NEWSLETTER: April 14, 2017

NEWSLETTER: April 14, 2017

HAWAII ASKS FULL 9TH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS TO HEAR TRAVEL BAN APPEAL

The state of Hawaii has recently asked the full Ninth Circuit to consider the Trump administration’s appeal of a preliminary injunction that barred the enforcement of a revised executive order on immigration from six predominantly Muslim countries. Hawaii has stated that this review is appropriate due to the “exceptional importance” of the questions at issue.

DHS HAS ANNOUNCED STEPS AGAINST H-1B VISA FRAUD AND CHANGES TO THE H-1B VISA PROGRAM

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has recently announced steps to prevent the fraudulent use of H-1B visas, which includes issuing a warning to employers that it will look closely at any employer showing a preference for hiring H-1B workers instead of Americans, and announcing plans to increase transparency on applicants. Additionally, USCIS has stated that it intends to narrow its targets for site visits by focusing on cases where the agency cannot validate an employer’s basic information through “commercially available data,” and where employers have a relatively high ratio of H-1B workers to other types of workers. Look for increased site visits.

USCIS has also recently announced changes to the H-1B visa program such as by declaring that entry-level computer programming jobs would no longer automatically qualify as a “specialty occupation,” a basic requirement for receiving an H-1B work visa. Nawlaw will keep our readers up to date with any further changes to the H-1B program.

EB-5 LAWS UP FOR VOTE ON APRIL 28TH

According to a recent article in the New York Times, it is expected that Congress will simply extend the current law for 3-6 months rather than vote on changing the current threshold of $500,000 for investments, both direct and indirect (Regional Centers) located in designated high unemployment areas.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION CONSIDERS FAR-REACHING STEPS FOR ‘EXTREME VETTING’

As part of the new “extreme vetting” measures reportedly being considered by the Trump administration, travelers to the U.S. could be forced to hand over their mobile phones and social media passwords, as well as be questioned about their ideology. As reported in the Wall Street Journal, this could apply to most countries including U.S. allies such as Germany and France.

One aspect of security screening has already increased as the number of people who have been asked to hand over their cellphones and passwords by Customs and Border Protection agents has increased threefold in recent years.

U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL JEFF SESSIONS SIGNALS IMMIGRATION CRACKDOWN

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recently issued a memo calling for federal attorneys to consider prosecution of anyone who harbors undocumented immigrants, with a priority given to violent cases or those that involve transporting or shielding three or more undocumented immigrants. Session has also instructed the Justice Department to pursue felony charges when applicable for immigrants who try to enter the U.S. illegally on multiple occasions.

NYPD REPORTEDLY DEFIES SANCTUARY CITY STATUS AFTER ALERTING ICE ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS’ COURT DATES

As reported in Fox News, the NYPD has reportedly alerted federal immigration officials to illegal immigrants’ appearances in criminal court despite Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vow to remain a Sanctuary City. Although New York City has vowed to only alert immigration officials if an illegal immigrant is accused of a violent crime, the NYPD has reportedly alerted ICE of three individuals who had recently been arrested for non-violent misdemeanors.

SEATTLE SUES TRUMP ADMINISTRATION OVER ‘SANCTUARY CITY’ THREAT

The city of Seattle has sued President Trump and his administration stating that Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ threat to strip billions in federal grant money from so-called “sanctuary cities” is illegal and unconstitutional. This comes after Sessions stated that the Justice Department plans to withhold up to $4.1 billion from “sanctuary cities” – a blanket term for many areas that refuse immigration agents’ requests to detain immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency deems at least 118 jurisdictions as sanctuaries. Seattle’s lawsuit alleged that such policy violates the Tenth Amendment and puts as much as $155 million of the city’s federal funding at stake. Current sanctuary states include New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago.

CALIFORNIA SENATE PASSES ‘SANCTUARY STATE’ BILL

The California Senate has recently passed a “sanctuary state” bill, formerly known as Senate Bill 54, which would prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies from using resources to investigate, detain, report or arrest persons for the purposes of immigration enforcement. The bill will next be considered by the state Assembly. In defense of the bill, Democrats have stated that California had to take a stand in defense of “hardworking” immigrants that have become part of the country’s cultural and economic backbones.

