Status of CAM Programs

USCIS has issued the following press release about the Central American Minors Program.

On Nov. 9, 2017, the Department of State stopped accepting new applications for the Central American Minors (CAM) refugee program. USCIS will stop interviewing CAM cases on Jan. 31, 2018. After that date, individuals with pending applications who have not been interviewed will receive a notice with further instructions.

The decision to terminate the CAM refugee program was made as part of the U.S. government review of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for FY 2018.

The CAM program was established in 2014 to provide certain minors in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras the opportunity to be considered, while still in their home country, for refugee resettlement in the United States. Individuals who were determined to be ineligible for refugee status were then considered by USCIS for the possibility of entering the United States under parole. The parole portion of the CAM program was terminated in August 2017.

VAWA Petitions for Parents

The following guide is intended for applicants seeking protection under the Violence Against Women Act.

Generally

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) allows spouses and children of United States citizens or lawful permanent residents to self-petition for permanent resident status, without the abuser’s help or knowledge.

Eligibility

To self-petition for permanent residency under VAWA, an individual must: Show that s/he lived with a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse; Show that s/he was battered or subjected to extreme cruelty during the marriage; Show that s/he entered the marriage in good faith; o Show s/he is otherwise qualified for admission; and Show that s/he has good moral character.

Process

You must file USCIS Form I-360 and all supporting documents and fees, including evidence of your good faith marriage to your USC or LPR spouse, evidence of the abuse you suffered, proof that you resided with your spouse, and evidence of your good character.

Eligibility for Parents

If you have a qualifying parent/son or daughter relationship, you can also apply for VAWA relief with proof of the following: You are the parent of a U.S. citizen son or daughter who is at least 21 years of age when the self-petition is filed, or you are the parent of a U.S. citizen son or daughter who lost or renounced citizenship status related to an incident of domestic violence, or you are the parent of a U.S. citizen son or daughter who was at least 21 years of age and who died within 2 years prior to filing the self-petition; You have suffered battery or extreme cruelty by your U.S. citizen son or daughter; You have resided with the abusive son or daughter; You are a person of good moral character.

DHS Statement on TPS from Haiti

WASHINGTON— Today, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke announced her decision to terminate the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Haiti with a delayed effective date of 18 months to allow for an orderly transition before the designation terminates on July 22, 2019. This decision follows then-Secretary Kelly’s announcement in May 2017 that Haiti had made considerable progress, and that the country’s designation will likely not be extended past six months.

The decision to terminate TPS for Haiti was made after a review of the conditions upon which the country’s original designation were based and whether those extraordinary but temporary conditions prevented Haiti from adequately handling the return of their nationals, as required by statute. Based on all available information, including recommendations received as part of an inter-agency consultation process, Acting Secretary Duke determined that those extraordinary but temporary conditions caused by the 2010 earthquake no longer exist. Thus, under the applicable statute, the current TPS designation must be terminated.

Acting Secretary Duke met with Haitian Foreign Minister Antonio Rodrigue and Haitian Ambassador to the United States Paul Altidor recently in Washington to discuss the issue.

In 2017 alone, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services conducted extensive outreach to the Haitian communities throughout the country. These include but are not limited to community forums on TPS, panel discussions with Haitian community organizers, stakeholder teleconferences, regular meetings with TPS beneficiaries, news releases to the Haitian community, meetings with Haitian government officials, meetings at local churches, and listening sessions.

Since the 2010 earthquake, the number of displaced people in Haiti has decreased by 97 percent. Significant steps have been taken to improve the stability and quality of life for Haitian citizens, and Haiti is able to safely receive traditional levels of returned citizens. Haiti has also demonstrated a commitment to adequately prepare for when the country’s TPS designation is terminated.

In May 2017, then-Secretary Kelly announced a limited extension for Haiti’s TPS designation, stating that he believed there were indications that Haiti – if its recovery from the 2010 earthquake continued at pace – may not warrant further TPS extension past January 2018. At the time, then-Secretary Kelly stated that his six-month extension should give Haitian TPS recipients living in the United States time to attain travel documents and make other necessary arrangements for their ultimate departure from the United States, and should also provide the Haitian government with the time it needs to prepare for the future repatriation of all current TPS recipients.

To allow for an orderly transition, the effective date of the termination of TPS for Haiti will be delayed 18 months. This will provide time for individuals with TPS to arrange for their departure or to seek an alternative lawful immigration status in the United States, if eligible. It will also provide time for Haiti to prepare for the return and reintegration of their citizens. During this timeframe, USCIS will work with the State Department, other DHS components and the Government of Haiti to help educate relevant stakeholders and facilitate an orderly transition.

