Proclamation of April 22nd, 2020: The Suspension of Entry of Immigrants Who Present a Risk to the United States Labor Market during the Economic Recovery Following the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Outbreak  

On Wednesday, April 22nd, President Trump signed an executive order to suspend the issuance of new green cards to prevent immigration into the United States for at least 60 days. These immigration changes will affect thousands of immigrant applicants seeking to permanently move to the United States. The notoriously slow process of gaining permanent residency will be further slowed for individuals seeking to remain in the country.

The order explicitly articulates that its purpose is to ensure that unemployed American citizens, of all backgrounds, will be the first in line for jobs as the economy reopens. President Trump noted that it will, “preserve our healthcare resources for American patients” afflicted by COVID-19.

This executive provision is directed specifically towards foreign nationals seeking to obtain legal permanent statuses who are outside of the U.S. at the time of the order. Those who will be impacted by the suspension of entry include: aliens outside of the U.S. on April 22nd, 2020; aliens without an immigration visa that is valid on April 22nd, 2020; and aliens without an official travel document other than a visa (such as a transportation letter, advance parole document, etc…) that would permit them to travel to the U.S. for legal entry and admission. It is likely that the most-impacted category of aliens will be those seeking green cards through their employers or on account of their professional value.

Notably, the ban exempts aliens who enter the U.S. on an immigrant visa and who identify as physicians, nurses, or healthcare professionals. Aliens entering the U.S. to perform medical research or other research related to COVID-19 are also exempt from the provision. Any spouse or unmarried child under 21 of such an alien is also permitted to join him or her. This legislature will not apply to individuals coming into the U.S. temporarily, such as students or agricultural workers. It will not apply to individuals who obtained visas before April 22nd, 2020. U.S. refugees and asylum seekers will not be impacted by the executive order. The proclamation details a comprehensive list of aliens to whom this proclamation does not apply.

As of now, guest worker programs are not impacted by this provision, so technology workers, farm laborers, and workers in the food industry will continue to be able to apply and receive visas. In a statement, President Trump noted that he would ask his Administration to review guest-worker programs to assess if any further steps need to be taken to protect citizen workers.

After the 60-day period established by the executive order, the President will decide whether the order will be renewed or adapted. If the American economy struggles to recover from the current shutdown, according to the President, another order may be enacted to extend the ban or add supplemental restrictions to further deter immigration. The implementation of such provisions will likely make companies less likely to hire foreign workers or vulnerable noncitizens, because such a commitment may be undercut by the Administrations’ future orders.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Trump Administration has made over a dozen changes to the U.S. immigration system, using the coronavirus as justification for aggressive immigration restrictions. Previously, the Administration expanded travel restrictions and slowed visa processing. Immigration agencies and embassies have already stopped processing visas and citizenship ceremonies have been halted. Since March 19th, refugee resettlements have also been suspended, as both the U.N. and the International Organizations for Migration temporarily paused refugee travel. This order, however, is the broadest expansion of restrictions on immigration since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

If you have questions about how this order may affect your case, please contact us on our website, by email at info@immigrationlawgroupllc.com or give us a call at (866) 691-9894.

 

Consequences of COVID-19 on U.S. immigration policy

In the midst of our interconnected world, COVID-19 has rapidly spread and awakened the world’s anxieties while new related policies have abruptly restricted human movement. As the Trump Administration attempts to contain the contemporary strain of Coronavirus, U.S. immigration policy has been shaped by the crisis.

Impacts of COVID-19 on restrictions on U.S. Visas and Entry

On March 15, the National Association of Immigration Judges, ICE Professionals Union, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association called for the emergency closure of American Immigration Courts to adhere to the COVID-19 public health protocols.

UPDATE: Effective March 18th, 2020, the Department of Justice has postponed all non-detained hearings.

President Trump has issued the following four COVID-19 related proclamations that limit travel to the United States:

  • China Travel Proclamation, effective since February 2, 2020, suspends the entry into the United States of all aliens who were physically present within the People’s Republic of China during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.
  • Iran Travel Proclamation, otherwise known as the Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting Coronavirus, effective since March 2, 2020, suspends entry of all aliens who were physically present in the Islamic Republic of Iran during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.
  • European Schengen Area Proclamation, effective since March 13, 2020, suspends the entry into the U.S. of all aliens who were physically present within the Schengen Area during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. The written proclamation articulates that the suspension, “shall remain in effect until terminated by the President.”
  • Ireland and United Kingdom Proclamation, effective since March 16, 2020, bans entry into the U.S. of all aliens physically present within the U.K. or the Republic of Ireland during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United State.

