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Articles Posted in COVID 19

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses a very important new update regarding the “public charge,” rule. On July 29, a federal judge in the state of New York issued a ruling temporarily blocking the Trump administration from enforcing the public charge rule on noncitizens seeking permanent residency in the United States, as well as nonimmigrant visa applicants abroad, for as long as the coronavirus pandemic remains a public health emergency. The ruling was made in response to a federal lawsuit filed by several states against the government, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) in State of New York, et al. v. DHS, et al. and Make the Road NY et al. v. Cuccinelli, et al.

Stay tuned for more information on this topic.


Overview

In response to a lawsuit filed by the states of New York, Connecticut, and Vermont, challenging the “public charge” rule, federal judge George Daniels approved a nationwide injunction, which temporarily blocks the government from “enforcing, applying, implementing, or treating,” as effective the “public charge” rule for any period during which there is a declared national health emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The judge in this case ultimately sided with the states recognizing that the public charge rule ultimately discourages non-citizens nationwide from obtaining the necessary treatment and care they would need during the Coronavirus pandemic. In his opinion, the judge stated that in consideration of the “substantial harm” that the public would suffer from application and enforcement of the public charge rule, it was necessary to issue a temporary injunction to preserve the status quo and allow non-citizens to seek public benefits necessary for their health and well-being. The judge stated, “no person should hesitate to seek medical care, nor should they endure punishment or penalty if they seek temporary financial aid as a result of the pandemic’s impact.”

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses some very exciting news for first time DACA applicants. Pursuant to a recent court order, a federal judge has ruled that the government must restore the DACA program to its pre-September 2017 status, meaning that USCIS must accept new applications from first time DACA applicants and advance parole requests. Stay tuned for more information on this topic.


Overview


On July 17, 2020 a federal judge in the state of Maryland issued a ruling that requires the government to restore the DACA program to its pre-September 2017 status. This means that USCIS must continue the DACA program as it was before it was rescinded by the Trump administration on September 5, 2017, when applications for DACA were being accepted by first time applicants.

Before this decision, on June 18th the Supreme Court of the United States issued a ruling on DACA finding that, although the government’s rescission of DACA violated the Administrative Procedure Act, the government could lawfully rescind DACA so long as the government follows the procedures required by the APA. In effect, the Supreme Court’s decision left open the possibility for DACA to be rescinded by the Trump administration. The Supreme Court emphasized that it would not decide whether DACA or its rescission are “sound policies.”

After its ruling, the Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower courts, where the Maryland judge ultimately decided in favor of reinstating the DACA program.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick provides an important update for international students studying in the United States during the upcoming Fall semester.

Stay tuned to find out more.


Overview

On July 6th international students were shocked to find out that the federal government introduced new guidelines preventing students from attending schools with online instruction only during the Fall 2020 semester.

The new guidelines, released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), provided that students enrolled in schools with online only instruction would not be issued visas, and CBP would not permit these students to enter the U.S. from abroad, despite rising Coronavirus cases nationwide. Additionally, the announcement stated that students already in the United States enrolled in an online only study program would need to transfer to a school providing hybrid or in-person instruction, in order to remain in lawful status in the United States. Students who failed to transfer would be required to depart the country immediately.

Fortunately, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) stood up for international students nationwide and swiftly filed a lawsuit against the government to prevent the guidelines from being enforced. The lawsuit sought a temporary and permanent court order/injunction to stop the government from enforcing any part of the new guidelines on students and universities.

The judge in that case had scheduled an emergency hearing on July 14th to hear oral arguments from the universities and the government.

In a surprising turn of events, just before the hearing was scheduled to begin, the judge announced that the government reached an agreement to rescind the new police in its entirety.

From the Court Docket: Harvard and MIT vs. DHS/ICE re: International Students

“Hearing held on 7/14/2020. The Court was informed by the parties that they have come to a resolution to the combined temporary restraining order/preliminary injunction motions. The Government has agreed to rescind the July 6, 2020 Policy Directive and the July 7, 2020 FAQ, and has also agreed to rescind their implementation. The Government will return to the March 9, 2020 and March 13, 2020 policy.”

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick answers one of your frequently asked questions: When will US Embassies and Consulates re-open? Stay tuned to find out more.


Overview

First things first, as many of you know on March 20, 2020 the Department of State announced the temporary suspension of routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide in response to the global pandemic. Since then, U.S. Embassies and Consulates have cancelled all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments, and only provided emergency and mission critical visa services. The DOS did not provide an estimated timeframe of when routine visa services would resume stating “we are unable to provide a specific date at this time.”

