Immigration News and Updates for March 2020

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On March 1, 2020, we enter a new era in H-1B processing. $10 tickets with minimal information to “register” for the new H-1B lottery. Predictions of both overwhelming new numbers of applicants AND underwhelming numbers of applicants are popping up all over the immigration world. Whatever the results announced on March 20, 2020, the last day of the lottery, one thing is clear. The Trump administration has changed H-1Bs for good, some of those changes are positive, but many are negative, and will most certainly have long term consequences on our economy and our society. Read the details below.
There is also news that Senator Mike Lee will once again seek a unanimous consent motion on his controversial bill eliminating per country limits, S386, this week. Your immigration lawyers will be on the ground this week in Washington, DC, to make sure that any changes to the law don’t do far more harm than good. For more details on S386, and its better version S2306, read the details below and listen to our podcast, The Immigration Hour.
And, finally, as we predicted here two months ago, the Employment-Basted third preference category (EB-3) has backlogged by 3-4 years, starting on March 1. This means that immigrants not from India and China now have a 3-4 year wait for their green card AFTER the approval of their labor certification (PERM) and immigrant visa (Form I-140). This will wreak havoc for a lot of people applying for permanent residence, including TPS holders, L-1B visa holders, and Asylum seekers. Listen to our most recent podcast on this, at The Immigration Hour.
We will keep you alerted to all of the breaking news here through our newsletter. At Kuck Baxter Immigration, we are dedicated to providing you up to the minute information through our Twitter feed, Facebook, Linkedin, our blog, and our podcast. Don’t forget to check these out, and don’t hesitate to send your questions or comments. Information and knowledge are power.

Upcoming Events and Kuck Baxter Immigration Media

We are actively engaged in our immigrant community both locally and national. Last week we gave three different community presentations on a variety of immigration topics to employers, community activists and foreign students.
We regularly speak at community events, continuing legal education seminars, Human Resource conference, and at universities and colleges around the US. If you would like us to speak to your group for free, let us know! Also, check out our website and come on out to an event! We also do a Facebook live every week, in both English and Spanish, every Friday at 2 pm. Follow us on our Facebook page and catch the action! You can also follow us on our YouTube page, which has hundreds of videos encompassing every immigration topic.

Have You Checked Out Our Blog and our Podcast?

Our Blog is updated each week with information, breaking news, and answers to questions you need to know!
You can also listen to our Top 50 rated podcast, “The Immigration Hour” podcast, that we post each Tuesday. The last episode talked in detail about S386, what is means for immigrant visa applicants through employers, and its chances for passage with the newest amendments. Download it and listen at your leisure. If you have comments on the podcast, or topics you would like us to talk about on The Immigration Hour, let us know!