BILL INTRODUCED TO LIMIT SEARCH OF ELECTRONIC DEVICES AT THE BORDER

A bill was recently introduced in Congress to place strict limitations on the right of U.S. border agents to search the electronic devices of American citizens when they cross the border or re-enter the U.S. at an airport. The “Protecting Data At the Border Act” would make it illegal for border officers to search or seize cellphones without probable cause.

MARCH 2017 SEES THE LOWEST NUMBER OF PEOPLE TRYING TO SNEAK INTO THE U.S. IN 17 YEARS

According to Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, the number of arrests of people illegally entering the U.S. at the Mexican border plummeted during the month of March from 43,000 detained in February to fewer than 12,500 people last month. According to the Associated Press, March’s number was the lowest monthly figure in 17 years.

LOS ANGELES RAIDS TARGET INVESTOR GREEN CARD FRAUD

According to the Los Angeles Times, federal agents have recently executed search warrants at several sites in Los Angeles that were connected to a $50 million visa fraud operation that enabled Chinese citizens, including fugitives from the law, to secure green cards for permanent residency in the United States. This is the latest multiyear investigation that highlights EB-5 abuses.

LANDLORDS ARE REPORTEDLY USING DEPORTATION THREATS TO EVICT TENANTS

There have been a growing number of reports that landlords are threatening tenants with deportation in an attempt to raise rent, evict, or simply avoid fixing things in their units.

TRUMP NOMINATES NEW HEAD OF IMMIGRATION AGENCY

President Trump has recently announced that he will nominate Lee Francis Cissna to oversee the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Cissna, whose nomination is subject to confirmation, already has immigration policy experience within the federal government as he is a head of immigration policy in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Policy.

OTHER NEWS AROUND THE U.S.

  • 25-year-old DACA recipient, granting him 2 year’s permission to work and protection from deportation, was detained in Portland, Oregon by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents because of a DUI misdemeanor.
  • Unarmed legal resident was shot in Chicago home after ICE agents raided his home to attempt to make an arrest. Family has stated that no family members are undocumented and family has lived in the home for the past 30 years.
  • Senate Republican leaders have indicated that Trump’s funding request for a border wall will likely wait until later in the year.
  • ICE makes 84 arrests in a 3 day operation targeting the Pacific Northwest. Those detained included 7 women, 77 men from 12 countries, including 64 from Mexico.
  • Two prominent Houston doctors facing removal by immigration officials have been granted a temporary, 90-day reprieve. This comes as a relief for dozens of patients who have specialized surgeries scheduled with the two doctors in the coming weeks.
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly have denied allegations from California’s Supreme Court that federal agents are “stalking” illegal immigrants in courthouses. They did nevertheless acknowledge that federal agents have been going there to arrest illegal immigrants and they informed California’s chief justice that such procedures will not stop.
  • A U.S. citizen is suing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency claiming he was arrested and held in jail for almost three additional weeks because they did not believe he was in the country legally.
  • Trump will continue to allow immigrants to obtain citizenship through U.S. military service.
  • Nearly 1,500 economists have joined in a letter to President Trump and top Congressional leaders stating the economic benefits immigrants bring to the U.S. and urged Congress to “modernize” the country’s immigration system.
  • A Pakistani Fulbright scholar cannot finish his graduate studies because he was stopped from flying back to the U.S.
  • The Trump administration has stated that it is no longer considering separating women and children at the southern U.S. border as a means of deterring their migration.
  • Although once routine, ICE check-ins where immigrants go see an ICE officer before seeing an Immigration Judge, while holding a pending appeal or while holding a final order of removal, now makes immigrants very vulnerable as there have been growing reports of detention and deportation.
  • A bill has been introduced in Congress that aims to thwart Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers from wearing clothing labeled with the words “police,” arguing that the practice is deceiving.
  • A New York City judge has recently ruled that the city could destroy personal documents associated with its municipal identification program, a victory in its fight to protect undocumented immigrants.

