Venezuela Parole Program now available

USCIS announced a program for Venezuelans.  This program is limited to only 24,000 Venezuelans at this time.  To be eligible, the Venezuelan beneficiary (beneficiary) must have a supporter in the United States.   The beneficiary must pass national security and public safety vetting, and they must fly at their own expense to an interior Port of Entry.  They must fly– they cannot try to enter by land.   Individuals are ineligible if they have been ordered removed from the United States within the past five years, or if they entered unauthorized into the United States between POEs, Mexico, or Panama after October 19, 2022.

The application is available online only. Once approved, beneficiaries will have travel authorization for 90 days to enter the United States and be eligible to apply for work authorization.   The period of parole will be up to two years.

Appeals court holds DACA is illegal

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling by a lower court that had ruled that DACA is illegal.  Essentially, the basis of the ruling is that President Obama did not use the proper administrative process to institute DACA in the first place.   Despite the ruling, current DACA holders will not be affected and they can continue to renew their DACA status.  The ruling only really affects new DACA applications at this point.   President Biden did issue new regulations that will go into effect at the end of this month.  The purpose is to fix the “defects” that the lower court had found; i.e., the defects that rendered DACA “illegal” according to the court.   The Federal government is expected to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

Public Charge rule withdrawn

On March 9, 2021, consistent with President Biden’s Executive Order, the Department of Justice successfully moved various courts to dismiss all pending appeals defending the new “Public Charge” rule instituted by the former administration. As a result, USCIS announced it would immediately stop applying the Public Charge Final Rule to all pending applications and petitions that would have been subject to the rule.  Indeed, Form I-944 has been withdrawn from the USCIS website.

This is great news for all applicants for legal residency as it will be easier to apply and obtain one’s legal residency.

The old (easier) Naturalization test reinstated

USCIS has reinstated the old (easier) Naturalization civics test.   This means that applicants will not have to study the harder test that the prior administration had created.  Instead– especially for applicants after March 1, 2021, they will only have to study 100 questions and be given only 10 questions during the examination.  Out of the 10 questions, they must get 6 correct to pass the naturalization civics exam.    If you had already filed your N-400 after December 1, 2020 but before March 1, 2021, you will have the option of taking the “old” civics exam.   If you file your N-400 after March 1, 2020, you will automatically be given the “old” civics exam.

DACA reinstated by Federal Court

A federal court has ruled that the order restricting DACA that was passed by USCIS is invalid.  As such, the agency has been ordered to reinstate DACA to it’s original form, which was passed by President Obama in 2012.  Accordingly, USCIS has been instructed to extend DACA permits from one year to two years (for those who received work permits valid for only 1 year).   More importantly, the court’s order has also instructed USCIS to accept FIRST-TIME applicants, which had been rejected by USCIS.

New USCIS Fee schedule on Hold! Federal Court issues Injunction

A federal court issued a Preliminary Injunction regarding the new USCIS Fee schedule that was to become effective on October 2, 2020.   This means that the all USCIS applications can be filed using the old fee schedule.   The Injunction appears to be nationwide in scope and so applicable to all applications.  Until the court issues a final ruling on the merits of the case, the preliminary injunction continues to be effective.

Federal Judge rules DACA must be fully restored

This is a follow up to a prior blog post from April.  In that case, a federal judge ruled that DACA had to be restored but also stayed that decision 90 days to allow the government to respond.  The government did respond, but the arguments were rejected by the judge who has now ruled that the full DACA program must be restored.  However, the implementation of that ruling is delayed until August 23, 2018 to allow the government to appeal.  Stayed tuned!   By the end of this month, it is possible that the full DACA program may be restored.  If so, if you need assistance in the preparation and filing of your DACA applications, do not hesitate to contact our office.

USCIS may soon accept NEW DACA applications

A Federal judge has ruled that the U.S. government may have to accept new DACA applications.  The ruling essentially states that the decision to end DACA in the first place was arbitrary.  However, the Judge gave the Government 90 days to file a response.  Stayed tuned.

Changes in Advance Parole may affect Adjustment of Status applicants

USCIS has implemented a new policy relating to Advance Parole.   The new policy relates to only two situations:

1. Persons holding H, L or K visas are not affected by the new policy in that they are not required to obtain Advance Parole before leaving the U.S., if they have an adjustment of status application pending.    However, these visa holders have the option of obtaining advance parole.  The new policy will therefore affect these new applicants if they do apply for Advance Parole but leave the U.S. while the advance parole application is pending.   The advance parole application will be considered abandoned and will be denied.  In that situation, these applicants will have to enter on their valid H, L or K visas.

2. Persons that have valid advance parole, pursuant to a pending adjustment application can travel with that valid advance parole.  However, if they have also filed to renew their advance parole, traveling outside the U.S. will be considered an abandonment of the pending advance parole.

The rationale for the policy change is not clear; however, clients and applicants for advance parole should be aware of the changes.

DREAMers / DACA will continue!!

It is great news to hear that the Trump administration will allow the DACA program to continue.   The DACA program allows “Dreamers” who were brought in as children to apply for a “deferred action” of their immigration status and apply for a work permit.  If you have any questions about applying for this program, don’t hesitate to contact me.  I know there is a lot of misinformation out there, and the only way to know whether you can apply for DACA and receive a work permit is to ask.     Many people also don’t realize that there are benefits to having DACA status, especially if they entered the country illegally.    An individual with DACA can, under the right circumstances, apply for advance parole, which allows them to leave the country temporarily for business, school, or humanitarian reasons.  Upon returning, the individual is “admitted” into the country, which is of great benefit if the applicant later can adjust status (i.e., apply for a “green card”).