Tag Archives: USCIS Processing

Revised FL-DMV Procedures for “Deferred Action” Applicants.

If DHS has granted deferred action and a work permit has been applied for or approved, these individuals are eligible for issuance. Other documents required would be a valid government-issued document (unless the customer has been issued with the Department since January 1, 2010), two (2) proofs of residential address and proof of social security number (if one has been issued), along with the deferred action letter from DHS.

Furthermore, if the customer is a youth and is seeking a first-time issuance, F.S. 322.095 requires completion of the traffic law substance abuse (TLSA) course or the satisfactorily completed Department of Education driver’s education course.

DHS/USCIS Begins Accepting DEFFERED ACTION Cases Today.

Today, August 15, 2012, USCIS begins to accept Deferred Action cases.

“USCIS has developed a rigorous review process for deferred action requests under guidelines issued by Secretary Napolitano,” said USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas. “Childhood arrivals who meet the guidelines and whose cases are deferred will now be able to live without fear of removal, and be able to more fully contribute their talents to our great nation.”

Deferred action is a discretionary determination to defer removal action of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion. USCIS will review requests and make decisions on a case-by-case basis.  While it does not provide lawful status or a pathway to permanent residence or citizenship, individuals whose cases are deferred as part of this process will not be removed from the United States for a two-year period, subject to renewal, and may also apply for employment authorization.

The Deferred Action process appears to be fairly straightforward for most; however issues surrounding the process are not. Each person will, in essence, be revealing him or herself to the government. While DHS has offered some level of assurance regarding confidentiality, those assurances are necessarily weak. Speaking with an immigration attorney before applying is the smart, safe way to go.

  • Because of the complexity of immigration law as a whole, even the simplest process can be fraught with pitfalls. AILA and the immigration lawyer community are rallying to mobilize unprecedented pro bono activity surrounding the Deferred Action initiative.
  • DREAMers, like all Americans, are united by a deep respect for those who work hard for a living and a shared commitment to the country we all call home. These young people study in our schools, play in our neighborhoods, and pledge allegiance to our flag. They are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents—sometimes even as infants—and yet they live under the threat of deportation to a country they may know nothing about.
  • This temporary reprieve for DREAMers gives Congress the space to reach a consensus by taking the immediate threat of deportation off the table. Deferred action is not amnesty. Deferred action is not permanent. Deferred action is not a pathway to a green card or citizenship. Deferred action is not legal status. Youth that qualify cannot vote or petition for family members.
  • Under current law people granted deferred action are eligible to apply for work authorization. While living in the United States people must have a way to support themselves—this is not a change in current law.

Please see the page on my website, regarding DEFERRED ACTION.

Some “DEFERRED ACTION” Pointers

1. In a change from the prior announcement, people currently in removal proceedings will use the USCIS process when it is implemented on August 15, 2012, rather than go through ICE. Only individuals in detention will go through ICE to make a deferred action request.

2. Information provided as part of the deferred action request process is protected from disclosure

to ICE or CBP for purposes of removal proceedings unless the requestor meets the criteria of USCIS’ November 2011 NTA memo.

3. If a departure from the U.S. was due to removal, voluntary departure, etc., the absence was not brief, casual and innocent and would interupt the continuous residence that is required since June 15, 2007. Short absences before August 15, 2012, reasonably calculated to accomplish the purpose of the trip, would not be interuptive.

4. Only people who are currently not in status and were not in any lawful status on June 15, 2012 are eligible.

5. A “significant misdemeanor” is one for which the individual was sentenced to more than 90 days, or a conviction for domestic violence, sexual abuse, burglary, firearm violation, drug distribution or trafficking (but not possession), or DUI, regardless of the sentence.

6. Minor traffic offenses, such as driving without a license, are not considered misdemeanors that count toward the “3 or more” standard.

7. The Form I-765 will be required, along with another form that will be made available on August 14 or 15. Total fees, including biometics, will be $465. Fee waivers will not be available, but fee exemptions will be permitted in very limited circumstances, and must be requested and approved before submitting a deferred action application without a fee.

8. Whether a person has reached age 15, and whether the requestor meets the education requirements, will be determined as of the date the request for deferred action is filed, NOT the June 15, 2012 date.

Talking Points on “DREAM Act”

THE DREAM ACT: A CENTRAL ELEMENT OF REFORM
The Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors (DREAM) Act (S. 729/H.R. 1751) is a bipartisan bill that would provide a conditional six-year pathway to legal permanent residence for certain unauthorized youth who, as children, were brought to the U.S. if they: complete high school; demonstrate good moral character; and complete at least two years of higher education or serve for at least two years in the U.S. military. The bill also would also repeal section 505 of the Illegal Immigrant Reform and Immigrant Reconciliation Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) that prohibits states from providing any higher education benefit based on residency to unauthorized immigrants unless they provide the same benefit to U.S. citizens in the same circumstances, regardless of their residence.


