Livestream with Attorneys Jacob Sapochnick and Marie Puertollano Discussing the Immigrant Caravan and Immigration Updates

In this live stream, attorneys Jacob Sapochnick and Marie Puertollano discuss recent topics in immigration including the immigrant caravan, the new proposed rule to restrict admission of aliens reliant on public benefits, updates relating to the I-751, NTA memos, and the upcoming H-1B season and new proposals.

Immigrant Caravan

The immigrant caravan is comprised of a large group of individuals traveling together from Central America for the purpose of claiming asylum in the United States. Unfortunately, there are long waiting times for individuals to be scheduled for what is known as a “credible fear” interview, where an immigration officer will determine whether the applicant has a credible fear of asylum. This waiting period of course is exacerbated by the large amounts of people who continue to seek asylum at a port of entry.

Proposal to Restrict Admission for Aliens Reliant on Public Benefits 

The Department of Homeland Security recently announced a new proposed rule that may prevent non-citizens reliant, or likely to become reliant on public benefits, from gaining admission to the United States.

Under the proposed rule, a non-citizen can be found inadmissible to the United States if they have become reliant on a prohibited public benefit, or if they are likely to become reliant on a prohibited public benefit. The non-citizen seeking to gain admission to the United States bears the burden of proving that they will not become a public charge to the United States government. This can be accomplished by showing that the non-citizen applicant has sufficient finances to support themselves in the United States, or by presenting a signed and completed affidavit of support.

Under the proposed rule receipt of any of the following types of public benefits could make a person inadmissible on public charge grounds:

• Federal, state, local or tribal cash assistance for income maintenance
• Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
• Supplemental Security Income
• Medicaid (with limited exceptions for Medicaid benefits paid for an “emergency medical condition,” and for certain disability services related to education)
• Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy
• The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps)
• Institutionalization for long-term care at government expense
• Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program
• Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance
• Public Housing

Extension of Stay/Change of Status Applications: The proposed rule says that, with limited exceptions, an applicant seeking an extension of stay or change of nonimmigrant status will be denied unless the applicant demonstrates that he or she has not received, is not currently receiving, nor is likely to receive, public benefits as defined in proposed 8 CFR 212.21(b).

I-751 Waiting Times

The I-751 Application to Remove Conditions on permanent residence is taking a very long time to process. Initially, USCIS was taking on average 12 months to process this petition, but now it is taking in excess of 18 months, and even longer in some locations. This is because USCIS is experiencing a very heavy backlog.

NTA Memos

USCIS will now be expanding the scope of individuals removable from the United States. DHS will now prioritize the removal of aliens who are removable based on criminal or security grounds, fraud, or misrepresentation.

Under this new policy, that means that an individual who entered lawfully in a non-immigrant visa category may be found removable if they have been convicted or charged with a criminal offense, have engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation, have received public benefits, have been subject to a final order of removal but have not departed, etc.

H-1B Season

H-1B season is coming up and some important changes are also on the horizon. USCIS has published a proposed rule that would require H-1B petitioners to electronically register with USCIS during the designated registration period, in order to file a H-1B cap-subject petition on behalf of a foreign worker.

DHS is also proposing to change the order in which H-1B cap-subject registrations would be selected to meet the annual H-1B regular cap and advanced degree exemption. This change would increase the odds of selection for H-1B beneficiaries who have earned a U.S. master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution.

As part of that registration process, Petitioners would be asked to provide basic information regarding the petitioner and beneficiary including, but not limited to: (1) the employer’s name, employer identification number (EIN), and employer’s mailing address; (2) the employer’s authorized representative’s name, job title, and contact information (telephone number and email address); (3) the beneficiary’s full name, date of birth, country of birth, country of citizenship, gender, and passport number; (4) if the beneficiary has obtained a master’s or higher degree from a U.S. institution of higher education; (5) the employer’s attorney or accredited representative, if applicable (a Form G-28 should be also submitted electronically if this is applicable); and (6) any additional basic information requested by the registration system or USCIS.

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