USCIS Announced New Online Tool Calculates Fees

USCIS has launched a new Online Fee Calculator to assist applicants calculating the correct fee amount when filing their forms with USCIS.

USCIS’ Online Fee Calculator will determine the exact filing and biometric fees an individual needs to include with their forms and will have the most up-to-date fee information. When using the Online Fee Calculator, applicants select a form, or combination of forms, and answer a series of questions. The tool then calculates the correct fee amount that the filer must submit.

USCIS accepts payment via check, money order, or credit card with Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions.

If you need assistance with immigration, feel free to contact us at 913-717-7112 for a free consultation.

USCIS Updates Guidances and Policies for Benefits Applications

Be careful petitioners and applicants, your application for immigration benefits may be denied if you do not have all evidence to prove you are eligible. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) issued a new memo, to give its officers the right to deny visas if applications do not include all the necessary information when submitted.

CIS officers no longer need to first seeking additional evidence that might be needed to complete an application, or issuing a notice stating the intent to deny a request to adjudicate.

USCIS announced recently that it would also begin initiating removal/deportation proceedings against visa applicants who lack immigration status when their visa applications are denied.  For example, if you are are out of status when you applied for change of status, therefore, you are ineligible to change status, CIS will deny your application and start removal proceedings. Or you may be a F-1 student applying for the H-1b lottery, but due to all sorts of administrative delays, your H-1b is not adjudicate until your F-1 expired, and then unfortunately it gets denied and you are out of status. CIS can also place you in removal proceedings.

Despite CIS saying the new memos are “not intended to penalize filers for innocent mistakes or misunderstandings of evidentiary requirements,” it certainly feels that way. Immigration enforcement has always been the realm of ICE, not CIS. USCIS adjudications are often inconsistent and often arbitrary. Applicants have the choices to appeal CIS decision or to seek review, and such options will be lost.

USCIS New Affirmative Asylum Interview Scheduling Order

USCIS will now schedule asylum interviews starting with newer filings and working back towards older filings.

USCIS announced that starting January 29, 2018, the Asylum Division will give priority to the most recently filed affirmative asylum applications when scheduling for interviews. For the original post, see https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/refugees-asylum/asylum/affirmative-asylum-interview-scheduling. The asylum scheduling bulletin has been taken down.

USCIS will give priority to recent filings. USCIS says to do so will reduce the incentive to file for asylum solely to obtain employment authorization. USCIS says if the cases are processed quicker, it will allow the government promptly place such individuals into removal proceedings. USCIS will now schedule asylum interviews in the following order of priority:

  • First priority: Applications that were scheduled for an interview, but the interview had to be rescheduled at the applicant’s request or the needs of USCIS.
  • Second priority: Applications that have been pending 21 days or less.
  • Third priority: All other pending affirmative asylum applications will be scheduled for interviews starting with newer filings and working back towards older filings.

In addition, Asylum office directors may consider, on a case-by-case basis, an urgent request to be scheduled for an interview if such request is submitted. Source: USCIS Website

What Does the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act Seek To Do

There had been many talks around the Republican-backed proposal: Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act. In a nutshell, it will significantly reduce the number of people allowed to legally immigrate to the United States. Although unlikely to pass Congress, what changes does the RAISE Act seek to bring exactly?

First, the RAISE Act seeks to eliminate the Diversity Visa Program. The Diversity Visa Program gives immigrant visas to nationals from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. For a list of countries/areas by region whose natives are eligible for DV-2018 and DV-2017, please refer to the DV Instructions.

Second, the RAISE Act seeks to cap the number of refugees who may be admitted in any fiscal year to 50,000 and requiring the President to “annually enumerate the number of aliens who were granted asylum in the previous fiscal year.” Limiting refugee numbers has always been President Trump’s priority, and it is no surprise the RAISE Act mentions it.

Third, in the family-sponsored immigration arena, the RAISE Act wants to change the definition of “Child” at INA §101(b)(1) from an unmarried person “under age 21” to an unmarried person “under age 18,” and change the definition of “Immediate Relative” at INA to include only children and spouses of U.S. citizens (removes parents of adult U.S. citizens). Similarly, it seeks to only allow children and spouses of LPR (green card) holders to immigrant to the U.S. This will effectively eliminate the following current available categories: (1) unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (FB-1); (2) unmarried sons and daughters of LPRs (FB-2B); and (3) married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (FB-3); and (4) brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens (FB-4). Parents of U.S. citizens will remain unaffected because under the new legislation, a new category for parents of USC citizens above the age of 21 will be created. The legislation seeks to cap the worldwide level of family-sponsored immigrants  admissions to 88,000 per fiscal year. The effort will significantly reduce the number of family based immigration and make many ineligible to reunite with their families in the United States.

All the above are part of the administration’s efforts to limit the number of immigrants to the U.S. Further, it seeks to replace of Employment-Based Immigration Categories with Immigration Points System. On the numbers, it seeks to limit the number of points-based immigrants to 140,000 (including spouses and children) per fiscal year. This so-called Points-Based System comes with an online portal and a required fee of $160. President Donald Trump has already announced his support for a the points system.

