Details on President Obama’s Immigration Executive Orders

On November 20, 2014, the President announced a series of executive actions dealing with immigration. These initiatives have not been implemented, and USCIS is not accepting any requests or applications at this time.  Be careful if someone offers to help you submit an application or a request for any of these actions because they are not available at this time. You could become a victim of an immigration scam.

We have been informed that over the next few months, USCIS will produce detailed explanations, instructions, regulations and forms as necessary. While USCIS is not accepting requests or applications at this time, it recommends that if you believe you may be eligible for one of the immigration initiatives, you can prepare by gathering documents that establish your:

Identity;

Relationship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident; and

Continuous residence in the United States over the last five years or more.

The following is a summary of the President’s Executive Actions:

Strengthen Border Security: DHS will implement a Southern Border and Approaches Campaign Strategy to fundamentally alter the way in which it will marshal resources to the border. 

Revise Removal Priorities:  DHS will implement a new department-wide enforcement and removal policy that places top priority on national security threats, convicted felons, gang members, and illegal entrants apprehended at the border.

End Secure Communities and Replace it with New Priority Enforcement Program: DHS will end the Secure Communities program, and replace it with the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) that will closely and clearly reflect DHS’s new top enforcement priorities. The program will continue to rely on fingerprint-based biometric data submitted during bookings by state and local law enforcement agencies and will identify to law enforcement agencies the specific criteria for which it will seek an individual in their custody.

Personnel Reform for ICE Officers: DHS will bring ICE agents’ and officers’ pay in line with other law enforcement personnel.

Expand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program:  DHS will expand eligibility for DACA to encompass a broader class of children.  DACA eligibility was limited to those who were under 31 years of age on June 15, 2012, who entered the U.S. before June 15, 2007, and who were under 16 years old when they entered.  DACA eligibility will be expanded to cover all undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. before the age of 16, and not just those born after June 15, 1981.  The date of entry will be adjusted from June 15, 2007 to January 1, 2010.  The relief (including work authorization) will now last for three years rather than two.

Extend Deferred Action to Parents of U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents: DHS will extend eligibility for deferred action to individuals who (i) are not removal priorities under the new policy, (ii) have been in this country at least 5 years, (iii) have children who on the date of this announcement are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, and (iv) present no other factors that would make a grant of deferred action inappropriate.  These individuals will be assessed for eligibility for deferred action on a case-by-case basis, and then be permitted to apply for work authorization, provided they pay a fee.  Each individual will undergo a thorough background check of all relevant national security and criminal databases, including DHS and FBI databases.

Expand Provisional Waivers to Spouses and Children of Lawful Permanent Residents: The provisional waiver program DHS announced in January 2013 for undocumented spouses and children of U.S. citizens will be expanded to include the spouses and children of lawful permanent residents, as well as the adult children of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.  At the same time, DHS will further clarify the “extreme hardship” standard that must be met to obtain the waiver.

Revise Parole Rules: DHS will begin rulemaking to identify the conditions under which talented entrepreneurs should be paroled into the United States, on the ground that their entry would yield a significant public economic benefit.  DHS will also support the military and its recruitment efforts by working with the Department of Defense to address the availability of parole-in-place and deferred action to spouses, parents, and children of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents who seek to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces. DHS will also issue guidance to clarify that when anyone is given “advance parole” to leave the country – including those who obtain deferred action – they will not be considered to have departed.  Undocumented aliens generally trigger a 3- or 10-year bar to returning to the United States when they depart.

Promote the Naturalization Process: To promote access to U.S. citizenship, DHS will permit the use of credit cards as a payment option for the naturalization fee, and expand citizenship public awareness. DHS will also explore the feasibility of expanding fee waiver options.

Support High-Skilled Business and Workers: DHS will take a number of administrative actions to better enable U.S. businesses to hire and retain highly skilled foreign-born workers and strengthen and expand opportunities for students to gain on-the-job training.  For example, because the immigration system suffers from extremely long waits for green cards, it will amend current regulations and make other administrative changes to provide needed flexibility to workers with approved employment-based green card petitions.

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December State Bulletin Issued

The December State Bulletin has been issued.  Both the family-based and employment-based categories have moved slightly.

For more information on the availability of immigrant numbers during December, please see the December State Bulletin.

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TIPS Extended For Nationals of Honduras and Nicaragua

DHS has extended the Temporary Protected Status (TIPS) for 18 months for Honduras and Nicaragua. The extension is from January 5, 2015 through July 5, 2016.   TIPS was first designated for these countries in 1999, and has been extended 9 times.   TIPS protected status includes temporary protection against removal from the US and employment authorization.  Nationals of these countries must register or reregister by submitting form I-821 and Form I-765 for word authorization.  Please submit these forms as soon as possible within the 60-day registration period.