Here is the Immigration News You NEED to Know Now

Initial H-1B Registration Period Opens at Noon ET March 1, 2020 – The initial registration period for the fiscal year (FY) 2021 H-1B cap-subject petitions opened at noon ET on March 1 and runs through noon ET on March 20, 2020.
H-2B Cap Reached for Second Half of FY 2020 – USCIS has received enough petitions to meet the congressionally mandated H-2B cap on foreign workers in temporary nonagricultural jobs for the second half of FY 2020.
Federal Appeals Court Reverses Itself on Same Day on ‘Remain in Mexico’ Policy – The Ninth Circuit briefly ruled on February 28, 2020, against the Trump administration’s policy of sending those seeking asylum in the United States who entered via Mexico, many of them Central Americans, back to Mexico to wait for their hearings. Later the same day, the court stayed its earlier order and temporarily allowed the policy to proceed.
President Adds Iran to Entry Suspensions Related to Coronavirus– President Trump issued a proclamation suspending the entry of immigrants or nonimmigrants who were present within Iran during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. This is in addition to China restrictions.
USCIS Updates Guidance on H-2A Petitions for Sheep/Goat Herders – Effective June 1, 2020, USCIS will adjudicate all Forms I-129, Petitions for a Nonimmigrant Worker, filed by petitioners seeking H-2A sheep/goat herder positions in line with the updated guidance.
Immediate Three-Year Backlog Imposed on EB-3 and EB “Other Workers” Visa Categories in March; China-Mainland Born EB-5 Category Advances Rapidly – The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for March 2020 announced several notable developments.
USCIS, DOS Implement Public Charge Rule After Supreme Court Decision Staying Preliminary Injunction –USCIS implemented the public charge rule nationwide on February 24, 2020, following a Supreme Court ruling staying a preliminary injunction in Illinois. DOS also implemented public charge requirements for overseas applications on the same date.
CNMI News: Application Period Opens for New Status for Long-Term Residents; Petitions Accepted Under Disaster Recovery Workforce Act –USCIS announced several developments for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
USCIS Suspends Use of Pre-Paid Mailers for FY 2021 H-1B Cap-Subject Petitions – USCIS will not use pre-paid mailers to send out any communications or final notices for fiscal year 2021 cap-subject H-1B petitions, including those requesting consideration under the advanced-degree exemption.
Trump Administration Quietly Uses Technicalities To Delay New Visa Applications – According to a recent report, the Trump administration has begun automatically returning visa applications for certain visa categories if any fields are not filled in, whether or not the applicant has any information to put in the field.
ICE Ramps Up Efforts to Police STEM OPT Program – ICE has increased audits of employers who hire STEM OPT students.
Trump Administration Attempts Crackdown on ‘Sanctuary’ Policies – Among other efforts, the Trump administration plans to deploy 100 tactical CBP officers to Atlanta; Boston; Chicago; Detroit; Los Angeles; Newark, NJ; New York City; Los Angeles; and San Francisco.
USCIS Releases Statement in Response to Coronavirus Epidemic – USCIS is temporarily closing its offices in Beijing and Guangzhou.
DHS Suspends New York Residents from Trusted Traveler Programs; New York to Sue – DHS informed the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles on February 5, 2020, that New York residents are no longer eligible to apply for or renew their enrollment in Trusted Traveler Programs. New York’s Attorney General immediately announced plans to sue the Trump administration for “unfair targeting.”
In a Win for International Students, Federal District Court Permanently Enjoins Change in ‘Unlawful Presence’ Policy – A U.S. District Judge issued a decision on February 6, 2020, permanently enjoining the Trump administration’s change in “unlawful presence” policy set forth in a USCIS memorandum.
USCIS Releases Revised Forms and Updates Policy Manual on Public Charge Inadmissibility Final Rule – USCIS has published revised forms and updated guidance related to the final rule on the public charge ground of inadmissibility, which the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, including USCIS, will implement on February 24, 2020.
Global: New Schengen Code Regulation – The new regulation sets forth the procedures and conditions for issuing Schengen visas.

THE DETAILS ON KEY IMMIGRATION NEWS ITEMS

Initial H-1B Registration Period Runs Through Noon ET March 20, 2020

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a reminder that the initial registration period for the fiscal year (FY) 2021 H-1B cap-subject petitions opened at noon ET on March 1 and runs through noon ET on March 20, 2020. During this period, USCIS said, prospective petitioners and representatives can submit basic information to register.
Prospective H-1B cap-subject petitioners or their representatives must use a myUSCIS online account to: (1) register each beneficiary electronically for the selection process and (2) pay the associated $10 fee for each H-1B registration submitted on behalf of each beneficiary. Prospective petitioners or their representatives can submit registrations for multiple beneficiaries in a single online session. Through the account, they will be able to prepare, edit, and store draft registrations before final payment and submission of each registration, USCIS said.
If USCIS receives enough registrations by March 20, the agency will randomly select registrations and send notify users via their USCIS online accounts by March 31, 2020.

H-2B Cap Reached for Second Half of FY 2020

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on February 26, 2020, that it has received enough petitions to meet the congressionally mandated H-2B cap on foreign workers in temporary nonagricultural jobs for the second half of fiscal year 2020.
February 18, 2020, was the final receipt date for new cap-subject H-2B worker petitions requesting an employment start date before October 1, 2020. USCIS said it will reject new cap-subject H-2B petitions received after February 18 that request an employment start date before October 1.
USCIS continues to accept H-2B petitions that are exempt from the congressionally mandated cap. This includes petitions for:
  • Current H-2B workers in the United States who wish to extend their stay and, if applicable, change the terms of their employment or change employers;
  • Fish roe processors, fish roe technicians, and/or supervisors of fish roe processing; and
  • Workers performing labor or services in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and/or Guam from November 28, 2009, until December 31, 2029.

