Skip to content

The tilt in this Administration towards harsh immigration measures is well known because of high profile moves like the travel bans and the separation and incarceration of parents and young children from Central America who have sought safety in the U.S.  But a series of seemingly less significant steps that have largely flown under the radar of public notice have even bigger consequences for the fate of legal immigrants.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of immigrants who are in the U.S. legally file applications for new or different types of immigration benefits.  Up until now, if U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had questions about an application, or thought the application was missing a piece of evidence, it would send a request for additional information, giving the applicant a chance to supplement his visa application.  If USCIS ultimately denied the application, the agency sent the applicant a letter telling him that his application has been denied, informing the applicant of his appeal rights, and telling him that, if he has no other legal immigration status to fall back on, he should leave the country.

Continue Reading Does USCIS Want to Turn Lawful Immigrants into Unlawful, Removable Immigrants? The Answer it seems, is “Yes”

It appears that the Republican controlled Congress and the Trump Administration cannot get anything done on the contentious issues of immigration.

Right now, a slight bi-partisan majority in the Senate wants to provide a pathway to citizenship for young people brought to the US illegally as children (the so-called Dreamers) and will provide $25 billion for border security or a border wall.  Because it lacks other measures President Trump views as critical, the Trump Administration lobbied against this bill, resulting in its failure with only 54 of the 60 votes needed to pass.

Meanwhile, in the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan will not bring an amendment to a vote unless it will be signed by President Trump.  President Trump has stated he will not sign a bill unless it meets his “4 Pillars” requirement: a path to citizenship for Dreamers, billions to fund a border wall and other border security measures, limitations on legal family-based immigration, and elimination of the Diversity Visa Lottery program.  A bill sponsored by Republicans John Cornyn and Chuck Grassley, which mirrors President Trump’s 4 Pillars, was brought to vote and failed 39 to 60.

Continue Reading Immigration Issues on Capitol Hill – Will Anything Get Done?

We thank Michael W. Klein, of The Fletcher School, Tufts University, for co-authoring this post.

This blog post originally appeared as an article in Econofact and is being reprinted on our blog with Econofact’s permission.

The Issue

The term “chain migration” is currently being used to describe a process in which one legal immigrant can generate many new admissions by sponsoring his or her relatives — each of whom, in turn, leads to even more immigrants. President Donald Trump called for an end to “chain migration” in his State of the Union address on January 30, 2018, stating that: “…a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives.” While immigrants admitted on the basis of family ties constitute the largest share of new permanent residents each year, the potential for an ever-expanding chain is constrained. Under current law, family-based immigrant visas are limited to a small number of categories of close relatives, many of which have numerical limits and are subject to caps by country of origin. As a result, there are long wait times, of years or even decades, for many family-based immigrant visas. Furthermore, family members are subject to extensive background and security checks, and financial support by U.S. residents must be established for them to obtain visas.

Continue Reading Weak Links in the Chain Migration Argument

Three days into the government shutdown, Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Schumer (D-NY) took to the Senate floor Monday afternoon to announce an agreement to end the impasse and reopen the government. The Senate voted later in the day 81-18 in support of a short-term continuing resolution (CR) running through February 8, sending it to the House of Representatives where it was quickly approved 266-150. The CR was then signed by President Trump, allowing Federal workers to return on Tuesday.

Continue Reading Government Shutdown Ends – Is Immigration Reform on the Horizon?

Historically, H-1B visas have been the U.S. employment visa of choice due to their flexibility for professionals to work in “specialty occupations.” Lately, however, for those employers and prospective employees who are subject to the annual numerical “cap” on H-1Bs, the demand far outstrips the quota. Petitions must be filed in the first week of April in order to be included in a lottery from which a limited number will be selected for employment beginning the following October 1. In addition, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has increased its requests for additional evidence for selected petitions, which require special attention to the subject position’s qualification as an H-1B “specialty occupation.”

This alert is a reminder of the April 2, 2018 opening date for filing cap-subject H-1B visa petitions for Fiscal Year 2019. Petitions for the new fiscal year, which will be effective starting on or after October 1, 2018, will be accepted by the Government beginning April 2, 2018, and will likely continue through April 6. USCIS will continue to accept cap-subject H-1B petitions after April 6, but only if and until USCIS determines that a sufficient number has been received. Accepted petitions are then entered into random lotteries in which limited numbers of petitions are selected for processing.

