Scam Callers! Protect yourself from fraud! Read our latest blog post…

The Executive Office for Immigration Review today announced that scammers are calling individuals and pretending to be an employee of the Arlington Immigration Court as part of a fraudulent scam. The scammers will even use the Immigration Court’s main number, 703-305-1300, making the calls appear to be coming from the Immigration Court on the recipient’s caller ID.

These scammers posing as Court employees or officers advise individuals that their social security number has been compromised and request money from the victims. These calls are fraudulent; Court personnel do not call individuals regarding social security numbers or to request money.

To protect yourself, be wary of answering phone calls from numbers you do not recognize. Never give out your personal information over the phone to individuals you do not know. Please contact our office should you have any questions or concerns.

Covid-19 vaccination record card with vials and syringe. Covid-19 vaccination record card with vials and syringe.

COVID-19 Vaccinations Required for Applicants Applying for LPR Status in US & Abroad

Starting October 1, 2021, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) and the U.S. Department of State will require COVID-19 vaccinations for all applicants applying for lawful permanent residence with a few exceptions. All applicants who receive their medical examination from a Civil Surgeon or Panel Physician on or after October 1, 2021, must complete the COVID-19 vaccine series and provide documentation of vaccination.2 This change will impact anyone who completes Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, on or after October 1, 2021. If the medical examination forms are completed before October 1, 2021, they remain valid and the COVID-19 vaccine will not be required. The Civil Surgeon must physically inspect and confirm the applicant’s documentation that they have received all appropriate doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The proper review of vaccination documentation will be in the form of a vaccination record, copy of a medical chart with physician entries, or by appropriate medical personnel. Self-reported vaccine doses without written documentation will not be accepted.

Exceptions: Blanket waivers are available for applicants who are too young to receive the vaccine, have a medical contraindication to the vaccine, or who do not have access to one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines in their countries. In addition, individuals may apply for an individual waiver based on religious or moral convictions with USCIS.

Contact Poarch Thompson Law for more information.

Attorney Rachel Thompson confirmed as President of the Salem/Roanoke County Bar Association

Congratulations to Poarch Thompson Law attorney Rachel Thompson who was recently confirmed as President of the Salem/Roanoke County Bar Association for the 2021-2022 year. Rachel Thompson along with the Roanoke Bar Association (Dan Frankl) and Virginia Women Attorneys Association (Sue Cook) presented Judge Cullen with his robe and honored his appointment as Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia.

Dan Frank, Rachel Thompson, Judge Cullen, Sue Cook

Roanoke County Courthouse Salem Virginia

DHS Limits ICE and CBP Civil Enforcement Actions In or Near Courthouses

This week, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas directed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to place new limits on civil immigration enforcement actions in or near courthouses. A civil immigration enforcement action may be taken in or near a courthouse only in certain limited instances, including the following: (1) it involves a national security matter, (2) there is an imminent risk of death, violence, or physical harm to any person,  (3) it involves hot pursuit of an individual who poses a threat to public safety, or (4) there is an imminent risk of destruction of evidence material to a criminal case. This policy supersedes an ICE Directive issued in 2018 and marks the first time CBP has ever had formal policy guidance regarding civil immigration enforcement in or near courthouses.

“Ensuring that individuals have access to the courts advances the fair administration of justice, promotes safety for crime victims, and helps to guarantee equal protection under the law,” said Secretary Mayorkas. “The expansion of civil immigration arrests at courthouses during the prior administration had a chilling effect on individuals’ willingness to come to court or work cooperatively with law enforcement. Today’s guidance is the latest step in our efforts to focus our civil immigration enforcement resources on threats to homeland security and public safety.”

Rachel Thompson

How has President Biden changed immigration?

From the March 2021 Roanoke Bar Review article by Rachel Thompson, Esq.

How has President Biden changed immigration? I’ve been asked that question dozens of times by family and friends. Immigration has been such a hot topic during the 2016 and 2020 elections and many individuals are curious about what has changed between the previous administration and the current one. The reality is that most of the significant changes that affect an immigration attorney’s day-to-day practice cannot be explained in an elevator speech or bullet list. This is not specific to the most recent administration change, but every time there is a change of presidency. I’ve now practiced under three different administrations and each new presidency brings with it a sea of change, and President Biden’s short time in office has proven to be no exception.

Some quantifiable changes under the Biden administration (and the answer to the question I believe most people are looking for) include the following:

  1. It reaffirmed Deferred Action with Childhood Arrivals (DACA): new applications for DACA were suspended during the majority of the previous administration
  2. It put a moratorium on deportations: certain deportations were banned for 100 days but it has since been enjoined by a Texas District Court
  3. It lifted travel bans: certain Muslim-majority and African nations are no longer barred from entry into the U.S.
  4. It protected asylum seekers: the Migrant Protection Program requiring asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for their hearing was suspended.

