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Immigration News
January 20, 2015

USCIS issued a reminder submit #DACA renewal requests between 150 and 120 days before the expiration date located on the Form I-797 DACA approval notice and EAD. USCIS’s current goal is to process #DACA renewal requests within 120 days. However, inquiries can be submitted 105 days after filing

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The Department of Homeland Security is considering a “Known Employer” pilot program to streamline adjudication of certain types of employment-based immigration benefit requests filed by eligible U.S. employers.
The department expects to launch the pilot by late 2015 to test a program designed to:
• Make adjudications more efficient and less costly.
• Reduce paperwork and delays for both the department and U.S. employers who seek to employ foreign workers.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would jointly implement the pilot program. A goal would be to expedite or otherwise facilitate legitimate cross-border business travel along the northern border ports of entry. Doing so is a binational commitment under the North American Free Trade Agreement as well as the U.S.-Canada Beyond the Border initiative.
In particular, one specific commitment made by the U.S. and Canadian governments under the Beyond the Border initiative is to “explore the feasibility of incorporating a trusted employer concept in the processing of business travelers between Canada and the United States.” Additional information about the “Known Employer” program will be provided in the coming months.

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January 11, 2015

USCIS released a new I-129 Form, containing an edition date of 10/23/14. On 1/9/15, USCIS changed the date after which it would only accept the 10/23/14 edition from 2/23/15 to 5/1/15.

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January 8, 2015

Effective Monday, January 12, 2015, the National Visa Center (NVC) will begin responding to routine questions, via e-mail and phone, from attorneys and the public on nonimmigrant visa cases. Consular posts will continue to accept inquiries on individual visa cases, and LegalNet remains active and will continue to respond to inquiries from attorneys seeking advisory opinions on the interpretation or application of U.S. immigration law.

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Two fliers on President Obama’s executive actions on immigration are now available on www.uscis.gov/immigrationaction

The fliers explain:

  • The importance of avoiding scams and not submitting requests until the new initiatives are available.
  • Eligibility requirements for the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the new Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA)

The fliers are available in English, Spanish, Korean and Vietnamese. A Chinese version will be available soon.

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January 7, 2015

The Department of Homeland Security extended the designation of El Salvador for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months from March 10, 2015, through September 9, 2016. The 60-day re-registration period runs from January 7, 2015, through March 9, 2015.

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November 26, 2014

The following are the major items of President Obama’s Executive Action on #Immigration

Enforcement Priorities

Many of the existing ICE memos on enforcement priorities and prosecutorial discretion will be replaced by a new memo with three priorities: (1) Suspected terrorists, convicted felons (including aggravated felonies), convicted gang members, and persons apprehended on the border; (2) Persons convicted of serious or multiple misdemeanors and very recent border crossers (those who entered after January 1, 2014); and (3) Those who, after January 1, 2014, failed to leave under a removal order or returned after removal. The memo will contain strong language on the use of prosecutorial discretion.

Deferred Action Benefiting Approximately 4.4 Million Undocumented Individuals

Two deferred action initiatives will be rolled out that are estimated to benefit 4.4 million undocumented individuals: (1) Deferred Action for Parents (DAP): Parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (of any age) who have been continuously present since January 1, 2010, and who pass background checks and pay back taxes; and (2) DACA Expansion: The age cap on DACA will be removed and the date when continuous presence must have started will be changed from June 15, 2007 to January 1, 2010. Both of these initiatives will provide deferred action for three years. The expanded DACA should be up and running in 90 days and deferred action for parents in 180 days. Note: no initiative specifically for parents of DACA recipients was included.

I-601A Waiver Expansion

The I-601A provisional waiver will be expanded to include spouses and children of lawful permanent residents. An expansion and clarification of the definition of “extreme hardship” is also expected.

Timing of Filing for Adjustment of Status

The ability of individuals with an approved employment-based immigrant petition who are caught in the quota backlogs to file for adjustment of status will be advanced to permit them to obtain the benefits of a pending adjustment. This is expected to impact about 410,000 people. This will be done by regulation.

