Trump Administration Issues New Regulations Restricting Asylum, Starting in 2021

January 11, 2021 New regulations will make it more difficult for people to seek asylum and other humanitarian protections in the United States. Asylum-seekers will face new legal hurdles and the possibility that the government will dismiss claims at early stages in the legal process. On December 11, 2020 the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published new regulations in the Federal Register that will make it more difficult for people to seek asylum and other

Attending a USCIS Interview During COVID-19 Pandemic: What to Expect

With USCIS offices reopened despite the COVID-19 pandemic, applicants should expect a similar asylum, adjustment of status, or naturalization interview to the normal one, with some procedural changes to ensure the safety of both applicants and staff. On June 4, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) resumed in-person appointments at their offices throughout the country, after closing for several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although USCIS office are now open, changes ha

New U.S. Government Rules Add Several Criminal Bars to Receiving Asylum

November 20, 2020 New rules will widely expand the types of criminal convictions and activities that would bar an applicant from being granted asylum in the United States. On October 21, 2020 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) published a new rule, to take effect in 30 days, which will widely expand the types of criminal convictions and activities that would bar an applicant from being granted asylum in the United States. Peo

Diversity Visa Program: Understanding the Green Card Lottery

The diversity lottery is a U.S. immigration program that seeks to increase the number of immigrants from countries that have proportionately low levels of immigration to the United States. Since the year 2000, around 50,000 diversity lottery visas have been made available each year. Between ten and 20 million people apply for the available diversity visas annually, so the chances of being selected are relatively low. Still, there is no fee to register for the DV lottery, thus no harm in giving it a try if you do, in fact, meet the basic qualification requirements.

New Guidelines Make Obtaining a U Visa as a Crime Victim in the U.S. Harder Than Ever

An applicant can expect to wait many years to receive the U visa, if it is ever approved at all, owing to new USCIS and ICE procedures and rules. In July 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued new guidance to law enforcement agencies (LEAs) on how to handle the certification of U visas. In addition, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recently issued new guidance on how to evaluate stays of removal for U visa applicants. The U visa is for immigrant victims of cert

New DHS Policy Makes It Easier to Remove Noncitizens from U.S. Without a Hearing

New policy says that noncitizens in the U.S. who cannot demonstrate that they've been present in the U.S. for more than two years can be put into expedited removal proceedings. In July 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced it would increase the scope of “expedited removal”—a process by which the U.S. government can deport (“remove”) noncitizens from the U.S. quickly, without a hearing. Before last month, the government ordinarily exercised this authority only for people fou

Applicants for U.S. Visas Abroad Now Required to Provide Social Media Information

Applying for a temporary visa to come to the U.S. or a permanent resident visa? Expect to have to provide information about your Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts for potential U.S. government scrutiny. In May 2019, the U.S. Department of State began asking U.S. visa applicants at consulates abroad for information related to their social media use during the previous five years. The new social media questions are found on Forms DS-160 and DS-156 (“nonimmigrant” or temporary vi

Sponsors May Be Held Financially Responsible for Immigrant's Use of Public Benefits

President Trump issues new memo directing federal agencies to increase enforcement of Section 213A of the Immigration and Nationality Act against U.S. sponsors. If you are a U.S. citizen or resident who sponsored an immigrant to come the U.S., you are more likely than ever to be held financially responsible if that immigrant faces economic hardship. That’s because President Trump issued a new memo in May 2019, directing federal agencies to increase enforcement of Section 213A of the Immigration

U.S. to Crackdown on Visitors from Countries with High Visa Overstay Rates

Trump seeks recommendations on new immigration regulations to restrict the ability of people from countries with high visa-overstay rates to come the U.S. in the near future. Nationals of countries with high visa overstay rates, especially people from certain African countries, might want to obtain a visa to travel to the U.S. as soon as possible, if they don’t have one already. The reason is that new regulations could significantly restrict their ability to come the U.S. in the near future. I

Many Asylum Seekers Can Be Held Without Bond Under New Decision by AG Barr

Recent decision by Attorney General means that many more asylum seekers will not be eligible for release on bond while their cases are pending. Under an April 2019 decision issued by Attorney General William Barr, many more asylum seekers than before will not be eligible for release on bond while their asylum cases are pending in the United States. In Matter of M-S-, Barr stated that asylum seekers who are first put into what are known as “expedited removal” proceedings will not be eligible for