Continue Reading It’s Time to Prepare H-1B Visa Petitions for Fiscal Year 2019

As of 4 pm on Friday, January 19, 2018, the US Senate had not reached an agreement on the terms of a continuing resolution to keep the US government running. The US House passed a 30-day resolution on Thursday, but this must also pass the Senate and President Trump must sign it before midnight, January 19, 2018 to avoid a shutdown.

 

If this shutdown does happen and if it mirrors what happened with shutdowns in previous years, the immigration processes most impacted with be those involving the Department of Labor (DOL). Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) and PERM Labor Certification Applications cannot be filed during the shutdown as their funding is dependent on congressional appropriations. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), however, is a fee-based immigration benefit provider and it is not dependent on appropriations. As with prior shutdowns, we expect USCIS to continue operations and adjudicating cases.

The US State Department may also see a slowdown or even cessation of visa processing until funding legislation can be passed.

Our ML Strategies group is also monitoring congressional action and updates can be reviewed here. Stay tuned for further alerts as this situation continues to unfold.

BY: ALEXANDER HECHT AND NEAL MARTIN

With just hours to spare in order to avoid a government shutdown, the House and Senate approved on December 21 a short-term continuing resolution (CR) funding federal activities through January 19. The CR was approved in the House in a 231-188 vote, and in the Senate by a vote of 66-32. With passage of the CR, Congress has departed for the holiday break and is set to return on January 3. The CR extends the current authorization for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program while congressional leadership and interested stakeholders continue to negotiate a long-term measure to reform and reauthorize the program. A long-term reauthorization is unlikely to move as a stand-alone bill and could be included in any spending measure approved in January. Another option for a legislative vehicle would be immigration reform legislation, which has been highlighted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as an opportunity for bipartisan cooperation in 2018.

On Monday, December 4, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court issued two separate, but related, orders staying lower courts’ preliminary injunctions against President Trump’s most recent travel ban (see our previous alert). The practical impact of these Supreme Court orders is that the latest travel ban reinstates President Trump’s Presidential Proclamation of September 24, 2017.
Continue Reading Two Supreme Court Orders Reinstate Trump’s Travel Ban

On December 1, 2017 Judge James Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted summary judgment to the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) in its challenge to a regulation published by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) delaying the implementation of the International Entrepreneur Parole (IEP) Rule. The IEP regulation, published in the last days of the Obama administration, aimed to provide an immigration option for foreign entrepreneurs. A summary of the IEP program appears here. The new program was scheduled to take effect on July 17, 2017, but on July 11, 2017, DHS published a rule in the Federal Register delaying the implementation of the program until March 2018, and stating DHS’s intention to rescind the IEP regulation entirely. Judge Boasberg ruled that the government violated the Administrative Procedure Act by summarily delaying the implementation of the program without publishing a full regulation seeking notice and comment from the public.
Continue Reading National Venture Capital Association Wins Lawsuit Challenging Delay of Implementation of International Entrepreneur Parole Rule

On November 13, 2017, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco partially granted an emergency request by the United States government to allow the travel ban issued by President Trump on September 24, 2017 (see our previous alert) to go into effect. This most recent travel ban had been temporarily enjoined by the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii.

The Appeals Court’s decision allows, at least temporarily, the ban on entry to the U.S. of people from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen who do not have a qualifying family or institutional connection to the U.S. Those who do have a qualifying relationship are still eligible to come to the U.S. Grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins in the U.S. constitute qualifying familial relationships. Formal documented relationships to a U.S.-based entity, such as a university or employer in the U.S. may also qualify to exempt individuals from the travel ban.

The U.S. 9th Circuit is scheduled to hear oral arguments on the case to block the ban on December 6th. An appeal to a similar injunction on the implementation of the travel ban is due to be heard by the 4th U.S. District Court of Appeals in Richmond, VA on December 8, 2017.

As this issue continues to evolve, we will provide further updates following breaking developments. If you have questions about this most recent development relating to the travel ban, please contact your Mintz Levin attorney.