Business Immigration Changes

A number of business immigration improvements are to be announced. For example, certain investors will be eligible for parole into the U.S., or for parole-in-place, and national interest waivers could be available for entrepreneurs, researchers, inventors, and founders. Also, the term “same or similar” for AC-21 purposes will be clarified, L-1B guidance will be released, the H-4 EAD regulation will be finalized, and the length of time permitted on OPT for STEM graduates will be expanded. Additionally, the rulemaking process will be undertaken to modernize the PERM labor certification program and may include a harmless error provision.

Visa Modernization

There will be a Presidential Memorandum directing the various immigration-related agencies to look at modernizing the visa system, with a view to making optimal use of the numbers of visas available under law. Issues such as whether derivatives should be counted towards the visa quota and whether past unused visa numbers can be recaptured are expected to be included in this effort.

State and Local

Secure Communities will be discontinued and replaced with a new initiative, the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP). Details are still forthcoming on what PEP will entail, but in certain circumstances, detainers may be replaced by requests for notification to ICE when a law enforcement entity is about to release an individual.

Parole-in-Place

Parole-in-place will be expanded to include families of individuals trying to enlist in the armed forces, as some branches of the military ban applicants who have undocumented family members.

 

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November 24, 2014

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on November 20, 2014 that it will begin granting Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to certain nationals of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone due to the ongoing outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa.

 

Temporary Protected Status will allow you to remain in the United States lawfully for 18 months and receive an Employment Authorization Document to lawfully work in the United States.  To be eligible you must:

 

  •        -File an application with USCIS between November 21, 2014 and May 20, 2015 using Forms I-821 and I-765;
  •        -Be a national of Liberia, Guinea, or Sierra Leone, or be a person without nationality who last habitually resided in one of these countries;
  •       – Have been continuously residing in the United States since November 20, 2014
  •        -Have been continuously physically present in the United States since November 21, 2014, except for brief, casual, and innocent departures;
  •        -Never have been convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the United States;
  •        -Not be inadmissible under INA 212(a) including certain criminal and security-related grounds; and
  •        -Not be subject to any mandatory bars to asylum, such as participating in the persecution of any person or engaging in or inciting terrorist activity.

 

USCIS will begin accepting TPS applications from nationals of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone on November 21, 2014.  If eligible, you should submit Forms I-821 and I-765 with all required documentation including:

 

  1.   Evidence of your identity and nationality.  This can include your Biographic Passport Page or Birth Certificate.
  2.   Evidence of your date of entry to the United States.  This can include your Passport Pages with entry stamp or I-94 Card.
  3.   Evidence of you continuous presence.  This can include your employment records; rent receipts, utility bills, and letters or receipts from companies; school records of you or your children, hospital or medical records of you or your children; and attestations from church, union other organization officials).
  4.   Required filing fee in check or money order made payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.”  The filing fee depends on the age of the applicant, but for most applicants it is $515.

 

USCIS is only allowing a 180-day window for nationals of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone to apply for TPS.  The last day to apply is May 20, 2015!

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November 13, 2014

As of 11/12/14, the U.S. State Department National Visa Center will cease collecting original civil documents in support of IV applications at non-electronic processing posts. Designated electronic posts will continue to accept documents via e-mail. Original documents will need to be brought to interviews.

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November 10, 2014

Effective November 12, 2014, the United States and the People’s Republic of China will reciprocally increase the validity of short-term business and tourist visas and student and exchange visas issued to each other’s citizens. Chinese applicants who qualify for a B-category nonimmigrant visa (NIV) may now be issued multiple-entry visas for up to 10 years for business and tourist travel. Qualified Chinese students and exchange visitors and their dependents who qualify for F, M, or J-category visas are now eligible for multiple-entry visas valid for up to five years or the length of their program.  U.S. citizens eligible for Chinese short term business and tourist visas
should also receive multiple-entry visas valid for up to 10 years, while qualified U.S. students may receive student residency permits valid up to five years, depending on the length of their educational program.

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