* Dramatization
* Dramatization
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login-570317_640-300x196In an unexpected move after President Trump announced last year that he would eliminate the program, the US Department of State published instructions for the entry process to the Diversity Visa 2020 (DV-2020) immigration program.

A section in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides for the issuance of a limited number of visas every fiscal year to a certain class of immigrants known as “diversity immigrants”—foreign nationals from countries with usually low rates of immigration to the United States. The Diversity Visa program makes use of a lottery system in issuing 50,000 of such visas, all of which lead to lawful permanent resident status.

While registration to the program is free, those looking to apply have strict eligibility requirements to meet.

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agenda-3704352_640-300x200Petitioners pursuing employment-based immigration into the United States can breathe easy for now as US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced it will be focusing on deporting immigrants who are unlawfully in the country through other channels first.

USCIS recently published an update to its policies surrounding the issuance of NTAs, claiming that it will be expediting the process of deportation by authorizing its officers to send out these notices when an immigrant is found to be unlawfully present. The agency announced the policy as early as July 2018 but held off its implementation until it could work out the finer details of its application.

The rollout of this policy change is set to disproportionately affect immigrants who apply for and are subsequently denied lawful presence in the US on various bases.

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letter-of-application-3685417_640-300x199US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that I-485 applications for adjustment of status will be open as soon as October 2018 in both the family-based and the employment-based categories according to the cutoff dates outlined in the “Dates for Filing” Chart of the State Department’s monthly Visa Bulletin.

Form I-485, or the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, offers lawful permanent residence to immigrants who entered the country legally and can prove their eligibility. An applicant must meet all the requirements in certain categories like family relationship or employment.

According to current immigration policy, employment-based I-485 applicants can only file their applications once they reach their priority date as dictated in the Visa Bulletin’s Final Action Chart. As such, the recent announcement that USCIS will be receiving applications before the priority date came as a pleasant surprise.

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bus-690508_640-300x200The Department of Homeland Security has proposed a new regulation that would change the way the government evaluates whether an applying immigrant is “not likely to be a public charge,” making it even more difficult for foreigners trying to enter the United States or obtain a green card.

The Trump administration expressed its plans to broaden the definition of “public charge,” arguing that its current scope has allowed countless immigration applications to go through. The proposed definition would mandate a deep-dive into a would-be immigrant’s history and economic circumstances to determine whether they are likely to end up a state liability once on US soil.

The new regulation revolves around the government’s current take on the public benefits that immigrants may likely avail of. At present, regulations only include cash benefits, which not even 5 percent of immigrants use. The proposed definition will, however, include Medicaid, food stamps, housing benefits, and subsidies for low-income earners in Medicare Part D.

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corte-suprema-di-cassazione-3682663_640-300x200Recent decisions by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions may place heavier limitations on immigration courts and impact their treatment of unlawfully present immigrants, signifying a change in the way immigration courts may start handling certain types of cases and the way immigration law is enforced in the US.

The first is a ruling wherein Sessions declares that an immigration judge’s discretion is not enough to dismiss a case.

“The authority to dismiss or terminate proceedings is not a free-floating power an immigration judge may invoke whenever he or she believes that a case no longer merits space on the docket,” Session wrote in the 7-page ruling.

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children-63175_640-300x216Lawmakers and immigration enforcement officials gathered in a Senate Committee on Homeland Security hearing on Tuesday to discuss a proposal to change the policies surrounding the detention of undocumented immigrant children.

The Trump administration is presently working on revising the rules governing the detention of undocumented children. At present, a 1997 settlement known as the Flores Agreement (from Reno v. Flores, 507 U.S. 292) limits a child’s detention to no more than 20 days. The proposed changes to the policy, however, would indefinitely extend the possible detention period for children and families caught unlawfully entering the country.

Those behind the revisions cite the tremendous case backlog in immigration courts and explain that the new detention policy would give courts the time they need to process and resolve the cases currently in pendency.

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book-1822474_640-300x206With the federal government detaining undocumented immigrant children at federal facilities across the country and, there have been an increasing number of reports of children being deprived of basic health services and due process. A group of detained immigrant children, many of whom came to the US to seek asylum, claimed in a complaint that the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) has been blocking them from accessing legal counsel, giving them psychotropic drugs against their will, and discriminating against disabled children.

The lead plaintiff in the case is a 13-year-old Guatemalan child known only as Lucas R. He was brought to a detainment facility in Arizona upon his arrival at the border in February 2018. While he has family waiting for him in Los Angeles—a sister named Madelyn R.—he was later transferred to the Shiloh Residential Treatment Center in Texas. Lucas is currently waiting to be released to his sister.

Lucas’s experience at the Hacienda del Sol Facility in Youngtown, Arizona is a harrowing tale. The 58-page complaint claims that the child “became depressed, fearing that ORR would never release him to his family” during his confinement at the facility. Lucas told the staff about his condition. ORR staff responded by giving him psychotropic drugs to treat his “moderate” depression – a move made with familial consent.

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visa-3653492_640-300x184In June this year, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released Policy Memorandum with the subject: Updated Guidance for the Referral of Cases and Issuance of Notices to Appear (NTAs) in Cases Involving Inadmissible and Deportable Aliens in responsive to a Trump EO (Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States) issued last year, which ordered USCIS to prioritize the removal of unlawfully present immigrants in the country.

The memo targets all delinquent immigrants, including holders of EB-5 visas who are overstaying in the country. At present, USCIS can at any moment file an NTA on an immigrant when they meet certain criteria, initiating removal proceedings.

A foreign investor under the EB-5 may now be issued an NTA when they are found to have made an immigration violation, abused public benefit programs, or have fallen out of legal status. They can also be removed for being arrested for a criminal offense whether or not the case has been resolved and regardless of its outcome.

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aircraft-3507043_640-300x190After reports surfaced that undocumented immigrants were being arrested in a questionable manner in “sensitive locations,” a group of senators have introduced the Protecting Sensitive Locations Act, strengthening existing immigration enforcement policies and providing greater protections to these individuals.

The bill comes as US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents continue to detain undocumented immigrants as they seek medical care or accompany family members in healthcare facilities, despite existing policies protecting these facilities from such enforcement activities.

ICE and CPB classify hospitals, along with other medical facilities, churches, schools, and courthouses, as “sensitive locations,” which means that for all intents and purposes, they should be off-limits to immigration enforcement activities without prior approval or pressing circumstances.

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travel-2789166_640-300x200A federal judge has ruled against Texas state’s motion to put an immediate end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a move that took the state six years to bring to court. DACA is an Obama-era immigration program that protects undocumented immigrants brought into the US as minors from deportation. Through DACA, these young immigrants can apply for special work permits that allow them to legally work in the country, renewable every two years.

Texas had led a coalition composed of eight other Republican-controlled states and the Republican governors of Maine and Mississippi in suing the federal government, filing a case to permanently end the DACA program in May this year.

US District Judge Andrew Hanen presided over the case and agreed with the petitioners on a number of points. First, he agreed that immigrants under DACA may be taking jobs that would have gone to US citizens, and that the state would have to cover for their public school education and emergency medical services.