The USCIS announced a major change in the EB-5 Immigration Investor program, substantially increasing the amounts required to obtain this immigrant visa. Other significant changes were also made to a program that has long needed stronger oversight and better regulation. The only question is, is the USCIS capable of doing it’s job? Read on for more of the “exciting” changes in immigration law that seem to be happening, literally, every day!
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Here is the Immigration News You NEED to Know Now
IMMIGRATION NEWS IN BRIEF:
Matter of H-G-G-, Adopted Decision on TPS – Matter of H-G-G- affects TPS recipients and their eligibility to adjust their status under section 245 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, reaffirming the DHS position that TPS recipients are considered as being in and maintaining lawful nonimmigrant status only during the period TPS is in effect.
USCIS Announces Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Opportunities – USCIS announces two new funding opportunities under the Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program, potentially providing $10 million in grants for citizenship preparation programs.
Expedited Removal Expands to Interior of United States – With immediate effect, DHS issued a notice to dramatically expand the process of expedited removal. The ACLU has promised to file a suit challenging the action.
USCIS Amends EB-5 Regulations, Raising Minimum Investment Amounts and Modifying TEA Designations – A long-anticipated final rule provides priority date retention for certain EB-5 investors, increases the required minimum investment amounts, changes the targeted employment area (TEA) designation process, and clarifies USCIS procedures for the removal of conditions on permanent residence.
Judges Rule on Third-Country Asylum Ban – Following a joint interim rule issued by DOJ and DHS that restricted asylum, with some exceptions, for migrants traveling through third countries to reach the United States (most notably for many Central Americans passing through Mexico), two judges issued rulings in separate cases.
ABIL Global: Canada – The Entry/Exit Program is a significant development that has been many years in the making.
Matter of H-G-G-, Adopted Decision on TPS
The Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) decision in Matter of H-G-G- affects Temporary Protected Status (TPS) beneficiaries and their eligibility to adjust their status under section 245 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, reaffirming the position held by the Department of Homeland Security that TPS recipients are considered as being in and maintaining lawful nonimmigrant status exclusively throughout the period of time that TPS is in effect. Granting TPS does neither confer an admission nor cure or otherwise affect any previous failure to maintain continuously a lawful status.
Furthermore, Matter of H-G-G- also states that the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 6th and 9th Circuits’ holding that a grant of TPS supplies the requisite admission for purposes of adjustment justifies USCIS to follow those directives only in these respective jurisdictions and pertaining to that specific issue. USCIS will universally apply the holding in Matter H-G-G- when dealing with the question of whether a grant of TPS absolves a prior unlawful status.
USCIS Updates Filing Addresses for Some I-129 Petitions
Though no normal announcement was made, USCIS has updated the direct filing addresses for Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. Specifically, changes were made on the USCIS webpage for the filing addresses for H-1B cap-exempt petitions for extension of stay, change of status, concurrent employment, consular notification, and amended petitions, excluding those filed for H-1B cap-exempt entities, H-1B cap-exempt petitions based on a Conrad/IGA waiver or Guam, and all H-1B1, H-1B2, and H-1B3 petitions.
Petitions listed on the USCIS webpage under “Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker,” under the dropdown box entitled, “All Other H-1B Petitions (H-1B extension of stay, change of status, concurrent employment, POE/PFI/consular notification, and amended petitions),” are now accepted at:
· California Service Center (CSC),
· Nebraska Service Center (NSC),
· Texas Service Center (TSC), and
· Vermont Service Center (VSC)
USCIS Announces Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Opportunities
On July 30, USCIS announced it would accept applications for two funding opportunities under the Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program, potentially providing $10 million in grants for citizenship preparation programs. The grants are available to organizations that prepare lawful permanent residents for naturalization, promoting knowledge of English, U.S. history, and civics.
There are two different grant opportunities:
- The Citizenship Instruction and Naturalization Application Services grant opportunity will fund up to 36 organizations offering both citizenship instruction and naturalization application services to lawful permanent residents.
