The US government is granting Venezuelans who are living in the US temporary protected status (TPS).
The decision will allow hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans the chance to stay and work in the US legally. It will apply to Venezuelans already residing in the US as of 8 March 2021 and be in effect for 18 months. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that living conditions in Venezuela revealed "a country in turmoil".
Granting Venezuelans TPS had been one of US President Joe Biden's campaign promises.
Temporary Protected Status Designated Country: Venezuela
On November 19, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia enjoined the government from suspending K-1 fiancée visa adjudications for the named plaintiffs in Milligan v. Pompeo due to the geographic COVID-related Presidential Proclamations (P.P.s) 9984, 9992, 9993, 9996, and 10041. These COVID-related geographic proclamations suspended entry into the United States of foreign nationals who had been physically present in the People’s Republic of China, Islamic Republic of Iran, Schengen Area, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, or Brazil in the 14-day period prior to their entry or attempted entry into the United States. On January 25, 2021 President Biden signed P.P. 10143 continuing the suspension of entry of certain travelers physically present in the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, and Brazil, and expanding restrictions to include travelers present in South Africa. The restrictions on travelers physically present in the People’s Republic of China and the Islamic Republic of Iran also remain in effect.
K-1 visa applicants who are named plaintiffs in Milligan v. Pompeo and subject to a geographic proclamation should contact their nearest Embassy or Consulate for guidance on scheduling a visa interview. While such applicants may, pursuant to the court order, be scheduled for a visa interview even though they are subject to a COVID-related geographic proclamation, the court order does not require that plaintiffs be given special priority ahead of other K visa applicants who have requested interviews or who already have been scheduled for interviews. Even if issued visas, K-1 plaintiff applicants remain subject to the geographic P.P.s and, unless able to meet the criteria for an exception, are barred from entering the United States if they have been present in a country covered by a geographic P.P. in the 14 days prior to entry.
K visa applicants who are not plaintiffs in Milligan v. Pompeo and who are physically present in a country covered by any of the COVID-related geographic proclamations (the People’s Republic of China, Islamic Republic of Iran, Schengen Area, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Brazil, or South Africa) will not have their K visa application processed unless the applicant is eligible for a National Interest Exception. K visa applicants who are physically present in a country covered by any of the COVID related geographic proclamations, who are not plaintiffs in Milligan v. Pompeo, and who are not eligible for a National Interest Exception cannot be issued a K visa and thus will not be scheduled for a K visa interview while the geographic proclamations remain in effect. K fiancé visa applicants are not spouses of U.S. citizens and therefore are subject to the geographic proclamations.
The resumption of routine visa services, prioritized after services to U.S. citizens, is occurring on a post-by-post basis, consistent with the Department’s guidance for safely returning our workforce to Department facilities. U.S. Embassies and Consulates have continued to provide emergency and mission-critical visa services since March 2020 and will continue to do so as they are able. As post-specific conditions improve, our missions will begin providing additional services, culminating eventually in a complete resumption of routine visa services. Applicants should check the website of their nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for updates on what services that post is currently able to offer.
K visa applicants who are not plaintiffs in Milligan v. Pompeo and who are not subject to COVID-related geographic proclamations will continue to have their applications prioritized and processed in accordance with existing phased resumption of visa services guidance. Please check the website of the Embassy or Consulate where you wish to apply to see what categories of visas are currently being processed.
Phased Resumption of Routine Visa Services for K-1 , IR-1, and CR-1 Visas
The Department of State suspended routine visa services worldwide in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In July 2020, U.S. Embassies and Consulates began a phased resumption of routine visa services.
The resumption of routine visa services, prioritized after services to U.S. citizens, will occur on a post-by-post basis, consistent with the Department’s guidance for safely returning our workforce to Department facilities. U.S. Embassies and Consulates have continued to provide emergency and mission-critical visa services since March and will continue to do so as they are able. As post-specific conditions improve, our missions will begin providing additional services, culminating eventually in a complete resumption of routine visa services.
We are unable to provide a specific date for when each mission will resume specific visa services, or when each mission will return to processing at pre-pandemic workload levels. See each U.S. Embassy or Consulate’s website for information regarding operating status and which services it is currently offering.
Our missions overseas continue to provide all possible services to U.S. citizens. More information is available on each post’s website.
Applicants with an urgent matter who need to travel immediately should contact the nearest embassy or consulate to request an emergency appointment. Contact information is on the embassy or consulate’s website.