Federal Appeals Court Reverses Itself on Same Day on ‘Remain in Mexico’ Policy

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit briefly ruled on February 28, 2020, against the Trump administration’s policy of sending those seeking asylum in the United States who entered via Mexico, many of them Central Americans, back to Mexico to wait for their hearings. Later the same day, the court stayed its earlier order and temporarily allowed the policy to proceed, subject to a brief timeline while further arguments are heard, after the administration cited a potential “rush on the southern border” by those affected, who may attempt to enter the United States.
The policy is sometimes referred to as the “remain in Mexico” program (officially the Migrant Protection Protocols), in which approximately 59,000 people are enrolled. The stay is pending a government request to the Supreme Court and another ruling in the same circuit. The court said both sides had a week to submit briefs.

President Adds Iran to Entry Suspensions Related to Coronavirus

President Trump issued a proclamation, effective as of 5 p.m. March 2, 2020, suspending the entry of immigrants or nonimmigrants who were present within the Islamic Republic of Iran during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. This is in addition to China restrictions ordered under a proclamation issued on January 31, 2020.
The suspensions do not apply to U.S. lawful permanent residents (LPRs), spouses of U.S. citizens or LPRs, parents or legal guardians of U.S. citizens or LPRs (provided the U.S. citizen or LPR is unmarried and under 21 years of age), or siblings of U.S. citizens or LPRs (provided both are unmarried and under 21 years of age), along with several other categories.
During recent remarks, President Trump was asked whether he had plans to expand the suspensions to other countries, such as Italy, that have reported coronavirus cases. He responded, “Well, we’re looking at that right now and we’re looking at a couple of countries – a few countries that have a little bit disproportionately high number. And we’re going to make that decision very soon.” In response to a question, Mr. Trump also said he was “very strongly” considering new travel restrictions along the southern border to contain the coronavirus. He later appeared to change his position, saying “this is not a border that seems to be much of a problem right now.”

USCIS Updates Guidance on H-2A Petitions for Sheep/Goat Herders

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published an updated policy memorandum on February 28, 2020, that requires requests for temporary foreign workers for range sheep or goat herding or production to be subject to the same requirements as those for other temporary agricultural workers. Effective June 1, 2020, USCIS will adjudicate all Forms I-129, Petitions for a Nonimmigrant Worker, filed by petitioners seeking H-2A sheep/goat herder positions in line with this updated guidance.
On November 14, 2019, USCIS issued the “Temporary or Seasonal Need for H-2A Petitions Seeking Workers for Range Sheep and/or Goat Herding or Production” policy memo and requested public comments. After receiving comments, USCIS issued the updated guidance to better ensure that those admitted into the United States as H-2A nonimmigrant sheep/goat herders fill temporary and seasonal positions.

Immediate Three-Year Backlog Imposed on EB-3 and EB “Other Workers” Visa Categories in March; China-Mainland Born EB-5 Category Advances Rapidly

The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for March 2020 announced several notable developments:
·        An immediate three-year backlog on EB-3 and EB “Other Workers” categories worldwide as of March, with implications for those with pending labor certifications and those whose status is expiring. The final action date listed is January 1, 2017, imposed immediately as of March for all future requests for visa numbers. “No forward movement of this date is expected in the foreseeable future,” the bulletin notes.
·        A “very rapid” advancement of the final action date for the EB-5 category, China-mainland born. The bulletin notes that despite a large number of registered China fifth preference demand, there are not enough applicants actively pursuing final action on their cases to fully use the numbers expected to be available under the annual limit.

USCIS, DOS Implement Public Charge Rule After Supreme Court Decision Staying Preliminary Injunction

