Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses a new court ruling blocking the issuance of initial DACA applications and what this ruling could mean for the future of comprehensive immigration reform. What can we expect to see from Congress regarding the legalization of undocumented young Americans moving forward?
Stay tuned to find out more.
On Friday, July 16, 2021, a federal judge from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, granted a permanent injunction against the DACA program, which essentially halts the processing of new first-time applications under the program. The permanent injunction however does not prevent the filing of DACA renewals by those who are already receiving benefits under the DACA program. It also does not have any negative impact on DACA benefits already issued under the program such as deferred status, employment authorization, and advance parole.
Why is this ruling significant?
The judge’s recent decision is significant because it may lead to the beginning of a long battle toward achieving comprehensive immigration reform.
As you may recall, the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program came about by Executive Order during the Obama administration in 2012. Since then, the DACA program has allowed nearly a million young immigrants to remain in the United States, to live, study, and work as productive members of our society. It has been 9 years since the start of this program, and Congress still has not acted to provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers.
The uncertainty surrounding the program and its constant upheaval in courts across the country has led many young immigrants to question whether they can continue to call America, home.
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the National Visa Center (NVC) immigrant visa backlog and current NVC processing times in the month of June. Stay tuned for updates on the Department of State’s plan to reopen Embassies and Consulates worldwide, and information on how Consular posts will be prioritizing visa issuance in the next few months for F-1 students, H-1B workers, H-4 spouses, and J-1 Workers.
Want to know more? Keep on watching for all the details.
The National Visa Center’s Backlog
As many of you know, last year the Department of State made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend routine visa services at U.S. Embassies and Consular posts worldwide to prevent the rapid spread of the Coronavirus. The suspension was necessary to adhere to local regulations such as the mandatory quarantines and social distancing required to contain the virus. Although Embassies and Consulates are now following a phased resumption of visa services framework, limited resources and local country conditions in some regions have prevented Consular posts from providing routine visa services as before. Most Consular sections are not operating at normal capacity, and are prioritizing visa appointments for emergencies, mission critical visa services, and immediate relatives of U.S. Citizens including K fiancé(e)s.
Despite the issuance of this Executive Order, Embassies and Consulates have not been able to return to normalcy and routine visa services have remained suspended. Consular officials are still refusing to issue visas for individuals that remain in the lower tier of immigrant visa prioritization, including family preference, employment preference, and diversity immigrant visa applicants. This has prompted hundreds of individuals to join numerous class action lawsuits to force the government to intervene.
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick gives you the latest immigration update regarding President Biden’s plans to reverse Presidential Proclamations 10014 and 10052 passed under former President Donald Trump.
Want to know more? Keep on watching for more information.
First, let’s recap Presidential Proclamations 10014 and 10052. What are these Proclamations all about?
Presidential Proclamation 10014
Back in April of 2020, former President Trump issued Presidential Proclamation 10014 which imposed a 60-day ban on the issuance of visas at U.S. Consulates and Embassies abroad and limited the entry of certain aliens.
Among those impacted were the following classes of immigrants applying for a visa at a United States Consulate or Embassy abroad from April 23, 2020 to the present:
Spouses and children of green card holders (US citizens were not affected) applying at the consulate
Parents of US citizens applying at the consulate
Brothers and sisters of US citizens applying at the consulate
Sons and daughters (meaning over 21 years old) of US citizens applying at the consulate (children under 21 years old of US citizens were not affected)
Sons and daughters (meaning over 21 years old) of green card holders applying at the consulate
Diversity visa lottery winners
EB1A extraordinary abilities and their family applying at the consulate
PERM EB3, PERM EB2, NIW employment based and their family applying at the consulate
EB4 religious workers immigrants applying at the consulate
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick provides an important update regarding K-1 litigation and the status of K-1 status around the world.
Want to know more? Keep on watching for more information.
What is happening with K-1 visas?
As you know, the Department of State suspended routine visa services worldwide in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was not until July of 2020 that the Department of State announced that U.S. Embassies and Consulates would begin a phased resumption of routine visa services. Unfortunately, this phased resumption has occurred only on a post-by-post basis, as country conditions have allowed.
