Public Charge Rule

U.S. Supreme Court stayed a nationwide injunction that prevented DHS from enforcing its regulatory interpretation of section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act:

The high court granted DHS’s motion for a stay of the preliminary injunction issued by a single judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and recently upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

The final rule, issued in August 2019, prescribes how DHS will determine whether an alien is inadmissible to the United States based on his or her likelihood of becoming a public charge at any time in the future, as set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act.

USCIS FY 2019 Statistics

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) final fiscal year (FY) 2019 agency statistics are now available online. These statistics include naturalizations, green cards, employment authorizations and protected populations, among other categories.

USCIS naturalized 834,000 new citizens in FY 2019 – an 11 year high in new oaths of citizenship. USCIS granted lawful permanent residence to nearly 577,000 individuals and in FY 2019, the number of applications pending for green cards and naturalizations was reduced by 14 percent and 12 percent respectively.

The agency received nearly 2.2 million employment authorization applications. Furthermore, USCIS approved more than 500,000 petitions for non-immigrant workers in FY 2019, including specialty occupation, temporary agricultural and non-agricultural, and other workers.

USCIS also processed more than 40 million cases through E-Verify. 

USCIS granted immigration relief to more than 25,000 individuals, including victims of trafficking, crime and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) recipients – an eight percent increase from FY 2018.

USCIS is committed to administering our nation’s immigration system and safeguarding its integrity while fulfilling our mission to efficiently and fairly adjudicate the applications of those seeking lawful status in the U.S.

USCIS Case Processing

USCIS has announced their strategy to decrease differences in processing times based on location for Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, and Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. 

Since the end of 2015, we have experienced an increase in processing times due to higher than expected volumes received during fiscal years (FY) 2016 and 2017 that did not decrease as originally projected. FY 2017 receipts were up 15.6% from FY 2016, and FY 2016 receipts were up 25.5% from FY 2015. The increased filing volumes did not affect our field offices equally, which resulted in some disparity in the processing times among field offices.

As we shift caseloads between field offices to decrease processing times, we may schedule applicants to appear for an interview at a field office outside of their normal jurisdiction. Applicants may receive an interview appointment notice or other types of notices (such as a Request for Evidence) from a field office outside of their normal jurisdiction. However, these caseload changes will not affect where applicants attend their biometrics appointments. We will still direct them to the nearest application support center. Applicants should follow the instructions on any notices they receive from USCIS.

Naturalization GMC Update

USCIS has expanded its policy re: unlawful acts that may prevent an applicant from meeting the good moral character (GMC) requirement for naturalization:

On Dec. 10, USCIS issued separate policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual about how two or more convictions for driving under the influence or post-sentencing changes to criminal sentencing might affect GMC determinations.

In the Immigration and Nationality Act, Congress determined that good moral character is a requirement for naturalization,” said USCIS Deputy Director Mark Koumans. “USCIS is committed to faithfully administering our nation’s lawful immigration system, and this update helps to ensure that our agency’s adjudicators make uniform and fair decisions concerning the consideration of unlawful acts on good moral character when determining eligibility for U.S. citizenship.

Asylum Claims

USCIS has announced a rule to deter aliens from illegally entering the United States and from filing frivolous asylum applications in order to obtain employment authorization.

The proposed rule will better allow USCIS to extend protections to those with bona fide asylum claims. USCIS also seeks to prevent certain criminal aliens from obtaining work authorization before the merits of their asylum application are adjudicated.

See the rule here: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/11/14/2019-24293/asylum-application-interview-and-employment-authorization-for-applicants

AOS Filing 01/20

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 January 2020:

https://www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo

Green Cards For Certain Liberian Refugees

USCIS has announced that it will begin accepting applications to adjust status to lawful permanent resident from certain Liberian nationals under the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF).

To be eligible for permanent residence (a Green Card) under LRIF, a Liberian national must have been continuously physically present in the United States from Nov. 20, 2014, to the date they properly file an application for adjustment of status. USCIS will accept properly filed applications until Dec. 20, 2020, one year from the enactment of the LRIF.

Applicants must be otherwise eligible to receive an immigrant visa and be admissible to the United States. The spouses, unmarried children under 21, and unmarried sons and daughters 21 or older of eligible Liberian nationals are also eligible for Green Cards.

Visa Bulletin 01/2020

The Visa Bulletin provides updated priority date information for family-based and employment-based green cards.

Immigrants to the US are classified into two categories – those requiring placement on a waiting list and those not through their relationship to a US immediate relative.

Further, there are numerical quotas on the green cards that require a priority date. If the number of applicants in a year is over the available visa numbers, those applicants are placed on a waiting list and are given a priority date, which estimates when an applicant would get a visa based on the number of previous applicants on the waiting list. Below are preference category information and visa allocations.

FAMILY-SPONSORED PREFERENCES
First: (F1) Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens: 23,400 plus any numbers not required for fourth preference.

Second: Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents: 114,200, plus the number (if any) by which the worldwide family preference level exceeds 226,000, plus any unused first preference numbers:

A. (F2A) Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents: 77% of the overall second preference limitation, of which 75% are exempt from the per-country limit;

B. (F2B) Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older) of Permanent Residents: 23% of the overall second preference limitation.

Third: (F3) Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens: 23,400, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences.

Fourth: (F4) Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens: 65,000, plus any numbers not required by first three preferences.

Below is the link for the Visa Bulletin for January 2020.

https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/law-and-policy/bulletin/2019/visa-bulletin-for-January-2020.html

For more information, contact ALO at 978-905-9992.