The immigration point system seeks to prioritize immigrants based on their degrees and skills. If they have equal points and equal educational attainment, they will be further ranked according to their (1) English language proficiency test scores; and (2) age, with applicants nearest their 25th birthdays ranked higher. And every 6 months, USCIS is said to invite the highest ranked applicants to file a petition for a points-based immigrant visa. If you want to see if you qualify to immigrate to the U.S., test your scores from Times.com here: http://time.com/4887574/trump-raise-act-immigration/.

Last but not least, the RAISE Act will prohibit naturalization of an individual if the person who submitted an affidavit of support on his or her behalf failed to reimburse the federal government for all means-tested public benefits received by the individual during the 5-year period immediately after the individual became an LPR. It therefore seems that, at no fault of the individual seeking naturalization, she or he might be barred from it. It is unclear whether the individual seeking naturalization is allowed to reimburse the government.

The Act does not mention temporary work visas such as H-1B and H-2 or temporary visitor (B-1/B-2) or student visas (F-1). Its focus remains on the number of available immigrant visas.

Read the full RAISE Act here: https://www.cotton.senate.gov/files/documents/170802_New_RAISE_Act_Bill_Text.pdf If interested, you can read this excellent summary of each section from American Immigration Lawyer’s Association (AILA): 17080732

 

 

 

 

Parole for International Start-Up Entrepreneurs Delayed and May be Rescinded

International entrepreneurs who are ready to file for parole status will now be delayed until March 14, 2018. DHS further believes the IE final rule may be rescinded.

The International Entrepreneur Final Rule (IE final rule) was initially published at at 82 Federal Register 5238 on January 17, 2017 with an effective start date of July 17, 2018. Unfortunately for the ones who really want to take advantage of this new opportunity, the effective date is now delayed until March 14, 2018. The Department of Homeland Security cites President Trump’s January 25, 2017 Executive Order to improve border security and immigration enforcement as the reason of the delay. DHS is required to exercise parole authority with caution.

The IE final rule provides USCIS with a case-by-case discretionary parole authority. International Entrepreneurs who can demonstrate their parole to the U.S. would provide a significant benefit to the U.S. will be allowed an initial stay of 30 months (with the option for extension for 30 months).

How To: Temporary Residents in the United States applying for a Kansas Driver’s License

In July 2011, Kansas Department of Revenue (KDOR) began utilizing the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service’s “Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlement System” (SAVE), to determine the status of temporary residents in the United States when such applicants apply for a Driver’s License.

If you are a temporary resident to the United States, follow these instructions for obtaining a SAVE Verification when applying for a Kansas Driver’s License:

  1. Visit a Full Service Driver’s License Exam Station. A list of all locations can be found at http://www.ksrevenue.org/dmv-dlstations.html
  2. At the Exam Station, you must present all original government issued documents that pertain to your immigration status, including the following:Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 2.42.58 PM
  3. The Driver’s License Examiner will use your documents to verify your immigration status with SAVE. If your immigration status is verified, the process to obtain a Kansas Driver’s License will continue.
  4. If your immigration status is NOT verified, you will be required to fill out a SAVE Verification – Request Form (download here: save verification request form) and provide copies of all documents used for the initial verification to the Driver’s License Examiner via USPS mail to Division of Vehicles, SAVE Coordinator, PO Box 2188, Topeka, KS 66601-2188 or via e-mail: LAWFUL.PRESENCE@KDOR.KS.GOV
  5. The Driver’s License Examiner will send all of your documents to the home office where additional verification will be administered by the SAVE Coordinator.
  6. After additional verification is received, you will be notified via mail, email or phone as to your immigration status.

 

MAVNI Program Status for Fiscal Year 2017 – Deferred Action and Military Naturalization Options

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) recently received notice from the U.S. Department of Defense. The U.S. Army will not accept Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI)  applications for FY 2017 until they complete the revisions.

The MAVNI program is extended for FY2017, starting from OCT 2016 to OCT 2017. However, it is currently suspended due to investigation delay. MAVNI or Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest is an exclusive recruiting program that is beneficial for the immigrants who are interested to be a part of the U.S. military force.

MAVNI enlistees in Delayed Entry Program (DEP) – whose entry has now been delayed or cancelled – have two potential options: (1) Deferred Action and/or (2) Naturalization.

Whether Deferred Action is being granted to reserve members is still a question. DoD seems to permit reserve soldiers fallen out of immigration status or authorized stay to basic training, therefore, DoD no longer views Deferred Action as necessary for reserve members. However, if you are Active Duty, you should apply for deferred action, even if you have other immigration options pending. 

In addition, under military naturalization of INA § 329, MAVNI enlistees already serving honorably on active duty, Selected Reserve, including any drilling Army Reserve MAVNI enlistee whose ship date to BCT is delayed or cancelled, are eligible to naturalize. Naturalization under the wartime naturalization statute does not have a time of service requirement. During the period of hostility, one day of service in the Selective Reserve of the Ready Reserve makes a foreign national, including any drilling Army Reserve MAVNI enlistee that has not shipped to basic training, eligible to naturalize.  

Call today at 913-717-7112 to find out about your options as an MAVNI enlistee.