Note: according to NAFSA Association of Intellectual Educators, these proclamations do not apply to any U.S. citizen, or to any alien who is:

  1. a lawful permanent resident of the U.S.
  2. a spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
  3. a parent or legal guardian of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident is unmarried and under the age of 21;
  4. a sibling of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that both are unmarried and under the age of 21;
  5. a child, foster child, or ward of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications;
  6. an alien traveling at the invitation of the United States Government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus;
  7. C (transit) or D (air or sea crewmember) nonimmigrants
  8. an alien whose entry would not pose a significant risk of introducing, transmitting, or spreading the virus, as determined by the CDC Director, or his designee;
  9. an alien whose entry would further important United States law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee; or
  10. an alien whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees.

U.S. consular offices are temporarily closed in China. All routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments in India have been cancelled since March 16, 2020. Likewise, U.S. consular services in Italy have been reduced since March 10, 2020.

According to the Migration Policy Institute, never before has the U.S. Administration pursued such a comprehensive travel ban. President Trump’s four proclamations are the most widespread measures ever undertaken by the U.S. government in the context of a public-health threat, screening individuals across the “migration continuum”: during visa application, during plane boarding, and at the arrival to physical borders.

President Trump has suggested that he is considering completely closing the U.S.-Mexico border, regardless of the fact that there are far more reported Coronavirus cases in the U.S. than in Mexico. Migrants have consistently served as the scapegoats for public-health concerns. For instance, Cholera was known as the “Irish disease” in the 1830s.

COVID-19 and USCIS

The USCIS has released a statement requesting aliens to reschedule their appointments or interviews with any USCIS office if they have traveled internationally to any country outside the U.S. within 14 days of the appointment if they believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19, or experience any flu-like symptoms.  Additionally, the USCIS Field office has canceled some upcoming scheduled interviews this week in an effort to reduce the number of applicants coming into the building.

UPDATE: As of March 18, 2020, USCIS has announced that domestic field offices will be closing to the general public for in-person services until June 4th 2020.  This means scheduled immigration and naturalization interviews between that time will be canceled and rescheduled to a later date and time.  For more information, go to uscis.gov.

Likewise, the Department of Homeland and Security (DHS) has noted that both Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office (CWMD) have worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by conducting enhanced screening at 11 major American airports. At and between all air, land, and sea Ports of Entry, CBP officers and Border Patrol agents are identifying individuals with COVID-19 symptoms or with a travel history to China or Iran in the former 14 days. These individuals are referred to CDC or any other local public health officials for further health screening.

COVID-19 and the Public Charge Rule 

While the “Public Charge” rule has discouraged immigrants from accessing healthcare, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) noted on March 14, 2020, that treatment or preventive services for the COVID-19 would not negatively affect any alien as part of a future Public Charge analysis. The USCIS emphasizes that it encourages all aliens with symptoms that resemble COVID-19 to seek necessary medical attention.

Despite this statement released by the USCIS, there is the possibility that past legislature, such as the “Remain in Mexico” policy and the “Public Charge” act, may exacerbate the crisis if immigrants continue to resist accessing health care out of fear of being negatively impacted. Past immigration enforcement has cultivated a sense of distrust in Latinx communities towards American institutions, which may indirectly endanger the well-being of many Americans especially during this pandemic as fewer individuals seek health care. Furthermore, documented immigrants may avoid attending health centers out of fear that their use of public benefits may hurt their abilities to naturalize or to sponsor a noncitizen for a visa.

Immigration Enforcement and Check-Ins

While immigration law enforcement continues daily enforcement operations and makes criminal and civil arrests, ICE will not conduct operations at medical facilities, except under extraordinary circumstances. In a recently released notice, ICE has said that it will continue to prioritize apprehending individuals who threaten national security and public safety, but is centrally committed to the health of its employees and general public. ICE policy has directed DHS officers to avoid making arrests at sensitive locations like health care facilities without prior approval for an exemption. Additionally, individuals with a scheduled check-in must contact their local ICE office for further guidance.

Detentions

As of March 13, 2020, there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at any ICE detention facilities, according to an official notice from ICE. ICE has instituted screening guidance for new detainees to identify those who meet CDC’s criteria for risk of exposure to COVID-19. Detainees with a fever or respiratory symptoms are isolated and observed for a specified period of time. Additionally, detainees without fever or respiratory symptoms who meet epidemiologic risk criteria are monitored for 14 days. All asymptomatic detainees in isolation can attend medical appointments, while symptomatic detainees in isolation must wear masks to attend medical appointments. The detainee’s medical provider is notified of the detainee’s status.

