By Gabriela Ungo 15 Jun, 2017
Today marks DACA's 5th anniversary. In 5 years of DACA, over 780,000   # DREAMers   have been given a chance to work and study without the fear of deportation. Eliminating   # DACA   could cost the United States hundreds of billions of dollars in lost economic growth in the next decade   # SaveDACA  

En 5 años de DACA, más de 780.000 #DREAMers han podido trabajar y estudiar sin temor a la deportación. Eliminar DACA podría costarle a EEUU cientos de miles de millones en crecimiento económico en la próxima década #SaveDACA
By Gabriela Ungo 12 Jun, 2017
Congress is considering two bills that would weaken screening procedures for Custom and Border Protection (CBP) officers and agents by waiving the polygraph requirement for certain for certain law enforcement and military applicants. 

The CBP, an agency with serious corruption and integrity issues, cannot be trusted to take shortcuts by weakening hiring standards—hires that will help President Trump ramp up his deportation force. The polygraph is an integral component of CBP vetting and has prevented corrupt or corruption-prone applicants from being hired and deployed. Current DHS Inspector General John Roth warns that "[w]hile it may sound reasonable to say you could waive requirements from former military personnel because they have passed a polygraph, Border Patrol agents work in a different environment that is not as controlled as the military.” Two-thirds of applicants fail the CBP polygraph and hundreds have admitted to serious criminal activity during the screening process. Former CBP head of Internal Affairs Tomsheck confirmed that applicants have revealed engagement with drug cartels and smuggling activities during their polygraph exams.

On 6/7/2017, the House then went on to vote on the passage of H.R. 2213, which passed on a 282 to 137 vote. Customs and Border Protection has a polygraph requirement in place for a reason — to ensure that only qualified people are hired. There shouldn’t be an option to waive that requirement for law enforcement or military personnel with qualifying experience.  Urge your Senator to oppose S. 595: Boots on the Border Act of 2017 NOW!


By Gabriela Ungo 12 Jun, 2017
Today, the Ninth Circuit unanimously ruled against President Donald Trump's revised travel ban,  as well as provisions suspending the refugee program and limiting the number of refugees to 50,000 for this fiscal year.

The panel ruled that the order at issue doesn't give a rationale laying out why allowing the entry of nationals from the six targeted countries under "current protocols" would be harmful to the interests of the U.S. "We conclude that the President, in issuing the Executive Order, exceeded the scope of the authority delegated to him by Congress," the opinion said.

The latest iteration of the order which was signed on 3/6/2017 seeks to block entry into the U.S. of nationals from the six Muslim-majority countries of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, and to suspend U.S.' refugee program for 180 days.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia also ruled against the travel ban May 25. The administration has appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court. It would take a majority of the Supreme Court, at least five justices, to put the policy into effect.
By Gabriela Ungo 10 Apr, 2017
The H-1B program allows companies in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific specialty, or its equivalent. H-1B specialty occupations may include fields such as science, engineering and information technology. However, the H-1B program has a statutory cap of 65,000 visas regular for fiscal year and a 20,000 cap on H-1B petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption, also known as the master’s cap.

Once again, the annual H-1B cap was reached within five business days.  USCIS began accepting H-1B petitions on April 3, 2017 and, on April 7, USCIS announced that it had received more petitions than the entire H-1B cap for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 allows. The agency will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not duplicate filings.

The H-1B program has also being under attack by the Trump administration: USCIS temporarily suspended premium processing for all H-1B petitions stating that it could last up to 6 months. The Administration has also vowed to target the H-1B program and other employment-based visa programs to detect and deter fraud and abuse and protect U.S. workers.

We are also anticipating an increase in number of  "Requests for Evidence" (RFEs) issued by the USCIS. RFEs are not a denial or intent to deny, but a USCIS effort to gain more information about an applicant before a decision is made. In the future, expect a rise on RFEs, and over-scrutinity on each application. 
By Gabriela Ungo 16 Mar, 2017
The Trump Administration suffered a new defeat: the "revised" Muslim travel ban was once again halted by U.S. Federal Courts just hours before it was to take effect. 

