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USCIS Policy to Exclude Employment-Based Petitions

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.

According to USCIS, these include and are initially focused on failed applications for adjustment of status (Form I-485), applications to extend or change nonimmigrant status (Form I-539), and applications for naturalization (Form N-400) before proceeding with the rest.

Employment-based applicants, like those seeking lawful presence through Forms I-129 and I-140, will not be the target for the first phase of the policy’s rollout.

USCIS will not be issuing NTAs immediately upon the denial of an applicant’s immigration benefit. Rather, NTA issuance is expected to occur right after the motion expires or appeal period comes to a close. In some cases, however, USCIS may choose to issue an NTA at an arbitrary point in the adjudication period of an applicant’s status.

The NTA policy will not affect the Obama-era Deferred Action or Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program, excluding from its coverage initial requests into the program, renewals, and requests for benefits that come with the DACA.

USCIS cannot cancel or take back an NTA that has already been issued. Should an immigrant eventually acquire legal status after they receive an NTA and are still on US soil, USCIS can only inform Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of the favorable outcome.

President Trump’s 2017 Executive Order 13768 effectively orders the prioritization of deportation activities and provides the basis for a slew of other related policies, fulfilling his campaign promise to crack down on unlawful immigration. Since the order was signed, thousands of additional ICE officers have been hired, local law enforcers have been deputized to engage in immigration enforcement, and “sanctuary cities” or jurisdictions deemed soft on immigration have been denied federal funding for refusing to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.

If you, or a loved one, believe you will be impacted by this issue, or are dealing other immigration-related problem, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm. Call our offices today at (512) 215-5225to schedule a consultation with immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.