Personal visitation at detention centers has been temporarily curtailed. ICE will facilitate communication with families, in the absence of visitation, through extended telephone access or other reasonable means.

To note: ICE only detains individuals for immigration purposes, and cannot legally hold a detainee who has an ordered release by a judge. Local public health agencies are notified when an individual who is ill or who was in isolated detention is released.

Removals

The ICE Air flight medical provider conducts visual screenings that reflect ICE policy and procedures on new apprehensions lacking medical summary information who are delivered to the aircraft. Detainees who are not “new apprehensions” are delivered to the aircraft only with medical clearance. Detainees who do not pass screening and/or are suspected of having a health-risk condition that may be contagious are denied boarding and are referred instead to a facility for screening.

Indirect Consequences
Measures taken by the U.S. government in response to the COVID-19 may have unintended effects on migration and human movement. Ramped up screening may not deter travel from outbreak zones, but may incentivize travelers to evade detection if possible by masking symptoms or lying about travel history. Dangerously, this will impact national public health and safety.

The Migration Policy Institute articulates a concern that perhaps these travel bans, which often are symbolic responses, give false hope and foster a “nation-first” attitude that undermine the necessity to create an international solution. Blanket travel bans, such as those proclaimed by the Trump Administration to impede reception of individuals from China, Iran, the EU, the U.K., and Ireland, may prevent much-needed healthcare workers and supplies from entering the United States, which may also negatively impact public health and security.

 

 

 

 

New Public Charge Rule: What Documents do Green Card Applicants need now?

Since 1996, federal laws have stated that aliens must demonstrate self-sufficiency to be granted permanent legal status. The Supreme Court’s Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Final Rule, implemented on February 24th, 2020, revised the guidelines of determining whether an alien individual is admissible to the U.S. or eligible to obtain permanent legal status, based upon the likelihood of becoming a public charge. Consequently, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have the discretionary power to deny green cards to migrants with histories of using benefits. To decide whether an individual merits legal permanent resident status, USCIS will consider an alien applicant’s income, employment status, health, age, education, family circumstances, prospective immigration status, and prospective period of admission.

Applications for visas and lawful permanent residency processed at U.S. embassies and consular offices outside of the U.S. will operate under the February 24th regulations. All applicants who are not exempt from a public charge assessment must submit Form 5540 (Public Charge Questionnaire). USCIS officers have been directed to take Form DS-5540 into consideration before denying an alien’s application.

Green card applications, as of February 24th, 2020, must include:

1. Proof of Income of Applicant: this includes the most recent year’s IRS Tax Transcripts of the applicant’s Federal income tax returns (if applicable). If the green card applicant was outside the United States during the most recent tax year, he or she must provide the most recent year’s Foreign Tax Transcripts for income taxes filed with the government of the overseas country. If the green card applicant is not required to file federal taxes, he or she must file a W-2 statement or a Social Security Statement.

If the applicant has any additional non-taxable income (such as child support, unemployment benefits, etc…) not included in tax return, he or she must provide: statements or letters of proof of having received nontaxable income.

2. Proof of Income of Household Members (IF APPLICABLE): if the applicant currently lives with other household members (including a spouse, children, any individual receiving at least 50% of their support from the applicant or on whom an applicant relies for at least 50% support, etc…), then the applicant must provide all of his or her household members’ most recent year’s IRS Tax Transcripts of their Federal income tax returns, or the household members’ most recent year’s Foreign Tax Transcripts for income taxes filed outside the U.S.

Finally, if household members are not required to file federal taxes, the applicant must provide these members’ W-2 Statement or Social Security Statement.

The applicant must also provide evidence of his or her relationship with each household member, such as a birth certificate, marriage certificate, or a signed statement.

3. Evidence of Asset of Household (IF APPLICABLE): Assets include checking and savings account statements, stocks and bonds, retirement accounts, educational accounts, net cash value of real estate holdings, and other substantial assets that can be converted into cash within 12 months.

If the applicant or any of their household members own any assets, proof of the applicant’s or households’ assets must be provided, including: the name of the asset holder, description of the asset, proof of ownership, and basis for owner’s claim of its net cash value.