Last night, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson from Hawaii issued a nationwide restraining order temporarily blocking the executive order from going into effect today.  The federal judge argued that the revised ban still discriminates on the basis of nationality and prevents Hawaii residents from receiving visits from relatives living in the six Muslim-majority countries.

U.S.  District Judge Theodore D. Chuang. Like Watson, determined that Trump's executive order was "the realization of the long-envisioned Muslim ban" and also pointed to comments made by Trump throughout his campaign. The U.S. Federal Court in Maryland, also suspended a portion of the ban that prevented visas being issued to nationals of the six countries.
By Gabriela Ungo 14 Mar, 2017
On March 6, 2017, President Trump re-issued his immigration executive order  that halts all refugee admissions for at least 120 days and suspends immigrant and non-immigrant visa adjudications banning  entry entry into the United States for nationals of six Muslim-majority countries. This new order will effective March 16, 2017. 

This executive order suspends immigrants and nonimmigrants adjudications from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen (and excludes Iraq) from entering the United States for at least 90 days. The order includes explicit language of the possibility that other countries may be added.  

The new executive order also includes a section on waivers, noting that a consular officer may decide on a “case-by-case basis” to greenlight a visa. The waiver procedure is not clear, but it has been reported that the process for getting a waiver will involve just discussing one’s case with a consular officer during a visa interview. Department of States issued a statement clarifying that people who are in the U.S. when the executive order goes into effect on Thursday March 16th, will not need a waiver to renew an expired visa later is they travel abroad. 

The "revised" version does not explicitly ban Muslims, but in practice the new restrictions will do just that for many. “Regardless of the administration’s efforts to clean up the language in this latest version of the President’s travel ban, it continues to unlawfully discriminate against people because of their religion, nationality or country of birth,” said Matt Adams, legal director for Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. “The President continues to discriminate against people, including babies and children, labeling them as threats to our national security—not because of anything they have done—but instead because of where they were born.”

The States of Washington, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Oregon renewed their effort to block President Donald Trump's revised temporary ban arguing that his executive order is the same as the first one that was halted by federal courts. On March 10, 2017, three immigrants rights groups (Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, American Immigration Council, and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild) amended the nationwide class action lawsuit, Ali v. Trump ,  pending before U.S Federal Court of the Western District of Washington. The same day, a Wisconsin federal judge blocked enforcement of this executive order to prevent a processing delay with asylum petitions for the family of a Syrian refugee in the United States.


By Gabriela Ungo 13 Mar, 2017
Advising DACA clients has ben a legal practice challenge: President's Trump promised to end DACA during his campaign but has not signed a draft executive order that would rescind the 2012 DACA memo. Since taking office, he has made confusing statements about the program, making it difficult for attorneys to advise current DACA recipients on issues such as traveling on Advance Parole, renewal of DACA status or even filing new DACA applications. 

AILA practice alert states the following: " At this time, we do not know what the future of the DACA program holds. The draft Order may never be signed, it may be substantially rewritten before being signed, or it may be executed as currently written. If action is taken on DACA, it is possible that USCIS could stop approving all DACA applications, as laid out in the draft order. Alternatively, USCIS could halt only certain components of DACA. For example it could stop accepting initial DACA applications, stop accepting or approving renewal applications, or revoke DACA/EADs for individuals who currently have them. However, as of March 13, 2017, there have been no changes to the DACA program. USCIS continues to process both initial and renewal Forms I-821D and accompanying Forms I-765. "

 Our law firm is analyzing each applicant on a case-by-case basis. However, the trend is to abide by AILA's practice alert for DACA clients as follows:

  1. Refrain from applying for initial DACA if you have not applied for initial DACA benefits for now;
  2. Unless the applicant has additional adverse factors present since the last DACA approval, renew existing DACA benefits. 
  3. DACA recepients should not travel on advance parole. DHS Secretary John Kelly directed USCIS, CBP and ICE to ensure that guidance is given to employees of those agencies and exercise parole authority only on a case-by-case basis, noting that it should be “exercised sparingly.” It is important to keep in mind that CBP maintains the position that advance parole does not guarantee admission to the United States.

