Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick updates you regarding a recent practice followed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – the waiver of marriage based green card interviews during the Coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, our office has observed that the agency is processing certain types of applications much more quickly than others.
Want to know more? Stay tuned for more information about this important topic.
Green Card Interview Waivers for Employment Based Applicants
Beginning in April of this year, our office began to receive approval notices for employment-based adjustment of status applications, without the need for the applicant to attend the in-person face-to-face interview as is typically required by USCIS.
As you may recall on March 18th USCIS announced the suspension of in-person services at field offices nationwide, which meant the cancellation of face-to-face interviews. It was not until June 4th that USCIS announced that it would begin resumption of services at field offices nationwide.
Presumably to avoid a growing backlog of cases needing to be scheduled for an interview, USCIS began to grant employment-based green card petitions without requiring the applicant to attend the in-person interview due to the suspension of in-person services.
USCIS never officially announced a policy change allowing for these interview waivers, and instead these changes were occurring as a matter of practice based upon the agency’s discretion.
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick provides some exciting news regarding a recent federal court order. The new order grants relief to diversity visa applicants selected in the DV lottery for fiscal year 2020 against Presidential Proclamations 10014 and 10052. As many of you are aware, on April 22nd the President issued Proclamation 10014, which temporarily suspended the entry of all immigrants into the U.S. for a period of two months, including that of diversity visa lottery winners. Two months later, the President issued Proclamation 10052, which extended the suspension until December 31, 2020, with limited exceptions that did not apply to diversity visa winners. In response to these Proclamations, a class action lawsuit was brought in federal court challenging its application. For purposes of this post, we discuss what this lawsuit means for DV-2020 selected applicants.
For more information on this important ruling please keep on watching.
Proclamations 10014 and 10052 imposed an unfortunate ban on the adjudication and issuance of immigrant visas for certain classes of immigrants, including winners of the DV-2020 lottery.
Following the issuance of Proclamations 10014 and 10052 – which did not exempt DV-2020 lottery winners from the ban – diversity visa lottery winners were left in limbo. The issuance of the Proclamation created a dilemma for winners because following their selection in the DV lottery, winners must apply for and receive a diversity visa by the deadline imposed for that fiscal year. For DV-2020 the deadline to receive a permanent visa was September 30, 2020. The ban on visa issuance for DV-lottery winners meant that applicants would not be able to meet the deadline to apply for a permanent visa, and as a result would forfeit their opportunity to immigrate to the United States.
Seeking relief from the ban, over one thousand plaintiffs joined together to file the lawsuit Gomez, et al. v. Trump, et al. in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The judge presiding over the case, Amit Mehta, concluded that DV-2020 lottery winners qualified for relief, but that non-DV applicants failed to demonstrate that they were entitled to relief.
Accordingly, federal judge Mehta issued the following orders:
As a preliminary matter, the court “stayed” (halted) the No-Visa Policy as applied to DV-2020 selectees and derivative beneficiaries, meaning that the government is prohibited from interpreting or applying the Proclamation in any way that forecloses or prohibits embassy personnel, consular officers, or any administrative processing center (such as the Kentucky Consular Center) from processing, reviewing, or adjudicating a 2020 diversity visa or derivative beneficiary application, or issuing or reissuing a 2020 diversity or beneficiary visa based on the entry restrictions contained in the Proclamations. Except as provided in 2 and 3 below, the order does not prevent any embassy personnel, consular officer, or administrative processing center from prioritizing the processing, adjudication, or issuance of visas based on resource constraints, limitations due to the COVID-19 pandemic or country conditions;
The government as defendants are ordered to undertake good-faith efforts, to expeditiously process and adjudicate DV-2020 diversity visa and derivative beneficiary applications, and issue or reissue diversity and derivative beneficiary visas to eligible applicants by September 30, 2020, giving priority to the named diversity visa plaintiffs in the lawsuit and their derivative beneficiaries;
The court enjoins (stops) the government from interpreting and applying the COVID Guidance to DV-2020 selectees and derivative beneficiaries in any way that requires embassy personnel, consular officers, or administrative processing centers (such as the Kentucky Consular Center) to refuse processing, reviewing, adjudicating 2020 diversity visa applications, or issuing or reissuing diversity visas on the ground that the DV-2020 selectee or derivative beneficiary does not qualify under the “emergency” or “mission critical” exceptions to the COVID Guidance;
The court declines the requests of DV-2020 plaintiffs to order the government to reserve unprocessed DV-2020 visas past the September 30 deadline or until a final adjudication on the merits, however the court will revisit the issue closer to the deadline. The court ordered the State Department to report, no later than September 25, 2020, which of the named DV-2020 Plaintiffs in the lawsuit have received diversity visas, the status of processing of the named DV-2020 plaintiffs’ applications who have not yet received visas, and the number of unprocessed DV-2020 visa applications and unused diversity visas remaining for FY 2020;
Class recertification was denied for non-DV plaintiffs since they failed to demonstrate that they were entitled to preliminary injunctive relief; and
Finally, the court denied the request of non-DV plaintiffs to preliminary enjoin (stop) the government from implementing or enforcing Proclamations 10014 and 10052.
