USCIS has published a proposed change to their filing fees. Some of these fees are increasing by more than 400%! The fee to obtain citizenship will now exceed $1,100! You have to wonder why. Read on for me details about these and other immigration news.
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Here is the Immigration News You NEED to Know Now
IMMIGRATION NEWS IN BRIEF:
SUPREME COURT HEARS DACA ARGUMENTS
On November 12, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court heard almost 90 minutes of oral argument on the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program.
USCIS PROPOSES SUBSTANTIAL FEE INCREASES
On November 14, 2019, USCIS published its proposed Fee Increase Regulation and, to no one’s surprise, fees are increasing dramatically in a number of categories and the Regulation also contains procedural changes to application and petition processing that go beyond mere increases in processing fees.
NEW EB-5 REGULATIONS TAKE EFFECT, PROGRAM EXTENDED THROUGH DECEMBER 20
In July 2019, USCIS announced and published new EB-5 regulations that have now taken effect.
USCIS INDICATES H-1B REGISTRATION TOOL MUST PASS TESTING TO TAKE EFFECT IN 2020
Former USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli announced during a speech at SHRM’s Global Mobility and Immigration Symposium in Washington D.C. that the new H-1B online cap registration tool must demonstrate its ability through the testing phase before it can be in place before the beginning of the next filing season early next year.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ATTEMPTS BAR ON IMMIGRANTS LACKING HEALTH INSURANCE, BUT JUDGE ISSUES TRO
Applicants who receive an immigrant visa after the order goes into effect on November 3rd need to demonstrate that upon entry, they will have insurance in place within a month before issuance of the visa.
DOS RELEASES INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE 2021 DIVERSITY IMMIGRANT VISA PROGRAM
The Department of State (DOS) has released instructions outlining how to apply for the 2021 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, which provides 55,000 diversity visas to individuals from countries that historically have low rates of immigration to the United States.
Supreme Court Hears DACA Arguments
November 12, 2019, was a day of reckoning for one of the signature achievements of the Obama Administration as the U.S. Supreme Court heard almost 90 minutes of oral argument on the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program. With hundreds of demonstrators outside the Courthouse, news outlets reported that Justices Gorsuch, Alito, Thomas and Kavanaugh seem favorably disposed toward the Trump administration’s desire to end the program, but that it was not clear that Chief Justice Roberts was equally convinced. An interesting wrinkle in the arguments was that the Administration’s position on DACA appears to be framed by the conservative Justices as a decision to “stop enforcing” DACA akin to other exercises of prosecutorial discretion which is different from the initial position that the program was “illegal.” The liberal Justices saw it more as an inadequately explained and therefore unjustified termination of an existing government program based on the program’s alleged illegality and did not appear to find the Administration’s current reasoning persuasive. It will be interesting to see whether Justice Roberts does indeed vote with the liberal block or follow the conservatives. The DACA program is supported by major employers including Microsoft, prestigious universities and State governments, but Congress has failed to enact a statutory solution for Dreamers. A decision on the case is not expected until sometime in 2020 leaving hundreds of thousands of DACA beneficiaries in limbo with no Congressional action in sight.
USCIS Proposes Substantial Fee Increases
On November 14th, USCIS published its proposed Fee Increase Regulation and, to no one’s surprise, fees are increasing dramatically in a number of categories and the Regulation also contains procedural changes to application and petition processing that go beyond mere increases in processing fees. One major change is that the fee for Adjustment of Status which currently totals $1225 including the fees for biometrics, travel and work authorization will increase by $970 to a total of $2195 because the fees for the travel and work authorization will be charged separately under the proposed rule. In addition, the reduced fee for children under 14 has been eliminated. The fee for Naturalization will also increase substantially. The biometrics fee of $85 will go away but the increases in application fees where biometrics are normally collected (or not collected in some cases) more than make up this difference. For petitioners who rely on premium processing, there is also a procedural change – under the proposed rule, premium processing will be 15 business days and not 15 calendar days.
New EB-5 Regulations Take Effect, Program Extended Through December 20
In July 2019, USCIS announced and published new EB-5 regulations that nearly doubled minimum investment amounts, dramatically changed TEAs designations, changed priority date retention. For details on what the most important changes and the impacts on regional centers, developers, and investors, read our blog here.