By Gabriela Ungo 04 Mar, 2017
Today, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will temporary suspend premium processing of all H-1B visa petitions starting on April 3, 2017, for up to six months.

Who Is Affected?

The suspension  applies to all petitions filed for the FY18 H-1B regular cap and master’s advanced degree cap exemption (the “master’s cap”) and petitions that may be cap-exempt. USCIS announced that after April 3rd, 2017 it will reject any Form I-907 filed with an H-1B petition. If the petitioner submits one combined check for both the Form I-907 and Form I-129 H-1B fees, USCIS will reject both forms.

Please note that non-cap subject H-1B petitions (such as Conrad Program Foreign Medical Graduates with approved J-1 waivers, universities and nonprofits) may request premium processing of petitions   received on or before March 31st, 2017. 

Normal Expedited Criteria Available  

USCIS advised petitioners to submit a request to expedite an H-1B petition, which is analyzed on a case-by-case basis if they meet the following criteria:

  • Severe financial loss to company or ​person​;​
  • Emergency situation;​
  • Humanitarian reasons;​
  • Nonprofit organization whose request is in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States​;​
  • Department of Defense or ​n​ational ​i​nterest ​s​ituation (These particular expedite requests must come from an official U.S. government entity and state that delay will be detrimental to the government.);​
  • USCIS error; or​
  • Compelling interest of USCIS.​ 

Regular Petitions

Regular H-1B petitions are currently averaging 6 to 8 months depending on the USCIS jurisdiction processing the case.  We are anticipating even more delays in regular processing times while premium processing is suspended, which will definately impact U.S. employers, particularly technology firms, hospitals and universities. 

Foreign Medical Graduates

Our law firm is diligently working to expedite and file all eligible cases subject to the Conrad 30 J-1 Visa Waiver Program, before the April 3rd deadline. The premium processing suspension will affect many physicians who may be unable to meet deadlines to begin work in medically underserved areas and certain medical residents and fellows who may be unable to begin their programs if their H-1B petitions are not adjudicated by certain dates. The issue gained national news coverage on  http://money.cnn.com/2017/03/09/news/economy/hospitals-doctors-fast-track-processing-h-1b-visa/
By Gabriela Ungo 30 Jan, 2017
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)  has received the following clarifications from Department of Homeland Security (DHS). However, reports from other AILA members attorneys and media indicate that policies are not being implemented consistently on the ground. 

  • DHS is currently implementing the travel ban forall individuals "from" the 7 designated countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. 
  • The ban includes Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs), nonimmigrant visa holders, immigrant visa holders, refugees, derivative asylees, Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs), etc.
  • Anyone who holds a passport from a designated country is considered as being "from" the designated country. This includes dual citizens who hold passports from a designated country, as well as a non-designated country.
  • CBP will be processing people based on how they present themselves at primary inspection.
  • The Executive Order does NOT apply to people who merely traveled to designated countries.
  • Legal Permanent Residents: There appears to be some limited discretion for DHS to admit LPRs on a case-by-case basis, and following a thorough security review. LPRs will be allowed to board planes. Their cases will be adjudicated at the port of entry.
  • Nonimmigrants: Nonimmigrants will be allowed to withdraw their application for admission. Expedited removal will generally only be used for those individuals who do not wish to withdraw their application for admission.
We advise our clients from these 7 designated countries to exercise caution and that they not travel outside of the U.S. for business or vacation until further notice, as the situation is fluid, and may change at any time.

By Gabriela Ungo 30 Jan, 2017
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) denounced President Trump's Executive Order that is based on the false premise that barring Muslims and refugees from coming to America will make us safer. AILA called on Congress and the public to stand up against this action which is antithetical to core American values. These policies will do little to improve national security and will create enormous delays for people coming to the U.S.

