DACA Renewals to Resume

On Saturday, January 13, 2018, U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) posted it will resume accepting DACA renewal applications. The decision to allow DACA renewals came after a San Francisco Federal Court blocked the administration’s decision to end DACA last September.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program began in June 2012. In September 2017, it was announced that the program would begin to “wind down.” Currently, the DACA program will continue as if the program was never rescinded. Applications from individuals who have never received DACA will not be accepted.

Currently, only individuals who previously received DACA will be able to retain DACA status. Individuals whose DACA status expired prior to September 5, 2016 can file a new request for DACA status. Individuals who received DACA in the past and whose status expired after September 5, 2016, may reapply for DACA. Individuals who currently have DACA status will be able to renew their status within one year of expiration. These new DACA regulations will be followed until further notice.

If you are a DREAMer, you should consult with an immigration attorney about renewing or reapplying for DACA. We will continue to monitor the issue and post updates as more information becomes available. For questions or to set-up a consultation with an Immigration Lawyer in our Boston office, please call 617-973-6448.

USCIS Makes Extensions More Difficult for H-1Bs

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has updated its guidelines on October 23, 2017 to apply the same level of scrutiny to initial and extension requests for nearly all nonimmigrant classifications filed using Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, most especially H-1B petitions.

Like before, Officers are instructed to review the application and supporting documentation thoroughly, however, now, even in circumstances where there has been no change in facts. The new guidance indicates that Officers may, “ultimately reach the same conclusion as in a prior decision, they are not compelled to do so as a default starting point as the burden of proof to establish eligibility for an immigration benefit always lies with the petitioner.” Previously, USCIS guidance directed Officers to give “deference” to prior determinations “as long as the key elements were unchanged and there was no evidence of a material error or fraud.” This change is a result of President Trump’s April 18th Buy American and Hire American Executive Order.

Immigration lawyers and petitioners should be prepared as the change in the burden of proof will likely result in an increase in requests for evidence (RFE) for extension petitions, especially H-1B extensions. If you receive a RFE and need help responding or have any questions regarding the change in the burden of proof for I-129 extensions, please contact us at 617-973-6448 to schedule a consultation with an Immigration attorney in our office right away.

 

Republican U.S. Senator: Immigration “Deal To Be Had”

By John Foley

I had a brief conversation with U.S. Senator Daniel Sullivan of Alaska earlier today. I asked the first term Republican about changes in U.S. immigration law and he said “there is a deal do be had on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)” but it had to come from Congress and “we have to secure the border at the same time.”

Speaking at a luncheon meeting of the New England Council while he is in town for his Harvard University 30th class reunion, Sullivan said “there is the framework for an immigration deal in Congress” but he stressed “we need to keep it simple. He can’t try to solve all of the immigration issues at once.”

 

Attorney Foley and U.S. Senator Daniel Sullivan of Alaska at a New England Council Luncheon on October 13, 2017.

Sullivan, a lawyer, former U.S. Marine and Assistant Secretary of State said he “was opposed to pulling out of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)” and was in favor of entering into “a free trade agreement with Japan.”

As Assistant Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, Sullivan said his job was to convince other countries to boycott Iran. Sullivan praised President Trump’s announcement today making good on a long running threat to disavow the Iranian nuclear deal.

Sullivan called Iran “the biggest terror state in the world” and he said Iran had been “cheating on the agreement before the ink was even dry.”

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Premium Processing Resumes for ALL H-1B petitions

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on October 3, 2017 that premium processing for all H-1B petitions has resumed.

Premium processing is the expedited processing of an application. USCIS guarantees a processing time of fifteen (15) calendar days. Note, it does not guarantee a decision within those 15 days. If the guaranteed timeline is not met, USCIS will refund the premium-processing fee of $1,225.00 and continue with the expedited processing of the application.

To upgrade your petition or for more information on premium processing and how it would affect your case, please contact an immigration lawyer in our office today by calling 617-973-6448.

 

 

 

New 90-Day Rule Regarding Misrepresentation

What is the 90-Day Rule?

The U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) updated the Field Adjudicators Manual (“FAM”) on September 1, 2017 to provide guidance to U.S. consular officers in regards to the term “misrepresentation” and foreign nationals in the U.S. “who conduct themselves in a manner inconsistent with representations they made to consular officers concerning their intentions at the time of visa application or to DHS when applying for admission or for an immigration benefit.”

The FAM now includes a subsection titled “Inconsistent Conduct Within 90 Days of Entry.”9 FAM 302.9-4(B)(3) . The updated section states that: “If an alien violates or engages in conduct inconsistent with his or her nonimmigrant status within 90 days of entry… you may presume that the applicant’s representations about engaging in only status-compliant activity were willful misrepresentations of his or her intention in seeking a visa or entry.”

Individuals who have been found to have willfully misrepresented” a material fact, sought to procure or has procured a visa, other documentation or admission into the United States or other immigration benefit is inadmissible and may be barred for life from entering the U.S.” 9 FAM 302.9-4(B)(3) .

So why is this important for me?

It’s important to understand if your conduct is inconsistent with your nonimmigrant status. Working without authorization, enrolling in school when you are not allowed to, and marrying a U.S. citizen or legal permanent residence after entering in on a status with nonimmigrant intent are examples of activities inconsistent with nonimmigrant intent.