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) implemented the public charge rule nationwide on February 24, 2020, following a Supreme Court ruling issued February 21, 2020, staying a preliminary injunction in Illinois. USCIS will only apply the final rule to applications and petitions postmarked (or submitted electronically) on or after February 24, 2020. The Department of State (DOS) also implemented public charge requirements for overseas applications on the same date, including the new DS-5540, DOS Public Charge Questionnaire. DOS has indicated that it may apply the DS-5540 to applicants who have previously been found documentarily qualified for a visa before February 24.
The final rule, issued in August and originally scheduled to take effect in October, prescribes how the Department of Homeland Security will determine whether a person is inadmissible to the United States based on a “likelihood of becoming a public charge at any time in the future,” USCIS noted. The final rule also addresses USCIS’s “authority to issue public charge bonds in the context of applications for adjustment of status,” and includes a requirement that those seeking an extension of stay or change of status “demonstrate that they have not received public benefits over the designated threshold since obtaining the nonimmigrant status they seek to extend or change.”
Details:
·        Supreme Court opinion issued February 21, 2020, including a dissent by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/19pdf/19a905_7m48.pdf
·        DS-5540, DOS Public Charge Questionnaire, https://eforms.state.gov/Forms/ds5540.pdf
·        Updated DOS Foreign Affairs Manual section on public charge, https://fam.state.gov/fam/09fam/09fam030208.html
·        Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Public Charge Toolkit, including a “Totality of the Circumstances Worksheet” with ideas for positive evidence, https://www.ilrc.org/sites/default/files/resources/2019.12_public_charge_legal_toolkit-final-12.10.pdf
·        National Immigration Law Center, Protecting Immigrant Families page, https://protectingimmigrantfamilies.org/; summary of developments, https://www.nilc.org/issues/economic-support/pubcharge/

CNMI News: Application Period Opens for New Status for Long-Term Residents; Petitions Accepted Under Disaster Recovery Workforce Act

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced several developments for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI):
·        USCIS opens application period for new status for long-term residents of CNMI. The application period opened on February 19, 2020, and will run until August 17, 2020. Applicants must file Form I-955, Application for CNMI Long-Term Resident Status, together with Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. USCIS noted that CNMI long-term status is not the same as lawful permanent residence and does not lead to lawful permanent resident status.
·        USCIS accepts petitions under the CNMI Disaster Recovery Workforce Act. Petitioners should file Form I-129CW, Petition for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker, along with a cover sheet with details outlined in the announcement (see link below). Prospective employers may only petition under the Disaster Recovery Workforce Act for CW-1 construction workers who are nationals of a country designated as eligible to participate in the H-2B visa program during calendar year 2018 (for a list of designated countries, see https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2018-01-18/pdf/2018-00812.pdf).
Details:
·         USCIS announcement on application period for long-term residents, which explains eligibility requirements, https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-opens-application-period-new-status-long-term-residents-cnmi
·         USCIS announcement on CNMI Disaster Recovery Workforce Act petitions, which includes details on eligibility requirements, https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-accepting-petitions-under-cnmi-disaster-recovery-workforce-act

USCIS Suspends Use of Pre-Paid Mailers for FY 2021 H-1B Cap-Subject Petitions

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on February 14, 2020, that it will not use pre-paid mailers to send out any communications or final notices for fiscal year 2021 cap-subject H-1B petitions, including those requesting consideration under the advanced-degree exemption.
USCIS noted that the process of printing and mailing the cap-subject H-1B petition approval notices by first-class mail is fully automated. “Using pre-paid mailers requires a separate, more time-consuming manual process. The existing automated process is more time efficient for both petitioners and USCIS. Because of this, we will use first-class mail as we work to process all cap-subject petitions in a timely manner,” the agency said.

Trump Administration Quietly Uses Technicalities To Delay New Visa Applications

According to a recent report, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has begun automatically returning asylum applications and visa applications for certain categories if any fields are not filled in, whether or not the applicant has any information to put in the field. The resulting delays in some cases can lead to documents expiring or people losing their eligibility for immigration benefits.
Applications reportedly have been returned at least in part because a person had no middle name and thus did not fill in the middle-name field; because a person did not fill in a field for “Apt. #” even though they lived in a house; because a person left a “prior spouses” field blank since they were never married; because a child left a dates of employment field blank after entering “none” for employment history; and because a person had only three siblings so left the fourth-sibling field blank.
In response to queries from a reporter, USCIS said applicants “must provide the specific information requested for all the questions asked.” USCIS said that if there is no information to put in a field, the applicant should mark it “none,” “not applicable,” or “unknown.” This note is included on page 5 of the instructions for the asylum application, for example. This requirement was first applicable to asylum applications and more recently was extended to U visa applications.
Details:
·         “This Latest Trick from the Trump Administration is One of the Most Despicable Yet,” https://wapo.st/2OWRiTz
·         Asylum application, https://www.uscis.gov/i-589