For the most part, the majority of visa services have remained suspended at U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide except in cases of emergency, mission-critical visa services, and where applicants have been able to qualify for a national interest exception or expedited interview request.
When pressed for answers, the response from Consulates has been the same. The majority have refused to provide a specific date as to when each mission will resume visa services or when each mission will return to processing visas at pre-pandemic workload levels.
To make matters worse, there are a number of COVID-19 related Presidential Proclamations that remain in force which prevent the entry of foreign nationals who have been physically present in the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, China, and Iran, within the 14 days preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. These individuals remain barred from traveling unless they qualify a national interest exception. Those who do not qualify will not be able to obtain a visa until the Proclamations have been lifted by the President.
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses some breaking news in the world of immigration. On January 26, 2021, a federal judge in Texas temporarily blocked the Biden administration’s 100-day pause on deportations.
Want to know more? Keep on watching for more information.
The Biden administration is facing its first legal challenge. We recently learned that a federal judge from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas has granted a 14-day nationwide temporary restraining order that immediately blocks the Biden administration’s efforts to put a 100-day pause on deportations.
How did this happen?
The federal judge’s decision came after the Attorney General of Texas filed a lawsuit requesting a temporary restraining order to stop the Biden administration from pausing deportations.
Judge Drew B. Tipton, appointed by former President Donald Trump, ultimately agreed with the State of Texas that Biden’s suspension of deportations violates the Administration Procedure Act (APA), as well as key provisions of the INA which mandate that aliens with final orders of removal be deported within 90 days.
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick updates you regarding the status of K-1 visa interview scheduling at U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide, as well as the status of a new lawsuit that seeks to push K-1 visa cases through the pipeline.
Want to know more? Keep on watching for more information.
Since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, U.S. Consulates and Embassies abroad have refused to schedule K-1 visa applicants for interviews and have instead opted to prioritize interview scheduling for certain spouses of U.S. Citizens. As a result, thousands of couples have remained separated for months on end with virtually no end in sight. This has been a very puzzling phenomenon given that foreign fiancés should be given priority for visa issuance based on their qualifying relationship to a U.S. Citizen. In some cases, K-1 visa applicants have had their interviews cancelled with no follow-up from the Consulate or Embassy regarding future rescheduling, while in others K-1 visa applications have not moved past the NVC stage for interview scheduling.
In our own experience very few K-1 visa applicants have received visa interviews and the cases that have been prioritized are because of serious medical emergencies or other urgent needs. We have been successful in receiving interviews only where the applicant has received approval for expedited processing.
In an unexpected turn of events on August 30, 2020, the Department of State released a cable stating that effective August 28th K-1 visa cases would receive “high priority.” The cable directed K-1 visa applications to check the website of their nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for updates on the services offered by the post.
Unfortunately, this cable did not provide applicants with any relief because it was largely ignored by U.S. Consulates and Embassies. Many applicants contacted their posts directly and were given generic messages stating that the post was not able to provide services for K-1 visa applicants until further notice. These new revelations ultimately forced K-1 applicants to seek relief from the courts.
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses a new court order that prohibits the government from enforcing a final rule that sought to increase filing fees for certain applications and petitions filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). For more information keep on watching.
As many of you know on August 3, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security published a final rule in the Federal Register which sought to increase filing fees for most applications and petitions for immigration benefits payable to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). These filing fee increases were made by USCIS in order to help the agency meet its operational costs and ensure adequate resources to cover services provided by USCIS to applicants and petitioners.
Just days before the filing fee increase was scheduled to go into effect, a federal judge from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a nationwide temporary injunction blocking the government from implementing the final rule. The court order essentially stops the government from enforcing the fee increases as the government had originally planned beginning October 2, 2020.
Several nonprofit organizations including the immigrant Legal Resource Center came together to file a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California challenging the government’s planned enforcement of the final rule increasing USCIS filing fees. In their lawsuit, these organizations asked the court to grant a nationwide injunction to block the government from enforcing the rule to applications and petitions postmarked on or after October 2, 2020.
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 provides an important update for international students studying in the United States during the upcoming Fall semester.
Stay tuned to find out more.
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.”