TPS Designation for Haiti to End in 2019

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on November 20, 2017, the termination of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Haiti,  effective on July 22, 2019.  This announcement follows then-Secretary Kelly’s announcement in May that the designation would not likely be extended past six months.

The effective date of the termination of TPS for Haiti will be delayed 18 months. This will provide time for individuals with TPS to arrange for their departure or to seek an alternative lawful immigration status in the United States, if eligible. The delay will also provide the Haitian government with the time it needs to prepare for the future repatriation of all current TPS recipients.

Approximately 60,000 Haitians are affected by the termination of this designation. The decision to terminate TPS was made after DHS determined the conditions in Haiti have improved significantly. Advocates for Haitians disagree arguing conditions in the island nation haven’t improved nearly enough for Haitians to return home.

Like all other delayed-TPS designation terminations, Haitians with TPS will be required to reapply for Employment Authorization Documents in order to legally work in the United States until the end of the respective termination or extension periods.

An immigration attorney in our office can help you today if you have TPS or any questions regarding any changes to the policy. Please call our office to set up a consultation at (617) 973-6448.

 

 

Temporary Protected Status Updates for Nicaragua and Honduras

Elaine Duke, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, announced on November 6, 2017, changes to the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program for Nicaragua and Honduras.

What is TPS?

TPS is a temporary status designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security that can be granted to eligible nationals of certain countries, who are already in the United States. It serves to prevent the country’s nationals from returning to conditions in their country that will be unsafe, or in certain circumstances where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately. Eligible individuals without nationality who last resided in the designated country may also be granted TPS.

Nicaragua

Nicaragua was originally designated as part of the program in 1999. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reviewed the conditions upon which the country’s designation were based and whether those substantial but temporary conditions prevented Nicaragua from adequately handling the return of their nationals.. There was also no request made by the Nicaraguan government to extend the current TPS status. Based on all available information, including recommendations received as part of an inter-agency consultation process, Acting Secretary Duke determined that those substantial but temporary conditions caused in Nicaragua by Hurricane Mitch no longer exist, and the current TPS designation must be terminated.

The termination of Nicaragua to the TPS program is not immediate. DHS delayed the termination date by twelve months in order to allow a transition for and TPS holders to determine other avenues of relief and alternative lawful immigration status. It will also provide time for Nicaragua to prepare for the return and reintegration of their citizens. TPS for Nicaragua will terminate on January 5, 2019.

Honduras

Regarding Honduras, Acting Secretary Duke concluded that despite receiving input from various sources, additional time is necessary to obtain and properly assess supplemental information pertaining to country conditions in Honduras in order to make a TPS designation determination.  Based on the lack of definitive information regarding conditions on the ground, the Acting Secretary has not made a determination at this time, thereby automatically extending the current TPS designation for Honduras for six months – through July 5, 2018

 Nicaraguans and Hondurans with TPS will be required to reapply for Employment Authorization Documents in order to legally work in the United States until the end of the respective termination or extension periods.

Let an immigration lawyer in our office help you today if you have TPS or any questions regarding any changes to the policy. Please call our office to set up a consultation at (617) 973-6448.

ALERT: DIVERSITY VISA LOTTERY REOPENED, PREVIOUS ENTRIES NOT VALID

The U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) experienced a technical issue this past month on the Diversity Visa lottery and has reopened a new full entry period, starting Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at 12:00pm EST and ending Wednesday, November 22, 2017 at 12:00p EST.

Here is the official statement from DOS:

“Due to a technical issue, the DV-2019 entry period that began on October 3 has been closed. Entries submitted during October 3-10 are not valid and have been excluded from the system; they will not count as a duplicate entry. The technical issue has been resolved and a new full entry period will begin at noon, U.S. Eastern Daylight Time on Wednesday October 18, 2017 and will run until noon Eastern Standard Time on Wednesday November 22, 2017. Only entries submitted during this period will be accepted and considered for selection in the lottery. Please throw away any confirmation number or other documentation that you have if you submitted an entry during Oct. 3-10.”

All applicants who previously submitted an entry into the diversity visa lottery during the October 3-10 period must RESUBMIT their application in order to be counted for this year’s lottery. The new lottery period will close on Wednesday November 22, 2017 at 12 pm EST.  If you have any questions about the diversity visa lottery or your previous submission, or  want to set up a consultation with an Immigration Lawyer in our Boston office today, please call 617-973-6448.

USCIS changes direct filing addresses for Form I-129 petitions

The U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services ( USCIS) announced on October 12, 2017, a change in the direct filing addresses for certain petitioners of Form I-129, Petitioner for a Nonimmigrant Worker. These changes are important for all Petitioners  and immigration lawyers to note as beginning November 1, 2017, USCIS will reject any Form I-129s filed at the wrong service center. This could be detrimental for any time sensitive cases such extensions and amendments for H-1Bs.

All I-129s must now be filed according to the state where the company or organization’s primary office is located. Previously, all applications were filed based on the address of the beneficiary’s work location.

