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On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced his long-awaited changes to our broken immigration system. None of the changes will take place immediately, and some hoped-for changes like recapture of lost EB numbers and counting only principals toward the 140,000 EB cap were not included in the new policy.
Nevertheless, for 4-5 million persons, most of them undocumented, there is considerable good news.
1. Deferred Action Relief for Parents (DARP) - Parents of young persons granted DACA will not receive any benefits under the President's new policy. However, certain parents of US citizens and green card holders will be able to apply for relief and work cards under DARP.
The age of the child is irrelevant. Even if you are 50+ years old and your son/daughter gets a green card through his/her citizen spouse, you may be eligible for DARP. To qualify, you need to have resided in the US since January 1, 2010 and not be in lawful status on November 20, 2014. The background checks will be similar to those for DACA applicants. You can qualify even if you are under removal proceedings or are subject to a Final Order of Removal.
The work permit and biometrics fee is currently $465.
The application period will start in the Spring of 2015.
2. Expansion of the DACA Program - The 31-year-old age cap for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be removed. You must have be present in the US on January 1, 2010 (rather than on June 15, 2007) to qualify and be under the age of 16 when you entered the US. DACA work permits will now be issued for 3 years at a time instead of 2 years. You must be present in the US on November 20, 2014 and not be in lawful status.
The application period will start within 90 days of November 20, 2014.
3. Employment-Based (EB) Benefits - Most of these promised benefits are in the "Coming Attractions" category since they require regulations. We are informed that the long-awaited regulations for work permits for certain H-4 spouses will soon be finalized.
Also, that certain persons with approved EB petitions who are waiting for their priority dates to become current may eventually be permitted to "pre-register" for adjustment of status which will allow them to obtain EADs and APs, and to change jobs. Regarding OPT, the STEM category will be expanded and the length of STEM-OPT extensions will grow. Also promised are benefits for foreign-born entrepreneurs.
Again, don't look for any of these benefits in your Christmas stocking next month. Perhaps by the end of 2015.
4. Other Benefits - These include items that have been on many immigrants' wish lists for years and years:
I-601A Provisional Waivers - Will be expanded to include spouses and children of LPRs;Parole-in-Place - Will be expanded;Advance Parole - DHS will apply standards in Matter of Arrabally-Yerrabelly;Promises, Promises - DHS will clarify legal terms of art including "extreme hardship", "specialized knowledge", "same or similar" and everything from the PERM process to Immigration Court proceedings will be improved and modernized.
Have any questions about President Obama's New Immigration Policy?
Of course you do!
Please sign-up for a Free Webinar about Obama's new immigration policy in which I will participate in along with attorneys from Wolfsdorf Rosenthal on Monday, December 1st at 12:30pm, Pacific Time.
Need More Information?
We link to DHS's "Fixing Our Broken Immigration System through Executive Action".
This page links to over a dozen fun-filled pages designed which attempt to explain the changes to our immigration system being contemplated by the DHS.
Updated 11-21-2014 at 01:30 PM by CShusterman
When our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and established the doctrine of separation of powers, they did not carve out an exception for consular nonreviewability. This came about much later as a result of ignominious laws and rulings which excluded Chinese immigrants from the United States.
Today, if I, a US born citizen, were sponsoring my wife for a green card, and the USCIS denied her application without explaining why, I could sue the USCIS in Federal Court to challenge the decision.
However, if a consular officer abroad did the same, I would not have access to the Federal Courts because of the doctrine of consular nonreviewability.
Why should the Federal Courts lack jurisdiction over the decision of a State Department consular officer to deny a green card to the spouse of a US citizen when they clearly have jurisdiction to review an identical decision by a USCIS examiner? This makes no sense whatsoever.
The Supreme Court’s recent decision to grant certiorari in Kerry v. Din, 718 F.3d 856 (9 Cir. 2013), a Circuit Court decision which relies on a tiny crack in this seemingly absurd doctrine, allows the Court to reexamine consular nonreviewability for the first time in over 40 years.
Here is the story behind Kerry v. Din:
In September 2006, Fauzia Din, a US citizen, married a man born in Afghanistan. The next month, she submitted an I-130 visa petition on his behalf. In 2008, the USCIS notified her that the petition was approved and, in September of that year, Ms. Din’s husband had his green card interview.
He answered all the questions truthfully, including the ones regarding his employment as a payroll clerk for the Afghan Ministry of Social Welfare during the Taliban regime and his job as a clerk for the Afghan Ministry of Education for the new government which came to power after the US invasion. The interviewing officer informed him that he would receive his immigrant visa in the next few weeks.
However, after many months of inquiries from him and his wife, in June 2009, he was informed that his visa had been denied and that he was ineligible for a waiver.
After an inquiry as to why he was inadmissible, in July 2009, the US Embassy e-mailed him that his visa had been denied under 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(3)(B). This section of law lists a wide variety of grounds of inadmissibility due to terrorist activities.
Did the Embassy believe that he was a terrorist, or merely that he is inadmissible for having worked as a payroll clerk for the Taliban-controlled government? The State Department refused (and continues to refuse) to answer this all-important question.