Among other things, the Executive Order:

  • Suspends the refugee program for 120 days and suspends the Syrian refugee program indefinitely;
  • Caps refugee resettlement numbers at 50,000 for FY 2017; 
  • Suspends immigrant and nonimmigrant entry for people from predominantly Muslim countries for a minimum of 90 days while the government undertakes a review of visa issuance and immigration benefits processes;
  • Requires in-person interviews for nonimmigrant visa applicants;
  • Establishes requirements for "extreme vetting";
  • Prioritizes refugees whose claims are based on religious persecution but only if the person's religion is a minority in their country of origin;
  • Directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to expedite the completion of an entry-exit system.
William A. Stock, AILA President, warned, "Refugees are already required to go through an extremely rigorous vetting and security clearance process. These people are literally fleeing for their lives and the lives of their children. Shuttering our refugee program in a time of great need is the wrong thing to do. Rather than slamming the door, we should be welcoming them and offering the protection which America has historically provided as the beacon of light to the world. President Trump makes it seem like these changes will be temporary by 'suspending' programs, but based on the positions he has taken and the stringent conditions imposed, the U.S. refugee program will be severely crippled."

This order also requires all families, business persons, scientists, and students from most countries to appear for an in-person interview before they can obtain a temporary visa, even if they have previously been vetted and cleared. 

We urge our readers to TAKE ACTION and send letters to their U.S. Representatives. AILA has made this process simple and takes ONE MINUTE: pre-formatted letters are available at  http://www.aila.org/takeaction#/28

More Posts

Travel Warning for Nationals of Certain Countries Designated by Executive Order

  • By Gabriela Ungo
  • 30 Jan, 2017
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)  has received the following clarifications from Department of Homeland Security (DHS). However, reports from other AILA members attorneys and media indicate that policies are not being implemented consistently on the ground. 

  • DHS is currently implementing the travel ban forall individuals "from" the 7 designated countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. 
  • The ban includes Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs), nonimmigrant visa holders, immigrant visa holders, refugees, derivative asylees, Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs), etc.
  • Anyone who holds a passport from a designated country is considered as being "from" the designated country. This includes dual citizens who hold passports from a designated country, as well as a non-designated country.
  • CBP will be processing people based on how they present themselves at primary inspection.
  • The Executive Order does NOT apply to people who merely traveled to designated countries.
  • Legal Permanent Residents: There appears to be some limited discretion for DHS to admit LPRs on a case-by-case basis, and following a thorough security review. LPRs will be allowed to board planes. Their cases will be adjudicated at the port of entry.
  • Nonimmigrants: Nonimmigrants will be allowed to withdraw their application for admission. Expedited removal will generally only be used for those individuals who do not wish to withdraw their application for admission.
We advise our clients from these 7 designated countries to exercise caution and that they not travel outside of the U.S. for business or vacation until further notice, as the situation is fluid, and may change at any time.

By Gabriela Ungo 15 Jun, 2017
Today marks DACA's 5th anniversary. In 5 years of DACA, over 780,000   # DREAMers   have been given a chance to work and study without the fear of deportation. Eliminating   # DACA   could cost the United States hundreds of billions of dollars in lost economic growth in the next decade   # SaveDACA  

En 5 años de DACA, más de 780.000 #DREAMers han podido trabajar y estudiar sin temor a la deportación. Eliminar DACA podría costarle a EEUU cientos de miles de millones en crecimiento económico en la próxima década #SaveDACA
By Gabriela Ungo 12 Jun, 2017
Congress is considering two bills that would weaken screening procedures for Custom and Border Protection (CBP) officers and agents by waiving the polygraph requirement for certain for certain law enforcement and military applicants. 

The CBP, an agency with serious corruption and integrity issues, cannot be trusted to take shortcuts by weakening hiring standards—hires that will help President Trump ramp up his deportation force. The polygraph is an integral component of CBP vetting and has prevented corrupt or corruption-prone applicants from being hired and deployed. Current DHS Inspector General John Roth warns that "[w]hile it may sound reasonable to say you could waive requirements from former military personnel because they have passed a polygraph, Border Patrol agents work in a different environment that is not as controlled as the military.” Two-thirds of applicants fail the CBP polygraph and hundreds have admitted to serious criminal activity during the screening process. Former CBP head of Internal Affairs Tomsheck confirmed that applicants have revealed engagement with drug cartels and smuggling activities during their polygraph exams.

