Updates for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status Recipients 

There has been a lot of movement with Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. Several changes are important and noteworthy:

DEFERRED ACTION/WORK AUTHORIZATION:

On March 7, 2022, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it is updating the USCIS Policy Manual to consider deferred action and related employment authorization for noncitizens who have an approved Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, for Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) classification but who cannot apply to adjust status to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR) because a visa number is not available.

Deferred action is an act of prosecutorial discretion that defers proceedings to remove a noncitizen from the United States for a certain period. Deferred action does not provide lawful status. USCIS will consider deferred action on a case-by-case basis and will grant it if the SIJ warrants a favorable exercise of discretion. USCIS will automatically conduct deferred action determinations for individuals with SIJ classification who cannot apply for LPR status because a visa number is not available. A separate request for deferred action is not required and will not be accepted by USCIS. If USCIS grants deferred action, it will be valid for a period of four years. Beginning on May 6, 2022, a SIJ who has been granted deferred action will be able to apply for employment authorization for their period of deferred action by filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.

MARRIAGE:

The Department of Homeland Security recently issued a final rule which will update the regulations regarding Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS); specifically, 8 CFR § 204.11, § 205.1, and § 245.1.1 The purpose of the updates is to reflect statutory changes, modify certain provisions, codify existing policies, and clarify eligibility requirements. The regulations went into effect on April 7, 2022, and overall are a positive development for SIJS petitioners.

An important change in policy, USCIS has removed marriage of the SIJS beneficiary as a basis for automatic revocation. This means the SIJS petitioner only needs to be unmarried at the time of filing the SIJS petition and the time of adjudication of the SIJS petition. This dramatic and valuable change will allow many young people to move forward with marriage while waiting for their priority date to become current. However, it is not known at this time whether USCIS will apply this change in policy retroactively to individuals who previously married after their SIJS petition was approved but before their adjustment of status application was adjudicated.

SIJS OVERVIEW:

Due to the large number of SIJS applications, for the last 5-6 years, there has been a backlog for children from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Mexico. As of April 2021, there are 44,000 SIJS beneficiaries remaining in the backlog. SIJS beneficiaries from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras have waited an average of 4 years before their priority date is current to apply for adjustment of status.

SIJS visas are part of the employment-based fourth preference category. The fourth category receives only 7.1% of the 140,000 visas generally available per year. SIJS beneficiaries are also subject to annual country caps applicable to employment-based immigration: 7% per-country limit. There is an overwhelming number of SIJS beneficiaries who are also in removal proceedings: 92% of Honduran SIJS adjustment applicants, 90% of Guatemalan applicants, and 84% of Salvadoran applicants.

If someone you know can benefit from Special Immigrant Juvenile Status due to abuse, neglect or abandonment by one or both parents, please contact our office today.

Local immigration lawyers push for separate immigration court to combat case backlog

ROANOKE, Va. – Congress is weighing in on a bill that could drastically change the nation’s immigration system. The nation has hit a record, with a backlog reaching nearly 1.6 million immigration cases.

Read Full Article: https://www.wsls.com/news/local/2022/03/08/local-immigration-lawyers-push-for-separate-immigration-court-to-combat-case-backlog/

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.

Actualización de las Reglas de Visa U: Proceso de Determinación de Buena Fe para Víctimas de Delitos Cualificados, y Autorización de Empleo y Acción Diferida para Ciertos Peticionarios

Resumen. El 14 de junio del 2021, USCIS emitió una regla que finalmente permite a los peticionarios de Visa U obtener autorización de empleo mientras están esperando (¡por años!) la adjudicación de sus peticiones. La actualización completa de la regla está disponible aquí: https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-issues-policy-providing-further-protections-for-victims-of-crime?fbclid=IwAR1jMX1NqEwOY6_lKuCzYWnMjeNabE7snfxfRqxTzDE1hxN8_d-G7-OKzq0. See USCIS Policy Alert, PA-2021-13, “Bona Fide Determination Process for Victims of Qualifying Crimes, and Employment Authorization and Deferred Action for Certain Petitioners” (June 14, 2021).

Continue reading

U Visa Policy Update: Bona Fide Determination Process for Victims of Qualifying Crimes, and Employment Authorization and Deferred Action for Certain Petitioners

Overview. On June 14, 2021, USCIS issued a new policy which ultimately permits U Visa petitioners to obtain work authorization while waiting (for years!) for their petitions to be adjudicated. The full policy update is available here: https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-issues-policy-providing-further-protections-for-victims-of-crime?fbclid=IwAR1jMX1NqEwOY6_lKuCzYWnMjeNabE7snfxfRqxTzDE1hxN8_d-G7-OKzq0. See USCIS Policy Alert, PA-2021-13, “Bona Fide Determination Process for Victims of Qualifying Crimes, and Employment Authorization and Deferred Action for Certain Petitioners” (June 14, 2021).   

Continue reading

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.

Want to stay up to date on the latest Poarch Thompson News?

Request Consultation


GET YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED, SCHEDULE CONSULT TODAY
Design Escapes

The results of client matters depend on a variety of factors unique to each matter. Past successes do not predict or guarantee future successes.
View Disclaimer

Contact Us

© Poarch Thompson Law. All rights reserved. Powered by Array Digital..