Q. Which additional visa services are embassies/consulates beginning to provide?
All of our missions are continuing to provide emergency and mission-critical visa services. As post-specific conditions permit, and after meeting demand for services to U.S. citizens, our missions will phase in processing some routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa cases. Posts that process immigrant visa applications will prioritize Immediate Relative family members of U.S. citizens including intercountry adoptions (consistent with Presidential Proclamation 10014) fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens, and certain Special Immigrant Visa applications. Posts processing non-immigrant visa applications will continue to prioritize travelers with urgent travel needs, foreign diplomats, and certain mission critical categories of travelers such as those coming to assist with the U.S. response to the pandemic, followed by students (F-1, M-1, and certain J-1) and temporary employment visas (consistent with Presidential Proclamation 10052). We expect the volume and type of visa cases each post will process to depend on local circumstances. An embassy or consulate will resume adjudicating all routine nonimmigrant and immigrant visa cases only when adequate resources are available, and it is safe to do so.
Q. What criteria are missions using to determine when to resume routine services?
We are closely monitoring local conditions in each country where we have a U.S. presence. Local conditions that may affect when we can begin providing various public services include medical infrastructure, COVID-19 cases, emergency response capabilities, and restrictions on leaving home.
Q. What steps are being taken to protect customers from the spread of COVID-19?
The health and safety of our workforce and customers will remain paramount. Our embassies and consulates are implementing safeguards to keep staff and customers safe, including implementing physical distancing in our waiting rooms, scheduling fewer interviews at a time, frequent disinfection of high touch areas, and following local health and safety regulations.
Q. Do the various Presidential Proclamations/travel restrictions still apply, or are those lifting with the resumption of visa services?
The five geographical COVID-19 Proclamations (P.P. 9984, 9992, 9993, 9996, 10041) and the two COVID-19 Labor Market Proclamations suspending the entry of certain aliens (P.P. 10014 and 10052) remain in effect.
Q: Is my situation an emergency? I need to go the United States immediately for X.
Applicants can find instructions on how to request an emergency visa appointment at the Embassy or Consulate’s website.
Q. What about my application fee that expired while routine services were suspended?
The Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fee is valid within one year of the date of payment and may be used to schedule a visa appointment in the country where it was purchased. However, the Department understands that as a result of the pandemic, many visa applicants have paid the visa application processing fee and are still waiting to schedule a visa appointment. We are working diligently to restore all routine visa operations as quickly and safely as possible. In the meantime, the Department extended the validity of MRV fees until September 30, 2022, to allow all applicants who were unable to schedule a visa appointment due to the suspension of routine consular operations an opportunity to schedule and/or attend a visa appointment with the fee they already paid.
President Biden has announced draft legislation to be forwarded to congress to begin to normalize the lives of tens millions of people living in the US that today do not have a lawful immigration status to live and work in the United States.
The bill would allow undocumented immigrants who were in the United States before Jan. 1 to apply for temporary legal status after passing background checks and paying taxes. As newly minted “lawful prospective immigrants,” they would be authorized to work, join the military and travel without fear of deportation. After five years, they could apply for green cards.
Converting more than three times that many people into full citizens could open the door to one of the most significant demographic shifts in modern U.S. history, lifting millions out of the shadows and potentially into higher-paying jobs, providing them with welfare benefits, health coverage and Social Security eligibility while eventually creating many new voters.
In the past immigration reform has stalled in Congress time and again, primarily over what is widely known as amnesty. Despite beefed-up border enforcement and employer sanctions, Mr. Reagan’s overhaul failed to curb the arrival of unauthorized immigrants.
While Congress has wrestled with how to revamp the immigration system, the immigrants have continued to live, work and raise families in the United States. More than 60 percent have resided in the country for more than a decade and they have more than four million U.S.-born children. They account for 5 percent of the work force, representing the backbone of the agriculture, construction and hospitality sectors.
The largest share of unauthorized immigrants is from Mexico. Having survived treacherous river and desert crossings to reach the United States, they found a nation willing to look past laws that prohibit hiring them, to employ them in fields and factories, and in homes as nannies and housekeepers.
Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama both championed comprehensive immigration reform with a strong enforcement component and a pathway to legalization for undocumented people. But the immigration packages that were debated in Congress — in 2006, 2007 and 2013 — all stalled.
