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1. E-2 Investor Visa Program Opens to Israelis May 1 -

Effective May 1, 2019, the E-2 investor visa program will open to Israelis under a reciprocal treaty investor agreement signed between the United States and Israel.

2. USCIS Responds to Congressional Letter Asking for Info on Backlog Causes -

The letter asked the agency to explain the reasons for backlogged cases and how certain policies such as "extreme vetting" affect processing times and contribute to the backlog.

3. President Issues Memo on Combating Nonimmigrant Overstay Rates -

Among other things, the memo states that the Secretary of State will engage with the governments of countries with a total overstay rate greater than 10 percent in the combined B-1 and B-2 nonimmigrant visa category, with a goal of identifying conditions contributing to those overstay rates and methods to address those conditions.

4. USCIS Ending Forms Request Line June 1 -

Starting June 1, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is ending the Forms Request Line service that allows people to order forms by phone.

5. New Publications and Items of Interest -

New Publications and Items of Interest

6. ABIL Member / Firm News -

ABIL Member / Firm News

7. Government Agency Links -

Government Agency Links

 

 
 
1. E-2 Investor Visa Program Opens to Israelis May 1
 

Effective May 1, 2019, the E-2 investor visa program will open to Israelis under a reciprocal treaty investor agreement signed between the United States and Israel.

Certain Israeli nationals who are lawfully present in the United States will be able to request a change of status to the E-2 treaty investor classification. Also, the U.S. Embassy in Israel notes that Israeli companies seeking E visas for their owners or employees must apply at the Branch Office in Tel Aviv and establish that the trading enterprise or investment meets the requirements. For both first-time applicants and renewals, the company must submit supporting documents, including the individual application for the employee, by mail.

Details: USCIS announcement; information from U.S. Embassy in Israel; related news article

 
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2. USCIS Responds to Congressional Letter Asking for Info on Backlog Causes
 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) responded on April 5, 2019, to a letter sent from 86 members of the U.S. House of Representatives to USCIS Director Francis Cissna. The letter asked the agency to explain the reasons for backlogged cases and how certain policies such as "extreme vetting" affect processing times and contribute to the backlog.

Regarding some of the reasons for the current backlog, USCIS noted:

  • USCIS did not anticipate that filings would remain steady in FY 2017 following the implementation of the new fees in December 2016 and the presidential election in November 2016. For example, after the presidential election, naturalization filings did not decrease. The increase in filings therefore outpaced the agency's capacity to complete processing applications within the time goals.
  • Additional interview requirements resulting from new programs/policies led to increased workloads, security checks, and overall processing times.
  • It appears that increased processing times may have been the result of USCIS changing its "focus for employee evaluations to the quality of their work product and away from numerical case production metrics."
  • USCIS experienced hiring constraints due to budget concerns. There was also a lag in productivity concerning newly recruited officers as they needed time to ramp up on training.

USCIS' historical data confirms that the agency's new in-person interview requirement has contributed to the backlog for I-485 employment-based green card cases.

The congressional letter also asked for any analyses conducted by USCIS on its reversal of longstanding guidance concerning deference toward prior determinations for employment visa petitions. USCIS responded that it lacked data to perform such analyses.

Details: USCIS response (including representatives' queries), (click "Open").

 
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3. President Issues Memo on Combating Nonimmigrant Overstay Rates
 

On April 22, 2019, President Donald Trump issued a memorandum on "Combating High Nonimmigrant Overstay Rates." Many of the measures mentioned in the memo are not law yet.

Among other things, the memo states:

  • Visa overstay rates are "unacceptably high for nationals of certain countries."
  • The Secretary of State will "engage with the governments of countries with a total overstay rate greater than 10 percent in the combined B-1 and B-2…visa category," with a goal of identifying conditions that contribute to "those overstay rates and methods to address those conditions."
  • Recommended measures to combat visa overstay include:
    • "Suspending or limiting entry of nationals of those countries who hold B-1 or B-2 visas;"
    • Imposing "targeted suspension of visa issuance for certain nationals; limits to duration of admission;" and
    • Enforcing "additional documentary requirements."
  • Measures may be developed for imposing "admission bonds" to improve compliance with the terms/conditions of visas.

Details: Presidential memo

 
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4. USCIS Ending Forms Request Line June 1
 

Starting June 1, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is ending the Forms Request Line service that allows people to order forms by phone. The agency is encouraging applicants to download and print forms for free from the USCIS website.

Mailed forms can still be requested by calling the USCIS Contact Center or through the agency's "Forms by Mail" online request tool.

Details: USCIS announcement; Forms by Mail; forms site; USCIS Contact Center

 
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5. New Publications and Items of Interest
 

Immigrant and Employee Rights webinars. The Department of Justice's Immigrant and Employee Rights Section is offering free webinars to the public in April. The webinars are for workers, employers, and advocates. More information or to register

Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers:

Organizations seeking non-lawyer and lawyer volunteers. Cornell Law School has compiled a list of organizations seeking non-lawyer and lawyer volunteers to help migrants in U.S. detention and deportation proceedings. The list, which is updated on an ongoing basis

Nation of immigrants. Podcasts on U.S. immigration history and what it means to be an immigrant in America:

Advisories and tips

  • Community Advisory: Social Media, Criminalization, and Immigration has been published by the National Lawyers Guild's National Immigration Project. This advisory summarizes ways in which immigration agents may use social media against those in removal proceedings or involved in criminal cases. The advisory is here.
  • How to safeguard your data from searches at the border is the topic of several recent articles and blogs. See, for example, NYTimes and ACLU.
  • Listings and links to cases challenging executive orders, and related available pleadings, are available at lawfareblog.com.
 
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6. ABIL Member / Firm News
 

Several members of the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers (ABIL) have authored articles for the inaugural AILA Law Journal, a publication of the American Immigration Lawyers Association:

Kehrela Hodkinson, "Renunciation of U.S. Citizenship: Why Would a Client 'Give It All Up?' "

Cyrus Mehta, "The Curse of Kazarian v. USCIS in Extraordinary Ability Adjudications Under the Employment-Based First Preference"

Angelo Paparelli, "USCIS's Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate: Less Legitimate Than Inspector Clouseau, But Without the Savoir Faire"All three of the ABIL members listed above are also on the publication's Board of Editors, along with William Stock, of Klasko Immigration Law Partners, LLP. The publication is available here.

Mr. Mehta has authored a blog entry, "Positive Changes to 90-Day Misrepresentation Guidance in the Foreign Affairs Manual—Especially for Foreign Students".

Sophia Genovese, of Cyrus D. Mehta & Partners PLLC, has authored a new blog entry, "G Barr Cannot Ignore the Constitution: The AG’s Latest Attack on Asylum Seekers in Matter of M-S-".

Stephen Yale-Loehr was quoted by the Associated Press in "Border Patrol Expands Fingerprinting of Migrant Children," which was published in many outlets. "DHS may claim that they can get around this bar [against taking biometric data from children] by getting parental permission, but that interpretation is subject to court challenge. To do this legally, DHS needs to go through the rulemaking process to change the regulation."

 
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7. Government Agency Links
 

Follow these links to access current processing times of the USCIS Service Centers and the Department of Labor, and the Department of State's latest Visa Bulletin with the most recent cut-off dates for visa numbers:

USCIS Service Center processing times online

Department of State Visa Bulletin

Visa application wait times for any post

 
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