Category: USCIS

sanctuary

Attorney General’s Statement on Sanctuary Cities Should Worry All Americans

In what I think is another distraction by the Trump Administration, Attorney General Sessions came out today and made a statement about sanctuary cities. The gist of the statement is that the Administration will not grant funds to cities who are sanctuary cities. The AG said that the number is in the billions. The AG also cited to several incidents where “illegal immigrants” killed US citizens, in what is a scare tactic to galvanize his base. I am not surprised by this statement but it has some grave consequences, which I will discuss in this post.

Why Should You Worry?

The first problem, and the main one, that I have with the statement is that the statement is not supported by evidence. The AG told us that most individuals the Administration is removing are “criminals” who have been convicted of murder and DUIs (I will come back to DUIs in a minute). No one disagrees that violent criminals should be removed from the US, unless they have some sort of relief from removal. After IIRIRA, individuals with serious crimes are barred from getting relief from removal. In other words, these individuals will get removed from the US regardless.

AG Sessions made it sound that immigrants are killers, which includes me, which is also a problem. Contrary to the Administration’s assertion, immigrants commit substantially less crimes than native-born Americans.

As to DUIs, the Board of Immigration Appeals, the appellate body for immigration cases has ruled several times that DUIs, without aggravating factors, are nor deportable offense. Coupled with the fact that enforcement priorities have changed, these statements reflect the Administration’s goal of removing as many as possible of the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States, and not only violent criminals.

Why Should Localities Refuse Detainer Orders?

Localities usually refuse detainers for a variety of reasons, including the fact that they are independent governments under the US Constitution. I believe that detainers violate the 10th Amendment because they federalize local police departments. Also, the federal government has not been financing these detainers, which means local authorities will not get reimbursed for holding someone, whose violation was so minor, that they should release him to save their resources. During the Obama Administration the federal government stopped using these detainer requests, especially after localities opposed them for lack of funding.

Th AG cited 8 USC 1373 to support the Administration’s position to block funding to sanctuary cities. The problem with 1372 is that it highly subjective and the Administration may use arbitrary rules to designate a city a “sanctuary city” even though it is complying with the law, like it is doing with LA. Until the federal government starts funding these local government, I believe that it is constitutional for them to deny such requests.

What Should You Do If You or a Loved One Falls Under a Detainer Request?

Contact and Immigration Attorney ASAP. If you can not afford one, contact the ACLU, Catholic Charities, or Lutheran Services to find a low bono or pro bono counsel. You can also contact us for help, and we would be more than happy to oblige.

Austria – USCIS Vienna Field Office

USCIS to Close the Vienna Field Office on Dec. 31, 2015

USCIS will permanently close its field office in Vienna, Austria, on Dec. 31, 2015.  The last day the office will be open to the public and accepting applications is Nov. 30, 2015.  The USCIS field offices in Frankfurt, Rome and Athens will assume Vienna’s former jurisdiction, which includes Austria, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Slovenia. The U.S. Embassy in Vienna will assume responsibility for certain limited services previously provided by USCIS to individuals residing in Austria.

The new jurisdictional breakdown for countries in USCIS Vienna’s former jurisdiction will be as follows:

If you are in: You will be in the following USCIS field office’s jurisdiction as of Jan. 1, 2016:
Austria, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia USCIS Frankfurt Field Office
Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia USCIS Rome Field Office
Albania, Bulgaria, Romania USCIS Athens Field Office

Beginning on Dec. 1, 2015, individuals who live in Austria, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, or Slovenia must follow these filing instructions:

 

Service/Form

Filing Instructions

Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative File your petition by mail with the lockbox facility in Chicago. You can find additional filing information on the Form I-130 Web page.

USCIS may authorize the Department of State to accept a petition filed with a U.S. Embassy in some limited circumstances.