4. Proof of Liabilities/Debt (IF APPLICABLE): IF the applicant has liabilities or debt, he or she must provide documentation (letters or statements) for each liability and debt :
a. Such examples include Mortgages, Car Loans, Credit Card Debt, Education Related Losses, Tax Debts, Liens, Personal Loans, Unpaid Child or Spousal Support, Other Debts

5. Credit Score and Report (IF APPLICABLE): IF the applicant has a Credit Report or Credit Score in the U.S., he or she must provide a Credit Report from Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion (go to: https://www.usa.gov/credit reports ). If the applicant has no Credit Report or Credit Score, he or she must provide evidence of continued payment of bills and provide documentation that he or she has no credit report with a U.S. credit bureau.

If the applicant has Negative History in his or her Credit Report (such as delinquent accounts, debt collections, tax liens, bankruptcy, etc…), he or she must provide a written explanation regarding each negative history item.

If the applicant has filed for bankruptcy, he or she must provide documentation to show every instance, type, place of filing, and date of the bankruptcy. The evidence of the resolution of each bankruptcy must also be filed if applicable.

6. Proof of Health Care Insurance (IF APPLICABLE): IF the applicant has health care insurance, he or she must provide a copy of the Insurance’s Policy Page that articulates the terms and type of coverage OR the applicant must provide a letter on the company letterhead/ evidence from the health insurance and provide the terms and type of coverage OR the applicant must provide the latest Form 1095-B (Health Coverage) and Form 1095-C (Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage) if available, with evidence of renewal of coverage for the current year.

If relevant, the applicant must also provide proof of Premium Tax Credit or Advanced Premium Tax Credit, with a transcript copy of the IRS Form 8963 Report of Health Insurance Provider Information, Form 8962 Premium Tax Credit (PTC), and a copy of Form 1095A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement.

If relevant, the applicant must also provide proof of the deductible or premium amount, with documentation.

If relevant, the applicant must also show documentation of the date of insurance termination or date of renewal.

If the applicant has enrolled in health insurance that has yet to start, he or she must provide proof of enrollment, such as a letter that includes the terms, type of coverage, name of the individual covered, and the date when the coverage begins.

If the applicant has a medical condition that will affect his or her circumstances of work, he or she must provide documentation that can outweigh negative factors related to the medical condition (this includes information provided by a civil surgeon or a panel physician on a medical examination, attestation from your treating physician regarding the prognosis of any medical condition and whether it impacts your ability to work or go to school, or evidence of sufficient assets and resources to pay the costs of any reasonably anticipated medical treatment).

7. Public Benefits Received (IF APPLICABLE): IF the applicant has received any Public Benefits, he or she must include evidence of that public benefit (such as a letter, notice, certification) that include the applicant’s name, the public benefit-granting agency’s name and contact information, type of benefit, date of authorization to receive the benefit, and the date benefit or coverage ended or expires. Such Public Benefits include: any local, state, federal, or tribal cash assistance for income maintenance; Supplemental Security Income; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; Public Housing under the Housing Act of 1937; Federally funded Medicaid.

If the applicant has applied for a Public Benefit but been denied or rejected, he or she must provide documentation of denial or rejection.

If the applicant has disenrolled from a Public Benefit, he or she must
provide evidence of disenrollment or request to disenroll.

If the applicant has withdrawn from a Public Benefit, he or she must provide evidence demonstrating that the public benefit granting agency received your request to withdraw the application. The applicant may also provide evidence from a federal, state, local, or tribal agency administering a public benefit that shows that he or she does not qualify or would not qualify for such public benefit based on his or her annual gross household income or prospective immigration status.

8. Immigration Fee Waivers (IF APPLICABLE): IF the applicant has ever applied or received a fee waiver when applying for an immigration benefit AND the circumstances that caused an applicant to apply have changed, he or she must provide documentation to support any explanation of changed circumstances.

9. Education and Skills of the Applicant: IF an applicant is unemployed because he or she is the primary caretaker of a child/disabled individual/elderly, he or she must provide documentation showing that he or she is the primary caretaker (such as a legal guardianship court order), that the individual resides in the applicant’s household, and proof of the individual’s age/medical condition (if relevant).

If the applicant has graduated high school or obtained a tertiary level degree, he or she must provide transcripts, diplomas, degrees, certificates, or written explanation/letter issued from the institution as to why these documents are unavailable. Note that all foreign education should include an evaluation of equivalency to education or degrees acquired at U.S. educational institutions.

If the applicant has any occupational skills, he or she must provide a list of licenses for specific occupations/professions AND certificates documenting mastery or apprenticeships in skilled professions and trades.

