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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this important video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected U.S. immigration law and what you should expect going forward.

Overview:

COVID-19 Firm Update

In compliance with government directives, our office remains temporarily closed for any in person meetings with clients and prospective clients. However, our firm continues to be fully functional on a remote basis.

All meetings with current and future clients will take place via phone, Zoom, Facetime, or other remote conferencing medium. At this time, we are not scheduling in-person appointments to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our focus remains the health and safety of our clients and our employees, while providing the highest quality of service.

If you are a prospective client, you may contact us by phone or schedule a video conference for a free discovery call to determine your immigration needs.

Our Message to Our Current Clients

Our Firm has been hard at work these last few weeks to avoid any disruptions in service as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, while at the same time acting responsibly to do our part to contain the spread of this virus.

To achieve business continuity, our office will be engaging an Alternate Work Schedule Program that will allow us to remain fully functional and continue our business with the use of remote working technology.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick answers a frequently asked question: does the public charge rule apply to non-immigrant visas?

Overview:

One of our subscribers asks: I am applying for a student visa at the US Embassy, does the public charge rule apply to me?

Please bear in mind that the answer to this question applies to all non-immigrant visa types including but not limited to tourist visas, fiancé visas, exchange visitor visas, etc.

In general, all applicants seeking admission to the United States are subject to the public charge ground of inadmissibility under INA § 212(a)(4) unless specifically exempted by law.

As it relates specifically to individuals seeking a non-immigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy abroad the public charge rule will apply.

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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 brand-new Form I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency that must be filed with all applications for adjustment of status postmarked on or after February 24, 2020, as a result of the new public charge rule that became effective on this date.

Who Must File Form I-944?

All applicants filing for adjustment of status on or after February 24, 2020, must file Form I-944 with their application for adjustment of status.

What is on Form I-944?

This video explains Form I-944 in detail including what information appears on this new Form and how to complete the information on this Form.

Please keep in mind that this video is for informational purposes only and does not substitute the preparation or advice of an attorney. To ensure that you have completed the Form correctly you should retain the assistance of an experienced attorney.

Applicants must also bear in mind that the new public charge rule has introduced many new changes that require applicants to follow new procedures such as filing only the latest editions of Forms which are necessary to apply for adjustment of status. The latest editions of these Forms are available on the USCIS website.

Where can I find more information?

To read more about the new Form I-944, please visit our blog post “All About the New Form I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency.”

You can also find more information about the new public charge rule including who is affected, by visiting our FAQs here.

If you need assistance filing for adjustment of status, you may contact our office for a consultation.

Please share if you found this post useful and remember to follow us on our social media platforms FacebookYoutubeTwitter, and Instagram for more immigration news.

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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 public charge rule and who is affected.

Overview:

Several categories of people are affected by the public charge rule:

The first category of people primarily affected by the public charge rule are applicants filing for adjustment of status on Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

The second category of people affected by the rule are foreign nationals applying for an immigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy abroad.

Also affected are nonimmigrants applying for a change of status in the United States.

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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 Supreme Court’s recent ruling which will allow the public charge rule to go forward and be implemented by the government.

Overview:

On January 27, 2020, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of the Trump administration allowing the government to implement the final rule “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” nationwide except for in the State of Illinois, where litigation remains pending.

Following the Court’s decision, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a news release on its website notifying the public that the agency will begin implementing the final rule on February 24, 2020 to applications and petitions postmarked (or submitted electronically) on or after February 24, 2020 (except for in the State of Illinois). For applications or petitions sent by a commercial courier (UPS/FedEx/ or DHL), the postmark date will be the date reflected on the courier receipt.

According to the press release, “The Final Rule prohibits DHS from considering an alien’s application for, certification or approval to receive, or receipt of certain non-cash public benefits before Oct. 15, 2019, when deciding whether the alien is likely at any time to become a public charge. In light of the duration of the recently-lifted nationwide injunctions and to promote clarity and fairness to the public, DHS will now treat this prohibition as applying to such public benefits received before Feb. 24, 2020.

Similarly, the Final Rule prohibits DHS from considering the receipt of public benefits by applicants for extension of stay and change of status before Oct. 15, 2019 when determining whether the public benefits condition applies, and DHS will now treat this prohibition as applying to public benefits received on or after Feb. 24, 2020.” Continue reading

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the new H-1B online registration system and everything you need to know if you are applying for an H-1B cap petition in fiscal year 2021.

Overview:

What’s new?

As our blog followers will know, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has drastically changed the filing procedure for submitting H-1B cap subject petitions.

Beginning March 1, 2020, before a petitioner can file an H-1B cap-subject petition on behalf of an alien worker, including petitions eligible for the advanced degree exemption, the petitioner must first electronically register with USCIS on the USCIS website.

This electronic registration requirement is absolutely mandatory.