On 6/7/2017, the House then went on to vote on the passage of H.R. 2213, which passed on a 282 to 137 vote. Customs and Border Protection has a polygraph requirement in place for a reason — to ensure that only qualified people are hired. There shouldn’t be an option to waive that requirement for law enforcement or military personnel with qualifying experience.  Urge your Senator to oppose S. 595: Boots on the Border Act of 2017 NOW!


By Gabriela Ungo 12 Jun, 2017
Today, the Ninth Circuit unanimously ruled against President Donald Trump's revised travel ban,  as well as provisions suspending the refugee program and limiting the number of refugees to 50,000 for this fiscal year.

The panel ruled that the order at issue doesn't give a rationale laying out why allowing the entry of nationals from the six targeted countries under "current protocols" would be harmful to the interests of the U.S. "We conclude that the President, in issuing the Executive Order, exceeded the scope of the authority delegated to him by Congress," the opinion said.

The latest iteration of the order which was signed on 3/6/2017 seeks to block entry into the U.S. of nationals from the six Muslim-majority countries of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, and to suspend U.S.' refugee program for 180 days.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia also ruled against the travel ban May 25. The administration has appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court. It would take a majority of the Supreme Court, at least five justices, to put the policy into effect.
By Gabriela Ungo 10 Apr, 2017
The H-1B program allows companies in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific specialty, or its equivalent. H-1B specialty occupations may include fields such as science, engineering and information technology. However, the H-1B program has a statutory cap of 65,000 visas regular for fiscal year and a 20,000 cap on H-1B petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption, also known as the master’s cap.

Once again, the annual H-1B cap was reached within five business days.  USCIS began accepting H-1B petitions on April 3, 2017 and, on April 7, USCIS announced that it had received more petitions than the entire H-1B cap for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 allows. The agency will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not duplicate filings.

The H-1B program has also being under attack by the Trump administration: USCIS temporarily suspended premium processing for all H-1B petitions stating that it could last up to 6 months. The Administration has also vowed to target the H-1B program and other employment-based visa programs to detect and deter fraud and abuse and protect U.S. workers.

We are also anticipating an increase in number of  "Requests for Evidence" (RFEs) issued by the USCIS. RFEs are not a denial or intent to deny, but a USCIS effort to gain more information about an applicant before a decision is made. In the future, expect a rise on RFEs, and over-scrutinity on each application. 
By Gabriela Ungo 16 Mar, 2017
The Trump Administration suffered a new defeat: the "revised" Muslim travel ban was once again halted by U.S. Federal Courts just hours before it was to take effect. 

Last night, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson from Hawaii issued a nationwide restraining order temporarily blocking the executive order from going into effect today.  The federal judge argued that the revised ban still discriminates on the basis of nationality and prevents Hawaii residents from receiving visits from relatives living in the six Muslim-majority countries.

U.S.  District Judge Theodore D. Chuang. Like Watson, determined that Trump's executive order was "the realization of the long-envisioned Muslim ban" and also pointed to comments made by Trump throughout his campaign. The U.S. Federal Court in Maryland, also suspended a portion of the ban that prevented visas being issued to nationals of the six countries.
By Gabriela Ungo 14 Mar, 2017
On March 6, 2017, President Trump re-issued his immigration executive order  that halts all refugee admissions for at least 120 days and suspends immigrant and non-immigrant visa adjudications banning  entry entry into the United States for nationals of six Muslim-majority countries. This new order will effective March 16, 2017. 

This executive order suspends immigrants and nonimmigrants adjudications from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen (and excludes Iraq) from entering the United States for at least 90 days. The order includes explicit language of the possibility that other countries may be added.  

The new executive order also includes a section on waivers, noting that a consular officer may decide on a “case-by-case basis” to greenlight a visa. The waiver procedure is not clear, but it has been reported that the process for getting a waiver will involve just discussing one’s case with a consular officer during a visa interview. Department of States issued a statement clarifying that people who are in the U.S. when the executive order goes into effect on Thursday March 16th, will not need a waiver to renew an expired visa later is they travel abroad. 