What happens next?
The court has required the parties to the lawsuit to meet and confer by September 25, 2020 for a Joint Status Report. At that time, the court will set the schedule to hear arguments from the parties and come to a final resolution of the lawsuit on the merits.
We hope that this information will help DV-2020 lottery winners breathe a sigh of relief. If you were selected in the DV-2020 lottery it is very important to proceed with your immigrant visa process as soon as possible. Applicants should consider applying with the assistance of an attorney to ensure the application process goes smoothly.
Where can I read more about this court order?
To read judge Mehta’s complete decision please click here.
Questions? If you would like to schedule a consultation, please text or call 619-569-1768.
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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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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:
The HEROES Act would provide cash payments to immigrants and their families previously excluded under the CARES Act
The HEROES Act would shield essential workers from deportation and create opportunities for some undocumented immigrants to obtain employment authorization (much like DACA)
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
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
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
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 called “the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act” that would speed up the process for nurses and doctors to obtain their green cards.
Keep on watching for more information.
The Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act was introduced by Senators David Perdue (R-GA), Todd Young (R-IN), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Chris Coons (D-DE) to increase the number of doctors and nurses available to meet the demand of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
While this bill is only a proposal for the time being, it is a great step in the right direction for the future of highly skilled foreign medical professionals. To become law, the bill must be passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President. The bill is exciting because it is likely to have bipartisan support and has great potential to become law.
Why was the bill passed?
Currently, significant backlogs exist for nurses applying for a green card under the employment-based third preference category (EB-3). As you know Congress has imposed numerical limitations on the number of green cards that can be issued for immigrant workers. For EB-3 there is a waiting period of several years for green cards to become for EB-3 workers, even those with approved I-140 who are prevented from entering the United States because of these numerical limitations. At the moment, the priority date for nurses under EB-3 is stuck around January 2017 which for many nurses means a very long waiting period.
The Health Care Workforce Resilience Act was proposed to alleviate the strain on the U.S. healthcare system. The United States is currently at the epicenter of the Coronavirus pandemic and has an urgent need for doctors and nurses to help flatten the curve.
What does the proposal say?
The bill would authorize USCIS to “recapture” up to 25,000 immigrant visas for nurses and 15,000 immigrant visas for doctors. Additional immigrant visas would also be recaptured for the families of these medical professionalsso that principal applicants and their family members can obtain their green cards at the same time.
This recapturing of unused visas in other preference categories would eliminate the backlog for nurses and doctors with approved I-140’s who are seeking an employment-based green card.
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares the latest update regarding the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field office closures.
Keep on watching for more information.
On March 18, 2020, USCIS made the decision to temporarily close USCIS field offices, application support centers (ASC), and asylum offices to help slow the spread of COVID-19. This means that since March 18th no green card interviews, asylum interviews, biometrics appointments, nor info pass appointments have taken place.
After making the announcement, USCIS initially planned to reopen its offices on April 7th but the agency ultimately extended the temporary closure until May 4th.
In its most recent update USCIS has said that the agency is readying offices to reopen on or after June 4th.
Please keep in mind that although USCIS offices have been closed to the public, USCIS service centers nationwide continue to accept and process applications for immigration benefits.
In addition, although USCIS field offices are closed to the public, they are still providing limited in-person services for those with emergencies. These individuals can contact the USCIS Contact Center for emergency assistance.
What will happen to appointments that were cancelled?
USCIS field offices will send notices to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments and naturalization ceremonies impacted by the extended temporary closure.
Asylum applicants who had an interview impacted by the closures will receive interview cancellation notices and asylum interviews will be automatically rescheduled.
The suspension applies to individuals who, as of April 23, are:
(1) outside of the United States
(2) do not have an immigrant visa
(3) do not have official travel documents other than visas and
(4) are not otherwise exempted from the Proclamation.
Who will enforce the Executive Order?
The President’s executive order will be enforced by U.S. Consulates worldwide beginning 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time on April 23, 2020. Consular officials will have the discretion to determine whether an immigrant is eligible to receive a visa and whether they are exempt from the order.
Who is exempt from the Executive Order (not impacted)?
Lawful Permanent Residents of the U.S.;
Aliens who are the spouses of U.S. Citizens;
Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and any spouse and child of a member of the U.S. Armed Forces;
Aliens under 21 years of age who are children of United States Citizens and prospective adoptees;
Aliens seeking to enter the U.S. on an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional;
Aliens seeking to enter the U.S. to perform medical research or other research intended to combat the spread of COVID-19;
Any spouse any unmarried child under 21 years of age of any such alien who is accompanying or following to join the alien;
Any alien applying for a visa pursuant to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program;
Aliens whose entry furthers important United States law enforcement objectives;