Ms. Din sued the State Department in Federal Court in an effort to get an answer. However, the District Court Judge dismissed her complaint citing the doctrine of consular nonreviewability.
She appealed to this ruling to the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. On May 23, 2013, the Court ruled, in a split decision, that there is a limited exception to this doctrine which is applicable to her. They ordered the State Department to provide Ms. Din with a “facially legitimate and bona fide” reason for denying her husband’s immigrant visa citing the Supreme Court’s decision in Kleindienst v. Mandel, 408 U.S. 753 (1972).
The Court stated that while generally, federal courts are without power to review the actions of consular officers:
“...we have recognized a limited exception to the doctrine of consular nonreviewability. When the denial of a visa implicates the constitutional rights of an American citizen, we exercise ‘a highly constrained review solely to determine whether the consular official acted on the basis of a legitimate and bona fide reason.’”
Why is the State Department challenging this extremely limited exception when their own Customer Service Statement to Visa Applicants states, “We promise to you, the visa applicant, that...we will explain the reason for any visa denial to you.”?
Hopefully, the Supreme Court will rule that a US citizen who has been fighting to bring her husband to the US for over 8 years, is entitled to more than a citation to a code section as the reason why a consular officer denied her husband’s application to live together with her in the US.
More importantly, the entire rationale behind the doctrine of consular nonreviewability is contrary to the concept of a free society in which citizens are guaranteed certain rights.
The Supreme Court, in considering Kerry v. Din, should reexamine consular nonreviewability since this doctrine undermines the right of due process of law guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.
The Supreme Court could uphold individual rights as intended by the framers of the Constitution and protect US citizens from the unchecked power of big government by following the logic of the dissent in US ex rel. Knauff v. Shaughnessy, 338 U.S. 537 (1950) in which Justice Jackson, joined by Justices Black and Frankfurter, explains:
“Now this American citizen is told he cannot bring his wife to the United States, but he will not be told why. He must abandon his bride to live in his own country or forsake his country to live with his bride...”
“Security is like liberty in that many are the crimes committed in its name. The menace to the security of this country, be it great as it may, from this girl’s admission is as nothing compared to the menace to free institutions inherent in procedures of this pattern. In the name of security this police state justifies its arbitrary oppressions on evidence that is secret, because security might be prejudiced if it were brought to light in hearings. The plea that evidence of guilt must be secret is abhorrent to free men, because it provides a cloak for the malevolent, the misinformed, the meddlesome, and the corrupt to play the role of informer undetected and uncorrected...”
Updated 10-13-2014 at 05:23 PM by CShusterman
14 short videos which explain to employers the basics of completing and storing I-9 forms. The videos also instruct employers how to comply with antidiscrimination laws in the I-9 process.
Having conducted over 100 I-9 seminars for employers since 1986, and creating I-9 videos, it always distresses me to see employers fined millions of dollars for I-9 violations. Hopefully, the following DHS videos will help employers understand their obligations under the I-9 laws and procedures:
2. Why use Form I-9?
3. Who can legally work in the United States?
4. How do antidiscrimination laws protect employees?
5. Who is required to have a Form I-9?
6. How to Complete Section 1
7. How to Complete Section 2
8. How to Complete Section 3
9. Acceptable Documents for Form I-9
10. How should I store Form I-9s?
11. How long am I required to keep Form I-9s on file?
12. What do I do if I discover a mistake or I'm missing a Form I-9 for an employee?
13. How do Form I-9 and E-Verify work together?
14. Where can I find contact information and additional resources?
At the end of some of the videos, the DHS has posted links to various online resources. As good as these short videos are, I cannot stress enough that I-9 compliance is a complex procedure, and that although the videos do a great job in introducing employers to the basics, there are hundreds of technicalities that are not covered in these videos.
For example, there is a box on Part I of the form for persons who are noncitizen nationals to check. I would venture to guess that 99.9% of employers (and probably most DHS employees) have no idea what a noncitizen national is.
Also, many rules for completing I-9 forms are not listed in the law or even in the USCIS regulations. When can an H-1B employee who is changing jobs start working for the new employer? What forms does he have to present to show that he is authorized to be employed for I-9 purposes? These type of questions are not covered in the videos.
We agree with the DHS that in addition to watching the videos, you consult with I-9 Central and the Employers' Handbook. You should also retain the services of an experienced immigration attorney to answer questions and to conduct periodic internal I-9 audits.
Form I-9 ResourcesEmployers' Immigration GuideEmployers: How to Survive an I-9 AuditI-9 Central (USCIS)Handbook for Employers: Guidance for Completing Form I-9 (USCIS)
On October 1, 2014, you should, if you are qualified, apply for the DV-2016 green card lottery.
It is free. If you win, you can get green cards for you and your family within a short period of time. There are 50,000 green cards and this may be your final chance to apply.
The Senate, in 2013, passed an immigration reform bill which would eliminate the DV lottery. It looks like the House will refuse to pass the Senate bill, but not because they like the lottery. They don’t! So, if both houses of Congress can get their act together in 2015 and pass immigration reform legislation, the DV-2016 green card lottery may be the last of its kind.