Additionally, Petitioners located in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas will now file Form I-129 at the California Service Center. Previously, Petitioners in these states filed their petitions at the Vermont Service Center.

There are special instructions for certain petitioners of certain visas, so it is always important to check the USCIS website for the correct address. If you have questions or your I-129 is rejected (properly or improperly), please call an immigration lawyer in our office today!

Temporary Protected Status Changes for Sudan & South Sudan

On September 18, 2017, Elaine Duke, acting Secretary of Homeland Security enacted the following changes for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Sudan and South Sudan.

Sudan

Beginning November 2, 2018, TPS for Sudanese nationals will be terminated. All Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) will be only renewed until TPS for Sudan is terminated on November 2, 2018. TPS termination for Sudan does not affect any other immigration status that an individual received during their time on TPS. USCIS suggests that individuals who are unable to apply for other immigration benefits to prepare and arrange for departure or apply for other eligible immigration benefits before the termination date.

South Sudan

TPS for South Sudan has been extended for 18 months. South Sudanese nationals currently receiving TPS may re-register and renew their EADs before the new expiration date. Currently, EADs will be renewed automatically for 180 days and upon renewal, new EADs for South Sudanese nationals with TPS will have a May 2, 2019 expiration date on their EADs. The status of South Sudan will be re-evaluated at least 60 days before May 2, 2019. After re-evaluation the Secretary of Homeland Security will determine whether or not to renew TPS for South Sudanese individuals.

Let an immigration lawyer in our office help you today if you have TPS or any questions regarding any changes to the policy. Please call our office to set up a consultation at (617) 973-6448.

DHS expansion of social media policy beginning October 18th!

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has expanded its social media policy and as of October 18, 2018 will be collecting “social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results” for all immigrants. It is currently unclear as to how DHS will obtain the “search results.”

Furthermore, the Federal Register states that DHS will “update record source categories to include publicly available information obtained from the internet, public records, public institutions, interviewees, commercial data providers, and information obtained and disclosed pursuant to information sharing agreements.”

It is important to note that this new policy could impact anyone who interacts with immigrants on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Any conversation or interaction with an immigrant could be subject to surveillance.

We will continue to monitor the above as more information becomes available.

For any questions on how to fill out the DS-160 and DS-260, or any questions regarding the change in policy, please contact one of the immigration lawyers in our office today.

TRUMP “WINDING DOWN” DACA PROGRAM

Today, September 5, 2017 Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump Administration is rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program and ordered an “orderly, lawful, wind down” of DACA. Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Elaine Duke, has already issued a memorandum rescinding the June off 2012 memorandum that created DACA and ordered a phase out of the program over the next six (6) months. The Trump Administration believes this process will limit disruption to current DACA beneficiaries while providing time for Congress to seek a legislative solution. The memo states the following:

  • All those currently enrolled in DACA will be allowed to work until their employment authorization document (EAD) expires.
  • Permits that expired by March 5, 2018 have one month to apply for their two-year renewal.
  • All new and renewal applications received by DHS before Tuesday will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
  • New applications received after Tuesday will not be considered.
  • No new advanced parole (I-131) documents will be approved. All pending travel document applications will be administratively closed and all associated fees will be refunded.

The DACA program was first establish in 2012 through executive order by President Obama. DACA protects nearly 800,000 individuals, known as “DREAMers” from deportation who were brought to the US by their parents and through no fault of their own. The program was never meant to be considered a legal pathway to citizenship nor an amnesty. Ninety-five percent (95%) of participants are either working or in school. The DREAMers also pay taxes, but yet are unable to receive government benefits. DREAMers contribute to our economy and society.

If you are a DREAMer, you should consult with an immigration attorney in our office immediately for possible pathways to legal solutions. We will continue to monitor the issue and update as more information becomes available.

 

Dept. of State halts issuing nonimmigrant visas to Russia.

The U.S. State Department has temporarily stopped issuing nonimmigrant visas (NIV) to Russians in response to Moscow’s decision to impose a personnel cap on the U.S. Mission as of August 23, 2017. Beginning 9/1/2017,  NIV interviews will only be conducted at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. On their website, the U.S. Mission posted the following:

“As a result of the Russian government’s personnel cap imposed on the U.S. Mission, all nonimmigrant visa (NIV) operations across Russia will be suspended beginning August 23, 2017. Visa operations will resume on a greatly reduced scale. Beginning September 1, nonimmigrant visa interviews will be conducted only at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. NIV interviews at the U.S. Consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and Vladivostok are suspended until further notice. As of 0900 Moscow time Monday, August 21, the U.S. Mission will begin canceling current nonimmigrant visa appointments countrywide. The NIV applicants who have their interviews canceled should call the number below to reschedule their interview at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow for a later date. NIV applicants originally scheduled for an interview at the U.S. consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and Vladivostok should call the number below if they wish to reschedule their interviews at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

The staffing changes will also affect the scheduling of some immigrant visa applicants. Affected applicants will be contacted if there is a change as to the time and date of their interview.”