To read the full article, please continue on the Roanoke Bar Association website.

USA/Venezuela

USCIS Designates Venezuela for TPS and Gives Information for DED-related employment authorization

On Tuesday, March 9, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designated Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, from March 9, 2021 through September 9, 2022. The reason for this designation is due to the severe political and economic crisis in Venezuela that temporarily prevents nationals from returning safely, including a complex humanitarian crisis that includes widespread hunger and malnutrition, an increasing presence of non-state armed groups, and a deteriorating infrastructure. This designation will permit eligible Venezuelans to file for TPS status and for related employment authorization documents (EADs) and advance parole (travel permission). In order to be eligible for TPS, Venezelans must be able to demonstrate continuous residence in the United States since March 9, 2021. Applicants must apply for TPS within the 180-day registration period from March 9, 2021 through September 5, 2021. 

Additionally, DHS provided important information regarding Deferred Enforced Departure (DED). Pursuant to a Presidential Memorandum in January 2021, certain Venezuelans nationals who were present in the United States on January 20, 2021 and have been continuously present, may benefit for a period of 18 months from DED. The Federal Registrar notice provides details regarding how to apply for work authorization under the DED program.

Finally, DHS suggests that those covered under DED should also apply for TPS in order to preserve the option of TPS in the event that the applicant is ineligible for TPS late initial filing and in case DED for Venezuela later expires.

The information in this blog is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact our office for professional legal advice.

Rachel Thompson

Recent Changes With DACA

On December 4, 2020, a U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of New York ordered that the July 2020 Memorandum is vacated. Thus, on December 7, 2020, USCIS and DHS updated their websites to comply with the court order. The notices state that effective December 7, 2020, USCIS is:

  • Accepting first-time requests for consideration of deferred action under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) based on the terms of the DACA policy in effect prior to September 5, 2017, and in accordance with the Court’s December 4, 2020, order;
  • Accepting DACA renewal requests based on the terms of the DACA policy in effect prior to September 5, 2017, and in accordance with the Court’s December 4, 2020, order;
  • Accepting applications for advance parole documents based on the terms of the DACA policy prior to September 5, 2017, and in accordance with the Court’s December 4, 2020, order;
  • Extending one-year grants of deferred action under DACA to two years; and
  • Extending one-year employment authorization documents under DACA to two years.

USCIS also states in the notice that it will “take appropriate steps to provide evidence of the one-year extensions of deferred action and employment authorization documents under DACA to individuals who were issued documentation on or after July 28, 2020, with a one-year validity period under the defunct policy.”

Please note that the DACA requirements have not expanded. The DACA requirements from 2012 remain intact. Thus, you may request DACA if you: 

  • Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  • Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
  • Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  • Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
  • Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;
  • Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  • Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Recent Bars to Asylum Eligibility

On October 20, 2020, the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security announced a new rule that bars certain immigrants from obtaining asylum. This rule will prevent certain immigrants from obtaining asylum based on their criminal history. 

Immigrants who are convicted of the following crimes will be barred from receiving asylum: any federal or state felony, alien smuggling, illegal reentry, gang activity, DUIs, drug crimes, domestic violence and offenses relating to false identification. The rule also bars immigrants who were merely charged in domestic violence offenses even if no conviction was made. If an immigrant’s criminal history falls into one of those categories, the immigrant is no longer eligible for asylum. They remain eligible for withholding of removal, a much higher burden and a much harder case. 

Most individual commenters and all organizations, including non-government organizations, legal advocacy groups, non-profit organizations, religious organizations, congressional committees, and groups of members of Congress, opposed this rule. This rule has already been challenged in federal court, specifically in the Northern District of California. In time, other challenges may also be filed in other federal courts. However, as of now, this rule goes into effect on November 20, 2020.

USCIS Lunch & Learn: Let’s Celebrate Citizenship

Come learn about the 10 steps to naturalization at the next USCIS Lunch & Learn! Attorney Rachel Thompson will introduce her mother, Joy Hepkins, who will talk about her immigration journey to U.S. citizenship at this informative USCIS Washington District Office Lunch and Learn on webex: Let’s Celebrate Citizenship, Friday, September 18, 2020, 12pm–1pm, sponsored by US Citizenship and Immigration Services and the City of Roanoke and organized in part by PTL’s community partner, El Puente Legal Services (BIA Accredited Representatives).

For information on registering to attend the event and webex details, open the flyer attached below:

Washington District Flyer

 

 

PTL Attorney Jaime McGuire Recognized by the Federal Bar Association

Poarch Thompson Law attorney Jaime McGuire has been recognized by the Federal Bar Association Immigration Law Section with the Younger Lawyer of the Year award.

Jaime is on the FBA-ILS Younger Lawyers Division committee and has done outstanding work organizing informative webinars for the section.

Congratulations Jaime!

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