If licenses/certificates are unavailable, the applicant must provide a written explanation and letter from the issuing institution to explain why these documents are unavailable.

If the applicant has completed courses and/or received any certifications in English or other languages, he or she must provide proof of language or literacy classes taken or currently being taken, or other proof of proficiency.

If the applicant is a speaker of English or another language, he or she must provide documentation of language proficiency including language certifications (such as high school diplomas and college degrees showing that the native language was studied for credit).

10. Proof of Retirement (IF APPLICABLE): IF an applicant is currently retired, he or she must provide documentation or statements of income from pensions, social security, and other retirement benefits.

New Public Charge Rule’s Impact on Green Card Applicants

Since February 24th, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has implemented the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Final Rule nationwide. This public charge rule expands the grounds on which immigration enforcement officials can deny the acquisition of a green card or other legal status to noncitizen applicants, to ensure that individuals will not rely upon government benefits and services. Until February 24th, the use of most public benefits did not impede legal status in the United States. The new rules allow USCIS officials to penalize noncitizen recipients of housing, health, and nutrition welfare programs that are applying to change their legal status. However, because few benefit programs are open to noncitizens without legal permanent residence, few green card applicants are likely to be denied based on their benefit use. Notably, certain classes of individuals, such as refugees and asylum seekers, are exempt from the public charge ground of inadmissibility.

Note that Public Benefits that will not be considered by officers in determining an alien applicant’s inadmissibility on grounds of public charge are: emergency medical assistance, disaster relief, national school lunch programs, energy assistance, food pantries and homeless shelters, Head Start, government-subsidized student and mortgage loans, subsidies for foster care and adoption, Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.

This final rule applies to applicants for admission, aliens seeking to adjust their legal status from within the U.S., and aliens within the U.S. who have a nonimmigrant visa and would like to extend their stay in the same or different legal classification. This rule indicates that the Department of Homeland and Security (DHS) will not consider the receipt of public benefits received by an alien who is enlisted in the U.S. armed forces or is serving in active duty. Furthermore, DHS will not consider the public benefits received by children. Likewise, DHS will not consider Medicaid benefits received for the treatment of an emergency medical condition, services provided in connection to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, schools-based benefits provided to individuals who are below or at the oldest age eligible for secondary education, aliens under 21 years of age, and pregnant individuals or individuals within the 60-day period beginning on the last day of the pregnancy.

Significance for Green Card applicants:

The State Department’s revised public charge guidelines increase the difficulty in securing a green card or other form of visa. If a green card applicant is filing immigration paperwork from abroad he or she should expect significant scrutiny of past and present financial circumstances. While receiving cash benefits in the past can be a factor in the government’s decision, no single factor will dictate whether USCIS deems an individual a “public charge”. Immigration enforcement officers use their discretion to decide whether an applicant can receive legal permanent residence, using the following factors to determine whether an individual is likely to rely on public funds:

– Age: The final Supreme Court rule indicates that USCIS will consider whether an applicant’s age impacts his or her ability to physically work, and is therefore relevant to determining self-sufficiency. USCS has indicated that it is important that the applicant is between 18 and 62 years of age. This age range is based on the age at which individuals are generally able to begin working full-time and the age at which individuals typically retire with social security retirement benefits under federal law. Moreover, minors under 18 years of age are more likely to qualify for public benefits, and thus may be relevant to public charge inadmissibility. The regulation also acknowledges that applicants under 18 years of age or over 61 years of age may work or have other means of support. For minors under 18 years of age, USCIS will consider the availability of outside support form a parent and other resources and assets available to the minor applicant. USCIS says that it will be heavily negatively weighted if the applicant is authorized to work, not a full-time student, and does not demonstrate current employment, recent employment history, or any prospect of future employment.

– Health: USCIS will consider whether an applicant has a medical condition that will require extensive future treatment that will likely impede the applicant’s ability to work and provide for himself or herself. However, the presence of a medical condition does not automatically render an alien applicant inadmissible. USCIS officials will likely defer to Form 1-693 (civil surgeon’s medical report) that must be filed as a part of the application process. Officials will consider the medical condition through the lens of whether the medical condition will impede an alien’s ability to attend school and work. Applicants with a health condition should have evidence that they have or will obtain private health insurance to cover all associated foreseeable medical costs.

