What's New in the World of US Immigration?

What will become of visa holders after last week's massive tech layoffs?

Last week, tech giants Twitter and Facebook enacted massive layoffs totaling thousands of employees in the USA. These unanticipated layoffs have sent shockwaves through employees in the tech industry and their families, who now must scramble to secure new jobs, else face insecurity making house payments and putting food on the table. While layoffs are devastating for all employees and their families, US visa holders, many of whom have been in the United States for several years, suffer the additional hardship of losing status in the USA.

Elon Musk, who acquired Twitter just this year, terminated half of the company's 7,500 employees just one week after closing his blockbuster buyout.  This has left 700 visa dependent employees without a job. In similar fashion, Facebook’s parent company, Meta, laid off 11,000 employees, or nearly 15% of their total workforce, many hundred of which depend on their employment visas to stay in the USA.
Unanticipated and widespread layoffs such as those occurring at Twitter and Meta have serious consequences for these employees whose ability to stay in the country is determined by their employment status. 

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2022 Election Results - Immigration Recap

From Think Immigration, www.thinkimmigration.org

In this year’s midterm elections, immigration featured prominently in races across the country. With many elections still not decided, the most significant result so far is that Republicans are predicted to win the House thereby gaining the power to set the legislative agenda and conduct oversight over the Biden Administration.  Kevin McCarthy, the current House Minority Leader and presumptive Speaker has announced he’ll act on immigration before anything else. “The first thing you’ll see is a bill to control the border first,” he said noting that he will not advance other immigration reforms until the border is secure.  His Republican plan, the “Commitment to America” defines immigration through the lens of national security and border enforcement, which he characterizes as “millions of people who are just walking across, people on the terrorist watch list.” In October, McCarthy ruled out legislation that trades a path to citizenship for  recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program with increased border security, the kind of deal that has often been the starting point for negotiations.  

 An even more fierce immigration restrictionist, Jim Jordan (R-OH), will likely chair the House Judiciary Committee. Jordan has already signaled interest in conducting impeachment hearings against Homeland Security Secretary Ali Mayorkas, who is himself a Cuban immigrant.  Earlier this year, Jordan accused Mayorkas of supporting illegal immigration: “We have a Secretary of Homeland Security who is intentionally, deliberately, in a premeditated fashion…executing a plan to overwhelm our country with millions and millions of illegal migrants.” In addition to impeachment, Jordan will undoubtedly conduct oversight hearings that will disrupt the Biden Administration’s immigration initiatives.  

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Recent Steps to Protect Dreamers

On August 30, 2022, the Biden Administration issued a final regulation codifying the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. (AILA had submitted comments on the September 28, 2021, proposed rule.) AILA welcomed the rule, but also called on Congress to pass legislation permanently protecting all Dreamers, not just those who qualify for DACA under these regulations. The final rule is effective Monday, October 31, 2022, and codifies the existing DACA program and policies with limited changes.

However, a district court in Texas had issued an injunction in July 2021 that prohibits DHS from granting initial DACA requests. As a result, DHS has not been adjudicating any initial DACA applications since that time. On October 5, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals remanded an appeal of that 2021 decision back to the district court for further review but kept in place the status quo - that current DACA recipients can renew, but new applications for DACA will not be processed. In remanding the case, the Fifth Circuit held that the 2012 creation of DACA by executive memo was not legal and ordered the district court to address the government's argument based on the new DACA regulation.

On October 14, Judge Hanen issued an order blocking the final regulation from going into effect while he deliberates and until he issues final decision in the case. The order also stated that DHS may continue to accept and grant DACA renewal applications, but that DHS continues to be enjoined from granting DACA status for any new applicants.

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AILA New Policy Recommendations on Immigration

AILA, or American Immigration Lawyers Association, is the preeminent national Immigration Lawyers Association. We, the member lawyers, actively work to propose policy initiatives to improve Immigration Processing, especially in the interest of family unity and priority workers, decrease in private detention, reduce backlogs, and more.

On October 4, 2022, AILA issued a policy brief providing an update on the status of ten recommendations we made in our June 2021 policy brief, as well as additional recommendations the agency can take to reduce both backlogs and delays. 

