:
- they have swatted away security screeners’ hands;
- appeared unruly;
- their actions pose physical danger to security screeners;
- people who loiter suspiciously near security checkpoints;
- people who present “challenges to the safe and effective completion of screening”
So far, the names of fewer than 50 people (more…)
On May 14, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) began recalling approximately 8,500 Permanent Resident Cards (also known as Green Cards), that contain an incorrect “Resident Since” date. We issued these cards between February and April 2018 to spouses of U.S. citizens after we approved their Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions of Residence. The correct “Resident Since” date on the new Green Card should be the same as the “Residence Since” date on the expired two-year Green Card.
Our office has already received letters from USCIS asking to mail back to return the incorrect green cards and a replacement card with the correct “Resident Since” date will be issued in three (3) months.
(CNN) February 26,2018 – The Supreme Court announced it will stay out of the dispute concerning the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for now, meaning the Trump administration may not be able to end the program March 5 as planned.
In an order, the justices declined a request from the Trump administration to review a lower court opinion that temporarily blocked the government’s effort to end the program.
The court’s order means the case will continue in the lower courts and DACA renewals can continue. (more…)
February 14, 2018 – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it will now accept filing fees by credit card payments for filing most of its forms. The new payment option is available for the 41 fee-based forms processed at USCIS Lockbox facilities. CLICK HERE TO SEE LIST OF FORMS THAT CAN BE PAID BY CREDIT CARD
Paying filing fees by credit card for commonly filed immigration petitions will be a major incentive for many who seeking immigration benefits but simply do not have $725 for citizenship and nearly $1300 to apply for a green card. To pay by Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover, applicants will need to use Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transaction (PDF, 260 KB)s. USCIS will enter credit card data into the Pay.gov system, (more…)
Jan. 13, 2018, Update: Due to a federal court order, USCIS has resumed accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under DACA. Until further notice, and unless otherwise provided in this guidance, the DACA policy will be operated on the terms in place before it was rescinded on Sept. 5, 2017.
Individuals who were previously granted deferred action under DACA may request renewal by filing Form I-821D (PDF), Form I-765 (PDF), and Form I-765 Worksheet (PDF), with the appropriate fee or approved fee exemption request, at the USCIS designated filing location, and in accordance with the instructions to the Form I-821D (PDF) and Form I-765 (PDF). USCIS is not accepting requests from individuals who have never before been granted deferred action under DACA. USCIS will not accept or approve advance parole requests from DACA recipients.
If you previously received DACA and your DACA expired on or after Sept. 5, 2016, you may still file your DACA request as a renewal request. Please list the date your prior DACA ended in the appropriate box on Part 1 of the Form I-821D.
If you previously received DACA and your DACA expired before Sept. 5, 2016, or your DACA was previously terminated at any time, you cannot request DACA as a renewal (because renewal requests typically must be submitted within one year of the expiration date of your last period of deferred action approved under DACA), but may nonetheless file a new initial DACA request in accordance with the Form I-821D and Form I-765 instructions. To assist USCIS with reviewing your DACA request for acceptance, if you are filing a new initial DACA request because your DACA expired before Sept. 5, 2016, or because it was terminated at any time, please list the date your prior DACA expired or was terminated on Part 1 of the Form I-821D, if available.
Deferred action is a discretionary determination to defer a removal action of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion. Further, deferred action under DACA does not confer legal status upon an individual and may be terminated at any time, with or without a Notice of Intent to Terminate, at DHS’s discretion. DACA requests will be adjudicated under the guidelines set forth in the June 15, 2012 DACA memo (PDF). (more…)