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Thursday, March 24 2022

The United States will welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainians and other displaced people fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, a senior administration official told reporters traveling with President Biden on Thursday.

While most displaced Ukrainians want to stay in Europe, the U.S. government expects to use its refugee admission program as well as the parole system and immigrant and non-immigrant visas to bring in Ukrainians, the official said, noting Ukrainian-Americans are eager to welcome family members into the country. Vulnerable people including LGBTQI people, people with medical needs and journalists and dissidents will also be prioritized, the official said.

This is a fast developing situation, and we expect to learn more in the coming days and weeks.

If you or your loved one is impacted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, please contact our office and we can discuss with you options that may be available for safely relocating your loved ones to the US at least temporarily.

Posted by: Christopher M. Pogue, Esq AT 12:29 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, March 21 2022

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is updating guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address the documentation that certain E and L nonimmigrant spouses may use as evidence of employment authorization based on their nonimmigrant status.

On Nov. 12, 2021, USCIS issued a policy announcement to clarify that we will consider E and L spouses to be employment authorized based on their valid E or L nonimmigrant status. Since the November 2021 announcement, the Department of Homeland Security added new Class of Admission (COA) codes to distinguish between E and L spouses and children.

As of Jan. 30, 2022, USCIS and CBP began issuing Forms I-94 with the following new COA codes for certain E and L spouses: E-1S, E-2S, E-3S, and L-2S. An unexpired Form I-94 reflecting one of these new codes is acceptable as evidence of employment authorization for spouses under List C of Form I-9.

If you are an E or L spouse age 21 or over who has an unexpired Form I-94 that USCIS issued before Jan. 30, 2022, we will mail you a notice beginning on or about April 1, 2022. This notice, along with an unexpired Form I-94 reflecting E-1, E-2, E-3, E-3D, E-3R, or L-2 nonimmigrant status, will serve as evidence of employment authorization. If you are an E or L spouse and under 21, or if you have not received your notice by April 30, email to request a notice.

We will only send notices to individuals identified as qualifying spouses based on a Form I-539 approved by USCIS. Individuals who received their Form I-94 from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) should visit

Posted by: Christopher M. Pogue, Esq AT 09:01 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, March 21 2022

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the designation of Afghanistan for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months. Only individuals who are already residing in the United States as of March 15, 2022, will be eligible for TPS.

“This TPS designation will help to protect Afghan nationals who have already been living in the United States from returning to unsafe conditions,” said Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “Under this designation, TPS will also provide additional protections and assurances to trusted partners and vulnerable Afghans who supported the U.S. military, diplomatic, and humanitarian missions in Afghanistan over the last 20 years.”

Secretary Mayorkas is designating Afghanistan for TPS on the statutory basis of ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions that prevent the country’s nationals from returning in safety. Armed conflict that poses a serious threat to the safety of returning nationals is ongoing in Afghanistan as the Taliban seeks to impose control in all areas of the country and Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) conducts attacks against civilians. Extraordinary and temporary conditions that further prevent nationals from returning in safety include a collapsing public sector, a worsening economic crisis, drought, food and water insecurity, lack of access to healthcare, internal displacement, human rights abuses and repression by the Taliban, destruction of infrastructure, and increasing criminality.

Through Operation Allies Welcome, most Afghan nationals who arrived as part of the evacuation effort were paroled into the United States on a case-by-case basis, for humanitarian reasons, for a period of two years and received work authorization. These individuals may also be eligible for TPS. Additional information about registering for TPS can be found at Temporary Protected Status | USCIS.

TPS will apply only to those individuals who are already residing in the United States as of March 15, 2022, and meet all other requirements, including undergoing security and background checks. Those who attempt to travel to the United States after March 15, 2022, will not be eligible for TPS.

The 18-month designation of TPS for Afghanistan will go into effect on the publication date of the forthcoming Federal Register notice. The Federal Register notice will provide instructions for applying for TPS and an Employment Authorization Document.

Posted by: Christopher M. Pogue, Esq AT 08:39 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, March 21 2022

If you are a U.S. citizen who is physically present overseas with your Afghan, Ethiopian, or Ukrainian immediate family members and have not yet filed an immigrant visa petition with USCIS, you may request to locally file a Form I-130 petition at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate that processes immigrant visas. 

This applies only to U.S. citizens affected by the large-scale disruptive events in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and Ukraine.  Such citizens must be physically present in the country where they wish to file petitions. 

They can request to locally file on behalf of their spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents who fled Afghanistan after August 2, 2021; Ethiopia after November 1, 2020; or Ukraine after February 1, 2022. 