Among the concerns raised by opponents are that new citizens will vote as a solid Democratic bloc, displace American workers and become a burden on the health care system and other public services. Some predict that any legalization program would encourage more people from impoverished Latin American countries to make the trek north.
Other experts argue there are benefits of legalization. Opening a pathway to citizenship for nearly 11 million people, seven to eight million of whom participate in the labor force, is tantamount to “an economic stimulus,” according to Giovanni Peri, an economics professor at the University of California, Davis.
Between 2005 and 2015, new immigrants accounted fornearly half of the growth in the working-age population, and in the next two decades, immigrants will be key to offsetting an aging population that is retiring. Demographers say the increased educational attainment of Americans coupled with a shortage of blue-collar workers highlights the need for immigrants, in ever larger numbers, to perform low-skilled jobs. About five million of them work in jobs designated as “essential” by the government.
Among the biggest backers of the Biden initiative are employers who rely on immigrants. Through the years, meatpacking plants, dairy farms and a multitude of other worksites have been caught up in immigration raids targeting unauthorized workers.
It's morning again in America. The slate is wiped clean. It's time to reclaim the mantle as the shining city on the hill.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Reverse the travel ban on predominantly Muslim countries
Trump kicked off his presidency signing a hastily put-together executive order restricting entry into the US from predominantly Muslim countries. Biden moved to repeal those bans.
He will also instruct the State Department to restart visa processing for affected countries and will call for a review of other Trump administration "extreme vetting" practices.
Biden's immigration bill includes a provision that would limit presidential authority to issue future bans.
The Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shields undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children from deportation, has been in limbo since President Donald Trump tried to terminate the program in 2017.
While the Supreme Court blocked Trump's attempt to end DACA, his administration continued to try to limit the program.
Biden signed a presidential memorandum directing the Homeland Security secretary, in consultation with the attorney general, to take actions preserving the program. Biden's proposed immigration legislation will include an immediate pathway to citizenship for beneficiaries of the program.
Extend relief for Liberians
Biden signed presidential memorandum extending Deferred Enforced Departure -- a form of relief for people from countries facing unrest or natural disasters -- until June 30, 2022, for Liberians residing in the United States.
Revoke Trump's interior enforcement executive order
Biden revoked Trump's 2017 executive order that made all undocumented immigrants a priority for arrest by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, saying his administration will "reset the policies and practices for enforcing civil immigration laws to align enforcement with these values and priorities."
Biden also called on his administration to review agency actions put in place under Trump's 2017 order and issue revised guidance.
Send comprehensive immigration legislation to Congress
The bill would provide an immediate pathway to citizenship for farmworkers, DACA recipients and Temporary Protected Status holders. It sketches out a plan for undocumented immigrants that would allow them to eventually apply for green cards if they pass background checks and pay taxes.
The bill also aims to clear visa backlogs, improve immigration courts and authorize funding for border technology, as well as provide $4 billion in funding to increase assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras and to set up safe and legal channels for migrants to seek protection.
A group of House Democrats, led by Rep. Linda Sanchez, announced Wednesday they will lead the effort to pass Biden's immigration bill on Capitol Hill.
In a narrowly-held Senate, the climb on immigration is steep especially given how far to the right Republicans have moved on the issue since the 2013 bipartisan bill. Sen. Bob Menendez will lead the bill on the Senate side. This is yet another sign of the coordinated approach the Biden administration is taking with Democratic allies on the hill to push their agenda forward.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Work Documents are now extended automatically for: El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, Honduras, and Nepal until October 4, 2021.
We expect extensions to continue for s long as the preliminary injunction ordered by the court in Ramos, etal v. Nielsen, et al., No. 18-cv-01554 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 3, 2018) remains in effect, or by other order of the court.
TPS for current beneficiaries under the designation will continue, provided that they properly re-registered for TPS during at least one of the registration periods for their country. If you have not re-registered during at least one of the following registration periods, you should file now and explain your reasons for filing late.
For country specific guidance please see the links below to the latest information available for I-9 compliance.
To complete Form I-9, employees requiring verification who are waiting for EAD may continue to present a Form I-797, with a notice date on or after 12/1/19 through 8/20/20 and indicating that USCIS has approved the employee’s Form I-765, through 2/1/21 as a List C #7 document.
