Immigration

Trump prepares to unveil broad immigration plan but shows no signs of tempering hard line rhetoric

…Trump on Wednesday (5/15/2019) warned again about the dangers of undocumented immigrants, signaling no plans to temper his rhetoric even as he prepares to unveil a broad proposal aimed at balancing public perception of his administration’s hard line agenda.

Trump is scheduled to use a Rose Garden speech on Thursday to throw his support behind a plan developed by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to move U.S. immigration toward a “merit-based system” that prioritizes high-skilled workers. Several Republican senators are expected to attend, officials said.

Visa Bulletin for August 2018 Shows Backlogging/Oversubscription in EB-1 Category

OVERSUBSCRIPTION OF AUGUST 2018 EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCE CATEGORIES

WORLDWIDE, EL SALVADOR, GUATEMALA, HONDURAS, MEXICO, AND PHILIPPINES EMPLOYMENT-BASED FIRST (E1) PREFERENCE:  As readers were advised in item F of the July Visa Bulletin, there continues to be an extremely high rate of demand for E1 numbers, primarily for USCIS adjustment of status applicants. Therefore, pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act, it has been necessary to impose an E1 Final Action Date for the month of August, with this date being imposed immediately. This action will allow the Department to hold worldwide number use within the maximum allowed under the FY-2018 annual limits.  

The implementation of the above mentioned dates will only be temporary, with the dates returning to Current status for October, the first month of fiscal year 2019.

EB-5 Regional Center Program gets Extended (again) without Any Changes

SEC. 204. Section 610(b) of the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1993 (8 U.S.C. 1153 note) shall be applied by substituting “September 30, 2018” for “September 30, 2015”

This language refers back to Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1993 (Public Law 102-395) Section 610 (PDF page 47), which established the regional center program. The 2018 Appropriations Act does not include the EB-5 Reform Act, or other EB-5 changes. It just extends the borrowed time until we get a good piece of EB-5 legislation.

H-1B VISA PROGRAM AND TRUMP: HOW HIGH-SKILLED IMMIGRANTS ARE BEING THREATENED BY PRESIDENT’S ADMINISTRATION

The Trump administration’s once-rumored restrictions to the H-1B visa program have begun to take effect.

They’re causing a shakeup particularly in the United States tech industry because the temporary, non-immigrant work document enables companies to hire highly skilled foreign workers in fields that require technical and theoretical expertise.

EB-5 Regional Center Program Extension

USCIS administers the EB-5 program, created by Congress in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. Under a program initially enacted as a pilot in 1992, and regularly reauthorized since then, investors may also qualify for EB-5 classification by investing through regional centers designated by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth. On February 9, 2018, the President signed Public Law 115-123; extending the Regional Center Program through March 23, 2018.

Lapse in Federal Funding for Certain USCIS Operations

The current lapse in annual appropriated funding for the U.S. government does not affect USCIS’ fee-funded activities. Our offices will remain open, and all applicants should attend interviews and appointments as scheduled.

However, several USCIS programs will either expire or suspend operations, or be otherwise affected, until they receive appropriated funds or are reauthorized by Congress. These include:

  • EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program. Regional centers are a public or private economic unit in the United States that promote economic growth. USCIS designates regional centers for participation in the Immigrant Investor Program.
  • E-Verify. This free internet-based system allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States.
  • Conrad 30 J-1 doctors. This program allows J-1 doctors to apply for a waiver of the two-year residence requirement after completing the J-1 exchange visitor program. The expiration only affects the date by which the J-1 doctor must have entered the United States; it is not a shutdown of the Conrad 30 program entirely.
  • Non-minister religious workers. This special immigrant category allows non-ministers in religious vocations and occupations to immigrate or adjust status in the United States to perform religious work in a full-time, compensated position.

Generally, if the government shuts for budgetary reasons, all but "essential" personnel are furloughed and are not allowed to work.

  • January 21, 2018 Update: USCIS has confirmed that DACA renewal processing will continue.