If you have already filed a Form I-130 petition with USCIS for your immediate relative and it has not yet been approved, you may inquire with USCIS regarding an expedite request. 

Posted by: Christopher M. Pogue, Esq AT 08:30 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, March 16 2022

Processing times for renewals have shot up at the underfunded Citizenship and Immigration Services. Every 15 days, Naina Arora checks a U.S. federal government website to see when she’ll be allowed to work again.

Arora, the wife of an H-1B visa holder, has been on unpaid leave from her job in the operations department of a major health-insurance provider in Pasadena, Calif. since October, when her work permit expired. She had applied for a renewal in advance, assuming it would take something like the three months it had taken her to get her first one in 2019.

Instead, the average processing time listed on the website for cases like hers continues to increase—from 5½ months, to 7½, to 12½. After countless calls to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) case hotline, she finally reached an employee. As she recalls, the response she got was: “I’m so sorry, it’s just bad luck, and we cannot do anything about it. Just wait and pray.”

Work-Permit Renewals

Change in number of backlogged applications

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Unprecedented delays in approving work-permit renewals are routinely leaving immigrants such as Arora in limbo. The government doesn’t keep statistics on how many people have had their permits expire while waiting for a renewal, but officials estimate that, at its worst in January and February, hundreds per day were losing permission to work.

Work permits, which generally last for 2 years, are automatically extended for 180 days once holders have applied for a renewal. That safeguard, put in place in 2017—at a time when it took an average of five months to process work permits—was supposed to avoid exactly this sort of problem. But it’s often now insufficient.

The lucky ones, like Arora, are placed on unpaid leave, losing their income and also their driver’s license. The less fortunate ones are fired and must resort to working off the books to make ends meet. “I was working an under-the-table job, because I didn’t have any valid documentation,” says one home health aide, who requested anonymity. “So this waiting period has caused us to become illegal employees.”

The people most affected by the work-permit cliff are immigrants waiting for decisions on their applications for asylum or green cards—for which there are also long delays. “We inherited a ship with a bunch of holes punched through the hull,” says a USCIS official who requested anonymity to speak candidly. “Now we’ve patched up those holes, and we’re doggedly bailing out water so that we can truly right the ship for the long haul.”

USCIS found itself on the verge of fiscal collapse in summer 2020; its budget is largely funded by application fees, but applications had plummeted because of the Covid-19 pandemic and Trump-era restrictions on immigration. The agency avoided widespread furloughs, but instituted a hiring freeze that wasn’t lifted until well into 2021.

At the same time, the shutting down of in-person offices for months in 2020 prolonged already-growing processing times. Then, in summer 2020, the Trump administration created a regulation that turned the two-page work-permit application (which the agency claimed took about 12 minutes to complete) into a seven-page one.

The renewal backlog almost doubled in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2021. The government processed only half the work-permit renewals it received from green-card applicants and asylum-seekers.

Connect the dots on the biggest economic issues.


Posted by: Dara Lind AT 12:13 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, March 03 2022

Secretary Mayorkas Designates Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status for 18 Months

Release Date: March 3, 2022

WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the designation of Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months.  

“Russia’s premeditated and unprovoked attack on Ukraine has resulted in an ongoing war, senseless violence, and Ukrainians forced to seek refuge in other countries,” said Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “In these extraordinary times, we will continue to offer our support and protection to Ukrainian nationals in the United States.”

A country may be designated for TPS when conditions in the country fall into one or more of the three statutory bases for designation: ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or extraordinary and temporary conditions. This designation is based on both ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions in Ukraine that prevent Ukrainian nationals, and those of no nationality who last habitually resided in Ukraine, from returning to Ukraine safely. These conditions result from the full-scale Russian military invasion into Ukraine, which marks the largest conventional military action in Europe since World War II. This invasion has caused a humanitarian crisis with significant numbers of individuals fleeing and damage to civilian infrastructure that has left many without electricity or water or access to food, basic supplies, shelter, and emergency medical services.

Individuals eligible for TPS under this designation must have continuously resided in the United States since March 1, 2022. Individuals who attempt to travel to the United States after March 1, 2022 will not be eligible for TPS. Ukraine’s 18-month designation will go into effect on the publication date of the forthcoming Federal Register notice. The Federal Register notice will provide instructions for applying for TPS and an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). TPS applicants must meet all eligibility requirements and undergo security and background checks.

Posted by: Christopher M. Pogue, Esq AT 06:25 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
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