Previously USCIS indicated:
Due to the extraordinary and unprecedented COVID-19 public health emergency, the production of certain Employment Authorization Documents (Form I-766, EAD) is delayed. As a result, employees may use Form I-797, Notice of Action, with a Notice date on or after December 1, 2019 through and including August 20, 2020 informing an applicant of approval of an Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765) as a Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, List C #7 document that establishes employment authorization issued by the Department of Homeland Security pursuant to 8 C.F.R. 274a.2(b)(1)(v)(C)(7), even though the Notice states it is not evidence of employment authorization. Employees may present their Form I-797 Notice of Action showing approval of their I-765 application as a list C document for Form I-9 compliance until December 1, 2020.
THE I-797 NOTICE OF ACTION DESCRIBED ABOVE DOES NOT PROVE EVIDENCE OF IDENTITY OR SERVE AS A LIST A DOCUMENT ESTABLISHING BOTH IDENTITY AND EMPLOYMENT AUTHORIZATION OR A LIST B DOCUMENT ESTABLISHING IDENTITY FOR FORM I-9 PURPOSES.
For Form I-9 completion, employees who present a Form I-797 Notice of Action described above for new employment must also present their employer with an acceptable List B document that establishes identity. The Lists of Acceptable Documents is on Form I-9. Current employees who require reverification can present this Form I-797 Notice of Action as proof of employment authorization under List C.
By December 1, 2020, employers must reverify employees who presented this Form I-797 Notice of Action as a List C document. These employees will need to present their employers with new evidence of employment authorization from either List A or List C.
We encourage employers to accept new EADs presented by employees as soon as they receive them from USCIS prior to December 1, 2020, to satisfy the reverification requirement. However, it is the employees’ choice whether to present their new EADs, or a different document from either List A or List C.
Practice Alert: Receipt Notice Delays for I-485s and I-140s Filed with USCIS Lockbox
AILA Doc. No. 20111936 | Dated November 19, 2020
The American Immigration Lawyers Association has been made aware of delays in the issuance of receipt notices for I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status and I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker filed with the USCIS Lockbox in late September and in October 2020.
Some members report that they are slowly starting to receive such receipt notices, but it appears that the notices are taking at least six weeks or longer to be issued. AILA recently reached out to the USCIS Lockbox regarding these delays. Specifically, AILA has requested the Lockbox to confirm:
the current processing times for receipt notices to be issued for I-485 applications and I-140 petitions; and
the timeframe stakeholders should wait before following up with the Lockbox regarding receipt delays.
The difference between the two presidents’ rhetoric on immigrants and refugees should be night and day. “Generations of immigrants have come to this country with little more than the clothes on their backs, the hope in their heart, and a desire to claim their own piece of the American Dream,” reads the Biden immigration plan. “It’s the reason we have constantly been able to renew ourselves, to grow better and stronger as a nation, and to meet new challenges. Immigration is essential to who we are as a nation, our core values, and our aspirations for our future. Under a Biden Administration, we will never turn our backs on who we are or that which makes us uniquely and proudly American. The United States deserves an immigration policy that reflects our highest values as a nation.”
What will be the guiding principles of a Biden-Harris administration on immigration? Stephen Miller spearheaded the Trump administration’s immigration agenda, working tirelessly to move the United States as close as possible to a policy of zero immigration. The simplest rule Joe Biden and his team may follow on immigration policy would be to ask: What would Stephen Miller and Donald Trump do? And do the opposite.
Executive Orders, Proclamations and Regulations:
Analysts believe if the Biden administration is smart, it will make a clean break from the Trump era by undoing all executive orders and proclamations on immigration that are not directly tied to health concerns related to Covid-19. That would include the most high-profile measures, such as the ban on the entry of individuals from primarily Muslim countries.
Undoing the April 2020 immigration proclamation would allow immigrants in the family-sponsored and Diversity Visa categories to enter the United States, once State Department processing is normalized. Reversing regulations, most notably the public charge rule, may take more time and be influenced by court rulings.
Public Charge Rule Changes may take time to fix:
Mr. Biden's team is also planning to begin the process of terminating the "public charge" rules the Trump administration implemented to deny green cards and immigrant visas to applicants who U.S. officials determine rely — or could rely in the future — on government benefits like Medicaid, food stamps and Section 8 housing vouchers.
Because the 2019 rules were instituted through the regulatory process, experts expect their rescission to take longer than that of presidential directives.
H-4 EAD and Per-Country Limits:
For years, the Trump administration has placed a proposed rule on the regulatory agenda to rescind an existing regulation that allows many spouses of H-1B visa holders to work – called H-4 EAD (employment authorization document). The administration could still attempt to take some restrictive action before Donald Trump leaves office.
