News

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.

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.

 

ALERT: DIVERSITY VISA LOTTERY REOPENED, PREVIOUS ENTRIES NOT VALID

The U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) experienced a technical issue this past month on the Diversity Visa lottery and has reopened a new full entry period, starting Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at 12:00pm EST and ending Wednesday, November 22, 2017 at 12:00p EST.

Here is the official statement from DOS:

“Due to a technical issue, the DV-2019 entry period that began on October 3 has been closed. Entries submitted during October 3-10 are not valid and have been excluded from the system; they will not count as a duplicate entry. The technical issue has been resolved and a new full entry period will begin at noon, U.S. Eastern Daylight Time on Wednesday October 18, 2017 and will run until noon Eastern Standard Time on Wednesday November 22, 2017. Only entries submitted during this period will be accepted and considered for selection in the lottery. Please throw away any confirmation number or other documentation that you have if you submitted an entry during Oct. 3-10.”

All applicants who previously submitted an entry into the diversity visa lottery during the October 3-10 period must RESUBMIT their application in order to be counted for this year’s lottery. The new lottery period will close on Wednesday November 22, 2017 at 12 pm EST.  If you have any questions about the diversity visa lottery or your previous submission, or  want to set up a consultation with an Immigration Lawyer in our Boston office today, please call 617-973-6448.

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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USCIS changes direct filing addresses for Form I-129 petitions

The U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services ( USCIS) announced on October 12, 2017, a change in the direct filing addresses for certain petitioners of Form I-129, Petitioner for a Nonimmigrant Worker. These changes are important for all Petitioners  and immigration lawyers to note as beginning November 1, 2017, USCIS will reject any Form I-129s filed at the wrong service center. This could be detrimental for any time sensitive cases such extensions and amendments for H-1Bs.

All I-129s must now be filed according to the state where the company or organization’s primary office is located. Previously, all applications were filed based on the address of the beneficiary’s work location.

Additionally, Petitioners located in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas will now file Form I-129 at the California Service Center. Previously, Petitioners in these states filed their petitions at the Vermont Service Center.

There are special instructions for certain petitioners of certain visas, so it is always important to check the USCIS website for the correct address. If you have questions or your I-129 is rejected (properly or improperly), please call an immigration lawyer in our office today!

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.

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.

 

 

 

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.

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.