In addition, beginning January 31, 2020, the President began issuing several presidential proclamations suspending the entry into the United States of certain foreign nationals to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. The entry of foreign nationals who were physically present in the People’s Republic of China, Iran, Brazil, Ireland, or the Schengen countries within the 14 days preceding entry or attempted entry into the United States is suspended until further notice. The Schengen countries include Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

That means that these individuals will not be issued a U.S. visa or allowed to enter the United States for as long as the presidential proclamations remain in place, even when U.S. Embassies and Consulates resume visa services for the public.

For a complete list of these presidential proclamations restricting travel please click here.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the dilemma that Diversity Visa applicants are currently facing. What will happen to those who won the diversity visa lottery but are unable to apply for an immigrant visa because of the new proclamation? We answer your questions here and provide other helpful immigration tips. Stay tuned for more information on this topic.


Overview


As many of you know the executive order, “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak,” signed by the President on June 22nd suspends the entry of certain H, J, and L non-immigrants until December 31, 2020 and also extends the previous presidential proclamation signed on April 22nd which barred DV lottery winners from applying for an immigrant visa. Those affected by the April order include diversity visa applicants selected in the DV lottery, who are outside the United States as of the date of the proclamation, and otherwise have no immigrant visa or official travel document allowing them to enter the United States.


Q: What is the impact of this proclamation on DV lottery winners outside the country?

Unfortunately, this proclamation has devastating consequences on DV lottery winners currently residing outside the country. The order could potentially eliminate the possibility of applying for a visa based on diversity visa lottery selection, because DV applicants must be approved for a visa before the September 30, 2020 deadline.


Q. Is there any relief for DV lottery winners?

Lawsuits

Potentially. On April 27th a class action lawsuit by multiple plaintiffs was filed President Donald Trump, DHS, Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf, DOS, and DOS Secretary Michael Pompeo, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia challenging the April 22nd  Presidential Proclamation arguing that the proclamation interferes with family reunification, violates the INA, the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit asked for a preliminary and permanent injunction (a court order) to block the government from implementing or enforcing the Proclamation on those impacted the April 22nd proclamation including FY 2020 diversity visa lottery winners.

Unfortunately, on May 18, 2020, the district court denied the Temporary Restraining order, which means the government can continue to enforce the April 22nd proclamation until further notice.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses a very puzzling topic. Our readers have asked: Are K-1 Visas exempt from the recent Presidential Proclamation? From our reading of the Presidential Proclamation we had discussed in previous videos that K-1 visas are non-immigrant visas, and therefore exempt from the ban on immigration, however lately certain U.S. Embassies have been treating K-1 visas as immigrant visas, which would make them subject to the recent ban on immigration.

We discuss this development further in this video.

Keep on watching for more information.


Overview


As you all know by now on June 22nd the President signed a new presidential proclamation called, “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak,” which extends the previous April 22nd Presidential Proclamation suspending the entry of certain types of immigrants to the United States. The June 22nd order also placed a visa ban on H-1B, H-2B, J, and L nonimmigrant workers applying for a visa at the U.S. Consulate abroad as of June 24th.

The April 22nd proclamation specifically suspended, “the entry into the United States of aliens as immigrants.” Under immigration law, K-1 fiancé visas are non-immigrant visas, and therefore not subject to this ban. K-1 fiancé visas are considered non-immigrant visas because the foreign fiancé is seeking temporary entry to the United States for the limited purpose of marrying the U.S. Citizen spouse. It is not until the foreign national marries the U.S. Citizen spouse that he or she is allowed to immigrate by filing Form I-485 to adjust status to permanent resident.

Unfortunately, a great deal of confusion has been occurring at Embassies worldwide regarding whether K-1 fiancé visas are exempt or not exempt from the presidential proclamation. Recently, some Embassies have erroneously categorized K-1 fiancé visas as immigrant visas, refusing to schedule interviews and issue visas for this category because of the ban on immigration. Others including the Embassy in Manila have correctly provided information that K-1 fiancé visas are exempt from the presidential proclamation.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares the latest update regarding reopening procedures for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field offices nationwide.

Keep on watching for more information.