- The Refugee and Asylee Assimilation Program grant opportunity will fund up to four organizations to provide individualized services to lawful permanent residents who entered the United States under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program or were granted asylum. These services will assist these individuals in acquiring knowledge and skills leading The grant aims to promote long-term assimilation through the education of lawful permanent residents who strive for naturalization but lack the instruction, information, and services necessary to attain it.
Applications for either of these grant opportunities are due by August 13, 2019.
Within 30 days of receiving the award, all funded grant recipients must enroll in E-Verify as a regular employer and remain in good standing with E-Verify throughout the entire period of grant performance. USCIS projects its announcement of award recipients to occur in September.
To apply for one of these funding opportunities, visit grants.gov
. For additional information on the Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program for fiscal year 2019, visit uscis.gov/grants or email the USCIS Office of Citizenship at email@example.com.
Expedited Removal Expands to Interior of United States
With immediate effect, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a notice on July 23, 2019, to place certain persons determined to be inadmissible in expedited removal, with limited exceptions. Affected individuals include those who have not been admitted or paroled into the United States and who have not “affirmatively shown, to the satisfaction of an immigration officer, that they have been physically present in the United States continuously for the two-year period immediately preceding the date of the determination of inadmissibility.”
The notice makes the following points, among others:
- Currently, immigration officers can apply expedited removal “to aliens encountered anywhere in the United States for up to two years after the alien arrived in the United States, provided that the alien arrived by sea and the other conditions for expedited removal are satisfied.”
- For those who entered the United States by crossing a land border, DHS permits the use of expedited removal “if the aliens were encountered by an immigration officer within 100 air miles of the U.S. international land border and were continuously present in the United States for less than 14 days immediately prior to that encounter.”
- The DHS Secretary has the “sole and unreviewable discretion” under the Immigration and Nationality Act “to modify at any time the discretionary limits on the scope of the expedited removal designation.”
- The Acting DHS Secretary is exercising his statutory authority to designate several categories of aliens not previously designated for expedited removal:
- Aliens who did not arrive by sea who are encountered anywhere in the United States more than 100 air miles from a U.S. international land border, and who have been continuously present in the United States for less than two years; and
- Aliens who did not arrive by sea who are encountered within 100 air miles from a U.S. international and border and who have been continuously presenting the United States for at least 14 days but for less than two years.
- Aliens otherwise subject to expedited removal who indicate either an intention to apply for asylum or a fear of persecution or torture will be given further review by an asylum officer, including an opportunity to establish “credible fear” and thus potential eligibility for asylum.
- An alien otherwise subject to expedited removal is given a “reasonable opportunity to establish to the satisfaction of the examining immigration officer that he or she was admitted or paroled into the United States.” Aliens determined by immigration officers to be subject to expedited removal nonetheless “will receive prompt review of that determination if they claim under oath, after being warned of the penalties for perjury, that they have been admitted for permanent residence, admitted as a refugee, granted asylum, or are a U.S. citizen.”
This is a major expansion of expedited removal. An estimate of at least 20,000 additional immigrants per year may be subject to expedited removal under the new policy. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) quickly put out a statement calling the policy “unlawful,” noting that under the plan, “immigrants who have lived here for years would be deported with less due process than people get in traffic court,” and vowing to “sue to end this policy quickly.” In the meantime, immigration lawyers are counseling clients of the need to be able to quickly document that they have been in the United States for at least two years, including carrying such documentation with them at all times.
Written comments may be submitted by September 23, 2019, via the method set forth in the DHS notice.
USCIS Amends EB-5 Regulations, Raising Minimum Investment Amounts and Modifying TEA Designations
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has published a final rule, effective November 21, 2019, amending the regulations governing the employment-based fifth preference (EB-5) immigrant investor classification and associated regional centers to reflect statutory changes and “modernize” the EB-5 program. The final rule provides priority date retention for certain EB-5 investors, increases the required minimum investment amounts, changes the targeted employment area (TEA) designation process, and clarifies USCIS procedures for the removal of conditions on permanent residence.