SAMPLING OF RECENT NAWLAW APPROVALS

  • I-601A Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver approval for an Ecuadorian national married to a U.S. Citizen
  • I-601A Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver approval for an Thai national married to a U.S. Citizen
  • F-1 change of status approval for an India national from a B-2 visitor visa
  • TN-1 approval for a Canadian national working as an Economist
  • EB-5 approval for a Russian national as an EB-5 Investor in a Regional Center
  • O-1 approval for an Australian national working as a Fashion Patternmaker
  • O-1 approval for an Argentine national working as a Head Audio Engineer
  • O-1 approval for a French national working as a Chef in a NYC restaurant
  • O-1 extension for a Swedish national working as a Fashion Designer
  • H-1B extension for a Canadian national working as a Physical Therapist
  • H-1B extension for an Indian national working as a Vice President 1 for a finance firm
  • H-1B extension for an Indian national working as an Associate 1 for a finance firm
  • H-1B extension for an Indian national working as a Managing Director for a finance firm
  • H-1B approval for a Belgian national working as an Associate 1 for a finance firm
  • B-2 extension for an Indian national approved in 3 months
  • U visa approval for a Chilean national
  • L-1 approval for an Indian national working for an accounting firm
  • I-140 approval for a Filipino client working as an Accountant
  • I-140 approval for an Indian national working as a Systems Analyst
  • Appeal for PERM denial of Software Developer from India

RECENT CLIENT QUERIES

  1. Visitor from India who came to the US 9 years ago but overstayed, owns restaurants, and is concerned about the Trump administration policies, now has two US born children and asks if he can seek a green card through EB5 investment? Ans. Unfortunately, not since he does not hold valid nonimmigrant status – therefore, must wait till the US child turns 21 years of age and files a green card petition on his behalf.
  2. Employer who has sponsored a foreign national for a green card through labor certification asks if the newly approved green cardholder is actually required to work for the sponsor? Ans. No, federal regulations provide that there is no requirement to actually work for the green card sponsor since the application is based on an offer of future employment. According to US laws and regulations, a foreign national cannot be forced or compelled to work for a sponsor. Nor, in the absence of an executed claw-back agreement, can the sponsor demand a refund of legal fees or expenses incurred in the green card process. According to federal regulations, only the sponsor can pay for the first stage of the PERM green card process – not the foreign national.
  3. National of Uruguay and Italy asks: “I will enter the US with my ESTA that expires on July 20, 2017. When I enter on April 15th they will give me the 90 days stay until July 14th. Is it necessary that I get a new ESTA before the trip or if it’s still current for the trip will it be fine? I don’t want to apply for a new one if this one is not expired yet and look suspicious?” Ans. You can wait until you arrive in the U.S. before applying for the ESTA renewal. Now, we have recently seen a case where an Irish national holding valid ESTA and planning to return to the U.S. from a short stay in the Caribbean received on-line notification that his ESTA was suddenly canceled. Hence, he could not return to the U.S.
  4. H-4 spouse from Israel asks if she is permitted to engage in commercial portrait photography? Ans. According to federal regulations, the H-4 spouse is generally precluded from engaging in business although pursuit of a hobby is permissible.
  5. H-4 spouse from India holding valid status is seeking to temporarily return to India and apply for visa renewal at the US Consulate in Mumbai asks if this will present a problem? Ans. We have only experienced problems with respect to H-1B visa renewals – not with respect to H-4 spouses and children. We have observed that for many years H-1B renewals have often been significantly delayed, especially if the job occupation is in the computer field. An H-4 accompanying spouse is eligible for work permission if their spouse is the principal beneficiary of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker.

CLIENT TESTIMONIALS

Testimonial from a UK national working as Journalist upon an O-1B approval: “Fantastic news!!!!! Thank you so much for all your hard work!”

Testimonial from an Indian national upon receiving green card approval: “On all our behalf this is to thank you very much for your assistance, guidance and handling of the critical challenges during the interview with your expertise and know how. We whole heartedly appreciate your time and guidance.”

Testimonial from a Brazilian national upon receiving green card approval for working as an Interior Designer: “Congratulations to you as well for the good work!”