Credit Card Payment for Naturalization
December 17, 2014
As part of President Obama’s Executive Action, he directed the Department of Homeland Security to devise a plan to accept credit card payments for naturalization fees (currently $680.00). Credit card payments must be accepted by the end of 2015.
U Visa Quota Reached for Fiscal 2015
December 16, 2014
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has approved the statutory maximum of 10,000 petitions for U-1 nonimmigrant status (U visas) for fiscal year 2015 (October 1, 2014 through September 30, 2015). Although USCIS has reached the statutory cap of 10,000 U visas, it will continue to review pending petitions for eligibility. Eligible petitioners who cannot be granted a U-1 visas solely because of the cap, will be notified that they are on a waitlist. U visas will be issued again on October 1, 2015.
January 2015 Visa Bulletin
December 15, 2014
The January 2015 visa bulletin has been released. Incremental moves forward can be seen in most categories. Click here for a copy of the January 2015 visa bulletin.
Third Country Processing in Jamaica
November 26, 2014
As of October 31, 2014, the U.S. Embassy in Jamaica will no longer accept visa applications for certain foreign nationals who are not residents of Jamaica.
TPS for Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone
November 25, 2014
As a result of the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa, the United States has decided to designate Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months. Eligible nationals of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone who are currently residing in the United States may apply for TPS with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The TPS designations for the three countries are effective Nov. 21, 2014 and will be in effect for 18 months. The designations mean that eligible nationals of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone (and people without nationality who last habitually resided in one of those three countries) will not be removed from the United States and are authorized to work and obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The 180-day TPS registration period begins Nov. 21, 2014 and runs through May 20, 2015.
DACA Recipients Eligible for Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) Program
November 24, 2014
The Department of Defense announced that it has made the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) Program available to DACA recipients. The MAVNI Program authorizes the military to services to recruit those in a legal immigration status whose skills are considered to be “vital to the national interest,” and critical to the military services. Specifically, this program provides eligibility for certain health care professionals in areas where the military Services have shortfalls, and certain experts in languages critical to the Department. Click here for more information.
Our Immigration Courts
November 21, 2014
For an interesting take on the status of the Immigration Courts in the United States, listen to this recording, which is an interview with Immigration Judge Dana Marks about how the under-resourced immigration courts fail to deliver justice to non-citizens in removal proceedings. The Chicago Immigration Court by the numbers: 18,000 cases currently pending, 8 judges, 14 government attorneys, and 39% of cases going to trial.
President Obama Takes Executive Action on Immigration Reform
November 20, 2014
The DAP Program will allow individuals who meet the following criteria to obtain deferred action and work authorization for three years: To qualify you must:
- Be the parent of a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident;
- Have continuously resided in the U.S. since January 1, 2010;
- Be physically present in the U.S. on November 20, 2014;
- Have no lawful status on November 20, 2014;
- Not be a enforcement priority (convicted of three or more misdemeanor offenses, other than minor traffic offenses, convicted of a significant misdemeanor, convicted of a felony or aggravated felony, a gang member, or other threat to the U.S.); and
- Not present any other negative factors that would make the grant of deferred action inappropriate.
The proposed filing fee to the government for this program is $465 and applications can be submitted in Spring of 2015. Updates on DAP will be posted here as more details are made available.
This very successful program has been expanded to include the following individuals:
- Those who are of any age who entered the U.S. prior to their 16th birthday and prior to January 1, 2010.
- In addition, the validity of the work authorization and deferred action has been extended from the current two-year period to a three-year period. Those renewing, who have filed to renew, and who have recently renewed will be eligible for the three-year period.
- The filing fee to the government remains at $465 and applications for the expanded program can be filed in early 2015. Updates on Expanded DACA will be posted here as more details are made available.
The Provisional Waiver Program initially applied only to spouses and children of U.S. citizens. However, it has not been expanded to include all immigrants who have a visa number immediately available. For example, spouses and children of legal permanent residents and adult children of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents will now be eligible to file under the Provisional Waiver Program as long as a visa number is available.
In-country Refugee Processing for El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras
November 20, 2014
As of December of 2014, a parent who is lawfully present in the U.S. will be able to request a refugee resettlement interview for unmarried children under 21 in El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras. Under certain circumstances, if the second parent resides with the child in the home country, they may also be considered for refugee status.
Executive Relief for Immigrants
November 19, 2014
President Obama is scheduled to announce the steps he is taking to provide relief for immigrant families in the United States. His plan is scheduled to be announced in a speech airing at 7 pm (CST). Click here for the announcement of the speech.
