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.

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.

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.

Visa applicants will now face stricter scrutiny during the vetting process!

Since his campaign, President Donald Trump has stated that he will increase national security at all cost. Over the past few months, President Trump has implemented travel bans, proposed giving more money to the military to keep immigrants out at the borders, and claimed that he will make Mexico pay for a wall to divide the borders.Most recently, the Trump administration has implemented a new questionnaire that will affect visa applicants, making the processes more difficult for visa applicants. This new questionnaire aims to provide stricter scrutiny during the vetting process.

Visa applicants will now be asked to produce their social media handles, email address, and phone numbers from the last five (5) years. This information was not previously required by the U.S Department of State (USDOS). Additionally, applicants will also be asked to produce all biographical information; including their past employment and travel information from the last fifteen (15) years. The United States Office of Management and Budget (US OMB)  has approved this questionnaire, despite the fact that the questionnaire will make it overly burdensome for applicants, create long delays in processing, and discourage international students and scientists from traveling to the United States. Immigration attorneys fear this questionnaire will delay the lengthy-process even further as applicants may not remember their information from so long ago. Additionally, there is significant concern for the negative consequences for applicants who make an innocent mistake on the supplemental questionnaire. The questionnaire appears to be on a trial run, however, as the form has been approved for a six-month period rather than the typical three years.

Our office will continue to monitor this process and provide any updates and new information. A sample of the supplemental questionnaire can be found here. For more information or questions regarding the new supplemental questionnaire and how this will affect your case, please contact Attorney Nicole Fink at (617) 973-6448 or via e-mail at Nicole@Foleylawoffices.com.

UPDATE: HAITI TPS EXTENDED FOR SIX MONTHS

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has extended the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Haiti for six (6) months. This extension is effective July 23, 2017 through January 22, 2018.

During this six-month period, DHS will re-evaluate Haiti’s TPS designation and make a decision in the form of an extension, re-designation or termination of TPS for Haiti. DHS is recommending Haitian TPS recipients to seek alternate avenues of relief, if possible, or to prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States—including proactively seeking travel documentation.

If you are currently hold TPS for Haiti and need further guidance, please contact our office right away to schedule a consultation.

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.

Speak up, be heard, and demand change with Congress!

Attorney Foley with Congressman Stephen Lynch at a New England Council meeting.

I was able to catch up with Congressman Stephen Lynch of South Boston at a recent New England Council meeting in Boston.  Always quick with a joke, Congressman Lynch said “the presidency is supposed to age the occupant of the office, not us!”  He talked about the “frustration of Washington” where everything ended in a battle based on political party lines and “nothing gets done.”

I updated the Congressman on a couple of immigration matters in his district and invited him to an upcoming immigration forum at the Irish Cultural Centre in Canton which is part of his district.  I asked about the possibility of immigration reform under the Trump administration and Congressman Lynch said “I don’t see it but it’s early (in the administration) yet.”  He talked about areas, like infrastructure improvement where there could be agreement with the Trump administration “to get something done.”

I told the Congressman that the phones in our law office were ringing off the hook and that people with immigration issues were scared.  I also told the Congressman that in many cases there was little that I or any immigration lawyer could do to help.  Congressman Lynch said it was the same in his office and that “these are indeed scary times.” 

U.S. immigration law is federal law, as opposed to state or local law, so making changes to it must be done on the federal level by the U.S. Congress.  For that reason, I believe it is important to continue to meet with and encourage our Congressional delegation to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform.  The only way forward is to speak up, to be heard, to demand change.

If you or a family member has immigration issues, let me know if I can help.  Email me at John@FoleyLawOffices.com or call me at (617) 973-6448 for a quick chat.

I look forward to speaking with you.

John Foley

Foley Law Offices, P.C.