A priority for the Biden administration should be to fix processing for H-4 EADs. In a recent lawsuit, plaintiffs argued H-1B spouses cannot renew their H-4 employment authorization documents because USCIS added an unnecessary biometrics requirement and adopted an erroneous interpretation of government regulations by prohibiting automatic extensions of H-4 work authorization.
Biden’s immigration policy document mentions eliminating the per-country limit for employment-based immigrants. Due to per-country limits, an employment-based green card applicant from India can potentially wait decades before gaining permanent residence. Legislation to address the problem passed the House of Representatives, but a series of demands by senators, the latest beings Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), first slowed then blocked the bill. It is unclear whether anything will change this Congress but if major immigration legislation moves next year, fixing the per-country limit is likely to be included. Another standalone bill may be possible as well.
Caps and Limitations on Nonimmigrant Visas:
Mr. Biden has yet to say whether his administration will continue, alter or completely scrap Mr. Trump's pandemic-era limits on immigrant and work visas. Mr. Biden's campaign promised that the former vice president will direct the CDC to review the expulsions policy "to ensure that people have the ability to submit their asylum claims while ensuring that we are taking the appropriate COVID-19 safety precautions."
Extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS):
Mr. Biden has also pledged to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to certain Venezuelan exiles in the U.S. to shield them from deportation.
León Rodríguez, who led U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) during the Obama presidency, said a Biden administration should prioritize reviewing Mr. Trump's efforts to end TPS protections for approximately 300,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, Nepal and Honduras. In September, a federal appellate court allowed the Trump administration to terminate the programs, but TPS beneficiaries are not set to lose their protections until March 2021.
DACA and Dreamers:
Over the past four years, it took a great deal of legal activity, including a Supreme Court ruling, to protect the legal status of more than 600,000 recipients of the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Joe Biden said protecting Dreamers will be a priority. How he protects them will matter.
Biden administration attorneys will need to decide if keeping the current program intact is the best approach legally or if a different administrative approach would work better. Continuing protections for DACA recipients is favored by a 2-to-1 margin among voters, according to poll results released by FWD.us. That does not mean a legislative solution will be easy, particularly one that goes beyond DACA recipients, which the Biden campaign has said he will pursue. Even if Democrats control the Senate at some point during the next four years, some compromise on the scope of a legislative solution (i.e., how many unauthorized immigrants, other immigration measures) is expected to be necessary for a bill to become law.
Refugee Resettlement in the United States:
President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to reassert America's commitment to refugees after the Trump White House's slashing of the resettlement program, part of the current president's anti-immigration drive.
In 2016, President Barack Obama aimed to admit 110,000 refugees. President Trump lowered the cap on refugee admissions every year of his presidency. For fiscal year 2021, he set the cap at 15,000, the lowest on record.
Biden promises to take a starkly different approach from his predecessor: to "set the annual global refugee admissions cap to 125,000, and seek to raise it over time."
For decades, the United States led the world in offering protection to people fleeing persecution in other countries. Now the Biden presidency will mark a return to the political consensus that the U.S. should continue to do so, refugee policy experts say.
Deportation Policy and Priorities:
Mr. Biden will look to implement a 100-day freeze on deportations while his administration issues guidance narrowing who can be arrested by immigration agents.
Obama-era memos that prioritized the deportation of immigrants with criminal convictions, recent border-crossers and those who entered the country illegally more than once were scrapped in 2017 by Mr. Trump so that no unauthorized immigrant would be exempted from being arrested and removed from the country.
At the southern border, Mr. Biden has pledged to discontinue the Trump administration's policy of requiring non-Mexican migrants to wait in Mexico for the duration of their U.S asylum cases. It is unclear, however, how the cases of thousands of asylum-seekers currently waiting in northern Mexico will be adjudicated and whether any of them will be paroled and allowed to continue their proceedings in the U.S.
A source familiar with the Biden team's planning said the incoming administration will withdraw from the three bilateral agreements Mr. Trump brokered with Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras that allow the U.S. to send rejected asylum-seekers to those countries and have them seek refuge there.
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has finally released the November 2020 Visa Bulletin. There is some movement in the final action (FA) chart, but the dates for filing (DF) chart remains nearly completely unchanged.
USCIS will continue to accept Adjustment of Status applications based on the filing chart as well for November 2020. So if you were running late on your October filing, you are still in the clear :-)
For links to these updates please check my website.
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