THE DREAM ACT CAN STRENGTHEN THE U.S. ECONOMY

The students who would benefit under the DREAM Act have been raised and educated in the U.S. and by allowing them to pursue a higher education, we are investing in the future of our country and our economy.
•  Communities, states, and nation would reap significant benefits from the DREAM Act. A RAND study showed that a 30-year-old Mexican immigrant woman who graduated from college will pay $5,300 more in taxes and cost $3,900 less in government expenses each year than if she had dropped out of high school. This amounts to an annual fiscal benefit of over $9,000 every year, money that can be used to pay for the education of others.
•  DREAM Act beneficiaries will make up part of the educated workforce needed to help the U.S. compete in the global economy. In our globalized world, their multilingual and bicultural skills, and contributions are more important than ever to the success and global competitiveness of the United States.

CURRENT LAW PROVIDES NO WAY FOR THESE CHILDREN TO ACHIEVE LEGAL STATUS

•  Due to the undocumented status of their parents and other family members, they have no available avenues for family-based visa sponsorship.
•  Few employers would or could sponsor them for a work visa due to their age and lack of work experience. Even if an employer was willing to sponsor them, the process takes precious years that these children cannot afford to waste.

STATES SHOULD HAVE THE RIGHT TO DETERMINE WHO QUALIFIES FOR IN-STATE TUITION

•  States are required to invest in elementary and secondary education for undocumented children, but can’t collect on the return. However, when states are ready to earn a return on their investment through a highly educated workforce, they are barred from offering in-state tuition to these children. The states (and their taxpayers) have the right to earn this return.
•  States should have the authority to determine how they allocate their resources. Such an educational investment pays dividends for the states by reducing the dropout rate, leading to substantial savings in criminal justice costs and the use of public benefits, and sharply increasing the taxes paid by those benefiting from this initiative. AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 09043072. (Posted 3/19/10).

THIS BILL REFLECTS A BALANCED APPROACH TO REFORM AND MUST BE PART OF ANY COMPREHENSIVE EFFORT TO OVERHAUL OUR IMMIGRATION LAWS

•  This measure would require children to have lived in the U.S. for a number of years and to have no criminal record.
•  This measure would require eligible children to dedicate themselves to learning English and succeeding in our educational system.
•  This measure proposes a one-time only fix that would not encourage illegal immigration.

This measure recognizes that the status quo needs to be reformed by granting children the means to continue their education and legalize their status. Such reform works for children and works for America.

USCIS Implements New Naturalization/Citizenship Test

Following about 2 years of testing, USCIS has revised and implemented a new Test, as part of the Naturalization process.

The revised test, with an emphasis on the fundamental concepts of American democracy and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, will help encourage citizenship applicants to learn and identify with the basic values we all share as Americans.

According to USCIS, the redesign process was to ensure that naturalization applicants have uniform, consistent testing experiences nationwide, and that the civics test can effectively assess whether applicants have a meaningful understanding of U.S. government and history. Following a basic U.S. history and civics curriculum, the new test now serves as an important instrument to encourage civic learning and patriotism among prospective citizens.

Which Test Do I Take?

An applicant who:

* Files the Application for Naturalization, Form N-400, BEFORE October 1, 2008, and is scheduled for his or her naturalization interview ON or AFTER October 1, 2008 up until October 1, 2009, can choose to take the old test or the new test.
* Files the Application for Naturalization, Form N-400, ON or AFTER October 1, 2008, will take the new test.
* Is scheduled for his or her naturalization interview ON or AFTER October 1, 2009, regardless of when he or she filed the Application for Naturalization, Form N-400, will take the new test.

USCIS considers an application properly “filed” when Form N-400, is received by the appropriate USCIS location with signature, correct fee, and the form is completed according to instructions.

Note: If an applicant fails the English and/or civics test during the first examination, the applicant will be required to take the same version of the test, old or new, when the applicant is retested, even if the retest is scheduled on or after October 1, 2009.

The relevant study materials, etc. can be obtained from the USCIS website directly.

Premium Processing Again to Resume for All I-140 Petitions

USCIS announced that effective June 29, 2009, it will resume Premium Processing Service for Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker.

After an evaluation of its I-140 backlog reduction efforts and increased I-140 adjudicative efficiencies, USCIS has concluded that it is now able to provide Premium Process Service for this benefit.

