Archives: US Immigration

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House Passes Bill to Eliminate Green Card Backlogs, Competing Bill in Senate Introduced

The House of Representatives has taken a step in the direction of eliminating green card backlogs by passing the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019 (H.R. 1044) introduced by Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Ken Buck. (R-CO). The support was bi-partisan and passed in a 365 to 65 vote.  The bill would: Increase per country … Continue Reading

Brazil Lifts Visa Requirement for U.S. Citizens

In a move that likely will give a boost to the Brazilian tourism industry, the Brazilian government has announced that U.S. citizens can now visit Brazil without a visa. Citizens of Australia, Canada, and Japan also have received this cost-saving and time-saving benefit. This move was first discussed in March by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro … Continue Reading

New DS-160 Form Seeks Social Media Information, Affecting Millions of Visa Applicants

Two years ago, then-Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, proposed collecting 15 years of travel, address and employment history and 5 years of social media platforms, identifiers, phone numbers and emails from visa applicants selected for “extreme vetting.” It was predicted that this would affect only 0.5% of all visa applicants – approximately 65,000 annually. As of … Continue Reading

Plans to Shuffle Agents from Canadian to Mexican Border Raises Fear of Delays at Northern Border

The Department of Homeland Security has announced plans to transfer more than 700 border agents from the 120 ports of entry at the Northern (Canadian) border to the Southern (Mexican) border. The purpose is to bolster the number of agents available to help with asylum seekers. Members of the Congressional Northern Border Caucus (NBC) oppose … Continue Reading

Trump Administration Targets Visa Overstays

President Donald Trump issued a Memorandum on April 22, 2019 aimed at reducing visa overstays – people who stay in the U.S. beyond the time authorized by their visas.  Assertions set forth in the Memorandum include: For FY 2018, the Administration believes that there were 415,000 individuals in the U.S. who had overstayed on nonimmigrant … Continue Reading

Link to Marijuana Industry as Basis for Denial of Naturalization Application?

DHS is apparently citing federal cannabis laws as grounds for denying citizenship. Further, USCIS announced on April 19 that the USCIS Policy Manual now clarifies that violation of federal controlled substance law, including for marijuana, remains a conditional bar to establishing good moral character for naturalization even where that conduct would not be an offense … Continue Reading

Crackdown on Birth Tourism Industry in U.S. Continues with First-Ever Arrests of Operators

Traveling to the U.S. to give birth to a U.S.-citizen child, or birth tourism, is not a new industry. In January 2018, DHS raided 20 “maternity hotels” in Los Angeles suspected of housing “birth tourism” operations. A neighbor who lived near one of the apartment buildings reported that “a forklift delivered an excessive quantity of … Continue Reading

Bill for New Visa Waiver Program for Caribbean States to Enter U.S. Virgin Islands Introduced

While all citizens of 38 (primarily European) visa waiver-eligible nations may enter the U.S. Virgin Islands for up to 90 days using ESTA, and United States citizens may enter most of the Caribbean Community Member States (CARICOM) for tourism or as business visitors without a visa, citizens of CARICOM cannot enter the U.S. Virgin Islands without … Continue Reading

No Citizenship Question on 2020 Census, Judge Rules

The Department of Commerce has been enjoined by a federal judge from including the citizenship question in the upcoming Census. The case began on March 26, 2018, when Secretary of Commerce Wilbur L. Ross, Jr., announced that he would reinstate a citizenship question in the Decennial 2020 Census. In 1960, out of a fear that the … Continue Reading

Proposed ‘Public Charge’ Rule Kicks Up Controversy

The 60-day comment period for the Administration’s new “public charge” rule just closed. There is currently no definition for “public charge” in the rule, but a public charge is understood to be an alien who depends on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by the receipt of cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for … Continue Reading

Irish Government Opposes Restoring Right to Birthright Citizenship, Despite Popular Support