– Family Status: The final Supreme Court’s rule indicates that the larger the family’s size, the more income an applicant needs to establish. Thus, it is considered whether an alien applicant has a household to support, or whether the applicant is supported by another household, in order to determine whether the alien would be more or less of a public charge. Certainly, household size does not automatically dictate the outcome of a public charge admissibility determination, and officers look at other factors such as financial status.

– Financial status (including income, employment, assets, and resources): Perceived negative factors such as unemployment may contribute to additional questioning. Applicants must submit Form 1-944 (Declaration of Self-Sufficiency) to provide evidence of an annual gross income at least 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. If an applicant cannot provide adequate evidence of sufficient income, his or her assets can be considered. These assets may pertain to the applicant or to any family member in the household. USCIS officers will also consider an applicant’s credit history and civil liabilities, including mortgages, spousal support, unpaid taxes, etc… The final rule provides that a household income, assets, and resources of at least 250% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines is a heavily weighed positive factor.

– Education and Skills: USCIS will consider whether an applicant has sufficient education and skills to obtain and maintain a lawful employment. Skills include English proficiency. Generally, aliens with educational credentials, certificates, and skills are more employable and thus less likely to become a public charge. Considering market demand, DHS may regard an applicant’s proficiency in other languages, along with English, when reviewing the education and skills factor.

– Affidavit of Support: Because an affidavit of support does not guarantee that an alien applicant will receive public benefits in the future, officers only consider the affidavit of support as one factor among all others. However, an applicant’s failure to submit a required affidavit of support will result in a determination of inadmissibility without review of other factors. USCIS considers whether a sponsor will genuinely provide the required amount of financial support to the alien applicant.

DHS notes that the following are positively weighed by USCIS: significant income, resources, and assets; or an annual income of at least 250% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
Furthermore, DHS lists some heavily weighed negative factors that indicate an alien applicant’s likelihood of being a future public charge, which include: lack of employment, lack of financial means to pay for medical costs, current receipt of one or more public benefits, receipt of public benefits within 36 months of filing an application for legal permanent residency, and previous determination of inadmissibility or deportability based on public charge.

National Defense Authorization Act

The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act provides several new provisions that impact many national science and technology policies, the Defense Department’s research security efforts, and several immigration-related measures. Immigration Law Group consists of top-rated Immigration lawyers who understand the effects of these immigration policy changes. We know how imperative it is to have a dedicated and knowledgeable team working for you. Our staff will not only walk you through these new immigration policy updates but provide your case with the attention and care that it deserves.

What is the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act?

The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act authorizes specific 2020 appropriations and puts into place certain policies for the Department of Defense activities and programs. The bill also includes many immigration-related provisions that affect Liberian nationals, the Afghan special immigrant visa programs, the parole in place for individual service members, and specific protections of the DACA and TPS service members.

Essential Immigration Changes That Come With the Act

The National Defense Authorization Act is the primary way for Congress to execute its Constitutional duties. Specifically, support and raise the Armies, maintain and provide for its Navy while making rules for the government and specific regulations for the land and naval forces. In addition, to the numerous provisions to expand on these primary goals, there have been specific immigration policies that have also been amended.

  • Liberian Nationals:

Under this act, Liberians can adjust their status if they have been in the United States since November 20, 2014. Once these individuals obtain their LPR status, they can apply for citizenship without having to wait for an additional period of time. This act will allow individuals to apply one year after enactment.

  • Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Program:

Under this act, the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Program will add 4,000 additional visas. It will affect the Afghan interpreters, translators, and other support staff who had worked with the U.S. military in Afghanistan. However, with the addition of these visas, it will also require reporting and evaluations to be done by the Department of State Inspector General about this program for the Iraqi and the Afghan allies.

  • Parole In Place:

This bill provides authorization according to INA Section 212(d)(5) to exercise parole in place on a case-by-case basis for individual service members and their families. This bill will protect those undocumented family members of veterans and active-duty military from deportation. It will confirm how vital the parole in place is, specifically in furthering the family unity and the stability for military families.

  • DACA and TPS Service Members

This bill will protect the recipients of DACA and TPS service members from being involuntarily separated from the Armed Forces.

How Will the Act Affect the Country?

The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act will ensure that individuals of the Armed Forces have the resources they need to protect the United States’ interests globally by enhancing America’s national security while also caring for the troops and their families. In addition, this bill will have a significant impact on immigration by increasing the number of special immigrant visas available to Afghans. It will also protecting those undocumented military family members from deportation, which the Trump administration had considered ending. Unfortunately, the bill did not address the desired language that immigration advocates had wanted. Specifically, language that restricted the transfer of military personnel and resources for the border wall or the immigration detention on the military bases. Time will tell how this will affect the country.

