USCIS WILL INCREASE EB-5 INVESTORS' FILING FEES
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it is adjusting immigration and naturalization benefit request fees as part of a comprehensive fee review at the agency. The USCIS says the fee increase will allow the agency to help recover operating costs, reestablish and continue timely case processing and prevent future case backlog.
While the USCIS will not raise costs for everyone, EB-5 investors will bear the brunt of the fee hikes and will pay $1160 for I-526 petitions and $9535 for I-829 petitions. Application fees for the EB-5 visa, which will increase from $3,675 to $11,160, represent a 204% jump.
DHS Implements New Processes for Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans and Eliminates Cap for Venezuelans
On Jan. 5, 2023, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a safe and lawful way for qualifying Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans with U.S.-based supporters to travel by air to and temporarily reside in the United States. Individuals arriving under this new process may also apply for work authorization. DHS also announced elimination of the numerical cap for a similar process for Venezuelans announced earlier this year.
This process will provide a lawful and streamlined way for qualifying nationals of Cuba, Haiti, and Nicaragua who are outside the United States and lacking U.S. entry documents to come to the United States. Through a fully online process, individuals can be considered, on a case-by-case basis, for advance authorization to travel to the United States and seek a temporary period of parole for up to two years, provided that they:
Have a supporter in the United States who will provide financial and other support;
Undergo and clear robust security vetting;
Meet other eligibility criteria; and
Warrant a favorable exercise of discretion.
DHS will begin implementing these new processes for Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans on Jan. 6, 2023. For additional information on the process and eligibility requirements, please see the Processes for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans page.
DHS strongly encourages Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans seeking entry in the U.S. who do not have and are not eligible for a visa to instead seek entry via this process, as this will be the safest and most effective way to pursue a temporary stay in the United States. Individuals complete the process electronically and should not approach the border to access this process.
Effective immediately, U.S.-based individuals may submit Form I-134A, Online Request to be a Supporter and Declaration of Financial Support, on behalf of named nationals of Cuba, Haiti, and Nicaragua to come to the United States. We are also continuing the process with respect to Venezuelans.
DHS Begins Limited Implementation of DACA under Final Rule
On Monday, October 31, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security’s final rule to preserve and fortify Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) went into effect. The final rule’s implementation means that DACA is now based on a formal regulation, thereby preserving and fortifying the program while the program remains the subject of litigation in court. Previously, DACA was based on a policy memorandum that then-DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano issued on August 15, 2012. Since its inception in 2012, DACA has allowed over 800,000 young people to remain with their families in the only country many of them have ever known and continue to contribute to their communities in the United States.
Under the final rule, USCIS will continue to accept and process applications for deferred action, work authorization, and advance parole for current DACA recipients. Due to ongoing litigation, USCIS will continue to accept but cannot process initial DACA requests.
“This final rule is our effort to preserve and fortify DACA to the fullest extent possible,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “Ultimately, we need Congress to urgently pass legislation that provides Dreamers with the permanent protection they need and deserve.”
“Implementation of the DACA final rule illustrates USCIS’s continued commitment to Dreamers,” said U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ur M. Jaddou. “While court orders prevent us from adjudicating requests from initial applicants, we will continue to carry on the important work of renewing and continuing protections for current DACA recipients, as outlined in this final rule.”
The final rule is a product of careful review that considered the more than 16,000 comments received during the public comment period. It codifies existing DACA policy, with limited changes, and replaces the guidance set forth in the 2012 Napolitano memorandum.
The final rule affirms that:
Current DACA recipients’ deferred action, employment authorization, and advance parole will continue to be recognized as valid under the final rule.
DACA is not a form of lawful status but DACA recipients are considered “lawfully present” for certain purposes.
Non-citizens who meet eligibility criteria, clear all national security and public safety vetting, and are found to merit a favorable exercise of discretion may be granted deferred action and obtain renewable two-year work authorization. Given pending litigation, however, the Department is currently barred from granting deferred action to any new DACA recipients.
On Oct. 5, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed a July 2021 decision of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas declaring the 2012 DACA policy unlawful. The Fifth Circuit, however, preserved the partial stay issued by the district court in July 2021 and remanded the case back to the district court for further proceedings regarding the new DACA rule. On Oct. 14, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas issued an order extending its injunction and partial stay of the DACA final rule.
Current grants of DACA and related Employment Authorization Documents are valid, and USCIS will accept and process renewal DACA requests and accompanying requests for employment authorization under the final rule.
Healthcare and Childcare Workers Can Get Expedited Employment Authorization Documents
If you are a healthcare worker or a childcare worker who has a valid immigration status and has an initial Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765), that has been pending for over 90 days, you can request expedited processing. USCIS had previously announced this flexibility for qualifying healthcare and childcare workers with a pending employment authorization document (EAD) renewal application, whose EAD is expiring within 30 days or has already expired. We are now extending this flexibility to include initial EAD applications that have been pending for over 90 days for healthcare and childcare workers.