USCIS will accept Premium Processing requests for Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, involving EB-1 Aliens with Extraordinary Ability, EB-1 Outstanding Professors and Researchers, EB-2 Members of Professions with Advanced Degrees or Exceptional Ability not seeking a National Interest Waiver, EB-3 Professionals, EB-3 Skilled Workers, and EB-3 Workers other than Skilled Workers and Professionals.

NOTE: Premium Processing Service is still NOT available for Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, involving EB-1 Multinational Executives and Managers and EB-2 Members of Professions with Advanced Degrees or Exceptional Ability seeking a National Interest Waiver.

Under the Premium Processing Service, USCIS guarantees petitioners that, for a $1,000 processing fee, it will issue either an approval notice, or where appropriate, a notice of intent to deny, a request for evidence or open an investigation for fraud or misrepresentation, within 15 calendar days of receipt.

If the petition is not processed within 15 calendar days, USCIS will refund the $1,000 fee and continue to process the request as part of the Premium Processing Service. In addition to faster processing, petitioners who participate in the program may use a dedicated phone number and e-mail address to check on the status of their petition or ask any other questions they may have concerning their petition.

As in the past, Premium Processing Service continues to be available for previously designated classifications within Form I-140 and Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker.

FBI Eliminate National Name Check Backlog

USCIS recently announced that it has eliminated of the FBI National Name Check Program (NNCP) backlog.

The continued working relationship between USCIS and FBI will help to ensure that name check processing is accomplished as quickly as possible without compromising security concerns.

USCIS and FBI hope to achieve and maintain a sustainable performance level of completing 98 percent of name check requests submitted by USCIS within 30 days, and the remaining two percent within 90 days. This performance level will become the new standard.

As is the case with all security checks undertaken by USCIS, any information provided by the FBI through these checks may require further evaluation and may need additional interaction with agencies outside USCIS to obtain updated or additional information. This could result in additional delays in processing and is not governed by the processing goals contained in the joint business plan.

In the majority of instances, however, the completion of a backlogged FBI name check has resulted in a
“no record response.”

For Those Seeking OPT Extension in STEM-Occupations, Good Online Resource Available.

Not too long ago, USCIS made some changes regarding the Optional Practical Training (OPT) for academic students on F-1 status, who are in certain classified fields known as “STEM” (essentially, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

To read more about STEM and its occupation classifications, please refer to my previous post on this issue.

To qualify for the OPT STEM extension, F-1 students need to conduct their OPT with U.S. employers using E-Verify. Unfortunately, as of date of this writing, neither USCIS nor ICE provide a searcheable database for this, and often the foreign student must resort to other means of finding such employers.

There is some help available to students seeking out qualifying employers. “NumbersUSA” has a searchable database of about 67,000 E-Verify employers, conveniently searchable by location and business-/occupation-type. This database is located at:
http://www.smartbusinesspractices.com/pilot/

I-9′s now being requested during Adjustment Interviews? Really?

Some USCIS adjudication officers at local District Offices are apparently beginning to request copies of Forms I-9 from applicants who are applying for their Green Cards, via the process known as “adjustment of status” (from non-immigrant to permanent resident).

The instruction letters sent out by the USCIS (to the clients whose interview appointments at the local offices are being scheduled), are still silent on this new request.

Be prepared and provide copies of any previous (at least the most recent) I-9 forms to confirm that no prior claim of U.S. citizenship or of LPR status has previously been made. Discuss this with your lawyer, well in advance of the actual interview, preferrably early on in the process.

If a social security number was used and disclosed on the I-9, you should expect questions as to the origin and legitimacy of the number.

USCIS Announces Likely Backlog in Work Authorization Processing

Last year, USCIS began issuing reduced 1-yr Employment Authorization cards (EADs), in response to an onslaught of Green Card applications. These cards are now beginning to come up for renewals. As a result, USCIS now has over 220,000 new and renewal EAD applications on its hand, and has fallen behind in the issuance of EAD cards.

If you are an EAD applicant/recipient, you should know that:

  • Processing will likely take over 90 days.
  • At this time, interim EADs may be delayed even if the application has been pending more than 90 days.
  • Applicants still cannot apply for EAD renewal more than 4 months before the EAD card expires.
  • Applicants are not permitted to work after the old EAD card expires and before a new EAD card is issued. If they continue to work they would be working without authorization. The government might refuse to approve the adjustment of status application if they find out about the employment.

This makes a very bad situation for applicants, but there is not much that can be done other than to make an appointment at the local USCIS office to try to get an interim EAD card issued.