What's New in the World of US Immigration?

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:

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

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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WHITE HOUSE FACT SHEET: President Biden Outlines Steps to Reform Our Immigration System by Keeping Families Together, Addressing the Root Causes of Irregular Migration, and Streamlining the Legal Immigration System

Biden-Harris Administration Forms Family Reunification Task Force and Issues Executive Orders on Regional Migration and Legal Immigration

On January 20th, the Biden Harris Administration took the first steps in a broad, whole of government effort to finally reform our immigration system, including sending to Congress legislation that creates a pathway to citizenship for the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants living in and contributing to our country. Today, the Administration is announcing a series of additional actions it is taking to rebuild and strengthen our immigration system...

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Biden's Broad Plan to Undo Trump Immigration Policies

President-elect Joe Biden will propose far-reaching legislation on Wednesday to give the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States a path to citizenship citizens in as little as eight years. This ambitious and politically perilous plan is an attempt to undo the effects of President Trump’s four-year assault on immigration benefits.

Under the proposal that Mr. Biden will send to Congress on his first day in office, current recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as “Dreamers,” and others in temporary programs that were set up to shield some undocumented immigrants from deportation would be allowed to immediately apply for permanent legal residency, according to transition officials who were briefed on Mr. Biden’s plan.

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Trump Extends Nonimmigrant Entry Ban for H-1B, H-2B, L-1, and certain J-1s to 03/31/2021

President Trump has extended the ban on entry in H-1B, H-2B, L-1, and certain J-1 statuses, including dependents, and the ban on certain immigrant entries, through March 31, 2021. The bans were set to expire on December 31, 2020.

Foreign nationals are still exempt from the nonimmigrant proclamation if they were in the United States on June 24, 2020; or held a valid visa in one of the restricted categories on June 24 pursuant to which they seek entry to the United States; or hold a valid advance parole or other U.S. travel document (other than a nonimmigrant visa) pursuant to which they seek U.S. entry...

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Delayed Receipt Notices at USCIS Lockboxes

AILA continues to receive reports from members of delayed receipt notices for applications and petitions filed with the Lockbox, with some members continuing to report that they have not yet received a receipt notice for applications and petitions submitted in late October. If more than six weeks has passed and you have not received a receipt notice, AILA suggests emailing the Lockbox Support Team at lockboxsupport@uscis.dhs.gov and Bcc AILA at reports@aila.org so that we can...

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USCIS Rescheduling Interviews due to Travel During COVID

AILA (American Immigration Lawyer's Association) has received numerous reports that upon entering USCIS field offices for interviews, applicants and attorneys are being asked screening questions including whether any party physically present at interview has traveled outside the U.S. in the last 14 days. If the answer is yes, USCIS is rescheduling the interview. AILA has also received reports that USCIS is checking CBP records and automatically rescheduling interviews if the applicant has traveled outside the...

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