Form I-407, Record of Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status Form I-407 may be submitted by mail to the appropriate USCIS field office according to the jurisdictional table above.  In addition, the U.S. Embassy Consular Section in the country in which you reside will assume responsibility for the processing of in-person applications.
Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative The U.S. Embassy Vienna Consular Section will process petitions filed in Austria. You can find additional filing options on the Form I-600 Web page.
Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition

If you are a prospective adoptive parent living abroad, you may file Form I-600A with the USCIS office with jurisdiction over the country in which you reside. For additional information, see the appropriate USCIS field office website according to the jurisdictional table above.
Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition All petitions must be filed with either the Nebraska or Texas Service Center depending on where the petitioner lives in the United States.

For beneficiary interviews/processing, contact the U.S. Embassy Consular Section in the country where the beneficiary resides.

Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility The filing location depends on the immigration benefit you are seeking. Please see the Form I-601Web page for important filing information.
Form I-212, Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal The filing location depends on the immigration benefit you are seeking. Please see the Form I-212 Web page for important filing information.
Form N-400, Application for Naturalization If you are a member of the U.S. military and are stationed overseas, you and your spouse may file with the USCIS office with jurisdiction over the country in which you reside. For additional information, see the appropriate USCIS field office website according to the jurisdictional table above.

Effective immediately, if you live in USCIS Vienna’s jurisdiction you must follow these instructions if you need to request a boarding foil because your Permanent Resident Card has been lost or stolen:

 

Service/Form

Filing Instructions

Form I-551, Boarding Foil for those with Lost or Stolen Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) Contact the U.S. Embassy consular section with jurisdiction over the location where you are traveling.

General information about the U.S. Embassy in Vienna is available on the Embassy website.  You may also contact the Embassy by calling 011 (43-1) 31339-0 or by mailing:

American Embassy Austria

Boltzmanngasse 16

1090 Vienna

Austria

For more information on the services USCIS provides, please contact the appropriate USCIS field office in Frankfurt, Rome or Athens, according to the jurisdictional assignments noted in the chart above.

You can find contact information for USCIS Frankfurt, USCIS Rome and USCIS Athens on the USCIS website.

For more information on USCIS and its programs, visit www.uscis.gov.

Source: uscis

USCIS Reminds Sheepherding Industry that One-Time Accommodation Ends in January 2012

USCIS reminds the sheepherding industry of the upcoming expiration of the one-time accommodation giving them more time to fully transition to the three-year limitation-of-stay requirements for the H-2A nonimmigrant classification.

USCIS announced its limitation-of-stay requirements under a final rule that became effective on Jan. 17, 2009.

The agency granted a one-time accommodation for sheepherders in H-2A status in December 2009 in deference to their industry’s prior exemption from the three-year limitation. This exemption did not impact other H-2A categories.

Time spent as an H-2A sheepherder before the final rule became effective has not been counted toward the three-year maximum period of stay. Instead, USCIS started the clock on Jan. 17, 2009, for H-2A sheepherders lawfully present in the United States on that date.

All H-2A nonimmigrant workers, including sheepherders, are subject to a three-month departure requirement once they have been in the United States in H-2A status for the maximum three-year period. For example, H-2A sheepherders present in the U.S. on Jan. 17, 2009, must depart by Jan. 16, 2012, and remain outside the country for at least three months before being granted H-2A classification again.

The H-2A program allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural jobs.

For more information on the H-2A visa program and current processing times for Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, visit www.uscis.gov or call USCIS’s National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.

Source: uscis

Transition Period for Streamlining N-Form Processing Ends Dec. 2, 2011

On Oct. 19, 2011, a USCIS Update was issued announcing processing improvements for certain naturalization and citizenship forms. USCIS has centralized intake of Forms N-336, N-600 and N-600K to the Phoenix Lockbox facility. The Dallas Lockbox facility will handle the Form N-300. This change streamlines the way forms are processed, accelerates the collection and deposit of fees and improves the consistency of our intake process.

This is a reminder that impacted forms received at local and district offices after Dec. 2, 2011, will no longer be forwarded to the appropriate USCIS Lockbox facility. Beginning Dec. 5, impacted forms received locally will be returned to the individual with instructions on how to re-file at a designated USCIS Lockbox facility.

USCIS has updated the information on our N-Form Web pages regarding filing forms at a Lockbox to clearly identify this change in procedure. Please carefully read the form instructions before filing your form to ensure that you are filing the correct form type and edition at the correct location.

