Articles Posted in General Immigration Issues

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On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced he will provide immediate relief for many of those impacted by of our immigration system, and he is offering Congress an architecture for the permanent reforms.

Under the new policies announced, the Obama Administration will build on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by providing temporary relief for the parents of U.S. Citizens and lawful permanent residents. The new program, to be called Deferred Action for Parents (DAP), will ensure that millions of U.S. Citizen and lawful permanent resident children will remain unified with their parents. The President also announced new enforcement policies and steps to improve the adjudication of business and family visas.

According to the American Immigration Council, every U.S. President since at least 1956 has granted temporary immigration relief to one or more groups in need of assistance. Like his predecessors, President Obama did not provide a permanent legal status to anyone-only Congress can do that.

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A number of U.S. employers have recently received denials for change of status (COS) and adjustment of status (AOS) applications where the beneficiary purchased, but did not use, an airline ticket to depart the United States. The only reason cited in the denials is that the foreign national’s alleged departure from the United States shows constructive abandonment of the application.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has informed USCIS of this trend, classifying it as a simple office training issue. On August 6, 2014, CBP explained that when a foreign national purchases an international plane ticket, this information is uploaded to its computer system, which is shared with USCIS. Referred to as an “implied departure,” the ticket is displayed on the preliminary screen in the system’s electronic record for the ticketed foreign national. If the USCIS officer fails to click to a deeper level of the electronic record, he or she will not know whether the foreign national actually boarded the plane and departed the United States. CBP is actively taking steps to rectify this issue and expects a speedy resolution.

If you would like to find out more about “implied departures” or have received such a denial, feel free to contact our office.

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On July 29, 2014, the U.S. Department of State announced that its consular system is experiencing technical difficulties, which began in mid-July. The problem is worldwide and not specific to any particular country or visa category. These difficulties have prevented some U.S. embassies and consulates from issuing passports, visas, and other official documents. The State Department assured the public that it is working diligently in investigating the cause of the performance issues and to restore full functionality to its global database. Please refer to the State Department website for regular updates on the status of visa issuance.

If you would like to know more about the status of visa issuance and/or how this affects you, please contact our office.

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The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy permits individuals who arrived in the United States before the age of 16 and who meet other age, education, continuous presence, and criminal history-related requirements to remain in the United States for a renewable two-year period and to apply for work authorization. The federal REAL ID Act specifically identifies deferred action as a lawful status that would permit the issuance of a federally recognized driver’s license.

However, because the rules governing eligibility for driver’s licenses are determined at the state level, a DACA grant does not automatically provide eligibility for a state driver’s license. Because the REAL ID Act federally recognizes deferred action as lawful presence, there are strong arguments for states to issue driver’s licenses to deferred action grantees. DACA recipients who do obtain work authorization and social security numbers qualify under the eligibility rules for a driver’s license in almost every state. Currently, otherwise-eligible DACA grantees can get a driver’s license in every state except Arizona and Nebraska. Litigation challenging the denial of driver’s licenses to DACA grantees in those two states is ongoing.

For more information about DACA, please contact our office.

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The USCIS California Service Center (CSC) reports that it accidentally issued I-797 approval notices without I-94 cards. It notes that corrected approval notices have been issued. If you do not receive a corrected notice by July 20, email with the subject line “CSC I-797 Problem.”

The Vermont Service Center (VSC) reports a similar glitch resulting in the issuance of deficient approval notices. If you received a deficient notice from VSC for a premium processing case and have not yet received a corrected notice, contact the VSC Premium Processing Unit. If you received deficient notice for a non-premium processing case and have not yet received a corrected notice, email with the subject line “VSC I-797 Problem.”

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Earlier this month, the USCIS Nebraska Service Center (NSC) addressed several employment based matters at a meeting with immigration attorneys. The following is a summary of the unofficial minutes from that meeting.

Updates on Adjudicating National Interest Waiver Petitions

According to NSC, adjudications of NIW petitions have slowed because of an “[u]nforeseen operational impact.” NSC has reassured the public that the normal processing timeframe of 4 months had been restored at the end of June. The USCIS Processing Time website reflects this update.

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On June 1, 2014, USCIS limited the validity period for all Forms I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, to one year from the date of submission to USCIS. Applicants must also submit Form I-693 to USCIS within one year of the immigration medical examination. USCIS also will provide additional ways to submit Form I-693. As outlined in policy alert PA-2014-005, this updated policy applies to any Form I-693 supporting a benefit application that USCIS adjudicates on or after June 1, 2014.

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On April 3, 2014 the Department of State announced that all U.S. visa processing posts in Canada will accept only a very limited number of non-immigrant visa applications from Third Country Nationals (TCN) during the peak demand period of June, July, and August. A TCN applicant is a foreign national who is applying at a consulate in a country other than his home country. Canadian posts typically have appointment availability for non-Canadian applicants. However, these posts are currently experiencing such a heavy demand by Canada-based visa applicants that their ability to process TCN cases is limited. The Canadian posts encourage TCN applicants to seek appointments elsewhere in the world, such as their home countries. Emergency cases may request consideration for an interview at a Canadian post by visiting TCN applicants with appointments already scheduled at a post in Canada during these months will not be affected.

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On April 21, 2014, the Department of State’s Visa Office made statements regarding what might be expected in terms of upcoming Visa Bulletin movement. Its comments included following:

Employment-Based 5th Preference China (EB-5):

• China EB-5 could retrogress later this year, possibly in August or September.

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USCIS identifies 5 ways to update or correct immigration records, depending on which document must be changed. Employees should be aware of each of these ways, especially after the resolution of an E-Verify Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC). E-Verify is an online database that employers can use to confirm the employment eligibility of newly hired employees. The employer representative submits information provided on the Form I-9 to compare with government databases. A mismatch of information results in a TNC, of which the employer must alert the employee to take steps to resolve. Notably, the employee is allowed to work until the TNC is resolved.

TNCs may be issued because the employee’s immigration records themselves are inaccurate. Correcting these inaccuracies can prevent future TNCs and other employment and immigration-related issues down the road. After resolving a TNC, USCIS recommends to the employee the following methods to correct any inaccuracies in his or her immigration records:

(1) Contact USCIS to correct Form I-551 (Lawful Permanent Resident card) or Form I-766 (EAD card). The employee may schedule an appointment for an in-person interview at a local USCIS office on the Infopass website or call 1-800-375-5283.