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Posted on in Immigration

USCIS recently announced they cancelled the plans to furlough about three-quarters of the agency’s workforce at the end of this month. The agency announced they have sufficient funds to continue normal operations until at least the end of the fiscal year, which ends in September.

By cancelling the plans, USCIS avoids what has been described as the standstill of the immigration system as we know it. This would have put a stop to immigration processes at a time that many are rushing to submit their applications before the new prices go into effect on October 2 of this year.

Posted on in Immigration

USCIS has finally announced the implementation of the new DACA guidelines. Effective immediately, USCIS will:

  • Reject all initial DACA applications when the requestor has never been granted DACA in the past,
  • DACA renewal requests will continue to be accepted and processed, but only issued for one year at a time (insead of two),
  • DACA renewal requests must be submitted within 150 days of the benefit’s expiration date; applications will be rejected if filed more than 150 days prior to the expiration,
  • Advance parole (travel permit) applications will be accepted, but will only be granted for “urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.”
DACA-eligible individuals should remember that challenges to the USCIS’ lack of implementation of the Supreme Court’s decision are still working their way through the courts. If USCIS decides to follow the ruling of the court, the original DACA guidelines (which granted DACA for two years at a time and had a more expansive approach to travel permits), should be in place again.

Medical exams by an authorized physician are a key part of any application for an immigrant visa or green card. This is done to evaluate the applicant’s health-related inadmissibility grounds. During the medical exam, the doctor will make sure you have all the required vaccines and perform a physical exam. He or she will also review your test results and complete the required forms for the government. While many common ailments are not an issue for obtaining a green card, having a highly communicable disease or being a drug addict may pose a problem, for instance:

  • Tuberculosis (active)
  • Syphilis (infectious stage)
  • Chancroid
  • Gonorrhea
  • Granuloma Inguinale
  • Lymphogranuloma Venereum
  • Hansen’s Disease (Leprosy, infectious)

You may also be denied your benefit if you do not have the required vaccines or if you have a mental disorder that may cause you to be harmful to yourself or others. This is why it’s important to bring your immunization record with you to your medical appointment. If you don’t have of the required vaccines, a medical professional can administer them unless it’s not medically needed.

In most adjustment of status cases, applicants will receive their medical exam (Form I-693) in a sealed envelope. It is crucial to not open the envelope! The results are to be opened by USCIS only. However, you should request a copy of the results as it is important for your records. The results are only valid for a limited period of time, so it is often best to have the medical exam after receiving the adjustment of status interview notice and before the interview. Medical exams must be filed with USCIS within 60 days after being issued and they are only valid for two years. Regardless if you are applying for an immigrant visa abroad or adjustment of status in the United States, remember that this is a normal part of the process and should not be cause for concern for most applicants.

A proposed rule by the federal government would deny asylum to foreign nationals if they come from, or recently passed through, certain countries. Immigration officials say the rule would protect national security by slowing the spread of communicable diseases like COVID-19. But the American Medical Association is criticizing the proposal, calling it a form of discrimination against asylum seekers.

‘Legalize discrimination’

In a statement on the subject, the AMA quotes a letter that the group’s executive vice president and CEO, Dr. James L. Madara, wrote to federal officials. “The AMA is concerned that the proposed rule would legitimize discrimination against vulnerable asylum seekers,” Dr. Madara wrote. He also said the rule would base the determination of whether an asylum seeker is eligible on border agents who are “uninformed” about medical matters, and overall make it much more difficult for people seeking a stay of removal based on a credible fear of torture or persecution in their country of origin.

Normally, the AMA does not involve itself in political matters, especially ones that do not have to do with medicine. But Dr. Madara’s letter states that the fact that the rule is based on public health concerns justifies his comments. He believes that the process of determining if a would-be asylee has a communicable disease should be determined by health officials on a case-by-case basis.

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On July 29, a federal court had ruled that the government could not enforce the public charge rule during the pandemic. This was a much welcomed announcement since many immigrant families are being severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The new rules would effectively hinder their changes to obtain a legal immigration benefit for which they would otherwise quality. Under the rule, and while assessing the applicant’s eligibility, the government can take into account the individual’s past use of public benefits, age, medical issues, education, and work history, among other aspects, in evaluating the person’s likelihood of becoming a public charge.

On August 12, however, the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the prior ruling should only apply to states in the Second Circuit (New York, Vermont, and Connecticut). There are still many unanswered questions on this issue, including what will happen to applicants who did apply between the window of time after July 29 and before the ruling was narrowed. Meanwhile, the I-944 form, Declaration of Self Sufficiency, which is used to demonstrate eligibility under the public charge rules, is not available on USCIS’ website.

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