Do You Qualify for the DV-2016 Lottery?
You may unless you were born in a country listed below:
Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.
By the way, persons in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan are eligible to apply.
Just to make things a bit more complicated, if you were born in a country on the list, but your spouse was not, both of you can apply for the lottery.
If you were born in a country where neither of your parents was born, and they were not legal residents of that country at the time of your birth, feel free to use the country of birth of either of your parents to apply for the DV-2016 lottery.
Also, you must be a high school graduate (or the equivalent) or have 2 years experience during the past 5 years in an occupation requiring at least 2 years of training or experience to perform.
You don’t need an attorney to apply, but you do need access to a computer (or a tablet or smart phone) since you must apply online at www.dvlottery.state.gov
The application period starts at noon on October 1, 2014 (Eastern Daylight Time) and ends at noon on November 3, 2014 (Eastern Standard Time). My advice: Apply early and avoid the crowds. Read the State Department Instructions carefully before you apply.
Be realistic: Over 10 million people will apply for 50,000 green cards and all applicants are not treated equally. About 20,000 of the DV-2016 green cards will be given to persons born in Africa and another 20,000 to persons born in Europe.
So, if you were born anywhere else in the world (Asia, North and South America, Australia and New Zealand), winning the DV-2016 will be a longshot, but what have you got to lose?
Updated 09-24-2014 at 10:28 AM by CShusterman
It all started when Mrs. Morales’s brother got his girlfriend pregnant in Mexico. They had a son together, but his girlfriend died during childbirth. He drove the child across the border to the US, and his sister and her husband, both US citizens, accepted the child as their own.
They hired an attorney who helped them adopt their nephew in the California Superior Court.
After the required two-year waiting period, they hired an immigration attorney who had Mrs. Morales file an I-130 visa petition which was approved by the USCIS.
Eventually, Mrs. Morales and her son appeared at the US Consulate in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico for an immigrant visa interview.
The interview was short, but not sweet. The consular officer informed Mrs. Morales that the I-130 had been approved in error by the USCIS, and that he was sending it back to be revoked. Why it was sent back to the USCIS remains a mystery.
Mrs. Morales was shocked, but respectful. “My son and I will go see our attorney and get this worked out”.
The officer informed her that while she could return to the US, her son would have to stay behind in Mexico.
Mrs. Morales was fit to be tied. She and her husband had never been separated from their son for so much as a day. Their son spoke only English and was being treated by a physician in California for ADD.
Her father, who lived in Tijuana, would have to care for their child until their immigration attorney could work out whatever was wrong with his immigration case. While he was happy to help watch over the child, he was also not in the best of health as he was nearly 80 years old and had recently had a heart valve transplant and he required care himself.
As soon as she returned to Los Angeles, she met with the attorney. Neither of them understood what was wrong with the I-130. However, the attorney decided that the best course of action was to request a humanitarian parole from the USCIS to reunite the child with his parents while they explored how to get him a green card.
She prepared a humanitarian parole application, complete with a letter from the child’s physician explaining that the child was in need of constant care. In January, one month after the application had been submitted, the USCIS wrote a letter informing her and her husband that it would take up to 90 days to process their humanitarian parole request.
Mrs. Morales and her husband both work full-time jobs. Every Friday night, she would drive from Southern California to Tijuana to spend the weekend with her son. Because of his lack of knowledge of Spanish, he was not able to attend school in Tijuana.
Between December and March, Mrs. Morales continued this exhausting routine, hoping that the USCIS would grant their humanitarian parole request. When this agonizing 90-day period came to an end, Mrs. Morales decided to schedule a legal consultation with me.
The day that we were retained, we sent an inquiry to the USCIS and contacted Mrs. Morales Congressman. This paid off, but in an unexpected way. Within a few days, we received a letter from the USCIS requesting more information.
Attorney Ellen Ma Lee and Paralegal Hilary Olson gathered the information, and quickly responded. After a short wait, we made the first of many inquiries.
Later, I received a call from the caseworker at the Congressman’s office. They were informed by the USCIS that the application for humanitarian parole was on the “expedited track”. Yet, as week after week and month after month passed, we received no answer from the USCIS.
Finally, last week, something very unexpected occurred. Not from the USCIS, but from CDJ. They asked Mrs. Morales to come to Consulate to submit some additional paperwork.
Then, a notice appeared online informing Mrs. Morales that an immigrant visa had been issued to her son!
The immigrant visa arrived by mail, and Mrs. Morales immediately drove to Tijuana. I spoke with her as she crossed the border into Mexico yesterday afternoon. In the evening, I received a message from Mrs. Morales that she and her son had crossed back into the US, and that he had been admitted as a lawful permanent resident!
What happened at the USCIS Parole Office and why CDJ granted the child a green card after keeping him separated from his parents for nearly 8 months, we may never know.
But Mr. and Mrs. Morales are thrilled to have their son back home, and so are we.
Updated 08-20-2014 at 06:47 PM by CShusterman