ICE Ramps Up Efforts to Police STEM OPT Program

According to reports from the field, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has increased audits of employers who hire STEM OPT (science, technology, engineering, and math optional practical training) students. The audits are being conducted to verify that students are being employed in a manner consistent with the minimum requirements of the STEM OPT program. Audits are occurring in the form of onsite inspections, often conducted on short notice.
Eligible F-1 nonimmigrant students with STEM degrees from Student and Exchange Visitor Program-certified and accredited U.S. colleges and universities may apply for a 24-month STEM OPT extension. Interested F-1 students must apply for and receive an employment authorization document from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). To employ a STEM OPT student, employers must agree to a training plan that describes how the employment will further the foreign national’s skills in their academic discipline. The training plan must be completed on Form I-983, Training Plan for STEM OPT Students. Form I-983 includes a list of obligations to which, upon signing, an employer is bound to obey. Once completed, Form I-983 is submitted to the foreign national’s university for approval. If approved, the foreign national may apply to USCIS for a work permit.
Details:
·        DHS webpage on STEM OPT, https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/stem-opt-hub
·        Blog on ICE efforts and employer obligations regarding STEM OPT, https://bit.ly/31ZbYj5

Trump Administration Attempts Crackdown on ‘Sanctuary’ Policies

The Trump administration has launched several efforts in an attempt to crack down on “sanctuary” policies.
For example, the Trump administration is challenging the state of New Jersey and King County, Washington (the county that includes Seattle) with lawsuits against their sanctuary policies. Among other things, the Department of Justice objects to King County’s policy of preventing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from using King County International Airport (Boeing Field) to fly out people being deported. In 2017, Seattle sued the Trump administration over its threat to withhold federal money from “sanctuary cities.”
The Trump administration also plans to deploy 100 tactical U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers from February to May in 10 U.S. cities, to work with ICE. The cities include Atlanta (which is NOT a “sanctuary city); Boston; Chicago; Detroit; Los Angeles; Newark, New Jersey; New York City; Los Angeles; and San Francisco. According to a CBP spokesperson, the officers will “enhance integrity of the immigration system, protect public safety, and strengthen our national security.” Among other things, CBP agents will support immigration-related arrests.
The latest efforts come on the heels of the Trump administration’s suspension of New Yorkers’ eligibility to enroll in “trusted traveler” programs like Global Entry, over which the New York attorney general has filed suit.

USCIS Releases Statement in Response to Coronavirus Epidemic

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently released a statement summarizing its response to the worldwide spread of COVID-19, popularly known as the “coronavirus.” Concerns about the virus have led to massive efforts to contain it, including quarantines and lockdowns.
Among other things, USCIS said it is temporarily closing its offices in Beijing and Guangzhou. “We will reschedule all affected appointments and will send new appointment notices to applicants,” the agency said. Interested persons can check USCIS’s Beijing and Guangzhou webpages for status updates (see links below).
Details:

DHS Suspends New York Residents from Trusted Traveler Programs; New York to Sue

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) informed the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles on February 5, 2020, that New York residents are no longer eligible to apply for or renew their enrollment in Trusted Traveler Programs. Acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf explained that the suspension was in response to New York State’s implementing the Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act (“Green Light Law”), which prohibits the New York Department of Motor Vehicles from sharing information with DHS, which the agency said prevented DHS from fully vetting New York residents.
New York’s Attorney General Letitia James immediately announced plans to sue the Trump administration for “unfair targeting.” Also, the chairs of the Oversight and Homeland Security committees of the House of Representatives, and several others, sent a letter to DHS to “express our strong opposition” to the “senseless, retaliatory decision.” They requested documentation of the rationale for the decision and its economic impact, noting among other things that a driver’s license is not required to participate in Trusted Traveler Programs and disputing DHS’s statements that the action was due to security concerns. New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo said, “This is unbounded arrogance, disrespect of the rule of law, hyper-political government, and this is another form of extortion.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection runs Trusted Traveler Programs that permit expedited processing into the United States, like Global Entry (international), FAST (commercial truck drivers entering and exiting), SENTRI (entering from Canada and Mexico), and NEXUS (entering from Canada), all of which are included in the ban on New York residents.
Details:
·         House of Representatives letter to DHS, https://homeland.house.gov/imo/media/doc/GlobalEntryLetter.pdf
·         Global Entry website, https://bit.ly/2H4Eh5R

In a Win for International Students, Federal District Court Permanently Enjoins Change in ‘Unlawful Presence’ Policy