Overview


On May 27, 2020, USCIS announced that some domestic field offices and asylum offices would begin to reopen to the public on or after June 4, 2020. Unfortunately, as June 4th came and went, it became evident that USCIS would not be able to reopen its offices on June 4th. USCIS recently published an office closure webpage which shows that all field offices, asylum offices, and application support centers are still closed to the public, except for those seeking urgent emergency services. Unfortunately, this means that there will be delays in reopening offices nationwide. We have received information that the San Diego Field Office plans to reopen during the month of July. Based on this information we believe that the majority of field offices, asylum offices, and application support centers will also reopen around this time frame.

Even when USCIS offices do reopen, it will not be business as usual. USCIS has said it will be reducing the number of appointments and interviews at its offices to comply with social distancing requirements. As a result, USCIS will not be scheduling nearly as many biometrics appointments and interviews as it did before the coronavirus pandemic. This will result in further delays in the adjudication of applications and petitions that require an interview such as applications for permanent residency and naturalization.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick reports on an exciting announcement, premium processing services are resuming for most petitions starting June 1st. Do you want to know more about this new update?

Keep on watching for more information.


Overview


As you know, on March 20, 2020, USCIS temporarily suspended premium processing services for all Form I-129 and I-140 petitions due to the Coronavirus. Petitioners who submitted a premium processing request in connection with Form I-129 or Form I-140, before the March 20 suspension, but received no action and no refund, may refile Form I-907 in keeping with the timeline discussed below.


How will premium processing services resume?


Premium processing will resume in a multi-phased approach.

First, effective June 1, 2020, USCIS will accept premium processing requests for all eligible Form I-140 petitions.

Second, effective June 8, 2020, USCIS will accept premium processing requests for:

  • H-1B petitions filed before June 8 that are pending adjudication and are cap-exempt (for example, petitions filed by petitioners that are cap-exempt and petitions filed for beneficiaries previously counted toward the numerical allocations).
  • All other Form I-129 petitions (non H-1B petitions) for nonimmigrant classifications eligible for premium processing filed before June 8 that are pending adjudication.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the predicament that many H-1B visa holders have fallen into: what happens when you are stuck overseas and cannot return to the United States to resume employment due to COVID 19? Stay tuned for our helpful tips on what you can do to get back to work.


Overview


The global pandemic has caused many visa holders to remain overseas without any clear guidance on how or when they may return to the United States. Travel restrictions and border closures have made it very difficult for individuals on work visas to be able to come back to the United States and resume their authorized work. For obvious reasons, staying out of the country for a prolonged period of time can have serious consequences on the foreign worker’s immigration status. We have received many questions from our viewers concerned about the restrictions and what options they may have to return to the United States.

First, it is important for foreign workers to document their inability to travel to the United States, so that they can later prove to immigration that the circumstances that prevented them from traveling to the United States were out of their control.

Second, foreign workers must stay in constant communication with their employer while overseas to make sure that their employer understands why they have not been able to return to the United States. A foreign worker that does not report to the U.S. employer can find themselves in very hot water if the employer mistakenly believes that the foreign worker abandoned their job without reason. For instance, if the employer withdraws the worker’s petition or reports that the worker is out of compliance with the terms of his employment, the foreign worker will not be able to re-enter the United States. Foreign workers should try to communicate with their employer at least on a weekly basis.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses a new and exciting bill proposed by the House of Representatives known as the HEROES Act (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act) that would provide financial relief for undocumented immigrants, employment authorization for undocumented essential workers, and expedited visa processing for doctors, nurses, and other essential workers.

Please keep in mind that to become law, the HEROES Act still needs to be passed by the U.S. Senate and signed into law by the President.

Keep on watching for more information.


HEROES Act Overview


The new HEROES Act addresses some of the shortcomings of the previous CARES Act, which excluded undocumented immigrants from receiving stimulus checks from the federal government. The HEROES Act is a $3 trillion federal relief package that authorizes a second round of stimulus checks for those who qualify.

Here are the five takeaways of the HEROES Act:

  1. The HEROES Act would provide cash payments to immigrants and their families previously excluded under the CARES Act
  2. The HEROES Act would shield essential workers from deportation and create opportunities for some undocumented immigrants to obtain employment authorization (much like DACA)
  3. THE HEROES Act calls on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release low-risk immigrants from detention facilities where detention is not mandatory and where the detainee is not a national security risk
  4. The HEROES Act would allow expedited visa and green card processing for foreign medical professionals fighting Coronavirus and grant flexibility for medical professionals as to where they can work and how they can work
  5. THE HEROES Act would grant health care benefits for undocumented immigrants who do not have health insurance, including free testing, vaccines, and treatment relating to Coronavirus

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