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!

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).

“‘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

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.

 

 

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.     

Boston USCIS, Asylum and Immigration Court Closed 3/14/2017

Due to inclement weather, the Boston District Office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Asylum Office,and Executive Office of Immigration Review will be closed tomorrow, Tuesday, March 14, 2017.  The Boston USCIS district office is trying to reach all persons scheduled to appear tomorrow by phone today. All interviews scheduled at the USCIS Boston District office on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 will be rescheduled.

 

Obama Administration ends special parole for Cuban nationals

On Thursday, January 12, 2017, effective immediately, President Obama repealed the “wet foot, dry foot” policy, a special parole policy for Cuban nationals. This announcement ends the ability for any Cuban who comes to the U.S. to stay and become a legal resident based on humanitarian relief. Cuban nationals who now attempt to enter the U.S. and are apprehended at a port of entry or near the border will be subject to expedited removal. Previously, Cubans were not subject to expedited removal. The changes also affect the Cuban medical professionals known as the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program.  Medical professionals must now request parole in the same manner as foreign nationals of other countries.

The end of the policy by the previous administration is consistent with President Obama’s efforts to end hostile relations with Cuba. As of today, the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program is not affected and remains in effect.  Cubans who come to the U.S. may qualify for humanitarian relief such as political asylum.

If you believe this program affects you, please contact our office to set up a consultation. Call (617) 978-3448 to schedule an appointment.

 

 

New Legislation Introduced to Protect DACA!

On Friday, December 9, 2016, a group of bipartisan Senators introduced the Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy (BRIDGE) Act. The BRIDGE Act aims to temporarily protect all individuals who are eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The intent of the bill is similar to the DACA program, however the bill expands the eligibility to younger undocumented individuals who are not currently eligible for the DACA program. Should the bill pass, individuals who are eligible for DACA will be able to apply for a “provisional protected presence” which temporarily provides relief from deportation, like the DACA Program. Individuals will also receive work authorization after a series of strict background checks and fee. Unfortunately, the extension would only be eligible for three (3) years. This was done purposefully by the writers of the bill in hopes of forcing Congress to work on some sort of immigration reform.

The bill also includes stronger confidentiality safeguards barring the use of personal information for deportation purposes, unless the matter involves national security concerns or a criminal felony investigation. There has been growing concern and fear as to what is going to happen to DACA recipients once President-elect Trump takes office, including the use of DACA recipients’ personal information for deportation of DACA recipients and parents of DACA beneficiaries. He has promised during his campaign to repeal all of President Obama’s executive actions, including DACA. While recent statements from the President-elect have indicated that he would like to find a solution for DREAMers, it is unclear and uncertain as to what actions he might take.

The group will re-introduce the bill in the new session of 2017 with more support from both Democrat and Republican parties. We will continue to monitor this legislation and provide any further updates about the DACA program as they arise.

In the interim, if you have any questions about DACA, please contact Attorney Nicole Fink at (617) 973-6448.