Articles Posted in Family-Based Immigration

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laptop-2838921_640-300x178A federal judge ruled against the Trump administration’s plans to end the temporary protected status (TPS) designation for the over 300,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, and Nicaragua.

Late last year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced its intention to remove the TPS designation of El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan, claiming that the conditions that initially allowed for these countries to receive TPS designation, such as political unrest, extreme natural disasters, and gang-related violence, are no longer as prominent as they once were. And so, the federal government found it reasonable to require citizens from these countries in the United States to pack their bags and head home.

US District Judge Edward M. Chen of San Francisco, however, found that the government’s decision to end the legal status for these countries was problematic on several fronts.

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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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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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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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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.

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writing-1149962_640-300x200In a recent court filing, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reaffirmed its intention to rescind the H-4 rule, which provides employment authorization to spouses of certain migrant H-1B visa holders who are legally living in the United States and are on the path to acquiring a green card. The DHS declared that its “intention to proceed” with the rescission rule proposed last year “remains unchanged.”

The H-1B visa is issued to foreign workers in specialty fields like chemistry, technology, and medicine among others, allowing them to work and stay in the country for as long as they remain employed. A number of H-1B holders have spouses and children who are often unable to move to the United States on their own merit. These immediate relatives can follow the H-1B holder to the U.S. through the H4 visa, a dependent and nonimmigrant visa issued by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

However, the DHS announced in December of 2017 that it would be rescinding the H-4 rule in an effort to align itself with the priorities outlined in the “Buy American, Hire American” executive order signed by President Trump in April last year. The DHS was supposed to publish its proposal to rescind the H-4 as soon as February of 2018, but this was since postponed twice.

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woman-792162_640-300x200U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has published a final immigration memorandum updating its newly implemented unlawful presence policy, which changed how USCIS determined whether foreign students and participants of student exchange programs were lawfully in the country.

According to the memo, F- and M-visa holders will not be deemed as being in the country unlawfully while waiting for their visas to be reinstated, so long as they file their reinstatement applications no longer than five months after their status expires.

If, however, their reinstatement application is denied, they will automatically begin accruing unlawful presence the day after being notified of their denial. Likewise, J-1 visa holders with reinstatement applications that are approved will not accrue unlawful presence.

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baby-1151351_640-300x225Amy and Marco Becerra, the adoptive parents of a young orphaned Peruvian girl, received welcome news after weeks of worrying: they will not have to see their 4-year-old child deported back to her country of origin. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) oversaw the couple’s case and broke the news that, as of his last meeting with immigration officials, their child will be allowed to go through the processes to acquire U.S. citizenship.

The Becerras, both U.S. citizens and government employees, were based in Peru in 2014 when they met the young girl they would adopt and name Angela. The Peruvian child was only 12 days old during their first encounter. After some time fostering the child, the couple decided to make it a permanent deal and were granted a provisional adoption in October 2014, which would not be finalized until July 2017.

“We complied with the laws in both countries,” Amy Becerra claims.

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father-656734_640-300x195The Fifth Circuit affirmed a district court’s dismissal of a selective enforcement claim to halt the removal of an immigrant father, citing that it also lacks the subject-matter jurisdiction to conduct a judicial review of the claim.

Martin Duron Esparza moved to Mississippi from Mexico as an undocumented immigrant and has been a valued member of the community for over 20 years. He filed an application for cancellation of removal in 2011, proving that he had the good moral character, lack of a criminal record, and that his removal would cause tremendous hardship for his remaining relatives – many of whom are US citizens.

An immigration judge, however, found that Esparza failed to meet the criterion of having a 10-year continuous presence in the country, and subsequently ordered his removal to Mexico. Esparza appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), but his appeal was dismissed in 2013.