AILA comments on DOJ Legal Orientation Program

Citing pushback from Congressional leaders, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), part of the Department of Justice (DOJ), will continue the Legal Orientation Program (LOP) while the department undergoes a review of the program, rather than halt it immediately, as planned.

AILA and the Council responded with the following statement:

AILA and its partners are glad the program remains intact for now, however, we are wary of further investigation into the program’s effectiveness,” said Benjamin Johnson, AILA Executive Director. “The Legal Orientation Program should never have been in danger of elimination at all. As an independent evaluation found, this program not only assists indigent immigrants but also saves the government money by providing presentations, workshops, and pro bono referral services to people who are detained awaiting removal proceedings. That report confirmed previously disclosed reports by DOJ and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that LOP saved the government millions of dollars each year in court and detention costs. Through our vigilance and the steadfast commitment of Congress, the administration now has to rethink its plans to erode due process.”

“Common sense prevailed today,” said Karen Lucas, Director of the Immigration Justice Campaign, a project of the American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “Leaders at both the national and local levels support this longstanding program. Doing away with the LOP would have made the immigration court system even less efficient and less fair. With individuals detained in remote locations and asked to navigate a complex immigration court process that does not include government-provided counsel, the LOP is a critical resource for detained immigrants. Ending it would have put people at greater risk of wrongful deportation to perilous situations in their home countries.

DHS Statement on Sessions v. Dimaya

DHS released the following statement after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to void certain aspects of the aggravated felony ground of deportability.

Today’s ruling significantly undermines DHS’s efforts to remove aliens convicted of certain violent crimes, including sexual assault, kidnapping, and burglary, from the United States. By preventing the federal government from removing known criminal aliens, it allows our nation to be a safe haven for criminals and makes us more vulnerable as a result. The Secretary has met with hundreds of members of Congress over the last few months to implore them to take action on passing legislation to close public safety loopholes, such as these, that encourage illegal immigration and tie the hands of law enforcement.

USCIS Lottery CW-1 FY2019

USCIS has received petitions for more than the number of visas available for fiscal year (FY) 2019 for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)-Only Transitional Worker (CW-1) program. The cap for CW-1 visas for FY 2019 is 4,999.

As a result, USCIS will be conducting a lottery to ensure that it does not exceed the CW-1 cap. USCIS will randomly select petitions received between April 2, 2018 and April 13, 2018. If USCIS receives your petition after April 13, it will be rejected and will not be considered for this lottery.

For more details on the FY 2019 CW-1 program and what to submit, refer to our March 20 alert. For more information on the CW-1 cap, visit our CNMI-Only Transitional Worker (CW-1) Cap page.

Reregistration Period of Syrians for TPS

USCIS has issued the following press release regarding the re-registration period of Syrians with Temporary Protected Status:

Current beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) under Syria’s designation who want to maintain their status through Sept. 30, 2019, must re-register between March 5, and May 4, 2018. Re-registration procedures, including how to renew employment authorization documentation, have been published in the Federal Register and on the USCIS website.

All applicants must submit Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status. Applicants may also request an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) by submitting a completed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, when they file Form I-821, or separately at a later date. Both forms are free on USCIS’ website at uscis.gov/tps.

USCIS will issue new EADs with a Sept. 30, 2019, expiration date to eligible Syrian TPS beneficiaries who timely re-register and apply for EADs. However, given the timeframes involved with processing TPS re-registration applications, USCIS is automatically extending the validity of EADs with an expiration date of March 31 for 180 days, through Sept. 27.

To be eligible for TPS under Syria’s current designation, individuals must have continuously resided in the United States since Aug. 1, 2016, and have been continuously physically present in the United States since Oct. 1, 2016, along with meeting the other eligibility requirements.

USCIS Reaches FY 2019 H-1B Cap

USCIS has reached the congressionally-mandated 65,000 H-1B visa cap for fiscal year 2019. USCIS has also received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet the 20,000 visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, known as the master’s cap.

The agency will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not prohibited multiple filings (PDF, 119 KB).

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap.  Petitions filed for current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap, and who still retain their cap number, will also not be counted toward the FY 2019 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:

• Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;

• Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;

• Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and

• Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in occupations that require specialized knowledge.

DHS On Securing the Southern Border

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has released the following press release regarding securing our Southern Border.

The Problem: Legal loopholes, asylum fraud, a massive court backlog, and drastically insufficient immigration enforcement resources encourage illegal immigration and threaten the security of our nation. The result is that even apprehended illegal aliens are released and cannot be removed.

Asylum:

• Before 2013, approximately 1% of arriving aliens claimed credible fear (asylum). Now 1 out of 10 claim credible fear.

◦ Credible fear claims increased 1700% from 2008 to 2016.

• Before 2011, over 90% of arriving aliens were single adult males. Today 40% are families and children.

• Before 2009, 90% of arriving aliens were Mexican nationals. Today nearly 50% are Central Americans.

Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) and Family Units:

• In FY17, 48,672 UACs were apprehended by CBP compared to 3,598 UACs that were removed.

• In FY17, 104,999 Family Units were apprehended by CBP compared to 2,605 that were removed in FY17.

• Thus far in FY18, 13,186 UACs were released into the interior of the United States – that’s in addition to the 42,146 UACs and 52,147 UACs who were released in FY17 and FY16 respectively, bringing the total number of UACs released from FY16 to date in excess of 107,000.

• Thus far in FY18, 39,984 Family Units have been apprehended by CBP.

Securing Our Borders:

• In coordination with governors, National Guard units will be deployed to our southern border.

◦ The deployment is designed to support ongoing efforts to mitigate the crisis on our border. The deployment will support federal law enforcement personnel, including CBP.

• Federal immigration authorities will direct enforcement efforts.

The deployment’s duration will be determined by Congressional efforts to secure our southern border.

AOS Filing Charts – April 2018

If USCIS determines that there are more immigrant visas available for a fiscal year than there are known applicants for such visas, USCIS will state whether you may use the Dates for Filing Visa Applications.

Otherwise, they will indicate that you must use the Application Final Action Dates to determine when you may file your adjustment of status application.

See the following link here for the month of April 2018:

https://www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo