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Coronavirus impacts US immigration and border travel

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a major impact on travel to the United States, processing of US visa applications overseas, and processing of immigration applications in the United States. Changes are occurring very rapidly, and there is some confusion among government officers and officials on the ground tasked with carrying out the directives that come from Washington. Here are some important updates: Air travel to the United States from China, Iran, Europe (the Schengen Area), Ireland, and the UK has been limited to U.S. citizens, U.S. permanent residents, certain close relatives of U.S. citizens and permanent relatives, and other listed…

New Public Charge rule to take effect February 24, 2020.

On January 27, 2020 the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the Trump Administration’s new “Public Charge” rule to take effect everywhere in the United States except Illinois. Lower courts had issued preliminary injunctions blocking the rule until lawsuits challenging the rule were decided. The Supreme Court in turn has now blocked (“stayed”) these preliminary injunctions. The lawsuits themselves will continue, so the effect of the Supreme Court’s ruling is temporary. However, for now, the Trump Administration is free to implement the rule. One lower court ruling in Illinois was not yet before the Supreme Court, so that is why the Public…

USCIS will roll out new H-1B lottery system starting March 1, 2020

On December 6, 2019 USCIS announced it will definitely implement the new H-1B lottery system for H-1B cases filed in 2020. The lottery applies to petitions subject to the annual H-1B cap. There are a total of 85,000 new H-1B petitions available each year for persons who have not previously held H-1B status. In 2019, more than 200,000 people applied for these 85,000 available H-1B numbers. USCIS holds a random lottery to decide which petitions will be accepted. In the past, petitioners have had to submit complete petitions to compete in the lottery. Petitions that were not selected were mailed…

DHS will announce proposed regulation to cancel H-4 EAD in March 2020

In the Fall 2019 Regulatory Agenda, USCIS stated it now intends to announce a proposed rule to eliminate the H-4 EAD in March 2020. This proposed rule would not go into effect immediately. It would be subject to notice and comment as well as further review by the Office of Management and Budget. This would likely delay any such rule going into effect until late next year. At the same time, a lawsuit challenging the H-4 EAD has been allowed to go forward in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. This suit has been brought by a…

Federal judge blocks new Trump health insurance proclamation

On Saturday, November 2, 2019 Judge Michael Simon of the Federal District Court in Portland, Oregon issued a nationwide temporary restraining order blocking the government from carrying out President Trump’s health insurance proclamation. This proclamation would have ordered consular officers to refuse immigrant visas to thousands of legal immigrants, unless they could prove they would have health insurance within thirty days of arriving in the United States. The proclamation would have taken effect the next day, on November 3. The lawsuit was brought by the American Immigration Lawyers Association and other public interest groups, on the grounds the proclamation was…

USCIS publishes Public Charge Rule

On August 12, 2019 USCIS published an Advance Copy of the final Public Charge Rule. The formal version will be published on August 14, 2019 and will take effect 60 days later, i.e., October 13, 2019. It will apply to applications filed on or after that date, and to benefits received on or after that date. It will not apply to benefits received before the effective date of the rule. Section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act states that non-citizens are inadmissible to the United States if they are “likely to become a public charge.” This law applies both…

Big changes to EB-5 program will take effect November 21, 2019

On July 24, 2019, USCIS published a new final rule making sweeping changes to the EB-5 immigrant investor program. Petitions filed on or after November 21, 2019 will be subject to the new rules. The changes include the following” The minimum investment amount will increase from $500,000 to $900,000 for targeted employment areas, and from 1 million to $1.8 million for other investments. Designation of targeted employment areas will be done by USCIS, not by the states, in order to eliminate “gerrymandered” TEAs. Immigrant investors who need to file new EB-5 petitions will be allowed to retain priority dates. Immigrant…

F2A category becomes current for July 2019

The August 2019 Visa Bulletin announced that the 2A Family Second Preference class has become current. The 2A Family Second Preference includes spouses and unmarried minor children of lawful permanent residents. Until recently, there was about a two year backlog between filing the I-130 petition and availability of an immigrant visa. This backlog is due to the limited number of immigrant visas that are available every year in the preference categories. The 2A category was made current to ensure that all the available visas for this category were used up before the end of the U.S. fiscal year on September…

Update on third Trump travel ban

***UPDATE*** On June 26, 2018 the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, upheld the third Trump travel ban (as described below) in its entirety. The Supreme Court decision, including the inspiring and furious dissent by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, may be found by clicking here. As of October 24, 2017, all provisions of the second Trump travel ban (Travel Ban 2.0) have expired. Due to the federal court injunctions issued by federal courts in Hawaii and Maryland, many of these provisions were never enforced, at least against persons with significant ties to persons or organizations in the United States. Also…

USCIS continues to process DACA renewals

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services continues to process renewals for current and previous DACA recipients. Despite the cancellation of DACA by President Donald Trump in September 2017, federal district courts in both the Second Circuit and Ninth Circuit have issued orders keeping DACA in place. Appeals are pending in both courts. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to expedite the appeals of these cases. All eligible persons with current or previous DACA classification should file for renewals now while the court orders remain in effect. It is not necessary to wait until six months before your DACA expires. If you have…