We made the following recommendations:  

  1. Rescind regional travel bans and replace them with science-based solutions.  
  2. Resume stateside processing of visa renewals. 
  3. Expand visa interview waiver eligibility. 
  4. Automatically extend visas that expired during the COVID-19 pandemic by 24 months. 
  5. Maximize staffing on immigrant visa processing at consular posts. 
  6. Revise regulations to allow virtual immigrant and nonimmigrant visa interviews. 
  7. Leverage U.S.-based consular officers to adjudicate visa applications. 
  8. Admit all U.S. lawful permanent residents (LPRs) returning to the United States from abroad without conducting an abandonment analysis.  
  9. Adopt a policy to automatically extend immigrant visas from 6 months to 18 months, in coordination with CBP. 
  10. Recapture and avoid the loss of unallocated visas. 

Thanks to advocacy from AILA and our members, over the last year, the Biden Administration has implemented multiple recommendations raised by AILA and statistics show that DOS is making headway. Issuance rates for immigrant and nonimmigrant visas have jumped substantially in the last year and the backlog of immigrant visa cases pending the scheduling of an interview has been reduced by 24%. 

These improvements underscore the need for the agency to continue implementing policies that will help it reduce inefficiencies, lessen delays, and address the remaining backlogs that formed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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USCIS Extends Green Card Validity Extension to 24 Months for Green Card Renewals

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has just announced today that Permanent Resident Cards (Green Cards) will be extended for 24 months (as opposed to 12) after filing a proper I-90 extension. This is great news as USCIS processing times have recently climbed to over a year.

The change became effective September 26. The extensions are automatic after filing the I-90, which is the Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card.  Lawful permanent residents who properly file Form I-90 to renew an expiring or expired Green Card will receive this automatic extension.

Form I-90 receipt notices had previously provided a 12-month extension. This new 24 month extension is expressly listed on the face of the receipt notices. The original expired green card in conjunction with the original I-90 receipt notice can be used to evidence status, including employment and travel authorization; although for travel we also recommend obtaining a travel stamp at a local USCIS Office before departure for a smooth reentry into the USA.

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USCIS Announces that Employment-Based Visas will be used up by End of Sept. 2022

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that employment-based visas will most likely be used up in within the next month. The visa bulletin is a chart put out by the Department of State each month that provides the current wait times of each type of green card preference category (employment-based, family-based etc).

The September 2022 Visa Bulletin includes language in Section D foreshadowing the possible unavailability of employment-based green card numbers through September 30. Specifically, the Visa Bulletin states that the federal government anticipates that it will issue all remaining employment-based visas that are available for this fiscal year during the month of September.

But is there really an impact on clients? Not really. If this happens, USCIS can approve no further employment-based green card applications until the 2023 government fiscal year, which thankfully begins on October 1, 2022. 

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Biden Administration Moves to Shore Up DACA Protections but Congress Needs to Act

AILA Press Release: AILA Doc. No. 22082454

Washington, D.C.
- Today, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the American Immigration Council (The Council) welcomed newly published regulations that will offer more certainty for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and represent a positive step toward protecting some Dreamers. It has been more than 10 years since the creation of DACA which offered an opportunity for people brought to the U.S. as children who met certain criteria to apply for temporary protection from deportation.

AILA President Jeremy McKinney said, “A decade ago, we welcomed the announcement of DACA and the protections it offered Dreamers. Today, we are heartened by the efforts by the Biden Administration to preserve and protect the program itself which has been undermined by the Trump Administration and lawsuits from state governors who should know better. These regulations are essential, but laws are for lasting change. We need Congress to pass legislation permanently protecting all Dreamers—not just those who qualify for DACA under these regulations, but also the many others who have lived for years in legal limbo. That is the true solution here.”...

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More Busloads of Migrants Arrive in NY

NEW YORK — More bus loads of migrants reach the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan, sent by Texas Governor Abbott. Each bus arrival symbolizes the off-scenes battle between New York City government and Texas Officials. 

Texas Governor Greg Abbott began shipping busloads of migrants to democratic cities such as Washington, D.C. and NYC several weeks ago, in what has become a controversial and attention grabbing policy move, motivated by a desire to spread the financial hardship of the rising number of new migrants to "sanctuary cities."

The nonstop 30+ hour bus rides end in Times Square amidst rush hour traffic, letting off exhausted and famished riders. They are welcomed by crowds of charity workers, TV cameras and photographers: "Bienvenidos a todos a Nueva York". 

