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!

Great changes to Provisional Waivers!

The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) just announced a new regulation that will go into effect on August 29, 2016 that expands the rules for Provisional Waivers.   Before 2013, when someone had accumulated unlawful presence in the United States for over 6 months or a year, they needed to file a waiver after they had their interview at the consulate outside the United States.   This often meant that the applicant had to wait outside the United States and away from their family for extended periods of time.  Moreover, it was incredibly stressful going to an interview knowing that it was possible their waiver might be denied.   For this reason, many people chose to not bother with legalizing their status because they were afraid they would end up only separating themselves from their loved ones for potentially ten years.

In 2013, DHS began allowing immediate relatives (spouse, parent, child) of U.S. citizens to be able to apply for the waiver while still in the United States.  This was done in many ways to address the fears that many people had in going forward with a consulate interview.  However, the provisional waiver was limited in that legal residents could not use the provisional waivers.  However, with the new rule, spouses of legal residents will be able to use the provisional waiver as well showing hardship to parents.    This essentially means the provisional waiver is the same as the “normal” waiver that used to be filed after the consulate interview.    Stayed tuned as new information is released.

New rule allows for Adjustment of Status will help thousands

Effective October 1, 2015, an executive order from the President will allow  thousands of immigrants and their spouses and children with backlogged priority dates in either employment or family based categories to apply for adjustment of status.   The best thing about this rule is that the immigrants will be allowed to file for adjustment of status even though their priority dates are not yet current.     Obviously, this may help immigrants in back-logged categories.    Stay tuned for further details once the actual new rule is published.


DAPA injunction sustained

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeal refused to lift a temporary injunction that a district judge in Texas had imposed on the expanded DACA and DAPA.  The Government had asked the court to temporarily block the injunction but the 5th Circuit Court refused.    This denial was not unexpected though it is, of course, disappointing.   However, it is likely that eventually, the provisions of DAPA will go through as there is little doubt that the President has the authority to implement DAPA through executive order.

DAPA Court Hearing Imminent

Even though the federal judge in Brownsville rejected President Obama’s request that the Stay be lifted regarding implementation of the expanded DACA and new DAPA programs, it is of little consequence.   The Federal District Court (different judge) is set to hear arguments next week on the DAPA implementation.   Hopefully, the Federal Court will lift the stay and DAPA can be implemented in the following weeks.  Stayed tuned for updates.

Texas Judge enjoins DACA Expansion

On the eve of the expansion of DACA, which was supposed to go into effect today, a federal judge in Texas enjoined the implementation of the DACA expansion.   The Government said that it will appeal this ruling.   I think this is just a minor setback in the implementation of the DACA expansion and DAPA (in May).   So stayed tune and I will update this blog once we have more information.

In-Country Refugee Parole Program for Minors

The department of State and DHS just announced that the U.S. is establishing an in-country refugee/parole program in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras for minors who’s parents legally reside in the United States.    This means that a parent lawfully present in the United States may be able to be reunited with their children who still reside in Central America.  The process will be done with a designated resettlement agency and the forms required for this application will NOT be available to the public.   If you think that you may qualify for this program, do not hesitate to contact me.

What does the new Executive Order mean to you?

I have been receiving many calls and emails from past clients and relatives of clients asking me whether they qualify “for the new law.”   I have to explain to them that it is not a “new law” but merely a temporary executive action from the President.   The next thing I tell them is that I am not certain whether they qualify or not because we still only have limited information about the requirements that are going to be needed.   However, we all know a summary of some of the requirements:

  • The applicant will probably need to have a clean criminal history;
  • The applicant will need a US citizen or Legal Permanent Resident relative (such as a son or daughter);
  • The applicant will probably have to document an extended period of living in the United States (such as 5 years).

I am telling my clients that even though we can apply for this “Deferred Action”- – we can still start the case by gathering the documents that we THINK will be needed.    That’s my suggestion to you: if you think you might qualify start now and be ready with all your documents for next year.

The courts reach cap for cancellation of removal for non-permanent residents

It may not be a commonly known fact but there are only 4000 available visas available for people who apply for cancellation of removal for non-permanent residents (referred to here as “42B cancellation”) per fiscal year.   42B Cancellation cases are among the most difficult to present and are not granted very often by immigration judges.  The reason is the very high”extreme hardship” that needs to be established in order to win the case.  In fact, it’s not really “extreme hardship” at all that needs to be established but “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship.”   Isn’t that a mouthful l?   Well, it’s hard to think of anything that is “extremely unusual” unless we come across a Dodo Bird, which goes to show just how strident the standard is.  That being said, apparently the immigration judges found enough Dodo Birds to grant this relief 4000 times this year.

So what happens if the cap is reached?   The Immigration Judges are supposed to “reserve their decision” until a visa number is available.  This means that the next fiscal year, all “reserved decision” cases get in line until a visa is available.  This may take quite a while but for any of you who have their cases “reserved” should know that your case hasn’t been officially “granted” but as long as you don’t get into any legal trouble, you’re just waiting until a visa is available.