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On January 31, 2020 the Trump Administration expanded Presidential Proclamation 9645(commonly known as the Travel Ban 3.0) to suspend U.S. entry of nationals from the following countries: Burma (Myanmar), Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania.

The extended ban suspends entry for immigrants of Burma and Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan and Nigeria (except special immigrants who have provided assistance to the U.S. government) and Diversity Visa immigrants of Sudan and Tanzania.

Presidential Proclamation 9645 was initially issued in September 2017 and suspended the entry of immigrants and nonimmigrants of Iran (except F and M students and J exchange visitors), immigrants and temporary tourist and business visitors of Libya and Yemen, immigrants and nonimmigrants of North Korea and Syria, and certain government officials and their family members of Venezuela. Chad was included in the initial ban but in April 2018, Proclamation 9723 removed the visa restrictions previously imposed on Chad.

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A San Francisco immigration judge has granted a respondent’s request to become a lawful permanent resident based on an employer-sponsored petition even though the respondent has lived and worked in the U.S. without authorization. The judge decided that when the respondent was granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS gives work permits and deportation protection to people from countries in crisis) he was granted an “admission” to the U.S.

Under the provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act Section 245(k), foreign citizens remain eligible to become permanent residents through an employer-sponsored petition if they have accrued no more than 180 days of unauthorized employment or residence after they were “admitted” to the U.S.

The San Francisco immigration judge decided that since the granting of TPS is an admission and this respondent had accrued fewer than 180 days of unauthorized employment and residence after TPS was granted, he was eligible for permanent residence.

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UPDATE: USCIS Releases New and Revised Forms associated with Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Final Rule

February 19, 2020

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released new and revised forms which must be used for applications and petitions received on and after February 24, 2020. The change is associated with the February 24, 2020 implementation of the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Final Rule, which expands USCIS’ grounds to deny applications for permanent residence and petitions for nonimmigrant status based upon the beneficiary’s or applicant’s use of public benefit programs.

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A group of eleven tech companies are suing the Department of Homeland Security arguing that USCIS’ February 2018 Policy Memo, “Contracts and Itineraries Requirements for H-1B Petitions Involving Third-Party Worksites” exceeds the agency’s power because they issued the policy as a new rule without following required rule-making procedures.

The February 2018 memo stipulates that petitioners filing H-1B petitions involving third-party worksites must provide evidence of the beneficiary’s specific work assignments and evidence of their actual control over the beneficiary.

According to the tech companies filing suit, H-1B denial rates have skyrocketed since the memo was issued. They argue that the memo functions as a new rule even though it did not undergo the required notice-and-comment procedure.

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Despite a federal judge’s order that his removal from the United States should be delayed, an Iranian student, Mohammad Shahab Dehghani Hossein Abadi, was deported on January 21, 2020. The Northwestern student attempted to return to the U.S. with a student visa when he was detained by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at Logan Airport in Boston, MA.

American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and other attorneys on Abadi’s behalf filed an emergency suite and U.S. District Judge Allison D. Burroughs issued an order delaying the student’s deportation for 48 hours. About an hour after the order was issues Abadhi was put on a plane bound for France.

Abadi’s legal team will file a motion that seeks to force the government to explain why it defied the judge’s instructions and deported Abadi.

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On January 12, 2020, in the case of Wagafe et al. v. Trump et al, U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones decided that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must provide over two dozen documents detailing how USCIS evaluates immigration applications.

The class action suit was filed in 2017 by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of individuals whose applications for citizenship and legal residency were delayed for long periods of time without being informed why. The lawsuit argues that government’s extreme vetting of people applying for citizenship and permanent residency under Trump’s January 2017 executive order suspending the issuance of visas and other immigration statuses to nationals of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen, along with the existing Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program (CARRP) violate federal laws and due process protections. The ACLU argues the executive order and CARP are designed to delay and deny citizenship and permanent residency to Muslim immigrants and immigrants from Muslim majority countries, despite their eligibility under the law.

The documents that Judge Jones has ordered USCIS to turn over, after finding that the data is directly relevant to the case, include documents regarding USCIS’ scoring methodologies, risk factors and indicators of national security concerns. Judge Jones explained, “The withheld information regarding USCIS’s processes is directly relevant to plaintiff’s claims and does not appear to be obtainable from alternative sources.” USICS has three weeks to provide the documents.

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According to Bloomberg Law, a case pending in federal district court could put a stop to USCIS’ practice of issuing of H-1B approvals that are only valid for several weeks or months despite requests for full three year validity that is allowed for H-1B petitions.

For approximately two years USCIS has been issuing H-1B approvals to information technology consulting companies that allow workers to remain in H-1B status for only a few weeks or months at a time. USCIS’ February 2018 policy requires consulting and staffing companies to submit itineraries detailing their H-1B employees’ work for the entire length of time requested on their petitions. If an employer can’t provide the full itinerary for the requested three year period, USCIS can shorten the validity of the petition to correspond with how much future work those companies can show.

Members of the IT consulting industry say the practice is causing them to lose business and thousands of dollars in filing and attorneys’ fees to request multiple H-1B extensions during the year. They also say it’s impossible to know exactly what a worker will be doing years into the future.

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On December 13, 2019 USCIS expanded its policy guidance regarding unlawful acts that may prevent an applicant from meeting the good moral character (GMC) requirement for naturalization.

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), an applicant for naturalization must establish GMC. The commission of, or conviction or imprisonment for, an unlawful act, during the statutory period for naturalization, may render an applicant ineligible for naturalization should the act be found to adversely reflect on moral character. The statutory period is generally five years for permanent residents of the United States, three years for applicants married to a U.S. citizen, and one year for certain applicants applying on the basis of qualifying U.S. military service.

Previously, the USCIS Policy Manual did not include extensive information about unlawful acts. The update to the Policy Manual provides additional examples of unlawful acts, more detailed instructions for USCIS adjudicators, and further identifies unlawful acts that may affect GMC based on judicial precedent.

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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced it will implement an electronic registration process in the next H-1B lottery. Employers seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions for the fiscal year 2021 cap must first electronically register and pay the associated $10 H-1B registration fee.

Under the new process, employers seeking H-1B workers subject to the cap, or their authorized representatives, will complete a registration process that requires basic information about their company and each requested worker. USCIS has not yet announced what information will be required for the registration but has announced they will “post step-by-step instructions informing registrants how to complete the registration process on its website along with key dates and timelines as the initial registration period nears.”

The initial registration period will last from March 1 through March 20, 2020. The H-1B random selection process will then be run on those electronic registrations if the number of registrations surpasses the cap. Only those with selected registrations will be eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions.

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The visa bulletin is out at this link: December 2019

Employment-based petitions must use the Dates for Filing chart. The employment-based categories are as follows: EB-1 is current for all countries except China (September 1, 2017) and India (March 15, 2017); EB-2 is current for all countries except China (August 1, 2016) and India (July 1, 2009); EB-3 is current for all countries except China (March 1, 2017) and India (February 1, 2010);  EB-3 other workers is current for all countries except China (August 1, 2008) and India (February 1, 2010); EB-4 and religious worker visas are current for all countries except El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico (August 15, 2016); and EB-5 non-regional centers and regional centers are current for all countries except China (May 15, 2015). Family based petitions must use the Dates for Filing chart.  Family based petitions are backlogged, with the most recent date at October 1, 2019 for F2A (spouses and children under 21 of lawful permanent residents) and the longest queue for Mexico F4 (brothers and sisters of U.S. Citizens) at January 1, 1999.