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Immigration Law Update

July 2018

Trump Administration Just Made It Easier to Deport Applicants Seeking Immigration Benefits

In yet another manifestation of the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement-minded agenda, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) recently issued two memoranda to help facilitate the deportation process of people whose applications for legal immigration status are denied.  The first, “Updated Guidance for the Referral of Cases and Issuance of Notices to Appear (NTAs) in Cases Involving Inadmissible and Deportable Aliens,” calls for the issuance of a Notice to Appear (NTA) in removal proceedings for applicants for immigration benefits whose applications are denied and are found to be “unlawfully present” in the United States upon the denial.  The second, “Issuance of Certain RFEs and NOIDs” makes it easier for the USCIS to issue a denial of an application without issuing a Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID).

This is a drastic change in policy with far-reaching implications.  Each year the agency denies hundreds of thousands of applications for immigration benefits for families, workers, students and others.  Many of these applications are pending for many months at a time, during which time the applicants continue to hold lawful status.  Legal standards are evolving, and adjudications are often variable and inconsistent.  Until now, when applications were denied, the vast majority of applicants who would, as a result, fall into unlawful status upon denial, were advised of this fact and instructed to depart the United States.  Most, in fact, did.  Indeed, nearly 99% of non-immigrants abide by the terms of their status and depart on time, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security data from 2016.

The new policy raises the stakes and changes the landscape for applications for benefits.  Now applicants for benefits must weigh the potential consequence of being issued an NTA upon the potential denial of the application before filing.

This new policy will affect all applicants for immigration benefits, particularly those who are filing these applications without the assistance of a qualified attorney.  With this change in policy innocent mistakes by people trying to abide by the law may now have far-reaching implications for individuals, families and U.S. businesses. Karen Moss and Brad Ortman can guide you through the process, and ensure that your applications are error-free. For more information, contact Karen or Brad via email or telephone at 216-621-7227.

Federal Judge Orders July 26 Deadline for Reunification of Immigrant Families Separated by Trump Administration

Federal Judge Dana Sabraw ordered the Trump Administration to reunify the approximately 2,500 immigrant children who were forcibly separated from their parents at the U.S. border and forced to remain apart indefinitely as a hallmark of the government’s “zero tolerance” policy on illegal border crossings.  Extensive news coverage shed light on this situation, leading to massive public outcry.  The policy has applied not only to ordinary illegal border crossers, but also to people seeking asylum from persecution in Central American countries, such as Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

EB-1 Visa Numbers to Retrogress in August

Applicants for permanent residence in the EB-1 category, which includes multinational managers/executives, outstanding professors/researchers, and aliens of extraordinary ability, may experience delays in obtaining permanent residence in the coming months.  Immigrant visa quota numbers, which up until now, have been current for most applicants in this category, are due to retrogress in August, creating a backlog of more than two years.  This retrogression is likely to last until the start of the new fiscal year, October 1.  EB-1 I-485 Applicants affected by this retrogression who are scheduled for interviews in August and September will need to wait until October to have their cases decided.  Those who are affected by this retrogression who have not filed their I-485 Applications yet will need to wait until October to file.

DHS Proposes to Increase Fees for International Students, Exchange Visitors and SEVP-certified Schools

The DHS Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has proposed to increase fees for students, exchange visitors, and schools for the first time since 2008. The proposed fee increases are as follows:

  • SEVP school certification petition fee for initial certification from $1,700 to $3,000.
  • I-901 SEVIS Fee for F and M international students from $200 to $350.
  • I-901 SEVIS Fee for most J exchange visitors from $180 to $220.

Additionally, DHS proposes to introduce two new fees:

  • $1,250 fee for SEVP-certified school filing a petition for recertification;
  • $675 fee when schools file the Form I-290B, “Notice of Appeal or Motion.”

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If you have questions concerning any of the other items above, please contact Karen Moss or Brad Ortman of the Immigration Law Group at Nicola, Gudbranson & Cooper via email or at (216) 621-7227.  Click here to sign up for our Immigration Law Update E-Newsletter

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 2018 by Nicola, Gudbranson & Cooper LLC