As President Donald Trump talks about ending birthright citizenship with an executive order, the Irish public is talking about restoring birthright citizenship. Ireland ended the right to birthright citizenship in 2004 with a referendum. A proposed law would give anyone born in Ireland the right to Irish citizenship with one requirement – the individual must … Continue Reading

U.S. Border Protection Agency Warns: Lifetime Ban Possible for Cannabis Industry Links

Ahead of Canada’s new law legalizing restricted recreational use of cannabis (marijuana), U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesperson Stephanie Malin stated: Although medical and recreational marijuana may be legal in some U.S. states and Canada, the sale, possession, production and distribution of marijuana or the facilitation of the aforementioned remain illegal under U.S. federal law. … Continue Reading

DHS Closer to Issuing ‘Public Charge’ Rule

The DHS is getting closer to changing and hardening the standard for determining who is or might become a “public charge” for immigration purposes. The agency “pre-released” a new rule, “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds,” that it plans to officially publish in the Federal Register soon in order to start the 60-day Notice and Comment … Continue Reading

Pressure Mounting in Canada to End Canada-U.S. ‘First Safe Country’ Refugee Agreement

There is currently a debate in Canada regarding the pros and cons of the bilateral Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA). When the number of individuals leaving the U.S. to seek asylum in Canada increased in September 2017, questions about the agreement’s sustainability arose. STCA was established in 2004 between the U.S. and Canada proving that … Continue Reading

Administration Considering New Rule on Lawfully Present Immigrants Who Use Public Benefits?

The Trump Administration reportedly is considering a new rule that would make it easier for the government to deny visas to individuals on “public charge” grounds. This has drawn the criticism of many New York legislators. The Administration may have been contemplating the move for a while. In January 2017, when the first travel ban … Continue Reading

‘I-Squared’ Bill Would Change H-1B and Other Immigration Programs

While the Administration and Congress work to reconcile the needs of DACA recipients with concerns over border security and illegal immigration, Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) have introduced a bill to reform immigration programs for high-skilled workers. If the bill passes, it would go a long way to maintaining U.S. competitiveness in … Continue Reading

Trump Administration Releases Framework for Immigration Deal

The Trump Administration has released a new framework containing components of proposed immigration reform. Not surprisingly, border security is at the top of the list and includes the following components: New $25 billion trust fund for the (southern) border wall system Funds for hiring more enforcement personnel Immigration court reforms Ending the “catch-and-release” policy and establishing an … Continue Reading

Government Shutdown Is Over, For Now

Congress reached agreement and voted to end the government shutdown at least until February 8, 2018. In case another impasse occurs, this is how a federal government shutdown would affect immigration. Department of Labor (DOL) The Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) will stop processing all applications, and its personnel will not be available to … Continue Reading

New Secretary of DHS Announces New Country Requirements for Visa Waiver Program

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has announced new security measures applicable to all countries in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The VWP allows citizens or nationals of 38 participating countries to enter the U.S. for business visits or tourism for stays of up to 90 days without obtaining a visa stamp in their … Continue Reading

Guide for Individuals Traveling Outside of U.S. During Holiday Season

Extreme vetting, strict scrutiny, travel warnings, and the latest travel ban have made travel abroad more worrisome than ever this holiday season. Reminders for individuals who will have to apply for new U.S. visas while abroad in order to return to the United States: Consulates are dealing with new guidance and procedures. This means that … Continue Reading

Travel Ban 3.0 May Take Effect (For Now), U.S. Supreme Court Rules

The latest version of the Trump Administration’s travel ban may take effect pending decisions expected shortly from the Courts of Appeals for the Fourth and Ninth Circuits, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled. The third iteration of the travel ban (Travel Ban 3.0), implemented in late-September, restricts travel to the U.S. for individuals from Chad, … Continue Reading

Trump Issues Country-Specific Travel Ban

President Donald Trump has issued a proclamation that imposes new travel restrictions on eight countries, “Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry in to the United States by Terrorist or Other Public-Safety Threats.” Five of the eight countries were included in the previous travel ban. The new restrictions were issued on September 24, … Continue Reading
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