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Articles Posted in Green Card

It has been reported that President-Elect Joe Biden will unveil a comprehensive immigration plan on his first day in office.  The plan, which would provide a multi-year pathway to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants currently in the United States, is expected to be sent to Congress on Wednesday, shortly after the inauguration.

The central tenet of Biden’s plan is the pathway to citizenship, which would allow certain undocumented immigrants to achieve citizenship within eight years. The plan, as reported, would give certain immigrants temporary status for five years, allow them to apply for green cards after that time and once they have met certain criteria, then allow them to apply for citizenship three years later.

For recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — so-called Dreamers who were protected under a program first started by President Barack Obama — the pathway would be streamlined, allowing them to apply for a green card immediately.

President-elect Joe Biden’s plans for immigration are expected to be a stark contrast to the Trump administration agenda.  Some of President-elect Biden’s stated priorities are:

  1. Reinstating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA and Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

The Trump administration has relentlessly attached the DACA program.  President-elect Biden has promised to fully reinstate DACA and will seek to make its protections permanent.  President-elect Biden has also stated that he intends to review TPS designations to ensure people are not returned to unsafe countries.

President Trump signed an Executive Order on April 22, 2020 suspending the entry of individuals on an immigrant visa for 60 days.  “Immigrant visa” refers to an application for permanent residency (i.e., green card) obtained at a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad. The Order provides exceptions for  certain lawful permanent residents, holders of existing, valid immigrant visas and similar U.S. travel documents, the spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens, and EB-5 immigrants among others.  The order takes effect on April 23, 2020.

The Order does not affect the processing or filing of applications for adjustment of status in the United States.  Further, H-1B, L-1 and other nonimmigrant programs are not immediately affected, but the Order directs DHS and DOL to make a study of the impact of temporary foreign workers on U.S. workers.  The results of the study could prompt future restrictions on these nonimmigrant programs.

The suspension will initially last for 60 days, but may be continued “as necessary.”

On April 1, 2020, USCIS extended the temporary suspension of all routine face-to-face services with applicants at all USCIS offices, including all interviews, naturalization ceremonies, and biometric collection appointments through May 3, 2020.  USCIS offices will re-open on May 4 unless the public closures are extended further.

USCIS will reschedule all appointments when normal operations resume.

The immigration lawyers at Lubiner, Schmidt & Palumbo are accepting new clients and we are available to consult via video chat, including iphone, android and all other video conferencing services. We are also available for by appointment office consults. If you have any questions about your ability to file an immigration applications currently and how these closures would affect that, please do not hesitate to contact us.

On January 30, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will begin implementing the new public charge regulations on February 24, 2020. The regulations broadly expand the list of public benefits that can be considered, as well as the discretion given to immigration officers when deciding whether someone is “more likely than not” to become a public charge.

The rule was originally scheduled to take effect on October 15, 2019 but was blocked by nationwide injunctions filed by several federal judges across the country. The Supreme Court of the United States recently ruled in favor of the Trump administration to allow implementation of the regulations while legal challenges play out in the lower courts. The public charge rule will not be applied in the State of Illinois where a statewide injunction is still in place.

The public charge rule applies to certain adjustment of status (also known as green cards) applicants, as well as non-immigrants seeking to change their status or extend their stay. USCIS will apply the new standards to applications or petitions that are postmarked on or after February 24, 2020.

What’s Changed

On August 29, 2016, a final rule, expanding the existing provisional waiver process to allow spouses and children of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to more easily navigate the immigration process, went into effect.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) extended eligibility for the provisional waiver process to all individuals who are statutorily qualified for immigrant visas.  First established in 2013, the provisional unlawful presence waiver process, put into place with the purpose of supporting family unity, allows immediate relatives, family-sponsored or employment-based immigrants, as well as Diversity Visa selectees to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility in the United States before they depart for their immigrant visa interview.

Typically, a foreign national who has accrued more than one hundred eighty (180) days but less than one year of unlawful presence is subject to a three (3) year bar from returning the US after a departure. A foreign national who has accrued more than one year of unlawful presence is typically subject to a ten (10) year bar from returning to the U.S. after a departure (commonly referred to as the “3/10 year bar”).  While a waiver of these bars remains available, applicants may only apply for this waiver from outside the US.  This process carried a very significant risk of being trapped outside of the US for months or even years pending the adjudication of the waiver.  Even worse, if the waiver application were to be denied, the applicant would be unable to return to the US for 3/10 years, depending upon the previous duration of unlawful presence.