The new FAM rule indicates that there will be a presumption of willful misrepresentation based on the alien’s activity within 90 days after entry to the U.S. Any activity more than 90 days after entry into the U.S. is not considered willful misrepresentation.

The 90-day rule replaces the previous 30/60 day rule which indicates that any adjustment application filed within 30 days of entry is considered misrepresentation. Any act filed after 30 days but before 60 days generally is not considered misrepresentation, unless evidence indicates otherwise. Finally any action after 60 days, there is no presumption of misrepresentation.

With this new rule, adjustment of status applications should be careful if he or she has entered in on nonimmigrant intent visa. USCIS has not yet adopted this rule, however, there is still a risk of a finding of willful misrepresentation. If you have entered in on the Visa Waiver Program or a nonimmigrant intent visa, and are considering actions inconsistent with your status, you should immediately consult one of the immigration lawyers in our office. To schedule a consultation, please call (617) 973-6448.

Premium processing to resume for FY 2018 cap H-1B petitions

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on September 18, 2017 that they have resumed premium processing for all H-1B petitions subject to the cap filed this past April in the lottery.

Premium processing is service offered by USCIS at an additional fee of $1,225 for certain business nonimmigrant visas. Premium processing guarantees a fifteen (15) -day processing time. Note, it does not always result in an approval during the allotted time period. Premium processing just guarantees processing. If USCIS does not process the petition in 15 days, it will refund the premium processing fee.

USCIS will resume premium processing for all H-1B petitions as their work load lightens. Our office will continue to monitor premium processing updates and provide them to you as they become available. For any further questions about premium processing or if you would like to upgrade your H-1B cap petition to premium processing, contact one of the immigration lawyers in our office today!

USCIS now conducting interviews for employment-based green cards

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced beginning, October 1 2017, adjustment of status applications based on employment will be scheduled for in-person interviews. Previously, applicants applying for an employment-based immigrant visa did not require an in-person interview with USCIS officers in order for their application for permanent residency to be adjudicated.

According to USCIS, the purpose of the interviews was to provide “the agency with the opportunity to determine applicant’s credibility.” The interviews are part of USCIS’ comprehensive strategy under the Trump administration to further improve the detection and prevention of fraud and further enhance the integrity of the immigration system. USCIS will be slowly phasing in in-person interviews for other categories where interviews have not been previously required.

USCIS has not provided guidance as to whether or not it will be requiring interviews for all cases filed prior to October 1, 2017, or if the requirement is applicable to all cases filed on or after the October 1st date. Our office will continue to monitor this situation and provide any updates as they become available.

It is important for applicants who are scheduled for an interview to contact an immigration attorney prepare and accompany them to the interview. The interview will be in-depth and requires significant preparation. There are concerns USCIS may not have sufficient trained staff to handle complex EB-1A, EB-2/3 or EB-5 cases. As a result, there could be unnecessary delays in your case. In order to avoid a delay in your case in such uncertain times, contact our office to schedule a consultation or interview prep session with an immigration attorney in our office.

“‘Snowball’s chance in hell’ of US immigration bill passing”

On August 2, 2017, President Trump, along with Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia introduced a new immigration bill that would take away the focus from family reunification and institute a merits-based system.

The proposal would cut legal immigration in half. The proposed system, similar to Canada and Australia, would favor granting legal permanent residency to foreign nationals who are highly skilled, highly educated and speak English, rather than based on family relationships. The points would be calculated based  on the following categories:

  • Age;
  • Education;
  • English ability;
  • Job Offer;
  • Nobel Prize;
  • Olympian; and
  • Investors.

The Irish Times contacted Attorney Foley to get his opinion on President Trump’s proposal.

“I don’t think it has a snowball’s chance in hell of becoming law,” says Boston-based immigration attorney John Foley, whose four grandparents were from Co Galway. “

For more information and to read more of Attorney Foley’s opinion, please visit https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/abroad/snowball-s-chance-in-hell-of-us-immigration-bill-passing-1.3175928

USCIS Issuing Redesigned Green Cards And Employment Authorization Cards as of May 1, 2017

 

On May 1, 2017, USCIS began issuing redesigned Green Cards and employment authorization cards (EADs). The purpose of the redesigned cards is to enhance the fraud-resistant security measures and deter counterfeiting and fraud.

The new Green Cards and EADs will:

  • Display the individual’s photos on both sides;
  • Show a unique graphic image and color palette:
  • Green Cards will have an image of the Statue of Liberty and a predominately green palette;
  • EAD cards will have an image of a bald eagle and a predominately red palette;
  • Have embedded holographic images; and
  • No longer display the individual’s signature.

Green Cards will no longer have an optical stripe on the back.

If you have received a card after May 1st, and it does not have any of the above-mentioned features, you should contact our office right away in order to obtain a Green Card or EAD that is compliant with the USCIS re-design. All other cards issued prior to May 1st, 2017 are still valid until its expiration date.

BOSTON BIOMETRICS OFFICE TO MOVE TO REVERE, MA

Beginning May 1, 2017, all biometrics appointments for USCIS will no longer be held at 170 Portland Street, Boston, MA. Moving forward, all biometric appointments will be at 7F Everett St, Revere, MA 02151.

This location is easily accessible by the Blue Line on the MBTA. Additionally, there is ample parking, unlike the previous Boston location.  Please review your biometric appointment notices carefully. The address where you should attend to your appointment will be listed