News

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.

 

PREMIUM PROCESSING TEMPORARILY SUSPENDED FOR ALL H-1B VISAS

On Friday, March 3, 2017, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the temporary suspension of premium processing (Form I-907) for all H-1B visas, beginning April 3, 2017 due to the back log in currently filed H-1B petitions. Premium processing is an expedited service which guarantees fifteen (15) calendar day processing for certain employment-based petitions and applications. This temporary suspension affects all H-1B cap cases for the Fiscal Year 2018 that are subject to the annual quota and all H-1B cap-exempt cases such as extensions of stay, amendment, and change of employers.

All Form I-907s received on or after April 3rd will be rejected. If a Form I-129 is submitted with a Form I-907 with a combined check, USCIS will have to reject both forms. USCIS has indicated that the temporary suspension may last up to six (6) months.

In lieu of the premium processing service, petitioners may request expedited processing. Requests will be granted on a case-by-case basis. It is the burden of the petitioner to prove that they meet one of the expedited request criteria. Petitioners are encouraged to submit as much documentary evidence as support.

If you have any questions about premium processing or you have an H-1B petition that has been pending close to two hundred and forty (240) days, please contact Attorney Nicole Fink via e-mail at Nicole@foleylawoffices or by phone (617-973-6448).

UPDATE: An Overview of President Trump’s Executive Orders

Since his inauguration on January 20, 2017, President Trump has signed a handful of Executive Orders causing several drastic changes in immigration law. These orders have created a great deal of concern and confusion in both the interpretation and enforcements of the orders for immigration attorneys and the federal agencies. Find below a list of President Trump’s Executive Orders and how they may impact you.

Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States

The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program was the most significantly impacted as this order suspends the program for 120 days and decreases the number of allowed by more than half. Additionally, all Syrian refugees have been indefinitely banned from resettling in the U.S. Other individuals, excluding green card holders, seeking immigration benefits from seven designated countries – Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen – are prohibited from entry. The order allows for an exception for the admission of individual refugees on a case-by-case basis, particularly where the person is a religious minority in his or her country.
The order also discontinues the Visa Waiver Interview Program for individuals who are citizens of a visa-waiver country but have visited the above mentioned countries. Foreign nationals who have traveled to the seven countries named must now attend interviews at the Consulate before entering the U.S. For example, if you are an Irish citizen, you are eligible for the visa waiver program, however if you have visited Libya, you will no longer be allowed to register for the visa-waiver and must schedule an appointment at the Consulate in Dublin to obtain permission to enter the country.

On February 3, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the Western Division of Washington issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the government from enforcing the following sections of the order:

  • Entry into the U.S. cannot be prohibited where a person has a current, validly-issued visa;
  •  Admission of refugees cannot be prohibited;
  • Processing of refugee claims and admission of refugees cannot be prioritized based on religion; and
  • Syrian refugees cannot be prohibited from being admitted to the U.S.

The government filed for a stay of the restraining order with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, however, the Court denied the government’s request. It is excepted the government will appeal the ruling to the U?S.  Supreme Court.

Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States

This order poses very significant implications for non-citizens who have ever been arrested. The order expands the definition of a “criminal alien” and sets forth new removal priorities for noncitizens. These priorities include individuals with:

  • Criminal convictions;
  • Unresolved criminal charges;
  • Committed acts that constitute an offense;
  • Engaged in fraud;
  • Abused public benefits;
  • Are present in the U.S. with a deportation order; and
  • Pose a risk to public safety or national security.

Further, President Trump’s order facilitates cooperation between the federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The order allows state authorities to execute functions normally performed by federal immigration officers. In addition, cities that refuse to cooperate with the federal government may be denied federal grants if the city refuses to enforce immigration laws.

Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements
Through this order, President Trump aims to “secure” the southern border through the construction of a wall and an increase in detention facilities. This order terminates President Obama’s policy of “catch and release,” where individuals caught at the border with unlawful immigration status were released from detention while waiting for a hearing with an immigration judge. Under the Obama administration, the government lacked resources to detain individuals for a lengthy period of time, as the process from apprehension to an order of deportation may take years. Lastly, this order expands agreements between federal and state/local law enforcement agencies to assist in federal immigration enforcement functions. As of February 10, 2017, Congress has not yet funded these efforts.
Congress and the courts are making attempts to challenge the enforcement of these executive orders through Congress and in courts around the country. We will continue to monitor these orders and provide any updates. Should you have any questions about the new executive orders and their impact on your immigration status, please contact Attorney Nicole Fink at: Nicole@foleylawoffices.com.

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.

“What do you think Donald Trump is going to do?”

I bumped into an immigration client at the gym on Saturday and he had an “I need to talk with you look on his face.”

Michael* is from Peru and he is in the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program.

DACA was created in June of 2012 by executive order by President Barack Obama.  DACA allows undocumented immigrants, like Michael, who entered the U.S. before their 16th birthday to receive a work permit and an exemption from deportation.

Michael said “I’m scared.  What do you think Donald Trump is going to do?”  President-elect Trump’s victory has left thousands of undocumented immigrants, including the 750-thousand young people in the DACA program facing an uncertain future.

Because DACA was created by executive order and was not a law passed by Congress and signed by the President, the Trump Administration could decide to end it with a stroke of the new President’s pen.  It could mean U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) could stop renewal applications and could stop accepting new DACA applications.  It could mean people, like Michael, would lose employment authorization cards and eventually state driver licenses.  It could also mean that people like Michael, who came to the U.S. when he was 10-years old and has never had trouble with the law could be deported from the U.S.

Michaels’ mother is a U.S. Citizen and he said, “She’s a wreck.  She’s afraid there’s going to be a knock on the door and I’ll be dragged away in handcuffs.  If she’s not praying and lighting candles, she’s watching the news and crying.”

Michael said, “There must be something you can do.”  Unfortunately, I said “not really.”  I have known Michael for several years.  I know him to be an honest hardworking young man who cares a great deal about his family.  If he’s not taking a college class, he works two jobs.  He is, in my opinion, the type of person we want living in our country.

I offered to call Michaels’ mother and told him to keep an eye on the news and to call me is he had questions or concerns.  I also told him not to fall for any immigration solutions that are too good to be true because there are plenty of scammers preying on vulnerable people looking for an immigration solution.

U.S. Immigration is federal law and it requires a federal solution.  There’s news today Sen. Dick Durbin, (D-Ill.), is collaborating with Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R-S.C.), to introduce a bill that could protect young immigrants in the DACA program.  Durbin, a longtime advocate for immigration reform took to the Senate floor to confirm that he’s been speaking with Graham regarding introducing legislation that would provide for a “temporary stay” so that young unauthorized immigrants could be shielded from any action President-elect Trump might take.

In addition to calling Michaels’ mother to assure her I am trying to protect her son, I will also be contacting all of the members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation to encourage them to continue to support and protect DACA.

*The name has been changed to protect the person’s confidentiality.

What is going to happen to DACA?

As President Obama’s term comes to an end and President-elect Trumps’ begins, many are wondering about the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program under the new administration. DACA, originally started by the Obama administration in June 2012, is an immigration policy created by an executive action. The program allowed certain undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. before their 16th birthday and prior to June 2007 to receive a renewable two-year work permit and temporary relief from deportation.

It is unclear as to when and how President-elect Trump will take action on DACA; however, it is highly likely that he will end the program as he pledged to do so as part of his immigration platform during his campaign. Trump has the power to take action as soon as he is inaugurated on January 20, 2017. The uncertainty surrounding the future of the program leaves all DACA recipients with many questions. Foley Law Offices is committed to keeping our clients updated and being of assistance as best we can.

Below are the most commonly asked questions about the future of the DACA program:

Is the information that I submitted for my application going to be used to deport me?