Why Call the Immigration Law Group?

With the constant changes in immigration law, it is important to hire an immigration team that has the experience, knowledge, and dedication to handle your immigration matters. With Immigration Law Group, we will provide you with an experienced team that will take on any immigration challenge you may have. Contact our office today for more information or to set up an appointment.

migrant protection protocol

Under the current political administration, many of the established immigration laws, like the Migrant Protection Protocol, are being profoundly altered and scrutinized to limit the number of people arriving at the US- Mexico border. Because of these new policies, there has been constant chaos for vulnerable asylum seekers. It is leaving thousands of migrants to deal with dangerous conditions, family separations, and a terrible health environment.

What is the Migrant Protection Protocol?

The Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) are actions implemented by the U.S. Government. It states migrants that are entering illegally or seeking admission without proper documentation into the United States from Mexico must wait in Mexico for the duration of their immigration proceedings. Per the regulation, Mexico will be required to provide the asylum seekers humanitarian protections during this period.

What are the Dangers of the MPP?

This intention of the MPP policy was to create a more efficient and orderly immigration system. Instead, this new regulation requires migrants to wait for months or years in dangerous camps while their case is processed. Many of these migrants are already fleeing terrible conditions, only to be required to stay in camps that have become life-threatening and treacherous.

This new asylum policy has led these migrants to live in some of the most dangerous cities located at the Mexico border. Thus, resulting in a wave of kidnappings, sexual assaults, and rapes. Many criminal organizations have seized opportunities from this new MPP policy by abducting these endangered asylum migrants waiting at the border. They have kept them hostage until their families pay thousands of dollars for their release. Not only is crime a massive issue for these immigrants, but health concerns are also on the rise, as the health conditions at these camps continue to worsen. Without clean water, many immigrants must use the polluted Rio Grande to take care of their essential needs. This usage has resulted in many rashes and a plethora of other health problems.

The whole premise of the MPP was to reduce threats of life and protect vulnerable populations. This objective has been gravely missed. Ideally, the program would have found ways to increase capacity at the ports of entry or improve the detention programs. Rather this policy has led to expanding our asylum system’s current inefficiencies and creating dangerous conditions. As the enforcement of the “Remain in Mexico” program continues, it leaves thousands of migrants to handle the immigration crisis on their own while ultimately putting their lives, safety, and health at risk.

How does the MPP Affect Immigrants and the U.S.?

Under the MPP policy, it makes it nearly impossible for migrants to obtain asylum when they reach the United States. Instead, it leaves these individuals to handle terrible conditions, chaos, and a lot of suffering.  However, it is not only the migrants that are hurting under this regulation.

With the additional border security required under this policy, its forced thousands of U.S. federal employees to work without pay. This policy has created an immense burden for many U.S. officials and has created an overall legal and humanitarian nightmare. Not just an immigration issue, the MPP policy has become a disaster for people and the country as a whole.

Call Immigration Law Group!

Under the current Trump Administration, immigration policies are continually being changed.  It’s more important than ever to have qualified professionals working on your immigration case.

With Immigration Law Group, you can be confident that you are getting the best legal services specific to your case. If you have an immigration question or would like to discuss your immigration case, contact our dedicated and experienced staff today.

Portland Immigration Lawyer

The cost for becoming a United States Citizen might become 83 percent more expensive. The Trump Administration is attempting to raise the application fees from citizenship to legal permanent residency.

Last Thursday, USCIS announced the proposed price hikes, in their statement “current fees do not recover the full costs of providing adjudication and naturalization services.”  The citizenship application fee is currently 640 dollars, the proposed price hike would make the fee 1,170 dollars. The legal permanent residency fee is currently 1,220 and USCIS is attempting to raise it to 2,195.

The proposed price hikes would have a major affect on immigration. There are also price hikes for Asylum, Temporary Protected Status Beneficiaries, and DACA recipients. DACA renewals would go from 495 dollars to 765 dollars. The administration is also seeking to transfer $207.6 million of USCIS funding and divert it to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Advocacy groups are pressing people who are eligible to apply as soon as possible. USCIS and the Trump Administration must place the proposed price hikes in a comment period, the period ends on December 16th.

These price hikes have very little blocking their way to becoming a reality. Congress is really the only option to prevent the price hikes from becoming implemented.

The time to apply for your green card or citizenship application is now!  Don’t wait until the fees increase a substantial amount more than they already are.  Feel free to contact us with any questions.

