Articles Posted in Immigration in the News

Published on:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is cracking down on unconsenting child brides, announcing on Friday that it will be following a new set of rules in assessing petitions from individuals seeking to bring their migrant spouses into the U.S.. The announcement comes after thousands of such requests involving minors were found to have been approved last year.

This effort, however, will not be an indiscriminate crackdown. USCIS elaborated that it had updated its guiding policies to adjudicators, emphasizing that marriages involving underage spouses required further scrutiny. To ensure this, the marriage in question must be found to have been lawful where it was celebrated and will remain so in the state where the incoming child spouse plans to reside, freely consented to by the minor involved, and duly certified by adjudicators as bona fide.

The Associated Press reported last month that among the numerous petitions from individuals in adult-minor relationships, at least 5,000 were of adults petitioning on behalf of minors and 3,000 were of minors attempting to petition their older spouses into the States.

Published on:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it has updated the forms used for the extension or change of status for H-4 and L-2 dependents, which will apply to applications filed on March 11, 2019 and afterwards. The agency has so far provided no grace period for the continued use of the now-obsolete versions of the immigration forms, with no preview of the new versions available to the public.

Beginning next month, USCIS will require the use of a new version of the Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status) for applications requiring the form. The agency said it has also updated Form I-539A, Supplemental Information for Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status.

The updated forms come with a number of significant changes to the application process. Specifically, applicants and co-applicants now have to attend a biometric services appointment for fingerprint taking at a scheduled date at the Application Support Center (ASC) located nearest to the applicant’s address.

Published on:

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has published a final rule that will change the process for choosing H-1B visa petitions that are subject to the annual “cap” on applications. The immigration rule is set to take effect in April 1, 2019 and will see the DHS changing the order by which it allocates available cap-subject slots

Specifically, the DHS will soon allocate H-1B visa petitions in reverse, first running the random selection process for the 65,000 slots against all cap-subject cases, then allocating the 20,000 slots against the pool of foreign nationals with advanced degrees from American educational institutions. The agency predicts that this will lead to an increased selection of up to 5,340 petitions filed by foreign nationals who possess U.S. postgraduate degrees.

H-1B visas allow U.S. employers to hire foreign nationals qualified in highly specialized fields like biotechnology, computer science, and the like. Being subject to an annual cap, only a limited number of visas are approved every year. This cap is set at 65,000 with an additional 20,000 H-1B slots available to foreign nationals with advanced degrees acquired from U.S. universities and colleges. Before the rule change, the advanced degree slots were allocated first, followed by the rest of the applicants.

Published on:

The idea of court hearings done through a TV screen or monitor may have an Orwellian ring to it, but it’s how many undocumented immigrants are currently being processed for deportation, replacing conventional in-person court hearings. Understandably, this practice has drawn flak from immigration rights advocates and is now being challenged in court by the Legal Aid Society, the Brooklyn Defender Services, and Bronx Defenders.

The federal lawsuit, filed on behalf of seven undocumented immigrants, argues that in-person hearings had long helped ensure that detained immigrants were granted the opportunity to have fair and full access to the courts in order to participate in their deportation proceedings. The plaintiffs add that the ICE NY Field Office had never before broadly refused to produce individuals for in-person hearings.

Moreover, the switch to CCTV-only hearings at the Varick Street Immigration Court in New York City in June last year happened without warning.

Published on:

Although first seen as an amendment to the spending package before the government shutdown, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act has been reintroduced in the 116th Congress by both members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, led by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA).

The bill, introduced in 2017 with 300 co-sponsors, would eliminate the caps on lawful permanent residency (i.e. green cards) for each country and ease the green card processing backlog. In particular, this would speed up processing times for Chinese and Indian foreign nationals who face tremendously long waiting lines.

On top of expedited processing, foreign nationals covered by the bill would also gain a number of benefits with their immigration applications. For one, they and their employers would no longer need to worry about renewing their H-1B visas. Consequently, the spouses of these qualified foreign nationals would also be allowed to get employment authorization documentation based on their green cards rather than the H-4 visa. Additionally, their children would be much less likely to face “ageing-out,” which is a challenge foreign parents face as they get green cards for their children as well.

Published on:

A federal judge recently declined to dismiss a class action accusing the Trump administration of exploiting a sham waiver process to deny entry to all waiver-eligible immigrants from the five Muslim-majority countries under the administration’s travel ban.

Members of the class action suit claimed that they had faced troubles with their waiver requests, what with officials at the State Department refusing to recognize the documents they present to support their requests. Other plaintiffs claimed that they were completely prohibited from applying for a waiver, a discretion reserved only for visa interviews. Members of the class consist of a total of 36 immigrants or relatives of immigrants from countries covered by the Trump travel ban namely Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.

The class brought their case against the Trump administration in March 2018, claiming that the government has intentionally deviated from established guidelines and procedures mandated by law when reviewing travel ban waiver requests.

Published on:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that it has resumed premium processing of all H-1B petitions subject to the Fiscal Year 2019 cap, H-1B extensions for those only continuing in already-approved employment, and petitions filed by universities and nonprofit or government research organizations exempt from the cap.

Premium processing for most other types of H-1B petitions, however, currently remains unavailable.

Fortunately, processing of USCIS petitions were not paused during the government shutdown. The agency, however, said they are experiencing a significant slowdown in processing times.

Published on:

President Trump many have ended the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, signing a resolution to temporarily continue funding the government until February 15, but it’s effects will likely be felt for a long time. As the nation’s immigration courts reopen around the country, attorneys say that it could take years to remedy the delays in the system caused by the spat over the border wall.

Court finally resumed hearing cases of immigrants who attempted to enter the country, most of whom are seeking asylum or fighting to lawfully stay in the country. While this should come as good news, courts now have to deal with the aftermath of an 86,000-case backlog caused by the shutdown.

California had the greatest share of cancellations, followed by Texas and New York, according to estimates by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University. They also report that the courts currently face a total backlog of more than 800,000 cases.

Published on:

Ever since Donald Trump took the presidency, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiaries in Texas have grown accustomed to the stress of not knowing what will happen to them. The problem has gotten so bad that the number of DREAMers (named after the DREAM Act, an immigration bill with similar provisions that failed to become law) in the state have been on a steady decline.

DACA is the product of an is an Obama-era executive order that grants immigrants who entered the country as children relief from deportation, allowing them to apply for temporary work permits and driver’s licenses every two years. It is estimated that before the Trump administration, there were at least 124,000 DACA recipients reside in Texas alone.

But amid talks of DACA being rescinded by the president, the Migration Policy Institute claims that the number of Texan DACA beneficiaries has since dropped to 115,000.

Published on:

Under a new policy intended to discourage Central American families from attempting to cross the border, the Trump administration announced its plans to start turning back immigrants who come to the border seeking asylum, forcing them to turn around across the southern border and wait in Mexico for their applications to be processed. According to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials, the new policy claim that it will be implemented on January 25, 2019.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers have been instructed to return asylum seekers attempting to enter the U.S. through the San Ysidro port of entry in California from Tijuana, Mexico. Thousands of migrants, many of whom are fleeing violence in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, have had no choice but to stay in Mexico in poor conditions.

Current policy states that passing an initial “credible fear interview” should be enough to allow a migrant to stay in the U.S. while waiting for an immigration judge to decide on their case. A 2015 federal court decision known as the Flores settlement states that migrant families with children may not be detained for longer than 20 days while single adults must remain detained while in waiting.

Contact Information