News

USCIS Recommends Termination of Haiti’s TPS Designation

Acting Director, James W. McCament, recently issued a memo to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recommending that the designation for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti be terminated. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has determined that the conditions in Haiti no longer support the TPS designation. Currently TPS for Haitians is extended through July 22, 2017. USCIS has recommended that the effective date of termination be delayed until January 22, 2018. This would provide all Haitians holding TPS an additional six (6) months to plan accordingly either through a visa or return to Haiti. There has not been any comment by the U.S. Department of State (USDOS) as of today.

To end Haiti’s TPS designation, DHS must make public notice in the Federal Register at least sixty (60) days in advance of the expiration date of the current designation. If a decision is not made by May 23, 2017, Haiti’s designation will be extended for a minimum of six (6) months.

Our office will continue to monitor this situation and provide any updates as soon as they become available. If you are on TPS status for Haiti, you should contact our office immediately to determine if you have any avenues of relief.

 

 

 

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.     

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

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office at (617) 973-6448.

 

 

USCIS to Increase Site Visits for H-1B Beneficiaries

 

On April 3, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced new measures to deter and detect H-1B visa fraud and abuse by increasing the amount of unannounced worksite visits across the country.

USCIS will be conducting site visits, especially for companies:

  • Who cannot be validated by their basic public business information;
  • Who have a high amount of H-1B workers compared to U.S. workers; and
  • Whose H-1B employees are working off-site at another company or organization’s location.

Site visits will be focused to detect fraud and abuse of employers who are failing to make a good faith effort to hire U.S. workers. To further these efforts to detect fraud and abuse, USCIS created an email (REPORTH1BABUSE@USCIS.DHS.GOV) where anyone can report suspected abuse.

 

These new measures are heightened efforts from the 2009 measures implemented by USCIS and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). In the past, suspected fraud or abuse cases were referred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for further investigation. Other past measures taken were through the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division’s Form WH-4 for reporting employer fraud and abuse.

If you have any questions about these new fraud and abuse measures for H-1B workers, or should your office receive a site visit and you need further assistance; please contact Attorney Nicole Fink via e-mail at Nicole@foleylawoffices.com or by phone (617) 973-6448.

 

 

 

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.