USCIS Indicates H-1B Registration Tool Must Pass Testing to Take Effect in 2020
Ken Cuccinelli, Acting Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), announced during a speech at SHRM’s Global Mobility and Immigration Symposium in Washington D.C. that the new H-1B online cap registration tool must demonstrate its ability through the testing phase before it can be in place before the beginning of the next filing season early next year. The new H-1B cap registration program would require employers seeking to file H-1B cap cases to register online in order to enter the H-1B lottery. Employers would then be allowed to file full petitions exclusively for registrations selected in the lottery, which would have to be filed with USCIS during a period of at least 90 days. A $10 processing fee is applicable to all H-1B petitions at the time of submission. The primary concern is the system’s ability to manage the volume that it is expected to face; a legitimate concern that could result in the program being removed altogether.
Trump Administration Attempts Bar on Immigrants Lacking Health Insurance, but Judge Issues TRO
In early October, Presdient Trump issued a proclamation blocking the admission of individuals applying for immigrant visas who cannot demonstrate their ability to acquire health insurance within 30 days of their entrance into the United States. Any applicants who receive an immigrant visa after the order was to go into effect on November 3rd would need to demonstrate when applying for a visa that within 30 days of entering the United States, they would have insurance in place. Individuals who were issued immigrant visas prior to November 3rd but entering after that date are not covered by the proclamation.
Under the executive action, approved health insurance coverage includes coverage under any of the following plans:
- an employer-sponsored plan, including a retiree plan, association health plan, and coverage provided by the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985;
- an unsubsidized health plan offered in the individual market within a State;
- a short-term limited duration health policy effective for a minimum of 364 days — or until the beginning of planned, extended travel outside the United States;
- a catastrophic plan;
- a family member’s plan;
- a medical plan under chapter 55 of title 10, United States Code, including coverage under the TRICARE program;
- a visitor health insurance plan that provides adequate coverage for medical care for a minimum of 364 days — or until the beginning of planned, extended travel outside the United States;
- a medical plan under the Medicare program; or
- any other health plan that provides adequate coverage for medical care as determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services or his designee.
For individuals over the age of 18, Medicaid is not considered acceptable health insurance coverage.
The Trump Administration is basing the action on Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act which permits the President to bar the entry of people deemed to be detrimental to the interests of the United States. This is the section of the law used to justify the travel ban. Critics are already arguing that extending this provision beyond physical security issues is impermissible and a court challenge is expected soon.
A Federal Judge has extended theTemporary Restraining Order on the policy, which prevents its implementation through at least the end of 2019
DOS Releases Instructions for the 2021 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program
The Department of State (DOS) annually allocates visas for a class of immigrants known as “diversity immigrants” from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. For Fiscal Year 2021, there will be 55,000 Diversity Visas (DVs) available at no cost.
Requirement 1: Individuals from eligible countries may qualify. The full list of eligible countries can be found beginning on page 16 of the DOS announcement.
If not born in an eligible country, there are two other possible ways to qualify.
- If your spouse was born in an eligible country.
- If you were born in an ineligible country in which neither of your parents was born or legally resident at the time of your birth, you may claim the country of birth of one of your parents if it is a country whose natives are eligible for the DV program.
Requirement 2: Diversity Visa applicants must adhere to the education work requirement of the program by having either:
- A minimum of a high-school or its equivalent, defined as successful completion of a 12-year course of formal elementary and secondary education;
- A minimum of two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience to perform.
Details: Department of State announcement is here.
Government Agency Links
Follow these links to access current processing times of the USCIS Service Centers and the Department of Labor, and the Department of State’s latest Visa Bulletin with the most recent cut-off dates for visa numbers:
USCIS Service Center processing times online: https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/
Department of State Visa Bulletin: https://travel.state.gov/
Visa application wait times for any post:https://travel.state.gov/
Kuck Baxter Immigration — In The News
Kuck Baxter Immigration LLC published its US legal guide for Corporate Immigration. It can be found at https://iclg.com/practice-
Charles Kuck released the latest edition of his podcast, the Immigration Hour. ! The podcast is at https://www.stitcher.com/
podcast/kuck-baxter- immigration-llc-2/the- immigration-hour
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 our Senior Counsel Elizabeth Matherne, the former Director for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s 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!
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