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November 2014 Visa Bulletin Issued

Although there was a slight forward movement in most categories, the EB-2 for Indian nationals regressed significantly from May 1, 2009 to February 15, 2005.

For more information, please read the November 2014 Visa Bulletin here.  Note predictions on future visa availability on last page of the Visa Bulletin.

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DIVERSITY LOTTERY OPENS TODAY (October 1, 2014)

The 2016 Diversity Visa Program (DV-2016) opened at noon today October 1, 2014, and will close at noon (EST) on November 3, 2014 (see details above).  Applicants must submit entries electronically during the registration period at https://www.dvlottery.state.gov/.  Don’t wait until the last week of the registration period to enter, normally heavy demand at that time causes website crashes/delays.  We have had clients that won the lottery.  Good Luck!

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2016 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program

The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program permits natives from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States to apply for one of 50,000 diversity visas for fiscal year 2016.  Applicants must meet strict eligibility requirements in order to qualify for the program and, if met, applicants will then be entered into a lottery.  The randomly-selected computer drawing selects applications among six geographic regions, with no single country receiving more than seven percent of the visas.

For 2016, people born in the following countries are ineligible to apply, due to over 50,000 natives immigrating to the United States within the last five years:

- Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.

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Duplicate Biometrics Appointment Notices

There are reports that USCIS is issuing a second biometrics appointment notice after receiving a prior notice over the past several weeks and appearing for biometrics capture.  We understand that the American Immigration Lawyers Association has contacted USCIS about the problem and it is due to USCIS’ change in computer programs.  In the meantime, check your records before appearing for any appointment.  Also, do not disregard it.  Instead, ask your lawyer to inform USCIS that the biometrics have already been taken.

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ALERT – NEW SCAM TARGETS INDIAN H-1B APPLICANTS

Beware of a new scam, experienced by our clients and confirmed to have occurred by the American Immigration Lawyers Association to employees of other Indian companies.  Callers, posing as officers of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), claim that USCIS has found problems or discrepancies in the person’s immigration files and ask for personal information.  Do not share any personal or petition data with anyone, as it can be used to get more of your personal information from USCIS or potentially to create false immigration documents in your name.  The caller knows the person’s name, address, and that the person has applied for an H-1B visa in the United States.  At this time we do not know if this is confined to employees of Indian companies only.

The scam gets worse.  The caller tells the H-1B applicant that USCIS charges a penalty for such discrepancies and tells them to send money, via Western Union, to a certain address.  Note that USCIS will not call an H-1B applicant and demand information or money over the phone.  It will communicate, normally in writing, with the attorney of record.  If there is no attorney of record, it will normally communicate with the petitioner (applicant company) also in writing.  If anyone calls, no one should respond to the questions, instead get the person’s name and phone number and tell them you will call them back.  Then report it to your attorney or local authorities (FBI, Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection).

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Problems With Availability of EB-5 Visas for Chinese Nationals

On August 23, 2014, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced that the EB-5 visa category for Chinese nationals will be unavailable in the upcoming September 2014 Visa Bulletin because the maximum number of EB-5 visas for Chinese nationals has been reached for fiscal year 2014.

On October 1, 2014, when fiscal year 2015 begins, the EB-5 visa category for Chinese nationals will become current and, therefore, immediately available again. However, according to visa usage trends, the DOS predicts that in May 2015 the category will retrogress to a priority date of June 2013, so will no longer be available again.

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White House Immigration Update

Jenna is an Intern with the firm and is not a practicing attorney.

On August 5th, the White House released a comprehensive update on President Obama’s efforts relating to immigration these past few months, including traveling to Texas in July to meet with local officials, faith leaders, and Governor Rick Perry in response to the growing humanitarian crisis occurring in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.  The update also details the first-ever White House National Convening on Immigrant and Refugee Integration held on July 16th, which gathered policymakers and practitioners from around the world to discuss successful integration initiatives and programs for immigrants and refugees, as well as President Obama’s continued press in early August for Congress to pass his emergency supplemental appropriations request that asks for $3.7 billion in order to comprehensively address the urgent humanitarian situation at the Southwest border.

For full details on the Administration’s immigration efforts, please see the White House updates and blog highlights below.

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About ABCs of Immigration Law
The global economy has become increasingly transactional and transcontinental. Since 9/11, there have been many amendments to immigration laws in the United States that have largely affected both individuals and businesses. Cozen O'Connor's immigration law blog, ABC's of Immigration Law, focuses on the interests and the challenges faced by those individuals and business impacted by immigration laws.
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