On Saturday, Federal District Court Judge from Portland, Oregon, ruled against the Trump Administration’s attempt to curb legal immigration. The proposed policy would require immigrants to prove they have the financial resources to obtain health insurance if approved for a Visa.

 

Judge Simon issued a nationwide temporary restraining order that prevents the United States Government and the Trump Administration from carrying out this new policy. The Policy was planned to go into effect on November 3rd.

 

According to New York Times Reporter Aimee Ortiz “Mr. Trump’s Oct. 4 proclamation ordered consular officers to bar immigrants who could not prove they had health insurance or the ability to pay for medical costs once they become permanent residents of the United States. The president had justified the policy on the grounds that immigrants were more likely to be uninsured, and that costs associated with this care are passed on to the American people in the form of higher taxes, higher premiums, and higher fees for medical services.”

 

This policy, along with other Immigration based policy changes the Trump Administration has tried to roll out has been constantly stopped by Judges before it reaches the implementation stage.

 

Ortiz reports “Lawyers from Justice Action Center, Innovation Law Lab and the American Immigration Lawyers Association argued that the policy was “plainly illegal” and that it would cause immediate and irreparable harm.“This new requirement rewrites our immigration and health care laws,” the lawyers wrote in a motion seeking a temporary restraining order. They noted that the policy could effectively bar up to 375,000 “otherwise qualified immigrants each year.””

 

The Justice Action Center also stated “We’re glad that the court understands the importance of preventing the health care ban from taking effect tonight, but this is just the first step, Esther Sung, a senior litigator at the Justice Action Center, said on Saturday. The impact of this ban is just huge. Hundreds of thousands of people would be affected,” she said. “Two out of three intending immigrants every year might not be able to join their families. It’s outrageous that the Trump administration is trying to slip this by people without them noticing.”

 

The Supreme Court will be taking on a number of major cases that will have major implications. They will be hearing cases that deal with LGBTQ, guns and DACA.

There are currently 800,000 young immigrants within the DACA system. Their fate is in the hands of nine justices. The Supreme Court will be deciding on the 2017 decision made by President Trump to end the DACA program, they will be evaluating the legality of the decision.

DACA was a program created by President Obama in 2012 using his Executive Authority. The program allows undocumented immigrants who do not have a criminal record and who are attending school, to pay a fee and register with the United States Government. They would be allowed to receive a temporary waiver to be allowed to work and live without fear of deportation. DACA recipients are required to renew their status every two years. 

President Trump claims he can end the program via Executive Decision purely because the program was created by Executive Order.

Immigration public charge Update on Visa Applicants Portland, Oregon

The Public Charge Rule is set to go into affect on October 15th. The new policy has received many challenges, both in court and with Immigration advocates. Critics of the new rule have claimed “The new rule — which critics say makes the definition of “public charge” so vague and all-encompassing that it will effectively favor only rich, white immigrants — drew swift rebuke from dozens of state and local governments, attorneys general, public health organizations and immigrant advocacy groups after U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services formally announced the policy in September.”

The USCIS has refused to comment on the on-going legal battle between the courts and the Trump administration. Washington Post writer Abigale Hauslohner reports  “Is expected to decide next week on whether to block the rule from taking effect.”

Another Federal Judge in Olympia, Washington is going to hold a separate hearing on the same piece of policy. The lawsuit was filed by a coalition of 13 different states. Judges in New York, Maryland and Illinois will also be making decisions on this policy.

If the policy goes into effect, according to Hauslohner “the new public-charge rule, immigrants who are in the United States legally and use public benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps or housing assistance — or have at one time used public benefits, or are deemed likely to someday use public benefits — could be considered “public charges,” rendering them ineligible for green cards.

The new criteria provide “positive” and “negative” factors for immigration officials to weigh as they decide on green-card applications. Negative factors include whether a person is unemployed, dropped out of high school or is not fluent in English.” Hauslohner also reports “Critics say the rule is likely to reduce legal immigration by slashing eligibility for family-based visas, the leading type of legal immigration to the United States, particularly from low-income countries in Africa and Latin America. They say it could also lead to more deportations as huge numbers of immigrants see their applications denied.”

Hauslohner states “The lawsuits argue that the new “public charge” definition deviates substantially from more than 100 years of legal interpretation. They say it will cause significant harm to the health and well-being of immigrant families, as well as the institutions that service them, by leading many to abstain from seeking public benefits that they or their children may need.”