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USCIS is extending the flexibilities to give more time to applicants to respond to requests for evidence and submit appeals, among other measures. The new flexibility applies to notifications issued between between March 1 and Sept. 11, 2020, inclusive. Applicants who have received one of the following notifications will have an additional 60 days to respond after the due date indicated in the notification.

  • Requests for Evidence;
  • Continuations to Request Evidence (N-14);
  • Notices of Intent to Deny;
  • Notices of Intent to Revoke;
  • Notices of Intent to Rescind and Notices of Intent to Terminate regional investment centers;
  • Filing date requirements for Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (Under Section 336 of the INA); or
  • Filing date requirements for Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.

Back in May, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services had announced the potential furlough of up to 70% of its workforce in August if they do not receive the necessary funding required to keep the agency open. With a lower number of immigrants applying for immigration benefits and the federal government not agreeing to provide the $1.2 billion loan the agency required, furloughs seem imminent. USCIS has recently issued furlough notices to some employees, signaling potential drawbacks for applicants.

USCIS receives a significant portion of its funding from filing fees paid by applicants, but these have dropped to half since the COVID-19 pandemic started. If Congress does not allocate additional resources to USCIS, immigrants could expect longer wait times to see their applications adjudicated. If you are concerned about how these issues may potentially impact your case, contact our office for a initial consultation.

Within immigration law, asylum seekers are one of the most vulnerable populations. In order to qualify for asylum, applicants must demonstrate a “credible fear of persecution or torture.” A new proposed rule would make the asylum process significantly more difficult, allowing denials to be issued without a right to have immigration case heard in court. It would also change the standard for “credible fear of persecution or torture,” making an approval almost impossible for those immigrants seeking protection based on being victims of domestic violence, gender-based discrimination, or gang-related violence. The changes also make the process more challenging, allowing the government to put more weight on discretionary factors. These measures would end the possibility of asylum for thousands of immigrants escaping unspeakable harm and violence in their home countries.

In addition, the government just published their Final Rule on employment authorization eligibility for immigrants with pending asylum applications. Under the old rules, applicants would request an employment authorization document once their case was pending for 150 days. The new rule increases the waiting period from 150 to 365 days before the applicant can request a work permit. The new rule also limits the employment authorization to two years, and bans immigrants who entered the country illegally from obtaining the work permit, among other changes.

The United States government has extended the ban on immigrant visas issued outside the United States, adding temporary visas as well. The ban is now extended until the end of 2020 and it now includes H-1B, H-2B, L-1, and J-1 visas. The few exceptions, such as the ones for immigrants working in COVID-19 treatment and prevention, would not apply to a significant number of applicants. This measure should not affect individuals filing for their green card in the United States through Adjustment of Status or those who already hold a visa.

This past June 18th, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the government’s attempt to end DACA was unlawful. The court found that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security does have the authority to end DACA, but that it had proceeded in an arbitrary and capricious manner in doing so, thus the ending of the program is illegal.

This is a life changing decision for thousands of young immigrants who were brought to this country as children. It allows them to continue to life, work, and pursue an education in the United States. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has yet to implement the changes, but the decision provides a temporary stop to the end of the program, as multiple challenges to DACA continue to move through the courts. Once new guidelines are implemented, initial applications for DACA-eligible individuals and new applications for Advance Parole (travel permits) should be accepted by the government.

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