Among other things, the final rule:
- Clarifies that the priority date of a petition for classification as an investor is the date the petition is properly filed
- Clarifies that a petitioner with multiple approved immigrant petitions for classification as an investor is entitled to the earliest qualifying priority date
- Retains the 50 percent minimum investment differential between a TEA and a non-TEA instead of changing the differential to 25 percent as proposed, thereby increasing the minimum investment amount in a TEA from $500,000 to $900,000 rather than $1.35 million, as DHS initially proposed (the minimum non-TEA investment will be $1.8 million)
- Bases future inflation adjustments on the initial investment amount set by Congress in 1990 rather than on the most recent inflation adjustment
- Modifies the original proposal that any city or town with a population of 20,000 or more may qualify as a TEA, to provide that only cities and towns with a population of 20,000 or more outside of metropolitan statistical areas may qualify as a TEA, eliminates a state’s ability to designate certain geographic and political subdivisions as high unemployment areas, and gives the Department of Homeland Security responsibility for directly making TEA designations “based on revised requirements in the regulation limiting the composition of census tract-based TEAs”
Judges Rule on Third-Country Asylum Ban
Following a joint interim rule issued by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security on July 16, 2019, that restricted asylum, with some exceptions, for migrants traveling through third countries to reach the United States (most notably for many Central Americans passing through Mexico), two judges issued rulings in separate cases:
- Judge Timothy Kelly, of the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, declined to issue a temporary order to block the asylum ban.
- Judge Jon Tigar, of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, California, issued a preliminary injunction to block the ban until the arguments can be considered and a final decision can be issued.
New Publications and Items of Interest
Immigrant Doctors Can Help Lower Physician Shortages in Rural America
The Center for American Progress published an in-depth report, “Immigrant Doctors Can Help Lower Physician Shortages in Rural America.” The report concluded that immigrant doctors’ ability to better serve rural communities would be improved with the implementation of federal and state policies removing immigration and licensing barriers.
Read the report at https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/reports/2019/07/29/472619/immigrant-doctors-can-help-lower-physician-shortages-rural-america/.
What Can YOU Do To To Help The Asylum Seekers At Our Southern Border?
Kuck Baxter Immigration — In The News
Mr. Kuck was quoted by the Atlanta Journal Constitution in “Georgia’s Immigration Court Judges Among Toughest in Nation for Asylum.” “I have never seen [immigration] courts as dire as these ones [in Georgia] in the context of granting asylum, which seem to be so far out of the mainstream, not just of other courts around the country but of the actual law itself of asylum,” he said. The article is at https://on-ajc.com/2JYjNyf
Mr. Kuck was quoted by the Atlanta Journal Constitution in “New Details: ICE Detainee From Mexico Dies in South Georgia.” “It is unconscionable. It should be shut down,” Mr. Kuck said of the Stewart Detention Center. The article is at https://on-ajc.com/2KdmXNc
Mr. Kuck recently discussed “the flawed logic of the new Expedited Removal reg, and 9 things we can do to protect ourselves from ICE over-enforcement! We also talk about the Padilla/Matter of M-S- ruling on asylum bonds.” See #TheImmHour on Twitter.
Mr. Kuck was quoted by the New York Times in “What Happens After an ICE Raid? Explaining the Deportation Process.” Mr. Kuck noted that authorities in the past have used ruses to coax their targets into cooperating, like pretending to be looking for someone else. The article is at https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/16/us/ice-raid-deportation.html
Kuck Baxter Immigration LLC has opened a new office in Adel, Georgia, near the Irwin, Folkston, and Stewart Detention Centers, which hold more than 5,000 detained immigrants. The new office is managed by Elizabeth Matherne, Esq., the former Director for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s the Irwin Detention Project.
We have changed the location of our podcast–The Immigration Hour
— to Stitcher. We are entering our 11th year of continuous broadcasts. Listen here each week for our latest take on immigration and immigration law!
Feel free to reach out with any questions or for help in your immigration case at 404-816-8611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.