The "revised" version does not explicitly ban Muslims, but in practice the new restrictions will do just that for many. “Regardless of the administration’s efforts to clean up the language in this latest version of the President’s travel ban, it continues to unlawfully discriminate against people because of their religion, nationality or country of birth,” said Matt Adams, legal director for Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. “The President continues to discriminate against people, including babies and children, labeling them as threats to our national security—not because of anything they have done—but instead because of where they were born.”

The States of Washington, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Oregon renewed their effort to block President Donald Trump's revised temporary ban arguing that his executive order is the same as the first one that was halted by federal courts. On March 10, 2017, three immigrants rights groups (Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, American Immigration Council, and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild) amended the nationwide class action lawsuit, Ali v. Trump ,  pending before U.S Federal Court of the Western District of Washington. The same day, a Wisconsin federal judge blocked enforcement of this executive order to prevent a processing delay with asylum petitions for the family of a Syrian refugee in the United States.


By Gabriela Ungo 13 Mar, 2017
Advising DACA clients has ben a legal practice challenge: President's Trump promised to end DACA during his campaign but has not signed a draft executive order that would rescind the 2012 DACA memo. Since taking office, he has made confusing statements about the program, making it difficult for attorneys to advise current DACA recipients on issues such as traveling on Advance Parole, renewal of DACA status or even filing new DACA applications. 

AILA practice alert states the following: " At this time, we do not know what the future of the DACA program holds. The draft Order may never be signed, it may be substantially rewritten before being signed, or it may be executed as currently written. If action is taken on DACA, it is possible that USCIS could stop approving all DACA applications, as laid out in the draft order. Alternatively, USCIS could halt only certain components of DACA. For example it could stop accepting initial DACA applications, stop accepting or approving renewal applications, or revoke DACA/EADs for individuals who currently have them. However, as of March 13, 2017, there have been no changes to the DACA program. USCIS continues to process both initial and renewal Forms I-821D and accompanying Forms I-765. "

 Our law firm is analyzing each applicant on a case-by-case basis. However, the trend is to abide by AILA's practice alert for DACA clients as follows:

  1. Refrain from applying for initial DACA if you have not applied for initial DACA benefits for now;
  2. Unless the applicant has additional adverse factors present since the last DACA approval, renew existing DACA benefits. 
  3. DACA recepients should not travel on advance parole. DHS Secretary John Kelly directed USCIS, CBP and ICE to ensure that guidance is given to employees of those agencies and exercise parole authority only on a case-by-case basis, noting that it should be “exercised sparingly.” It is important to keep in mind that CBP maintains the position that advance parole does not guarantee admission to the United States.

By Gabriela Ungo 04 Mar, 2017
Today, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will temporary suspend premium processing of all H-1B visa petitions starting on April 3, 2017, for up to six months.

Who Is Affected?

The suspension  applies to all petitions filed for the FY18 H-1B regular cap and master’s advanced degree cap exemption (the “master’s cap”) and petitions that may be cap-exempt. USCIS announced that after April 3rd, 2017 it will reject any Form I-907 filed with an H-1B petition. If the petitioner submits one combined check for both the Form I-907 and Form I-129 H-1B fees, USCIS will reject both forms.

Please note that non-cap subject H-1B petitions (such as Conrad Program Foreign Medical Graduates with approved J-1 waivers, universities and nonprofits) may request premium processing of petitions   received on or before March 31st, 2017. 

Normal Expedited Criteria Available  

USCIS advised petitioners to submit a request to expedite an H-1B petition, which is analyzed on a case-by-case basis if they meet the following criteria:

  • Severe financial loss to company or ​person​;​
  • Emergency situation;​
  • Humanitarian reasons;​
  • Nonprofit organization whose request is in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States​;​
  • Department of Defense or ​n​ational ​i​nterest ​s​ituation (These particular expedite requests must come from an official U.S. government entity and state that delay will be detrimental to the government.);​
  • USCIS error; or​
  • Compelling interest of USCIS.​ 

Regular Petitions

Regular H-1B petitions are currently averaging 6 to 8 months depending on the USCIS jurisdiction processing the case.  We are anticipating even more delays in regular processing times while premium processing is suspended, which will definately impact U.S. employers, particularly technology firms, hospitals and universities. 

