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Immigration Law Update

November 2022

CBP Phasing Out Passport Stamps for Foreign Nationals Arriving to the U.S.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) agents are no longer consistently stamping passports of foreign nationals upon their entry into the United States. Even though the agency has not released official guidance on this policy, there have been many recent reports that electronic Form I-94 records are replacing physical passport stamps. Previously, passport stamps were the primary way of tracking the location, date, and class of a foreign national’s entrance into the U.S. In recent years, the agency has taken many steps to transition from paper records of Forms I-94 to electronic.

This recent change accelerates that process. Foreign travelers are recommended to obtain their Form I-94 as soon as possible after arriving. This can be done on the CBP website. If a correction needs to be made, it is best to begin that process as quickly as possible.

DHS Creates New Legal Entry Process for Eligible Venezuelans

In an effort to reduce entries at the Southwest border, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has introduced a new program for qualified Venezuelans to obtain humanitarian parole. Modeled after Uniting for Ukraine (U4U), this program is available to the first 24,000 eligible Venezuelans who apply.

Every Venezuelan beneficiary must: (1) have a supporter in the U.S. that will provide financial and other support, (2) pass a security/background check, and (3) complete vaccinations and other public health requirements. Venezuelans who are applying for this program must be outside the United States. They cannot hold any type of permanent residency or refugee status in a country other than Venezuela. They cannot have been ordered removed from the U.S. within the past five years. Nor can they have crossed into the U.S. without authorization after October 12, 2022 or irregularly entered Mexico or Panama after that date.

TPS Updates: Ethiopia Designation; Continuation for El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Nepal, Haiti and Sudan.

On October 21 the Department of Homeland Security announced that Ethiopians continuously residing in the United States as of October 20, 2022 are eligible for TPS for the next 18 months. This designation was made in response to ongoing armed conflict within the country as well as the multiple humanitarian crises plaguing its residents. This is Ethiopia’s first designation of TPS, and it will officially take effect with the publication of an upcoming Federal Registrar notice, which will contain further instructions regarding application procedures.

Additionally, USCIS recently posted that TPS beneficiaries from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Nepal, Haiti, and Sudan will retain their TPS status through June 30, 2024 while litigation in the Ramos and Bhattarai lawsuits remains pending.  Those TPS beneficiaries subject to these lawsuits do not need to renew their TPS status or employment authorization for this period.  However, they may choose to file for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) if they would like to obtain one with a June 30, 2024 expiration date.

SSA’s SAVE System Delays Hinder Issuance of SSNs and Driver’s Licenses for Foreign Nationals

The Social Security Administration utilizes a system called SAVE to verify foreign nationals’ eligibility to apply for a social security number. The interagency platform requires government agencies to request a confirmation from USCIS before granting benefits, including social security numbers or driver’s licenses. SAVE delays continue to be a source of frustration and confusion for applicants.

Many foreign nationals are reporting extensive delays in securing driver’s licenses and social security numbers, particularly those making a first entry in work status (E visas, TNs, Blanket L-1s, etc.), as well as extensions and changes of status filings with USCIS. Processing times have dramatically increased, and there have been reported delays of 50 days or more. Adding to the frustration is the fact that there is no easy way to communicate with SAVE. USCIS has stated that it is diligently working on reducing the backlogs/wait times and expect to have SAVE wait times down to 10 days by the end of March 2023.

I-9 Form and COVID Flexibility Procedures Extended

DHS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have acted to stay the course for the time being with respect to I-9 rules. The current I-9 form was set to expire on October 31, 2022, but this form has been extended indefinitely. Additionally, employers may continue to remotely inspect identity and employment eligibility documents as part of the employment verification process until July 31, 2023.

Expired Green Cards Retain Validity for 24 Months for Those with Renewals Pending

In recognition of the very long processing times for green card renewals, USCIS is amending I-90 receipt notices to indicate that expired green cards will retain validity for a period of 24 months while their I-90 green card renewal application is pending. This is an extension of the previous policy, which was to grant an extension for a twelve-month period under these circumstances. During this period, receipt notices presented with expired green cards act as proof of continued legal status. These receipts began to be amended to 24-months on September 26, 2022.

Nicola’s Immigration Team Is Growing!

Please join us in welcoming Annie Grove and Karli DeChant to the Nicola, Gudbranson & Cooper Immigration Law Group!

Annie joins us as an associate attorney.  You may know her already, because she previously worked for us as a paralegal and law clerk for two summers while attending Marquette University’s Law School where she was the Comments Editor on the Law Review. Annie will focus her practice on both business and family-based immigration for companies and individuals across the region.

Karli is our new Paralegal who will support clients on the full range of corporate and family-based immigration processes. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and American Literature from New York University.

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If you have questions about the foregoing or would like to learn more about these or other immigration topics, please contact Karen Moss or Brad Ortman of the Immigration Law Group at Nicola, Gudbranson & Cooper via email or at (216) 621-7227.

Bradley L. Ortman and Karen Gabriel Moss
Nicola, Gudbranson & Cooper LLC

This Immigration Law Update contains general information that should not be considered legal advice or legal opinion concerning individual situations. Legal counsel should be consulted for specific advice.

Copyright 2022 by Nicola, Gudbranson & Cooper LLC