As of right now, your information may be shared with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) only if you are involved with public safety threats, criminal actions, or engaged in fraud. Other information that is shared with law enforcement agencies is not for purposes of removal. However, individuals may not rely, in the immediate or long-term future, on the guidance provided by USCIS, as it is subject to change at any time.

Should I apply for DACA now?

If you have never applied for DACA before, it is not worth applying now. New DACA applications are currently taking more than five (5) months to process and will not be approved before President-elect Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017.

Should I renew my DACA?

USCIS is processing renewals as quickly as possible, however there is no guarantee that your application will be processed prior to the inauguration. If the DACA program ends before your application is adjudicated, you will not receive a refund on the filing fees. We recommend consulting with the Attorneys in our office to weigh the pros and cons as to whether or not to renew your DACA application.

If you have not consulted an attorney, you should do so immediately. The above information is dependent upon each individual’s circumstance and should not be interpreted as legal advice. You may be eligible for other forms of relief. Contact Attorney Fink by telephone at (617) 973-6448 or via e-mail (nicole@foleylawoffices.com) to set up a consultation today.

THE DIVERSITY VISA LOTTERY CLOSES MONDAY!

On Monday, November 7, 2016 at 12 pm EST the Diversity Visa Lottery will be closing for the fiscal year of 2018. Our office urges you to apply this weekend. This your last chance if you are not eligible for permanent residency through a family member or employment. Late entries or paper applications will not be accepted. DO NOT wait until last minute to submit the application as high demand may result in website delays. For more information, please review our original post.

Should you have any questions about the diversity visa process, contact Attorney Nicole Fink at Nicole@foleylawoffices.com.

USCIS Filing Fees are Increasing in December!

USCIS has announced that they are increasing its filing fees effective December 23, 2016. The fees increased an average of twenty-one percent (21%). According to USCIS, the increase in fees were necessary to offset the growing costs of USCIS, to improve upon processing times, increase better customer service, and cover the costs of services without charge to refugee and asylum applicants and those eligible for fee waivers.

Below is a brief chart of the fee increase of the most common forms.

Forms New Fee ($) Old Fee ($)
I–90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card 455 365
I–102 Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Document 445 330
I–129F Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) 535 340
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative 535 420
I-131/I-131A Application for Travel Document 575 360
I–140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker 700 580
I–360 Petition for Amerasian Widow(er) or Special Immigrant 435 405
I–485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status 1,140 985
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (certain applicants under the age of 14 years) 750 635
I–526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur 3,675 1,500
I–539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status 370 290
I-601 Application for Waiver of Ground of Excludability 930 585
I–601A Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver 630 585
I–751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence 595 505
I–765 Application for Employment Authorization 410 380

N–400 Application for Naturalization

640

595

All applications postmarked or filed on or after December 23, 2016 must include the new filing fees or USCIS will reject the submission. In order to avoid the increase in fees, we urge you to file your application as soon as possible. For more information on the filing fees, please visit the USCIS website.

Should you have any questions about the fee increase, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Nicole Fink at (617) 973-6448 or by e-mail at Nicole@foleylawoffices.com.

Appointments for 1st Time H-1B Holders in Vancouver!

vancouver

Skyline of Vancouver

In a recent meeting with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the U.S. Consulate General at Vancouver, B.C., Canada, confirmed that it will accept first time H-1B applications for stamping.  Appointments for first time H-1B holders are limited and released only several months in advance. Previously, it was recommended that  first time H-1B holders return to their home country for stamping.

Please note, this only applies to the Vancouver Consulate. First-time H-1B applicants should not attempt to book their first appointment at any other non-home country consulate besides Vancouver. The appointments fill up quickly, so it is advised to regularly monitor the online appointment system in order to obtain the first appointment available.

Should you have any questions about how to prepare for your first visa appointment, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Nicole Fink at (617) 973-6448 or by e-mail at Nicole@foleylawoffices.com.