As of March 4, 2013, immediate relatives[1] of US citizens were eligible to apply for the provisional unlawful presence waiver (“601A waiver”) to request that USCIS grant a provisional waiver of these grounds of inadmissibility before departing the United States for consular processing of their immigrant visas— rather than applying for a waiver abroad after their immigrant visa interviews.  This provided applicants with a significant degree of certainty that they would be eligible to return to the US after their interview because the Applicant would already know if their waiver had been granted prior to departing the US.  If the 601A waiver were denied, most Applicants would simply remain in the US.  In practice, while many Applicants were able to make use of the 601A Waiver to reenter, there remained a modicum of danger, as US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) ultimately determines admissibility at the time of entry.  In addition, this iteration of the 601A left out many otherwise qualified individuals, such as immediate relatives of legal permanent residents (LPR).

On July 29, 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a final rule, to expand the class of individuals who may be eligible for a provisional waiver of certain grounds of inadmissibility based on the accrual of unlawful presence in the United States.  The final rule is to take effect on August 29, 2016.

On November 2, 1966, Congress passed the Cuban Adjustment Act, which permitted Cuban nationals who have been physically present in the United States of America for at least one year, who have been admitted or paroled, and who are admissible as immigrants to the United States to apply to for adjustment of status to that of a legal permanent resident (“LPR”). As a legal permanent resident, they would be eligible for certain benefits, such as being eligible to stay and work in the country legally, being able to start a business, and eventually naturalizing and becoming a citizen of the United States. As a legal permanent resident from Cuba, they also enjoy certain benefits that are typically not available to LPR’s from other countries, such as food stamps and access to Medicaid.

This policy was later modified in 1995, in what has been commonly known as the “Wet Foot, Dry Foot” policy, which was the result of a negotiated settlement with between the Clinton Administration and the Cuban government. The policy provides that anyone who is caught in the waters between Cuba and the United States would be sent back to Cuba, whereas anyone who makes it to shore would be eligible to become a permanent resident, and would eventually have a path to becoming a citizen of the United States.

Recently, another modification has been considered for this special program. According to CNN’s article, “The last flight and first steps: ‘Historic’ surge of Cubans crossing into the U.S.”, thousands of Cubans have been continuing to flee north with many eventually reaching North America. “More than 35,600 Cubans have arrived at U.S. ports of entry since October 1 [2015], nearly three-quarters of them at the Texas border, according to U.S. figures.” As Cubans fled from the repression and financial hardships of their home country, they faced many challenges along the way in potential host countries, including low wages as undocumented workers in Ecuador, hiking for days through the Colombian jungle, facing rough terrain, armed groups and extortion by authorities, with some South American countries closing off their borders to the refugees or others threatening to deport them. When faced with these options, many chose to continue the journey into the United States where greater opportunities lay.

(This begins our three-part series on the development of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, its proposed expansion, DAPA, and the recent developments in the US Supreme Court)

On June 15, 2012, President Barack Obama unveiled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) to protect certain classes of undocumented immigrants. Under this program, the US Department of Homeland Security would not remove undocumented youth who had come to the United States as children if they had met certain criteria. Instead, these youth would be “DACAmented” and given a number of benefits that were previously unavailable to them, including the temporary permission to stay in the US under “deferred action.”

To be eligible for the initial DACA guidelines, an applicant must:

One issue that America faces is the dwindling number of advanced degree workers in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Half or more of students who graduate with a Master’s degree or Ph.D. in these areas that are educated in American universities are foreign nationals with student visas.

But due to restrictive immigration laws, these US educated foreign students are made to leave the U.S. after graduation. “American universities are educating the world’s leading STEM graduate students – only to export this talent to our competitors overseas,” declares Senator John Cornyn of Texas.

Senator Cornyn has introduced a bill that will solve the “brain drain” problem through an immigration reform act. Known as the STAR Act of 2012 (Securing The Talent America Requires for the 21st Centrury Act of 2012), the bill proposes that graduates from academic institutions that receive at least $5 million in federal research grants may apply for US permanent residency.

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