We will continue to monitor the situation closely. If you or your company do not have an immigration attorney, are affected by this change in operations, and in need of an expedited interview, please contact our office to schedule a consultation (in-person or virtual).

Individuals may not be held solely for immigration detainers in MA!

On July 24, 2017, the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) of Massachusetts ruled that state law does not permit state and local law enforcement to arrest and hold individuals solely for immigration detainers at the request of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The SJC stated that “Massachusetts law provide[d] no authority for Massachusetts court officers to arrest and hold an individual solely on the basis of a Federal civil immigration detainer, beyond the time that the individual would otherwise be entitled to be released from State custody.”

In this case, Mr. Lunn, a Thai refugee from Cambodia, came to the US as a seven-month-old infant in 1985 to flee the Khmer Rouge. He has lived his entire life in the US and now has two US citizen children. On October 24, 2016, Mr. Lunn was arraigned in Boston Municipal Court for a single count of unarmed robbery. The day before his arraignment, ICE issued a civil immigration detainer against him. The detainer requested “he be held in State custody or up to two days after he would otherwise be released, in order to give officers of the department time to arrive and take him into Federal custody.”

At his arraignment, bond was set, however, Mr. Lunn was unable to post bond. He was incarcerated until his next hearing date. On February 6, 2017, Mr. Lunn’s case was dismissed for lack of prosecution because the Commonwealth was not ready for trial. At that point, Mr. Lunn had no criminal charges pending against him, and the judge or law enforcement officials declined act on Mr. Lunn’s request to be released custody as a result of the immigration detainer. As a result, Mr. Lunn remained in detention, despite the fact there were no longer any criminal charges pending against him. While Mr. Lunn was ultimately freed in June, before the case was decided, this case is important for all individuals in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts who are being held solely on immigration detainers.

If you believe you or a family member is currently being detained without any cause, call our office to set up a consultation today.

A Grandmother Deported…..

A Grandmother Deported…..

By John Foley, Esq.

It was difficult to understand what the daughter on the other end of the phone was saying through her sobs. “Pleeeeeeze” she cried repeatedly “please, please, please don’t let them deport my mother. It was all my fault. She didn’t do anything. She was only there because of me. Please, please, pleeeeeze promise me you won’t let them deport her.”

I waited for a break in her cries and between sobs told her I would do whatever I could but “in immigration law there are no guarantees. Sorry but it’s as simple as that.”

The daughter was in jail. She knew she was going to be deported. She had a drug problem that brought her to the attention of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement—more commonly known as ICE. That same drug problem convinced her to give up custody of her only child, a U.S. citizen to her mother.

The mother’s world came crashing down after she stood by her daughter as the daughter was arraigned on the drug charges. As they were leaving the Court parking lot, their car was blocked by two ICE vehicles and they were swarmed by ICE agents. Both mother and daughter were taken into custody.

The daughter went to a county jail where she was placed in solitary confinement.

The mother, who has lived under the radar outside of Boston for the past twenty years had a meeting with ICE.

ICE did an FBI fingerprint check and other than driving without a license and a minor domestic matter, the mother has no criminal history.

She has a 15-year old son who is a U.S. citizen and a Probate Court order naming her the Guardian of her 10-year old grand-daughter. The Court order prevents her from taking the 10-year old outside Massachusetts much less the United States.

According to ICE she last entered the U.S. on a flight in 2006 and has been here illegally since then. When asked what she should do with the two U.S. citizen children in her care, one ICE agent shrugged his shoulders in an “I don’t know or care” kind of way and another simply said “not my problem.”

Copies of the U.S. birth certificates and Social Security cards for the children were provided, with records detailing medical issues for both children and the Court order preventing relocation of the 10-year old. After a somewhat tense exchange the ICE officer said “just enforcing the law. It’s that simple.”

A black battery operated ankle bracelet was fitted on her right leg and she was told what to do if it started to vibrate and how to recharge it. She was told not to try to take the ankle bracelet off and that she could wear it in the shower and there was no chance of getting a shock from it. The ICE officer who put it on said he would meet her at the airport and “discretely take it off” and watch as she boarded the plane out of the U.S.

She was told to report to ICE once a week and to show up in two weeks with an airline ticket out of the United States. She was also warned ICE could come to her home any time day or night to check on her.

She was given five weeks to get her affairs in order before she was returned to a country where she no longer had family, a home or any prospect of employment   She is being forced to begin life again at the age of 52.

Neither ICE officer answered when asked what she should do with the two minor U.S. citizens.

A neighbor, who kept saying he was a U.S. citizen, had driven her to the meeting with ICE. “She is a good person” he said “I’ve known her for years. She takes care of her family, she works hard, she pays her taxes. She is not the kind of person who should be deported. She’s not a criminal or in a gang. Why are they doing this?” he asked as he fought back tears.

I explained that none of that mattered to ICE. He asked if they knew she was the mother and grandmother of US citizens and that they’d be affected by their actions. I assured him ICE did know there were other U.S. citizens who would be affected by her deportation. But, to use the words of ICE they’re “just enforcing the law. It’s that simple.”

Unfortunately, it is anything but simple.