Do You Qualify?
To determine whether you are a qualifying healthcare worker, see this DHS advisory memorandum (“Healthcare / Public Health” section, pages 7-9) (PDF). To determine whether you are a qualifying childcare worker, see the U.S. Department of Labor’s Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code 39-9011, which includes workers who “attend to children at schools, businesses, private households, and childcare institutions” and “perform a variety of tasks, such as dressing, feeding, bathing, and overseeing play.” (Note that this definition does not include preschool teachers or teaching assistants.)
Call the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283 (TTY 800-767-1833) to request expedited processing of your EAD application based on your circumstance as a healthcare worker or a childcare worker with an EAD application that meets the above criteria.
If you are requesting expedited processing of your EAD application and you have a pending or approved case based on T or U nonimmigrant status, follow the case inquiry process outlined at Victims of Human Trafficking and Other Crimes. If you are requesting expedited processing of your EAD application and have a pending or approved VAWA I-360 or I-485, follow the case inquires processes at Abused Spouses, Children and Parents.
Be prepared to provide evidence of your profession or current or immediate prospective employment as a healthcare worker or a childcare worker (such as an Employment Verification Letter, recent earnings statement, or pay stubs) and current valid immigration status. If the evidence you provide is not sufficient, we may not accommodate your request for expedited processing of your Form I-765. For more information on expedite requests, please see our webpage on How to Make an Expedite Request.
DHS Designates Ethiopia for Temporary Protected Status for 18 months
Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the designation of Ethiopia for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months. Only individuals who are already residing in the United States as of October 20, 2022 will be eligible for TPS.
“The United States recognizes the ongoing armed conflict and the extraordinary and temporary conditions engulfing Ethiopia, and DHS is committed to providing temporary protection to those in need,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “Ethiopian nationals currently residing in the U.S. who cannot safely return due to conflict-related violence and a humanitarian crisis involving severe food shortages, flooding, drought, and displacement, will be able to remain and work in the United States until conditions in their home country improve.”
A country may be designated for TPS when conditions in the country fall into one or more of the three statutory bases for designation: ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster, or extraordinary and temporary conditions. This designation is based on both ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions in Ethiopia that prevent Ethiopian nationals, and those of no nationality who last habitually resided in Ethiopia, from returning to Ethiopia safely. Due to the armed conflict, civilians are at risk of conflict-related violence, including attacks, killings, rape, and other forms of gender-based violence; ethnicity-based detentions; and human rights violations and abuses. Extraordinary and temporary conditions that further prevent nationals from returning in safety include a humanitarian crisis involving severe food insecurity, flooding, drought, large-scale displacement, and the impact of disease outbreaks.
This will be Ethiopia’s first designation for TPS. Individuals eligible for TPS under this designation must have continuously resided in the United States since October 20, 2022. Individuals who attempt to travel to the United States after October 20, 2022 will not be eligible for TPS under this designation. Ethiopia’s 18-month designation will go into effect on the publication date of the forthcoming Federal Register notice. The Federal Register notice will provide instructions for applying for TPS and an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). TPS applicants must meet all eligibility requirements and undergo security and background checks.
President Biden Issued a Proclamation on Granting Pardon for Simple Possession of Marijuana
President Biden issued a Proclamation on Granting Pardon for the Offense of Simple Possession of Marijuana by US citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (a.k.a. “Green Card holders”). The Pardon will apply to all US citizens and Legal Permanent Residents who have been convicted of the offense of simple possession of marijuana in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, as currently codified at 21 U.S.C. 844 and as previously codified elsewhere in the United States Code, or in violation of D.C. Code 48-904.01(d)(1).
The Pardon applies to offenses charged or prosecuted on or before the date of this proclamation (October 10, 2022). It does not apply to individuals who were non-citizens not lawfully present in the United States at the time of their offence.
The Attorney General will develop and announce an application procedure for certificates of pardon and begin accepting applications as soon as reasonably practicable.
USCIS Extends Green Card Validity Extension to 24 Months for Green Card Renewals
USCIS announced that effective September 26, 2022, it has automatically extended the validity of permanent resident cards (green cards) to 24 months (from 12 months) for lawful permanent residents who file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. USCIS is printing amended receipt notices for pending Form I-90s.
TPS for Burma has been Extended
Today, DHS has announced that is it extending the designation of Burma for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, from November 26, 2022, through May 25, 2024, and redesignating Burma for TPS.
USCIS Reviewing Military Naturalization Policy Based on Settlement Agreement in Calixto v. Department of the Army
On Sept. 22, 2022, USCIS was notified of a settlement agreement between the U.S. Army and class members of the civil action captioned Calixto v. Department of the Army, Civ. A. No. 18-1551 (PLF) (D.D.C.). The Calixto settlement agreement affects USCIS’ military naturalization policies, and USCIS is reviewing policy changes based on the terms of this settlement agreement. It will soon provide guidance and instructions for Calixto class members who may be eligible to apply for military naturalization under section 329 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.