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Itasca IL immigration lawyerIn January, the Biden administration announced plans for the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 with the goal of implementing significant immigration reform. The bill was formally introduced in both the House and the Senate in February and is currently working its way through the legislative process in both chambers. The bill contains hundreds of pages of legalese, as most congressional bills do. The goal of the bill is much more direct: “To provide an earned path to citizenship, to address the root causes of migration and responsibly manage the southern border, and to reform the immigrant visa system, and for other purposes.”

Breakdown of the Bill

If it passes, the new law would create the largest immigration legalization program in United States history. Some of the key highlights of the bill include the following:

  • Many undocumented immigrants would be eligible for lawful prospective immigrant (LPI) status if they were physically here in the U.S. on or before January 1, 2021. LPI status would allow them to stay in the country lawfully, be eligible for social security cards and work authorizations, and travel outside the U.S. and be readmitted as long as the time away does not exceed 180 days. They would also be able to renew their LPI status every six years; however, if the individual passes a national security and criminal background check and pays taxes, they would be eligible for lawful permanent residence (LPR) status in five years. It is estimated that this new rule would apply to about 11 million undocumented immigrants. Other immigrants who would also be eligible for LPI status are those who worked during the COVID-19 pandemic at jobs that are deemed “essential critical labor or services,” temporary protected status (TPR) recipients, and temporary agricultural workers classified as H-2A.

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Itasca IL immigration lawyerPresident Biden has announced that his administration will be limiting the number of immigration arrests that take place at courthouses. According to the new policy, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents will no longer have the authorization to carry out routine arrests at courthouses.

ICE agents will still be able to arrest individuals in cases in which matters of national security are at risk or the individual poses a threat to public safety. They will also be able to arrest an individual who is the subject of an active pursuit or if there is suspicion the individual may destroy evidence.

Addressing Fears of Law Enforcement

The policy of immigration arrests at courthouses was put in place by the Trump administration and allowed ICE agents to make routine immigration arrests at federal, state, and local courthouses. The practice is believed to have caused many people to avoid cooperating with law enforcement or attending court hearings. Many undocumented immigrants were fearful of confronting domestic abusers or testifying at trials because they feared being arrested by ICE agents and then facing deportation charges.

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Itasca immigration attorneyWith registration for H-1B visas approaching in March, it is important to understand eligibility requirements and the process for obtaining them. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, the H-1B is a visa in the United States that allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. Typically, these jobs require specialized knowledge and a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience. The average duration is three years, but they can be extended to six years in some cases, after which the visa holder may need to reapply. Immigration laws limit the number of H-1B visas that are issued each year, so for those foreign nationals seeking an H-1B visa, it is important to properly complete the registration.

Bodies of Work

The H-1B nonimmigrant classification applies to individuals who wish to perform duties in a specialty occupation, services of exceptional merit, the ability for a Department of Defense (DOD) research and development project, or services as a fashion model of distinguished merit or ability.

H-1B specialty occupations can be performed in the following fields: 

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Itasca immigration lawyerAfter being passed by Congress and signed by the President on October 1, 2020, a new law will make USCIS’s Premium Processing service more efficient for those who are going through the U.S. immigration system. Previously, employers and individuals could experience long and unpredictable processing times before receiving USCIS benefits. This expedited processing service allows an applicant to pay an additional fee and receive expedited processing of the petition within a designated timeline. Under the new legislation, USCIS will make Premium Processing available for almost all employment-based immigration and non-immigrant petitions, as well as petitions for their dependents, and petitions for an extension or change of visa status. Premium processing provides expedited processing for the Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker and the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. These forms guarantee processing in a period of 15 calendar days to immigrants who would like to use the service. If that time frame is not met for any reason, the USCIS will reimburse an individual for the cost of the premium processing service fee and proceed with expedited processing.

New Legislation Aims to Expedite the Process

In addition to the opportunity to pay USCIS for faster service, the new processing update will be expanded to cover new immigration categories. The employment authorization document (EAD) is one example of the processes that can be greatly affected. USCIS used to have a 90-day limit on processing the applications, but these have slowed to six months or longer in certain service centers.

Before this new legislation, USCIS guidelines guaranteed processing within 15 calendar days and the cost of premium processing was $1,440 for those applying for temporary visas. For immigrant applications, premium processing was available, with certain exceptions, for the employment-based (EB-1, 2, 3) visas.

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