Some migrants consider New York their final destination, and are happy to have a direct means of arrival, while others claim they've been tricked into coming here by Texas officials. 

The influx of buses is testing New York's commitment to act as a "Safe Haven" for immigrants. Although they receive a cheerful welcome, the truth is that the city support system is increasingly stressed by the numbers of new migrants, and life after departing the bus is tough.  Many are taken in hand by several charity groups, and yet the large majority end up in NYC homeless shelters...

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Investigation reveals how government bureaucracy failed to stop family separations

Many recent news articles report that a recent investigation has uncovered how the Trump Administration was in fact aware that children would be separated from their families... and did nothing to stop it.

NPR offers an interesting 8 minute interview on the investigation and what it revealed, which you can access from the NPR webpage here.

A transcript of that interview is below for your convenience:


The Trump administration was known for immigration policies that were chaotic and extreme, yet even by that standard, family separation was in its own category. Kids as young as infants were removed from their parents at the border, more than 5,500 children total. Hundreds are still not reunited. Caitlin Dickerson chronicled those policies in real time, first for The New York Times and now for The Atlantic. And her latest cover story for the magazine is an exhaustive investigation into how the family separation policy came about. Caitlin, good to have you back on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED...

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ALERT: USCIS Extends COVID-19-related Flexibilities

USCIS has just issued the following notice, which is good news for our clients!

USCIS Extends COVID-19-related Flexibilities, Release Date : 07/25/2022

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is extending certain COVID-19-related flexibilities through Oct. 23, 2022, to assist applicants, petitioners, and requestors. Under these flexibilities, USCIS considers a response received within 60 calendar days after the due date set forth in the following requests or notices before taking any action, if the request or notice was issued between March 1, 2020, and Oct. 23, 2022...

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About 100,000 ‘Dreamers’ to graduate without chance of work permits

Around 100,000 undocumented immigrants will graduate high school in 2022 without a shot at work permits, the first time in a decade that a majority of so-called Dreamers will not be eligible. 

Most undocumented 2022 graduates have not been in the country long enough to be covered by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the Obama-era policy that was the focus of attacks and litigation during the Trump administration. Immigrants covered by DACA are known as Dreamers...

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FY2023 Cap-Subject H-1B Filing Season

The filing period for H-1B petitions selected for the FY2023 cap opened on April 1, 2022, and will run through June 30, 2022. AILA has received several reports of delays in receipt notice issuance for H-1B petitions filed with the Vermont Service Center, including some petitions filed in early April for which no receipt notice has been issued to date. We have reached out to USCIS about the delays and will update our practice alert as more information becomes available...

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Arizona follows Texas, begins busing migrants from southern border to DC

Arizona began busing migrants from the U.S.-Mexico border to Washington, D.C., this week, joining Texas in a protest over the Biden administration’s policies on immigration and border control.

The first bus arrived in the capital on Wednesday, loaded with 20 migrants who volunteered for the trip, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey’s communications director, C.J. Karamargin, told the local news outlet the state will bus as many migrants as needed. And however much the new busing program costs the state, Arizona will push the federal government to pick up the tab...

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Uniting for Ukraine

On April 21, 2022, the United States announced a key step toward fulfilling President Biden’s commitment to welcome Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s invasion. Uniting for Ukraine provides a pathway for Ukrainian citizens and their immediate family members who are outside the United States to come to the United States and stay temporarily in a two-year period of parole. Ukrainians participating in Uniting for Ukraine must have a supporter in the United States who agrees to provide them with financial support for the duration of their stay in the United States.

The first step in the Uniting for Ukraine process is for the U.S.-based supporter to file a Form I-134, Declaration of Financial Support, with USCIS. The U.S. government will then vet the supporter to ensure that they are able to financially support the individual whom they agree to support. A supporter may be any individual who holds lawful status in the United States or is a parolee or beneficiary of deferred action or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) who has passed security and background vetting and demonstrated sufficient financial resources to receive, maintain, and supports the individuals whom they commit to support for the duration of their stay in the United States...

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DHS Press Release: Secretary Mayorkas Designates Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status for 18 Months

Release Date: March 3, 2022

WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the designation of Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months. 

