News from the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers Vol. 15, No. 4D • April 21, 2019
1. Visa Bulletin Shows Slight Forward Progress in Some Backlogged Preference Categories -Regarding EB-1 for China and India, the bulletin notes a continued “extremely high rate of demand” that may require temporary retrogression until October.
2. New USCIS Policy Guidance Clarifies Marijuana-Related Activities Bar on Naturalization -Certain marijuana-related activities generally bar naturalization even if they are decriminalized under applicable state laws.
3. State Dept. to Issue Final Rule on “Discontinuing” Granting Visas When Country is Sanctioned -The Department will publish a final rule, effective April 22, 2019, modifying current regulations to reflect that consular offices are to discontinue granting visas to individuals from certain sanctioned countries.
4. Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Announces New Office for Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention, New CBP Commissioner -Kevin McAleenan has replaced Kirstjen Nielsen, who was forced to resign recently.
5. Attorney General’s Decision Opens Door to Indefinite Detention of Asylum Seekers -A person who is transferred from expedited removal proceedings to full removal proceedings after establishing a credible fear of persecution or torture is ineligible for release on bond.
6. New Publications and Items of Interest -New Publications and Items of Interest
7. ABIL Member / Firm News -ABIL Member / Firm News
8. Government Agency Links -Government Agency Links
1. Visa Bulletin Shows Slight Forward Progress in Some Backlogged Preference Categories
The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for May 2019 shows slight forward progress for EB-1 for all chargeability areas except China and India, EB-2 for China and India, EB-3 and Other Workers China, India, and the Philippines, and EB-5 China and Vietnam. The remainder of the priority dates remain current with per-country quotas not reached.
Regarding EB-1 for China and India, the bulletin notes a continued “extremely high rate of demand” that may require temporary retrogression until October.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that the agency will follow the “Final Action Dates” chart for the month for accepting I-485 Adjustment of Status applications.
Details: Visa Bulletin for May 2019; USCIS announcement
2. New USCIS Policy Guidance Clarifies Marijuana-Related Activities Bar on Naturalization
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently issued policy guidance to clarify that certain marijuana-related activities generally bar naturalization even if they are decriminalized under applicable state laws. Such an applicant may be deemed to lack good moral character if found to have violated federal law, the guidance states.
Federal law classifies marijuana as a “Schedule I” controlled substance whose manufacture (which includes production, such as planting, cultivation, growing, or harvesting), distribution, dispensing, or possession may lead to immigration consequences. Some practitioners are advising clients not to work for or invest in marijuana-related companies. Reportedly, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is also checking social media accounts.
Details: Announcement; policy manual update; video warning immigrants co-produced by Servicios De La Raza and the Marijuana Industry Group
3. State Dept. to Issue Final Rule on “Discontinuing” Granting Visas When Country is Sanctioned
The Department of State will publish a final rule, effective April 22, 2019, modifying current regulations to reflect that consular officers are to discontinue granting visas to individuals from certain sanctioned countries.
Under the current regulation, consular officers either grant or deny every visa application. The final rule creates a third and different action, requiring consular officers to discontinue granting visas when a country has been sanctioned for “denying or delaying accepting one or more of its nationals subject to a final order of removal from the United States.”
Details: Final rule
4. Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Announces New Office for Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention, New CBP Commissioner
Kevin McAleenan, formerly head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the new Acting Homeland Security Secretary, has replaced Kirstjen Nielsen, who was forced to resign recently amid President Trump’s declarations that he wanted a “tougher direction” for immigration. One of his first acts was announcing the establishment of a new Office for Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on April 19, 2019. Acting Secretary McAleenan also designated John P. Sanders, CBP Chief Operating Officer, as the senior official performing the functions and duties of the CBP Commissioner.
Details: Statement from Secretary McAleenan; announcement of new office; announcement of Mr. Sanders as head of CBP; notes on Secretary McAleenan’s recent trip to the U.S.-Mexico border; McAleenan bio
5. Attorney General’s Decision Opens Door to Indefinite Detention of Asylum Seekers
A new decision by Attorney General William Barr holds that a person who is transferred from expedited removal proceedings to full removal proceedings after establishing a credible fear of persecution or torture is ineligible for release on bond. Such a person “must be detained until his removal proceedings conclude, unless he is granted parole,” the decision states.
Details: Matter of M-S-
6. New Publications and Items of Interest
IMAGE forum and training. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has announced the 2019 IMAGE Forum and Training, a day of free training on the IMAGE (ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers) program, Form I-9, how to establish an immigration compliance program, proper hiring procedures, detecting fraudulent documents, the use of E-Verify, and antidiscrimination procedures. The training will be held on May 1, 2019, in Orlando, Florida. More information or to register
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:
- ABIL is available on Twitter: @ABILImmigration.
- Recent ABIL member blogs are at http://www.abilblog.com/.
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:
- Statutes of Liberty: (new episodes: A Prescription for Success: EB-1 for Physicians; The Best, Brightest, and Backlogged, discusses the backlog, who it affects, how to read the Visa Bulletin, and strategies for EB-1 visas)
- Code Switch Podcast: What Does It Mean To Be A ‘Nation of Immigrants‘?
- Hidden Brain: The Huddled Masses and the Myth of America
- American Pendulum I
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.
7. ABIL Member / Firm News
Dagmar Butte was quoted by Recode in “New Immigration Rules Could Prevent Our Next Elon Musk.” The article notes that although Silicon Valley is focused more on experience and entrepreneurship than on advanced degrees, USCIS is actively increasing the percentage of master’s degree candidates selected for the H-1B program. Ms. Butte noted that “[t]ech companies spend a lot of time looking at skill sets which may or may not be tied to a degree. Usually they are experiential as opposed to being part of an advanced degree.”
Cyrus Mehta has authored a new blog entry, “Are the Canadian and U.S. Refugee/Asylum Processes Really ‘Similar Enough’? How the New Refugee Bar in Bill C-97 Is Based on a Misunderstanding of U.S. Asylum Law.”
8. 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