Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick hosts a live immigration broadcast on our YouTube channel, discussing brand new developments in the world of immigration, including new updates recently discussed at the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) conference that took place last week, and brand new policy changes at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Keep on watching to find out more.
Updates from the AILA Conference
Today, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that effective today, applicants with pending U visa applications, or those who are getting ready to file new U visa applications, are eligible to apply for employment authorization by filing Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization and can receive “deferred action” status meaning that they will not be prioritized for removal from the United States.
For those who are not familiar with the U visa program, the U visa is a special immigrant status given to victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity. Among those eligible are certain victims of abduction, domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of noncitizens, rape, prostitution, and other crimes, who are willing to help law enforcement authorities in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. The U visa eventually allows the victim to attain lawful permanent residence in the United States (also known as the green card).
Previously U visa beneficiaries were not entitled to employment authorization, making their lives extremely difficult considering that it is currently taking over 5 years to process the U visa application.
With this new policy change, those who have filed a U visa application that has been pending with USCIS, will be eligible to apply for employment authorization as of today, as well as new applicants.
How do you qualify for the new work authorization?
To qualify, you must file a new petition or have a pending U visa application filed using Form I-918 Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status with USCIS, and you must have completed your biometrics (fingerprints) to show that you are a law-abiding citizen and are a person of good moral character. After you have filed and completed your biometrics, you may submit your I-765 Application for Employment Authorization.
For more information, please stay on the lookout for the complete guidelines to be posted on the USCIS website. We will also be posting more information on our YouTube channel and on our blogs once the information is released.
What else has happened? USCIS Announcements
USCIS Expands its Expedite Policy
USCIS has also announced a new policy just last week that will expand the criteria of individuals eligible to file a request for expedited processing. Under the Trump administration very few people could qualify. Now, the expedite criteria have been expanded to emergency situations, financial hardship situations, and additionally nonprofit organizations are now also authorized to submit an expedite request that is in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States.
USCIS Changes RFE and NOID policy
Another new update is that USCIS has announced that as of June 9, 2021, the agency will be rescinding a July 2018 memorandum enforced during the Trump administration that permitted agency officers to deny certain immigration benefit requests without first issuing a Request for Evidence or Notice of Intent to Deny, to allow the applicant to correct the record and/or any deficiencies in eligibility.
USCIS will now return to policies outlined in the June 2013 memorandum which instructs agency officers to first issue a Request for Evidence or Notice of Intent to Deny whenever they find that additional evidence could potentially demonstrate eligibility for an immigration benefit.
This is great news because applicants and/or petitioners will now be given the opportunity to correct their cases and provide additional evidence to establish eligibility, whereas previously such applicants were receiving outright denials.
USCIS Expands EAD Work Permit Validity to Two Years
In addition, on June 9, 2021, USCIS announced a new policy update that will extend the current one-year validity period on both initial and renewal Employment Authorization Documents (EADSs) to two years for adjustment of status applicants.
This was a wise decision made on the agency’s behalf in an effort to reduce the number of employment authorization requests received by USCIS and eliminate the large backlog. Now applicants will not be required to file a work permit application every year and will instead file a renewal every 2 years as needed.
USCIS Lockbox Filing Updates
USCIS has also announced new flexibility policies to provide relief to certain types of applicants negatively impacted by filing delays caused by a USCIS lockbox. These flexibilities apply only to benefit requests that were filed at a USCIS lockbox and not USCIS service centers or field offices.
The following temporary flexibilities have been made effective for 60 days from June 10, 2021, until August. 9, 2021:
- If you submitted a benefit request to a USCIS lockbox between Oct. 1, 2020, and April 1, 2021, and that request was rejected during that timeframe solely due to a filing fee payment that expired while the benefit request was awaiting processing, you may resubmit the request with a new fee payment. If USCIS concurs that it has rejected the benefit request because of the delay, USCIS will deem the request to have been received on the initial filing date it was first received and waive the $30 dishonored check fee.
- USCIS will allow applicants and petitioners to submit documentation with a benefit request resubmission demonstrating that because of the time that elapsed between when a benefit request was originally submitted to a USCIS lockbox and when USCIS rejected it, an applicant, co-applicant, beneficiary or derivative has reached an age that makes them no longer eligible to file for the benefit requested. If USCIS agrees that the delayed rejection caused the person to be ineligible due to age, USCIS will accept the request and deem it to have been received on the date the initial benefit request was received. This flexibility does not apply to Form N-600K, Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322.
USCIS has also said that applicants and petitioners can contact USCIS to verify that previously filed benefit requests have not been rejected in error. If USCIS agrees that a filing was rejected in error, the agency may allow such applicants and petitioners to resubmit an erroneously rejected benefit request and will consider the benefit request to have been received on the date the initial benefit request was first received at a USCIS lockbox.
USCIS and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (USCIS) have confirmed that the agency will continue to grant waivers of the in-person interview requirement for adjustment of status applications, and other family-based petitions.
New Process to Reschedule Biometrics Appointments
USCIS has also announced that a new online process will soon be released to the public that will allow applicants to reschedule a biometrics (fingerprints) appointment online.
Expansion of Premium Processing
The agency has also announced that premium processing will also soon be expanded to more categories of applications and petitions which will guarantee a 15-calendar day processing time for an additional fee.
Stay tuned to our immigration channel where we will follow up on many of these topics and release more guidelines as we receive information from USCIS.
We hope that this video helped you learn more about the process involved in filing for naturalization. If you found it helpful please share with anyone who may benefit.
Contact us. If you would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-483-4549 or call 619-819-9204.
- USCIS Updates its Policies to Improve Immigration Services
- Expanded Expedite Policy
- RFE/NOID Policy
- EAD Work Permit Validity Extended to 2 Years
- Lockbox Filing Flexibilities
- State Department Newsroom
- ImmigrationU Membership
- Success stories
- Youtube channel
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