Haitians with TPS will be required to reapply for Employment Authorization Documents in order to legally work in the United States until the end of the respective termination or extension periods. Further details about this termination for TPS will appear in a Federal Register notice.

Court Order on Presidential Proclamation on Visas

On November 13, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granted, in part, the government’s motion for an emergency stay of the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii’s October 17, preliminary injunction. The preliminary injunction prohibited the U.S. government from enforcing or implementing Sections 2(a), (b), (c), (e), (g), and (h) of Presidential Proclamation 9645, “Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists or other Public-Safety Threats.” Under the Ninth Circuit’s ruling, the earlier preliminary injunction is stayed, except as to “foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” In light of the Ninth Circuit’s ruling, visa applicants who are nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen and do not have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States are now subject to the applicable visa restrictions under the Presidential Proclamation. Consequently, any applicants who lack such a claim, if found otherwise eligible for a visa, will be denied under the Proclamation, unless they are exempt or qualify for a waiver under the Proclamation. The court orders did not affect Sections (d) and (f) of the Proclamation, so nationals from North Korea and Venezuela remain subject to the restrictions and limitations listed in the Presidential Proclamation, which went into effect at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, October 18, 2017, with respect to nationals of those countries.

Additional Background:  The President issued Presidential Proclamation 9645 on September 24, 2017.  Per Section 2 of Executive Order 13780 of March 6, 2017 (Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States), a global review was conducted to determine what additional information is needed from each foreign country to assess whether foreign nationals who seek to enter the United States pose a security or safety threat.  As part of that review, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) developed a comprehensive set of criteria to evaluate the information-sharing practices, policies, and capabilities of foreign governments on a worldwide basis.  At the end of that review, which included a 50-day period of engagement with foreign governments aimed at improving their information sharing practices, there were seven countries whose information sharing practices were determined to be “inadequate” and for which the President deemed it necessary to impose certain restrictions on the entry of nonimmigrants and immigrants who are nationals of these countries.  The President also deemed it necessary to impose restrictions on one country due to the “special concerns” it presented.  These restrictions are considered important to addressing the threat these existing information-sharing deficiencies, among other things, present to the security and welfare of the United States and pressuring host governments to remedy these deficiencies.

Visa Bulletin – December 2017

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.

EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCES

First: Priority Workers: 28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required for fourth and fifth preferences.

Second: Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability: 28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required by first preference.

Third: Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers: 28.6% of the worldwide level, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences, not more than 10,000 of which to “*Other Workers”

Fourth: Certain Special Immigrants: 7.1% of the worldwide level.

Fifth: Employment Creation: 7.1% of the worldwide level, not less than 3,000 of which reserved for investors in a targeted rural or high-unemployment area, and 3,000 set aside for investors in regional centers by Sec. 610 of Pub. L. 102-395.

Below is the link for the Visa Bulletin for December 2017.

https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/law-and-policy/bulletin/2017/visa-bulletin-for-December-2017.html

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

VAWA Petitions for Children

The following guide is intended for applicants seeking protection under the Violence Against Women Act.

Generally

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) allows spouses and children of United States citizens or lawful permanent residents to self-petition for permanent resident status, without the abuser’s help or knowledge.

Eligibility

To self-petition for permanent residency under VAWA, an individual must: Show that s/he lived with a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse; Show that s/he was battered or subjected to extreme cruelty during the marriage; Show that s/he entered the marriage in good faith; o Show s/he is otherwise qualified for admission; and Show that s/he has good moral character.

Process

You must file USCIS Form I-360 and all supporting documents and fees, including evidence of your good faith marriage to your USC or LPR spouse, evidence of the abuse you suffered, proof that you resided with your spouse, and evidence of your good character. You must file the form with the Vermont Service Center (VSC). If you are a self-petitioning spouse or child and you meet all filing requirements, you will receive a notice valid for 150 days that you can present to government agencies that provide certain public benefits to victims of domestic violence. If your petition is approved and you do not have legal status in the United States, USCIS may place you in deferred action, which allows you to remain in the United States.

Eligibility for Children

Qualifying parent/child relationship: You are the child of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident abuser, or you are the child of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident abuser who lost citizenship or lawful permanent resident status due to an incident of domestic violence. You have suffered battery/extreme cruelty by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent. You have resided with your abusive parent. You are a person of good moral character; a child less than 14 years of age is presumed to be a person of good moral character.

Traveling as a LPR

This guide is intended for green card holders who wish to travel overseas.
What documents are needed?