National Visa Center Processing
November 19, 2014
Beginning on November 12, 2014, the National Visa Center (NVC) will not longer require original documents to be submitted in support of immigrant visa applications. Instead, the NVC will accept copies and applicants must bring the original documents to their interviews. However, electronic posts will continue to submit documents via email.
December Visa Bulletin
November 18, 2014
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced immigrant visa availability numbers and priority date cut-offs in its latest December 2014 Visa Bulletin (FY 2015).
Proposed Immigration Reform
November 17, 2014
The New York Times is reporting that the Obama Administration may take unilateral action on immigration reform and announce within the next few weeks a plan that could keep up to five million undocumented immigrants from being deported and would provide them a path for work authorization. Specifics of the plan have not been announced.
Temporary Protected Status for Honduras and Nicaragua
November 15, 2014
USCIS announced that the designation for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nationals of Honduras and Nicaragua has been extended for 18 months from January 5, 2015 through July 6, 2016. Re-registration and renewal of employment authorization cards is required.
Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program
November 14, 2014
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that in 2015 it will implement a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program. The purpose of the program is to allow the beneficiaries of certain family-based petitions to be paroled into the United States up to two years before their visa number comes current. This will promote the safe, legal and orderly migration from Haiti to the United States.
U.S. Changes Visa Rules for Chinese Nationals
November 13, 2014
While on his tour of Asia, President Obama announced that beginning on November 12, 2014, Chinese visa applicants will be eligible to receive multiple-entry, non-immigrant visitor/business visas (B 1/2) valid for 10 years. In addition, Chinese students and exchange visitors will be eligible for multiple-entry F, M, and J visas, which will be valid for up to five years or the length of the program of study.
Additional Security for Visa Waiver Program Participants
November 12, 2014
U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced the implementation of new security measures for those foreign nationals seeking to enter the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Under these new measures, those seeking to travel to the United States from countries in the VWP will be required to provide additional data fields of information in the travel application submitted via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). The new information includes additional passport data, contact information, and other potential names or aliases.
Expanded Definition of “Mother” and “Parent”
November 11, 2014
On October 28th, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a new policy, expanding the definition of “mother” and “parent” to include a gestational mother who (a) gave birth to the child and (b) was the child’s legal mother at the time of birth under the law of the jurisdiction where the child was born. This change was made to remediate the problem where a child born using ART was rendered stateless. An example was where a U.S. citizen mother gave birth to a child who had been conceived with a donor egg and therefore had no biological relationship to the child.
Deportation Numbers Released
October 2, 2014
The New York Times reported yesterday that in fiscal year 2013, the Obama Administration deported a record number of aliens--438,421. Since President Obama took office, his administration has deported over 2 million people. An analysis of the current figures for 2013 shows that the focus for deportations has shifted to those crossing the border illegally rather than those already within the United States. Expedited removals, meaning those occurring at the border without immigration court proceedings, accounted for 44% of deportations in fiscal year 2013.
Refugee Status for Children from Central America
October 1, 2014
The President announced yesterday that minor children in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador with parents who are immigrants lawfully admitted to the United States may apply for in-country refugee processing so that they can be reunited with their parents in the United States. Four thousand refugee numbers were made available for refugees from Latin America and the Caribbean.
FY 2015 H-1B Lottery Completed
September 24, 2014
Entries for the Diversity Lottery Program may be electronically submitted beginning at noon (EDT) on October 1, 2014, and ending at noon (EST) on November 3, 2014. For information on the FY2016 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program including eligibility requirements, instructions for completing the electronic entry form, and frequently asked questions, go to the Department of State website.
FY 2015 H-1B Lottery Completed
April 11, 2014
According to USCIS: “USCIS received about 172,500 H-1B petitions during the filing period which began April 1, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. On April 10, 2014, USCIS completed a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption. For cap-subject petitions not randomly selected, USCIS will reject and return the petition with filing fees, unless it is found to be a duplicate filing.”
Chili Added to Visa Waiver Program
April 11, 2014
Starting May 1, 2014, eligible Chilean passport holders with both an approved Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) and an e-passport will be able to visit the United States without nonimmigrant visitor visas.
April 10, 2014
USCIS anticipates that it will publish a new, dual-use Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, in late May of 2014. The new form will be used for both initial DACA applications and DACA renewals. Current DACA recipients may not use the current form to request renewal of their deferred action. In addition, applications for renewal of work authorization cannot be filed more than 150 days prior to the expiration date on the card. Ideally, renewal applications should be submitted 120 days prior to expiration of the employment card and grant of deferred action.
FY2015 H-1B Cap Reached
July 3, 2013
The FY 2015 H-1B Cap (both regular cap cases and U.S. Master Degree cases) has been reached in the first week of submissions. USCIS will hold a lottery for the H-1B Visas. A date for the lottery has yet to be announced.