Foreign Medical Graduates

Our law firm is diligently working to expedite and file all eligible cases subject to the Conrad 30 J-1 Visa Waiver Program, before the April 3rd deadline. The premium processing suspension will affect many physicians who may be unable to meet deadlines to begin work in medically underserved areas and certain medical residents and fellows who may be unable to begin their programs if their H-1B petitions are not adjudicated by certain dates. The issue gained national news coverage on  http://money.cnn.com/2017/03/09/news/economy/hospitals-doctors-fast-track-processing-h-1b-visa/
By Gabriela Ungo 30 Jan, 2017
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)  has received the following clarifications from Department of Homeland Security (DHS). However, reports from other AILA members attorneys and media indicate that policies are not being implemented consistently on the ground. 

  • DHS is currently implementing the travel ban forall individuals "from" the 7 designated countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. 
  • The ban includes Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs), nonimmigrant visa holders, immigrant visa holders, refugees, derivative asylees, Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs), etc.
  • Anyone who holds a passport from a designated country is considered as being "from" the designated country. This includes dual citizens who hold passports from a designated country, as well as a non-designated country.
  • CBP will be processing people based on how they present themselves at primary inspection.
  • The Executive Order does NOT apply to people who merely traveled to designated countries.
  • Legal Permanent Residents: There appears to be some limited discretion for DHS to admit LPRs on a case-by-case basis, and following a thorough security review. LPRs will be allowed to board planes. Their cases will be adjudicated at the port of entry.
  • Nonimmigrants: Nonimmigrants will be allowed to withdraw their application for admission. Expedited removal will generally only be used for those individuals who do not wish to withdraw their application for admission.
We advise our clients from these 7 designated countries to exercise caution and that they not travel outside of the U.S. for business or vacation until further notice, as the situation is fluid, and may change at any time.

By Gabriela Ungo 30 Jan, 2017
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) denounced President Trump's Executive Order that is based on the false premise that barring Muslims and refugees from coming to America will make us safer. AILA called on Congress and the public to stand up against this action which is antithetical to core American values. These policies will do little to improve national security and will create enormous delays for people coming to the U.S.

Among other things, the Executive Order:

  • Suspends the refugee program for 120 days and suspends the Syrian refugee program indefinitely;
  • Caps refugee resettlement numbers at 50,000 for FY 2017; 
  • Suspends immigrant and nonimmigrant entry for people from predominantly Muslim countries for a minimum of 90 days while the government undertakes a review of visa issuance and immigration benefits processes;
  • Requires in-person interviews for nonimmigrant visa applicants;
  • Establishes requirements for "extreme vetting";
  • Prioritizes refugees whose claims are based on religious persecution but only if the person's religion is a minority in their country of origin;
  • Directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to expedite the completion of an entry-exit system.
William A. Stock, AILA President, warned, "Refugees are already required to go through an extremely rigorous vetting and security clearance process. These people are literally fleeing for their lives and the lives of their children. Shuttering our refugee program in a time of great need is the wrong thing to do. Rather than slamming the door, we should be welcoming them and offering the protection which America has historically provided as the beacon of light to the world. President Trump makes it seem like these changes will be temporary by 'suspending' programs, but based on the positions he has taken and the stringent conditions imposed, the U.S. refugee program will be severely crippled."

This order also requires all families, business persons, scientists, and students from most countries to appear for an in-person interview before they can obtain a temporary visa, even if they have previously been vetted and cleared. 

We urge our readers to TAKE ACTION and send letters to their U.S. Representatives. AILA has made this process simple and takes ONE MINUTE: pre-formatted letters are available at  http://www.aila.org/takeaction#/28

More Posts
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