Articles Posted in Miscellaneous

united-states-flag-1423259-300x223On September 22, 2018, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), announced a proposed rule that would deny green cards to almost all immigrants who accept public benefits while in the United States. The public will have 60 days to provide comments on the proposed rule. After the sixty day comment period is over, the final rule will be published, and will go into effect 60 days later.

Starting with the Immigration Act of 1882, the United States has had a policy of denying green cards to potential immigrants who are likely to become “public charges”. Under current law (INA § 212(a)(4)), any immigrant who is “likely at any time to become a public charge”, is inadmissible to the United States. In determining whether an individual is likely to become a public charge, USCIS and the U.S. Department of State, are supposed to examine the potential immigrant’s: (1) age; (2) health; (3) family status; (4) assets, resources, and financial status; and (5) education and skills.

Under the current rule dating back to 1999, immigrants who rely on certain public benefits are automatically deemed to be public charges, and therefore, inadmissible to the United States. Individuals are deemed to be public charges if two things are met. First, individuals must accept cash public benefits such as welfare. Under the current rule, public benefits that are not cash benefits such as food stamps and Medicare, do not make an individual inadmissible to the the United States. Second, the cash benefits an immigrant receives must account for 50% or more of the immigrant’s total income for the individual to be considered a public charge.

white-house-1225488-300x185Since the Trump Administration announced an end to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) on September 5, 2017, members of Congress have been negotiating a path forward to keep Dreamers from being deported. In recent weeks, as March 5 has gotten closer (the day that “DACA” is slated to end), members of both parties of Congress, have floated various plans to address the end of DACA. While many plans have been discussed, the White House has been silent on what needed to be in any DACA related legislation for President Trump to sign a bill into law. On January 25, 2018, the White House finally laid out what President Trump wants in any immigration bill addressing the end of DACA, in a one page policy memo. In return for protecting Dreamers, the Trump Administration wants widespread changes to U.S. immigration law, which would lead to a dramatic decrease in legal immigration.

A Path to Citizenship for Dreamers

The White House has stated that it is open to providing legal status to 1.8 million foreign nationals in the United States without legal status. This figure would include  Dreamers as well as close to a million other individuals (though the White House has not indicated who these individuals would be). The Trump Administration not only is willing to provide these individuals with legal status, but is also willing to provide them with a potential path to citizenship. Under the White House’ plan, these individuals would be able to become citizens after a period of 10 to 12 years, if certain eligibility requirements are met (which the administration has not yet laid out).

Photo of HaitiOn November 20, 2017, Acting Secretary of  the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke, announced the termination of Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) for Haitians living in the United States. The decision to end TPS for Haitians will affect approximately 60,000 Haitians currently living in the United States.

TPS is a program overseen by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), which allows citizens of particular countries, to temporarily remain in the United States, because of poor conditions in their home countries. In general, DHS has the authority to designate countries for TPS based on three factors: (1) war or other armed conflicts; (2) Natural disasters; or (3) other extraordinary conditions. During the time period where a country is designated for TPS, its nationals already in the United States, who meet all the eligibility requirements,

2F180A5A-1DD8-B71B-0BFE39F9778DF6D3-large-300x200On October 31, 2017, eight people were killed in a terrorist attack in New York City. Because the suspect originally came to the United States through the Diversity Visa Immigrant Program, there has been a lot of discussions regarding the future of the Diversity Visa Immigrant Program. Most prominently, U.S. President Donald Trump, has called on Congress to repeal the program.

Since the attack, there has been a lot of false reporting on what exactly the Diversity Visa Immigrant Program is. This blog post is intended to provide a brief overview of what exactly the Diversity Visa Immigrant Program is.

The Diversity Visa Immigrant Program is designed to allow a certain number of individuals to immigrate each year from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. Under Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, a certain number of visas (currently set at 50,000 visas a year) is set aside for the program. Under the program, the visas are distributed among six regions. In addition, no more than seven percent of the visas issued each year may go to nationals of the same country. Further, citizens of countries with high rates of immigration to the United States, are not eligible  to apply for a visa through the program. (Please see the attached link for a list of countries where citizens are not currently eligible.)

474805022-300x129Earlier today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, announced that the Trump administration will begin phasing out Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (“DACA”). The decision to begin to unwind DACA will affect approximately 800,000 individuals (also known as “Dreamers”), who have benefited from DACA.

The Obama administration announced the implementation of DACA on June 15, 2012. Under DACA, children who came to the United States without valid immigration status were given the ability to stay in the United States without being deported. These individuals were also eligible to apply for work authorization, allowing them to work in the United States.  In order to be eligible for DACA, individuals had to have:

  • Come to the United States before their 16th birthday;

On August 21, 2017, the U.S. Department of State announced a temporary suspension of nonimmigrant visa services in Russia. The move comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on July 30th, 2017, thaunited-states-flag-1423259-300x223t he was expelling 755 employees of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Russia from the country, effective September 1, 2017. The move to expel American diplomats was made in retaliation for Congress passing new sanctions against Russia on July 27, 2017, for Russia’s interference in the 2016 United States Presidential Election.