When traveling overseas, you should always carry the following:

1.) your valid passport;

2.) state-issued identification;

3.) country specific visa (if required). Consult with the U.S. Department of State for country specific information about entry and exit.

4.) travel permit issued by USCIS if the travel is more than 6 months.

5.) valid and unexpired permanent residency card (green card)

When do I need to acquire a travel permit?

As per the basic rule of permanent residency, travel for over 6 months may break the continuous residence requirement and a green card holder may lose their status. If a permanent resident plans to remain outside of the U.S. for more than 6 months, s/he must acquire a Re-entry permit, Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, complete with supporting documentation, photos, and applicable fees. Such a permit is valid for two years from the date of issuance.

In order to apply, an individual must be in the U.S. and have his/her biometrics done at their local USCIS service center.

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

Green Cards for Widows 

This guide is intended for widowed immigrants who are seeking an immigration benefit through their deceased spouse.
Generally

To immigrate as the widow(er) of a citizen, you must prove the following:

1. you were legally married to the citizen,

2. you entered the marriage in good faith, and not solely to obtain an immigration benefit.

Widow(er) with a Pending Immigrant Petition
If you were married to a U.S. citizen who had filed Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative for you before he or she died, you do not need to file anything. The Form I-130 will be automatically converted to a Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant. Further, you must not have have been divorced or legally separated from the U.S. citizen at the time of death. Your eligibility to immigrate as a widow(er) ends if you have remarried.

Widow(er) without a Pending Immigrant Petition

If you were married to U.S. citizen before the citizen’s death, but had no I-130 petition filed on your behalf, you can self-petition as an “immediate relative” on Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant. To qualify, you must not have been divorced or legally separated from the U.S. citizen at the time of death. You must file within 2 years of the citizen’s death.

I751 Joint Filing Waiver 

This guide is intended for immigrants with conditional residency who are looking to remove the conditions of their residency.

Generally

An individual’s permanent residence status is conditional if it is based on a marriage that was less than 2 years old on the day you were given permanent residence.

Eligibility

Generally, you may apply to remove your conditions on permanent residence if you:

Are still married to the same U.S. citizen or permanent resident after 2 years. You may include your children in your application if they received their conditional-resident status either at the same time or within 90 days as you did;

Are a child and, for a valid reason, cannot be included in your parents’ application;

Are a widow or widower who entered into your marriage in good faith;

Entered into a marriage in good faith, but the marriage ended through divorce or annulment; or

Entered into a marriage in good faith, but either you or your child were battered or subjected to extreme hardship by your U.S.-citizen or permanent-resident spouse.

Filing Form I751

Your status is conditional, because you must prove that you did not get married to evade the immigration laws of the United States. To remove these conditions you must file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. You and your spouse must apply together to remove the conditions on your residence by filing Form I-751. You should apply during the 90 days before your second anniversary as a conditional resident. The expiration date on your green card is also the date of your second anniversary as a conditional resident. If you do not apply to remove the conditions in time, you could lose your conditional resident status.

Joint Filing Waiver 

If you are unable to apply with your spouse to remove the conditions on your residence, you may request a waiver of the joint filing requirement.

You may request a waiver of the joint petitioning requirements in the following instances:

Your deportation or removal would result in extreme hardship

You entered into your marriage in good faith, and not to evade immigration laws, but the marriage ended by annulment or divorce, and you were not at fault in failing to file a timely petition

You entered into your marriage in good faith, and not to evade immigration laws, but during the marriage you or your child were battered by, or subjected to extreme cruelty committed by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, and you were not at fault in failing to file a joint petition.

Contact with USCIS – Some Tips

The following are guidelines associated with corresponding with United States Citizenship & Immigration Services in relation to an applicant’s immigration petition. Call USCIS customer service (1-800-375-5283) for further assistance.
Notify USCIS for any changes

You should notify USCIS for any changes in your pending case for the following reasons:

You have moved and want to update your address.

You filed a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, as a permanent resident, and then became a U.S. citizen

You have a pending Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, and you need to change the names of persons you included on the petition or the consulates or ports of entry where the individuals will apply for their visa or entry

You need to reschedule a scheduled interview.

Notify USCIS for any errors

You should notify USCIS for any errors in your pending case for the following reasons:

You found an error in the information on the last notice sent to you;

You found an error on a document issued to you. This will require an application to replace the document.

Notify USCIS for any case processing questions

You mailed your application or petition more than 30 days ago to a Service Center, and have not yet received a receipt in the mail;

You did not receive further notices and you have a receipt number but “My Case Status” states that USCIS sent you a notice more than 14 days ago;

You submitted original documents with your case and you want to request documents be returned to you while your case is pending.