DOS: Visa and passport operations are fee-funded and should not be impacted by a lapse in appropriations, but operating status and funding will need to be monitored closely. If visa operations are affected, consular posts will generally only handle diplomatic visas and "life or death" emergencies.

CBP: Inspection and law enforcement personnel are considered "essential.” Ports of entry will be open; however, processing of applications filed at the border may be impacted.

ICE: ICE enforcement and removal operations will continue, and ICE attorneys will typically focus on the detained docket during a shutdown. The ICE Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) offices are unaffected since SEVP is funded by fees.

EOIR: EOIR's detained docket is typically considered an essential function and would therefore continue to operate. During the 2013 shutdown, EOIR continued to accept court filings, even in non-detained cases.

**DOL: The OFLC would cease processing all applications in the event of a government shutdown, and personnel would not be available to respond to e-mail or other inquiries. OFLC's web-based systems, iCERT and PERM, would be inaccessible, and BALCA dockets will be placed on hold. - This means no labor certification processing until the government shutdown is over.

CIS Ombudsman: The DHS Office of the CIS Ombudsman would close and would not accept any inquiries through its online case intake system.

Congress Passes Stopgap Bill to Avoid Government Shutdown Against a Friday Deadline**

**which includes the EB-5 Program extension to January 19, 2018

WASHINGTON — Congress gave final approval on Thursday to legislation to keep the government funded into January, averting a government shutdown this weekend but kicking fights over issues like immigration, surveillance and health care into the new year.

The stopgap spending bill extends government funding until Jan. 19 while also providing a short-term funding fix for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, whose financing lapsed at the end of September.

Without New Laws or Walls, Trump Presses the Brake on Legal Immigration

A scientist recruited by the renowned Cleveland Clinic is stuck in India because his visa is delayed. An entrepreneur courted by Silicon Valley companies had his application denied. Many green card applicants have new interviews to pass.

The Trump administration has pursued its immigration agenda loudly and noticeably, ramping up arrests of undocumented immigrants, barring most travel from several majority-Muslim countries and pressing the case for a border wall.

But it has also quietly, and with much less resistance, slowed many forms of legal immigration without the need for Congress to rescind a single visa program enshrined in the law.

USCIS to Expand In-Person Interview Requirements for Certain Permanent Residency Applicants

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin expanding in-person interviews for certain immigration benefit applicants whose benefit, if granted, would allow them to permanently reside in the United States. This change complies with Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” and is part of the agency’s comprehensive strategy to further improve the detection and prevention of fraud and further enhance the integrity of the immigration system.
 
Effective Oct. 1, USCIS will begin to phase-in interviews for the following:
 
• Adjustment of status applications based on employment (Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status).
 
• Refugee/asylee relative petitions (Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition) for beneficiaries who are in the United States and are petitioning to join a principal asylee/refugee applicant.
 
Previously, applicants in these categories did not require an in-person interview with USCIS officers in order for their application for permanent residency to be adjudicated. Beyond these categories, USCIS is planning an incremental expansion of interviews to other benefit types. 
 
“This change reflects the Administration’s commitment to upholding and strengthening the integrity of our nation’s immigration system,” said Acting USCIS Director James W. McCament. “USCIS and our federal partners are working collaboratively to develop more robust screening and vetting procedures for individuals seeking immigration benefits to reside in the United States.”
 

Ninth Circuit Stays Travel Ban Injunction, with Exception for Individuals with “Bona Fide Relationship”

The Ninth Circuit issued an order staying the district court's 10/20/17 preliminary injunction against entry restrictions on nationals of six Muslim-majority countries, except as to foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States. People with a qualifying family relationship include grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins. A qualifying relationship with an entity must be formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading Presidential Proclamation 9645. The district court did not enjoin the Presidential Proclamation's entry restrictions against nationals of North Korea and certain nationals of Venezuela, and the travel ban remains in effect for those countries as originally stated in Presidential Proclamation 9645