U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs, of North Carolina, issued a decision on February 6, 2020, permanently enjoining nationwide the Trump administration’s change in “unlawful presence” policy set forth in a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) memorandum, “Accrual of Unlawful Presence and F, J, and M Nonimmigrants.” The policy previously was temporarily blocked by the same judge while the underlying district court case developed.
The Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration said the policy “fundamentally and radically altered when F-1, J-1, and M-1 visa holders accrue unlawful presence.” Accrual would begin retroactively on the date a visa holder engaged in prohibited conduct instead of when they were adjudicated as “out of status.” Accrual of unlawful presence, the Alliance noted, “directly affects whether collateral inadmissibility immigration bars [e.g., the 3-year, 10-year, and permanent bars] potentially affect and penalize visa holders who seek admission to the United States prospectively.” This made it substantially more likely that the accrual of unlawful presence would more easily occur as a result of “administrative, unintentional, or innocent errors and lead to significant, unforeseen consequences, including being barred from the United States.” In response, higher education institutions, including members of the Alliance, filed a challenge against the policy. The Presidents’ Alliance also coordinated an amicus brief signed by more than 60 institutions of higher education in support of the legal challenge.
Details:
·        February 6, 2020, court opinion and order in Guilford College et al. v. Chad Wolf, U.S. Department of Homeland Security et al., https://www.presidentsimmigrationalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Guilford-College-v.-Nielsen-summary-judgment-permanent-injunction.pdf
·        Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration statement, https://bit.ly/2OTKyGb

USCIS Releases Revised Forms and Updates Policy Manual on Public Charge Inadmissibility Final Rule

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has published revised forms related to the final rule on the public charge ground of inadmissibility, which the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, including USCIS, implemented on February 24, 2020. Beginning on that date, applicants and petitioners must use new editions of the forms listed in a USCIS announcement.
In addition, except in Illinois, applicants for adjustment of status subject to the public charge ground of inadmissibility and the final rule must submit Form I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency.
Certain classes of aliens (such as refugees, asylees, petitioners under the federal Violence Against Women Act, and certain T and U visa applicants) are exempt from the public charge ground of inadmissibility and therefore are not subject to the final rule.
Details:
·        USCIS announcement, which includes links to new editions of the forms, https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/public-charge-inadmissibility-final-rule-revised-forms-and-updated-policy-manual-guidance
·        Declaration of Self-Sufficiency, https://www.uscis.gov/forms/i-944
·        USCIS Policy Manual, https://www.uscis.gov/policy-manual/volume-8-part-g#tabs-3

Global: New Schengen Code Regulation

A new Schengen code regulation (Regulation (EU) 2019/1155 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 amending Regulation (EC) No 810/2009 establishing a Community Code on Visas) came into force February 2, 2020.
This reviewed regulation applies to all third-country nationals who need a stay visa for intended stays in the territory of the European Union (EU) Member States not exceeding 90 days in any 180-day period.
The regulation sets forth the procedures and conditions for issuing Schengen visas. The following general principles apply:
·        The Member States must act in full compliance with Union law and according to its general principles and decisions when applying this regulation.
·        The Member States must take the decision under this regulation on an individual basis.
·        The application procedure should be as easy as possible for applicants.
·        The relevant Member State to resolve an application must be clearly identifiable.
·        The Member States must promote electronic processes, including electronic submission, interviews, and signatures when available.
·        Deadlines should be established for each step of the process to allow applicants to plan ahead.
·        Frequent or regular travelers (among other categories, business people, artists, and athletes), complying with the regulation, might benefit from multiple-entry visas with longer periods of validity.
Benefits
As a result of the new regulation, the Schengen visa application process is expected to be much more flexible, allowing electronic procedures when possible; allowing submission of applications within the six months before the visit (instead of within three months as established before), and permitting the resolution of the application as a matter of urgency in justified cases, even if it was not submitted at least 15 days before the trip.
Another benefit of the regulation, together with flexibility, is the clarity about authorities in charge of the application (when different countries will be visited) and about processing times.
Finally, certain categories of visitors who need to travel regularly to the Member States can now obtain visas with longer duration, provided they have complied with the applicable regulation.
The increase in the processing fee (up to 80 euros) may be reasonable if the process becomes as flexible and efficient as expected by this modification.

