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Articles Posted in COVID Updates

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick informs our readers about a recent update announced by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) concerning employment authorization cards also known as EADs. Employees may now present their I-765 Notice of Approval as temporary proof of lawful employment in the United States.


Overview

A recent delay in the production of employment authorization cards (EADs) caused by the Coronavirus pandemic has led USCIS to enact a new policy providing relief to those who have an approved I-765 Application for Employment Authorization but have not yet received their employment authorization cards in the mail.

The new policy, announced on August 19, 2020, permits employees to use Form I-797 Notice of Action, with a Notice date on or after December 1, 2019 including through August 20, 2020, that shows the approval of Form I-765 for purposes of satisfying Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, even though the Notice of Action approval states that it is not evidence of employment authorization.

Pursuant to the announcement, I-797 Notice of Action of approval, will now qualify as a List C document that establishes employment authorization issued by the Department of Homeland Security. The employee may present the notice of approval to their employer to remain in compliance with Form I-9 until December 1, 2020.

In addition to presenting the notice of approval, the employee must also provide an acceptable List B document that establishes their identity. The list of acceptable documents to establish identity is on Form I-9.

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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 regarding a recent ruling that brings back the “public charge,” rule. On August 12, a panel of three judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a ruling invalidating a previous nationwide injunction issued by a lower court judge that temporarily blocked the government from enforcing the “public charge” rule nationwide for as long as the Coronavirus remained a public health emergency.

The lower court’s injunction was issued on July 29th out of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by Judge Daniels. In his decision, Judge Daniels had ordered the government to immediately stop “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.


Overview

What is this all about?

Since the issuance of the lower court’s injunction on July 29th, the Trump administration immediately appealed the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. A decision was expected to be handed down in a matter of weeks.

On August 12th the decision finally came, and it was very unexpected. The Court of Appeals decided that the issuance of a nationwide injunction was inappropriate and instead narrowed the scope of the injunction to apply only to the three states that filed the lawsuit (New York, Connecticut, and Vermont). The Court of Appeals stated that the injunction was warranted only with respect to these states because only these states were able to demonstrate standing, irreparable harm, and a likelihood of succeeding on the merits of the underlying case.

Therefore, the injunction preventing enforcement of the “public charge” rule no longer applies on a nationwide basis, and instead only prevents enforcement of the “public charge” rule against residents of New York, Connecticut, and Vermont.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses an important announcement made by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on July 31, 2020 regarding new increases in immigration filing fees for certain applications and petitions.

Stay tuned for more information.


Overview


What is the new announcement about?

USCIS recently announced that the agency will be increasing filing fees for certain applications and petitions in order to meet its operational costs. As many of you are aware, USCIS has been facing a serious financial crisis as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. The substantial loss of revenue the agency has experienced has forced the agency to resort to a hike in filing fees that will be enforced beginning October 2nd.

Shortly after its announcement regarding the fee increases, USCIS published a final rule in the Federal Register explaining that the price increases are “ intended to ensure that USCIS has the resources it needs to provide adequate service to applicants and petitioners.”

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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 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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