As a result of having to send 755 employees out of Russia, the State Department has announced that from August 23, 2017, through August 31, 2017, the processing of nonimmigrant visas in Russia will be suspended. All individuals with nonimmigrant visas interviews scheduled in Russia during this period are being contacted by the United States Embassy in Moscow to have their interviews rescheduled.

On September 1, 2017, processing of nonimmigrant visas is scheduled to resume at the United States Embassy in Moscow only. The State Department will no longer process nonimmigrant visas at the U.S. Consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and Vladivostock. Because of how large Russia is, this will cause a significant burden on many visa seekers who will now have to travel long distances to Moscow. In addition, because the U.S. Embassy in Moscow will be the only location where nonimmigrant visas will be processed, the normal wait time to obtain a nonimmigrant visa interview in Russia is expected to increase significantly. Therefore, individuals thinking about obtaining a nonimmigrant visa in Russia should plan accordingly, and allow themselves additional time to obtain a visa. In addition, individuals who are eligible to apply for a nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. facility outside of Russia should strongly consider doing so.

waiting-1476663-225x300On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order banning individuals from seven predominantly Muslim countries (Sudan, Somalia, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, and Syria) from entering the United States. On February 3, 2017, a federal judge in Washington issued a temporary restraining banning the Federal Government from enforcing the order. The temporary restraining order was later upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on February 9, 2017.

Based on the Ninth Circuit’s ruling, President Trump withdrew the executive order, and signed a new executive order on March 6, 2017. Among other things, the new order bans foreign nationals from six of the original countries listed in the first order (Iraq is excluded), from entering the United States if they do not currently have a valid visa to enter the United States. In addition, unlike the first order, which had a blanket ban against travel from citizens of those countries, citizens of the six affected countries may travel to the United States if they: (1) are U.S. lawful permanent residents; (2)  are traveling on a diplomatic visa;  or (3) are traveling after already being granted asylum in the United States, withholding of removal, or protection under the Convention Against Torture.

On March 8, 2017, the State of Hawaii, along with a United States citizen of Egyptian descent, filed a motion with the U.S. District Court in Hawaii, seeking a temporary restraining order against enforcement of the travel ban. In their filing to the Court, Plaintiffs claimed that the travel ban discriminated against Muslims, in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

brussels-airport-1458203-300x207On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”.  On February 3, 2017, a federal court in the State of Washington, issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the federal government from enforcing the executive order. The temporary restraining order was later upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on February 9, 2017.

On March 6, 2017, the President withdrew his previous executive order, and signed a new executive order (“The Order”). Unless a federal court issues a temporary restraining order against the O it is slated to go into effect on March 16, 2017.

The Order Bans Entry into the United States of Foreign Nationals from Six Predominantly Muslim Countries:

170127ny-2-nr-300x273On February 20, 2017, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary, John Kelly, issued two memoranda dramatically changing how DHS treats foreign nationals illegally in the United States. Touching on numerous immigration issues, the memoranda will make it easier for foreign nationals to be quickly removed from the United States without going through normal immigration court procedures. The memoranda will also dramatically increase the number of foreign nationals that DHS will target for deportation. Below are some of the ways that the memoranda will dramatically affect foreign nationals illegally living in the United States.

Increased Use of Expedited Removal

Pursuant to U.S.C. § 1225(b)(1), any foreign national who arrives at a United States port of entry and is inadmissible under 8 U.S.C.§ 1182 (a)(6)(C) (misrepresentations and false claims to U.S. citizenship) or 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(7) (lack of valid entry documents), is subject to expedited removal. Expedited removal is a procedure which allows a DHS official to remove a foreign national from the United States without a hearing before an immigration judge. Foreign nationals facing expedited removal, usually do not have access to an attorney, and are usually removed from the United States within days (or even sometimes hours) of their entry into the country.

On October, 26, 2016, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Jeh Johnson, announced the extension of Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) for certain Nepalese nationals in the United States nepal-pokara-1475073through June 24, 2018. Prior to Secretary Johnson’s announcement, TPS was only available to Nepalese nationals through December 24, 2016.

On April 25, 2015, Nepal was struck by a devastating 7.8 earthquake. The earthquake left thousands dead and devastated the capital city of Kathmandu and nearby towns and villages. In response to the earthquake, on June 24, 2015, Secretary Johnson designated Nepal for TPS. This designation allowed Nepalese nationals in the United States on June 24, 2015, to temporarily remain in the country, with work authorization, through December 24, 2016.

On October 26, 2016, Secretary Johnson extended Nepal’s TPS designation through June 24, 2018. Secretary Johnson also automatically extended work authorization for Nepalese nationals on TPS through June 24, 2017, in order to give U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) time to issue new Employment Authorization Documents (“EAD”). Until a TPS beneficiary receives their new EAD, they may work for any employer by providing their employer with their old TPS-related EAD; and a copy of the Federal Register notice announcing the automatic extension.