New Publications and Items of Interest

Visa Office Q&A. The Department of State’s Visa Office has released questions and answers from a liaison meeting held in October 2019 on a variety of issues related to current immigration policies and procedures, including public charge, https://travel.state.gov/content/dam/visas/AILA/AILA-Agenda-Fall-2019.pdf.
E-Verify webinar schedule. E-Verify has released its March 2020 calendar of webinars at https://www.e-verify.gov/calendar-field_date_and_time/month/202003.
S. 2603 Resolving Extended Limbo for Immigrant Employees and Families (RELIEF) Act.
Because of the impeachment trial, there is no news to report on the proposed by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), S. 2603 seeks to eliminate the family and employment green card backlog by increasing the number of green cards. Furthermore, the RELIEF Act would classify children and spouses of lawful permanent residents (LPRs) as immediate relatives and exempt derivative beneficiaries of employment-based petitions from annual green card limits. Specifically, S. 2603 would
·        Eliminate the family and employment green card backlog over five years in the order in which applications were filed;
·        Keep American families together by classifying spouses and children of LPRs as immediate relatives and exempting derivative beneficiaries of employment-based petitions from annual green card limits;
·        Protect “aging out” children who qualify for LPR status based on a parent’s immigration petition;
·        Lift country caps; and
·        Extend the “hold harmless” clause from H.R. 1044 that exempts immigrant visa petitions approved prior to enactment from the lifting of country caps to petitions approved for five years after enactment.
The full text of the bill is at http://www.visalaw.com/wp-
H-1B outlook for 2020.
“Expect More Lawsuits and Restrictions on H-1B Visas in 2020,” published by Forbes, says 2020 is unlikely to be an improvement over 2019 for companies that hire foreign-born scientists and engineers on H-1B visas, and that companies should expect 2020 to bring more restrictions.
How to prepare for immigration raids.
Cornell University’s immigration technology clinic has developed an automated online interview to help people prepare if they or others are worried about being detained or deported. It can help people prepare their family, manage their property, close out their bank accounts, and perform other emergency preparations. The online interview is available in English and Spanish at https://www.immi.org/en/Home/make_a_plan.
Responding to large-scale immigration raids.
The Immigration Justice Campaign and the American Immigration Lawyers Association have released information on what to do in the event of large-scale interior enforcement actions. See https://www.immigrationjustice.us/volunteeropportunities/raids-preparation-teams and https://www.aila.org/advo-media/issues/all/featured-issue-2019-large-scale-enforcement.
CBP accountability. This website documents litigation across the United States in an effort to establish U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) accountability and transparency. The website, which also directs readers to additional resources, is a joint project of the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego and Imperial Counties, the American Immigration Council, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. See https://holdcbpaccountable.org/.
Immigrant and Employee Rights Webinars. The Department of Justice’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section is offering free webinars to the public. The webinars are for workers, employers, and advocates. For more information or to register, see https://www.justice.gov/crt/webinars.

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/processTimesDisplay.do
Department of State Visa Bulletin:

Kuck Baxter Immigration — In The News

Kuck Baxter Immigration LLC, and our Managing Partner, Charles Kuck, once again, as preeminent Immigration attorneys from around the world. Congrats, Chuck!
Charles Kuck (bio: http://www.abil.com/lawyers/lawyers-kuck.cfm) has released several new podcasts in the #ImmigrationHour series. “S. 386 and the March 2020 Visa Bulletin—The Perfect Storm” is at https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-immigration-hour/id1464154102.
Another new podcast takes a look at six recent Board of Immigration Appeals decisions that are changing asylum law and court processes, all but one by the same judge. That podcast is at https://bit.ly/2HoYT9e.
Kuck Baxter Immigration LLC published its US legal guide for Corporate Immigration. It can be found at https://iclg.com/practice-areas/corporate-immigration-laws-and-regulations/usae
mber/Firm News
Kuck Baxter Immigration LLC has opened a new office in Adel, Georgia, near the Irwin, Folkston, and Stewart Detention Centers, which hold more than 6,000 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 12th year of continuous broadcasts. Listen here each week for our latest take on immigration and immigration law!
You can follow us on Twitter @KuckBaxter or @CKuck
You can also get constantly updated news on our Facebook page.
Feel free to reach out with any questions or for help in your immigration case at 404-816-8611 or immigration@immigration.net.

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Kuck Baxter Immigration

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