Only petitioners with a valid registration selection will be eligible to file an H-1B petition with USCIS.

The initial registration period for H-1B FY 2021 will open on March 1, 2020 and is expected to close on March 20, 2020. The actual end date will be provided by USCIS very soon on its website. Petitioners must pay a $10 H-1B registration fee per submission. Duplicate registrations are prohibited.

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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 topic. Recently Iranian Americans with dual citizenship have been questioned by Customs and Border Protection upon re-entering the United States. Our clients have been asking: can the government do this?

Stay tuned to find out more.

Overview: 

As our readers may be aware tensions between the United States and Iran have been at an all-time high following the killing of Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian military commander by a United States airstrike.

Since Soleimani’s killing, the Iranian government and supreme leader have vowed to retaliate against the United States.

The United States Department of State has issued a level four travel advisory notice for Iran, alerting United States Citizens of the dangers they may face in traveling to Iran including kidnapping, arbitrary arrest, and detention. The DOS has also advised United States citizens against traveling because the United States government does not have any diplomatic or consular relations with the government of Iran and cannot provide emergency assistance to U.S. Citizens in Iran.

The DOS has also made clear on its website that Iranians with U.S./Iranian nationality are not immune to these dangers and are advised against traveling.

CBP’s Right to Question

Having said that, generally Customs and Border Protection has the right to question any individual seeking admission to the United States about any matter that they consider relevant in determining an individual’s admissibility to the country.

Given the current circumstances and political climate, it is expected for Customs and Border Protection to question Iranian American dual citizens at the port of entry, about things like their social media, what they were doing in Iran, their feelings about the political situation in Iran, who they know in Iran, and other such questions.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, we discuss whether you can file an application to extend your stay on a tourist visa if you have overstayed.

Disclaimer: We do not recommend overstaying your duration of stay on any visa classification, because serious immigration consequences could result. However, this post discusses the options you may have, if you find yourself in the precarious situation where you have already overstayed, and you have a good faith reason for having overstayed.

Overview:

Typically a person is given up to a 6-month period to remain in the United States on a tourist visa. At the end of those 6 months, the foreign national must depart the United States. The question is: are there any special circumstances in which a person may be allowed to extend their stay, where they have overstayed their visa?

In this case, the person stayed past the 6-month period of time allowed in the United States, and did not depart the United States. However, the person had a good faith reason for remaining in the United States. Toward the end of their stay, the individual had just given birth in the United States, and unfortunately some medical complications occurred that kept the individual in the United States past the 6-months authorized by their tourist visa. Because of these complications, the individual could not fly outside of the United States.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, we have some bad news for H1B visa holders, some very very alarming statistics. If you want to know what they are watch this video.

H1B Visas and Rate of Denials

Based on a recent statistic, between 2015 through 2019 there has been a significant increase in H1B visa denials. H1B visa denials have quadrupled in denial rates.

Similarly, the volume of requests for evidence issued to H1B petitioners have increased by 60 percent.

The H-1B season for fiscal year 2021 will bring some important changes. Firstly, USCIS has imposed a new online electronic registration requirement for H1B petitioners to streamline the H1B lottery process.

When we see a quadrupling in the rate of H1B visas denied for strong H1B petitions, it is apparent that the government is trying to send a message, which is that they want to limit the amount of people who can actually file for H1B visas. In the requests for evidence we have received for H1B extensions and transfers, we see a trend in which USCIS is using the most narrow interpretation of what a “specialty occupation,” is which by definition limits the pool of candidates eligible to receive an H1B visa.

We are seeing almost automatic denials for our marketing and business positions because USCIS is being so restrictive in how they interpret and define a “specialty occupation.” USCIS is taking the position that marketing and business positions are not “specialty occupations.”

USCIS has time and time again refused to accept the complexity of these positions, legal arguments in support of a finding that these positions are in fact specialty occupations, and ignored expert opinions supporting such positions as “specialty occupations.”

From what we have seen in our own filings and from conversations we have had with other attorneys and law offices, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get H1B visas approved for positions and occupations are were normally approved without difficulty in the past.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, we bring Polish citizens an exciting new update regarding the Visa Waiver Program.

What’s happening?

The Department of Homeland Security recently announced the addition of Poland, as a country eligible to participate in the Visa Waiver Program.

What is the Visa Waiver Program?

The Visa Waiver Program allows citizens or nationals of certain countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business purposes without having to apply for a tourist visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad. The period of time that a traveler may remain in the United States under the Visa Waiver Program is 90 days or less.

How does it work?

Citizens of countries participating in the Visa Waiver program may travel to the United States without a visa by using their passports and an approved ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) form that can be completed on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website in a matter of minutes.

Poland Joins Visa Waiver Program 

Beginning November 11, 2019, Polish citizens may travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. This means that as a Polish citizen or national, you will not need to apply for a visa in order to enter the United States as a tourist or for select business purposes.

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