“Russia’s premeditated and unprovoked attack on Ukraine has resulted in an ongoing war, senseless violence, and Ukrainians forced to seek refuge in other countries,” said Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “In these extraordinary times, we will continue to offer our support and protection to Ukrainian nationals in the United States.”...

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Private prison business still booming a year after Biden’s executive order

In the year since President Joe Biden signed an executive order to stop the Justice Department from using private prisons, a multibillion-dollar private prison company has found an “opportunity” for new business in detaining and tracking immigrants because of the immigration court backlog that has only been made worse by the covid-19 pandemic, new documents reveal. 

 GEO Group detailed in a previously confidential document that “Border Inflow” creates an “opportunity for GEO” to increase its federal business — with a particular focus on its “electronic monitoring business” — in the wake of the executive order, which has already cost the company contracts worth roughly $125 million. 

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AILA Welcomes Administration’s Changes to Attract and Retain STEM Talent

Washington, DC – The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) welcomed policy changes that will help America attract and retain individuals with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) expertise.

AILA President Allen Orr noted, “These changes are in line with several recommendations AILA has urged the Biden administration to consider over the past year as part of our Vision for a Welcoming America. The previous administration gutted our country’s ability to attract and retain talent, including STEM talent, and we all knew this rebuilding phase in the middle of a pandemic was going to be a challenge. But these changes are a step forward...

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COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements for Travelers to the United States

On October 25, 2021, President Biden issued Presidential Proclamation 10294 rescinding the geographic COVID-19 travel bans and adopting COVID-19 vaccination requirements for all international air travelers to the United States. It will be effective at 12:01 AM on November 8, 2021, which means that it applies to air passengers on planes that depart from their foreign destination at or after 12:01 AM Eastern Time on November 8.

The Proclamation governs the entry into the United States of nonimmigrants traveling to the United States by air...

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Practice Alert: Biden Administration Plans to Rescind COVID-19 Travel Bans and Instead Require Proof of Vaccination

The White House issued a memo stating that the United States is moving away from country-by-country restrictions and adopting an air travel policy that relies primarily on vaccination.

The memo states: This proclamation governs the entry into the United States of noncitizen nonimmigrants -- that is, noncitizens who are visiting the United States or otherwise being admitted temporarily -- traveling to the United States by air...

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COVID-19 Vaccine Series Required for Immigration Medical Examinations

Effective Oct. 1, 2021, applicants subject to the immigration medical examination must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before the civil surgeon can complete an immigration medical examination and sign Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record. This guidance applies prospectively to Form I-693 signed by civil surgeons on or after Oct. 1, 2021.

USCIS is updating its policy guidance in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Aug. 17 update to the Technical Instructions for Civil Surgeons...

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Advocates frustrated with administration as green cards poised to expire

The clock is running out on more than 100,000 employment-based green cards that the Biden administration could — but likely won't — issue before the end of the fiscal year. The green cards, or permanent residency permits, are available for the administration to dole out to eligible immigrants but will expire on Sept. 30.

President Biden's pro-immigrant rhetoric has contrasted with former President Trump's restrictionist stance. But thus far, the administration has shown no signs that it will expend political capital to assign the expiring green cards, frustrating immigration advocates...

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USCIS Has Closed Its Doors on Paying Customers and Strayed from Its Statutory Customer Service Mission

Over the past four years, there has been a well-documented shift in USCIS’s priorities. While Congress established the agency through the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to focus on the effective and efficient administration of immigration benefits, it has in recent years sought to distance itself from its customer-oriented origins.

This shift in priority is evident in several changes that the agency has made to its services both on a national and local level, and in several policies enacted during the last four years that appear to have been designed to make it harder for USCIS customers to obtain benefits....

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2022 H-1B Cap Season Update: H-1B Initial Electronic Registration Selection Process Completed

 USCIS Statement 03/31/2021:

"USCIS has received enough electronic registrations during the initial registration period to reach the fiscal year (FY) 2022 H-1B numerical allocations (H-1B cap) including the advanced degree exemption (master’s cap). We randomly selected from among the registrations properly submitted to reach the cap. We have notified all prospective petitioners with selected registrations that they are eligible to file an H-1B cap-subject petition for the beneficiary named in the applicable selected registration.

Registrants’ online accounts will now show one of the following statuses for each registration (that is, for each beneficiary registered):

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