Public Charge rule withdrawn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  Indeed, Form I-944 has been withdrawn from the USCIS website.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”).

Trump elected president: now what?

I have been receiving many calls and emails from concerned clients regarding the effect that the new president-elect will have or might have on their immigration cases.  I can only speculate on what might happen, but I will share my opinion.    I believe that Mr. Trump stumbled into his candidacy.  What I mean by this is that when he started saying the outrageous things he said on the campaign trail, a certain segment of the American public responded favorably.  Mr. Trump noticed this and proceeded to double-down on this type of rhetoric.  It got him the nomination and it got him the presidency.   But will he now proceed to do what he said he’d do?  Well, for most of the things he said he’d do, he can’t do it alone– he needs congress.   But my concern is possibly the withdrawal of the policy guidelines that resulted in DACA.   He can certainly do that on his own.  But will he?   It would be a very divisive thing to do so; and it would seem counter to his statements that he intends to deport aliens “with criminal records.”   The vast majority of DACA recipients do not have a criminal records (having one would render them ineligible for DACA) and they are a group of individuals who, it can be said, are most blameless for being in this country illegally since many of them were brought to the United States as children by their parents: they had no choice in the matter.    If Mr. Trump is true to his words about coming together and not being divisive, then he will not revoke DACA.  I don’t believe he will do so, but we have to wait and see.

USCIS Filing fees to increase December 2016

To all of you who are thinking of filing for any applications with USCIS, such as adjustment of status or naturalization, please be aware that USCIS fees are increasing effective December 23, 2016.   If you want to avoid having to pay the higher fees, please come into the office to get started as soon as possible!