USCIS No Longer Offers Online Self-Scheduling for InfoPass Appointments

How to get an in-person appointment at a USCIS office for inquiries or requests about your immigration matter. In March 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began phasing out online self-scheduling for InfoPass appointments for certain field offices. The agency now plans to completely phase out online self-scheduling by September. InfoPass appointments have, up to now, been used by applicants for immigration benefits to inquire about the status of a case, to put forth emerge

Noncitizens Can Be Held in Mandatory Detention Years After Criminal Conviction

In the case of Nielsen v. Preap, the Supreme Court ruled that noncitizens may be held mandatory detention for crimes committed, regardless of how long ago they occurred. In February 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion that will affect undocumented persons as well as green card holders who have been jailed or imprisoned for a crime. The court held that noncitizens can be subject to mandatory immigration detention even if they are not taken into immigration custody upon being released

What Does the New "Wait in Mexico" Procedure Mean for Asylum Applicants?

People seeking to apply for asylum or who are apprehended near the southern border will be sent back to Mexico as they await a hearing with an immigration judge. In January 2019, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would begin implementing a new “Wait in Mexico” policy for asylum seekers at the southern border. Under the new policy, officially called the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), people who seek admission at a port of entry to apply for asylum, or who are

Asylum Applicants Can Now Check Status of Case Online

Tips for successfully getting information on the status of your asylum case from the USCIS online case status service. Starting in January 2019, people who applied for asylum affirmatively (meaning not as a defense to removal in immigration court) can check the status of their case online. Given that affirmative asylum cases can now wait for a decision from the U.S. government for years, being able to check case status online will give peace of mind to applicants who may worry about missing an

USCIS Now Denying Work Permits to Asylum Seekers and Other Immigrants With Criminal Record

If you are applying for a work permit under certain categories and have ever been arrested for and/or convicted of a crime, you should absolutely consult an immigration attorney before submitting your work permit application, so as to determine whether you still qualify. In May 2018, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a new work permit application (Form I-765). All people using Form I-765 to apply for a work permit in the U.S. must use the new version of this form

Will the Government Shutdown Affect Your Immigration Court Hearing?

What to do if you're in removal proceedings in U.S. immigration court and were scheduled for a hearing in early 2019, during which time the federal government shut down. The federal government has been partially shut down since December 22, 2018. That's when President Trump refused to sign any budget that did not include more than $5 billion in funding for a wall on the southern U.S. border. Since then, roughly 25% of the federal government has been closed, including most of the nation’s immigr

Can Any U.S. Job or Company Get Me a Green Card? -

In theory, almost any U.S. job or company could sponsor a non-citizen for an employment-based green card to immigrate to the United States. The practical reality, however, is that certain jobs might end up not meeting the certification requirements, and certain employers might not be willing to spend the time and resources for the lengthy application process. While there is no outright restriction on types of jobs that qualify for an employment-based immigrant visa, applicants' qualifications m

Which Is Better: Green Card or Temporary (Nonimmigrant) Work Visa? -

If you want to come to the U.S. for work, you may be wondering which type of visa is best for you. There are two main types of employment visas in the U.S.—immigrant and nonimmigrant. Immigrant visas are for people who wish to remain in the U.S. permanently, with a green card, while nonimmigrant visas are for those who wish only to stay and work in the U.S. for a specific person of time and then return to their home countries. Both immigrant and nonimmigrant visas are available for various diff

Information on Social Media Can Get Immigrants Deported or Denied Entry

If you're an active participant on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or similar social media sites, and you're either seeking U.S. entry or are in the U.S. with any status other than citizenship, think twice before you post personal things. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) actively monitors social media accounts of people applying for visas outside of the U.S. as well as visa holders, immigrants, and naturalized citizens within the United States. DHS issued a public notice in th

DHS Sent Me Notice to Appear in Immigration Court (NTA): Now What? -

The Notice to Appear (“NTA”) document starts the removal (deportation) process from the United States. If you have received an NTA from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), whether in person or by mail, you should take it very seriously. Ignoring the NTA could result in being ordered removed from the U.S. without having had a chance to defend yourself in front of an immigration judge. Here are the next steps to take in order to protect your interests and your future. The first thing to d
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