Source: uscis

USCIS Announces Citizenship and Integration Grant Opportunity

WASHINGTON – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today the availability of a competitive grant opportunity designed to promote immigrant civic integration and prepare permanent residents for citizenship. This year’s program will offer approximately $5 million in funding for citizenship preparation programs in communities across the country.

Through this grant opportunity, USCIS seeks to expand the availability of high-quality citizenship preparation services. Organizations selected to receive funding will offer both citizenship instruction and naturalization application services to permanent residents. USCIS expects to announce an estimated 31 award recipients in September 2012.

Since the creation of the Citizenship and Integration Grant Program in fiscal year (FY) 2009, USCIS has awarded a total of $18.3 million through 111 grants to immigrant-serving organizations, which have provided citizenship preparation services to more than 28,000 permanent residents in 30 states and the District of Columbia.

To apply for this funding opportunity, visit www.grants.gov. Applications are due by May 7, 2012. USCIS encourages applicants to visit www.grants.gov in advance of this deadline in order to obtain registration information needed to complete the application process.

For additional information on the FY 2012 Citizenship and Integration Grant Program, visit www.uscis.gov/grants or contact the USCIS Office of Citizenship by email at citizenshipgrantprogram@dhs.gov.

For more information on USCIS and its programs, visit www.uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), and YouTube (/uscis).

Source: uscis

USCIS Alerts Customers Affected by South Carolina Floods to Available Immigration Relief

USCIS offers immigration relief measures that may help people affected by unforeseen circumstances, such as disasters like the recent severe flooding in South Carolina.

These measures may be available upon request:

  • Change or extension of nonimmigrant status for an individual currently in the United States, even if the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired.
  • Re-parole of individuals previously granted parole by USCIS.
  • Expedited processing of advance parole requests.
  • Expedited adjudication of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship.
  • Expedited adjudication of employment authorization applications, where appropriate.
  • Consideration of fee waivers due to an inability to pay.
  • Assistance for those who received a Request for Evidence or a Notice of Intent to Deny but were unable to appear for an interview, submit evidence or respond in a timely manner.
  • Replacing lost or damaged immigration or travel documents issued by USCIS, such as a Permanent Resident Card (Green Card).
  • Rescheduling of scheduled biometrics appointment.

Note: When making a request, explain how the flooding created a need for the requested relief.

To learn how to request these measures, call the National Customer Service Center at 800-375-5283 (TDD for the deaf and hard of hearing: 800-767-1833). For more information, visit uscis.gov/humanitarian/special-situations.

Follow us on Facebook (/uscis), Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis) and the USCIS blog The Beacon.

Source: uscis

USCIS Launches Spanish-Language Version of E-Verify Self Check

Aug. 15, 2011

Online Service Also Expands to 16 Additional States

WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced that Self Check, a free online service of E-Verify that allows workers to check their own employment eligibility status, is now available in Spanish and accessible to residents in 16 additional states: California, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Washington. Today’s announcement expands on the initial launch of Self Check in March 2011 for residents who reside in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Mississippi, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

 “Self Check equips workers with fast, secure access to their employment eligibility information before they apply for jobs,” said USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas. “By offering Self Check to Spanish speakers and making the service more widely available, USCIS makes good on a promise to streamline and protect the integrity of the E-Verify process for employees and employers alike.”

Self Check is the first online service offered directly to U.S. workers by E-Verify, a Department of Homeland Security program administered by USCIS in partnership with the Social Security Administration. Employers use the Internet-based E-Verify service to determine employees’ eligibility to work in the United States through information reported in the employee’s Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification).

When workers over the age of 16 use Self Check to confirm their eligibility to work in the United States, they enter the same information that employers would enter into E-Verify. Self Check allows users to compare their information to the same databases that E-Verify accesses, giving them an opportunity to address any existing data mismatches before they are hired by an E-Verify-participating employer.

USCIS will continue to evaluate and improve the Self Check service, which it intends to expand nationwide by spring 2012.

For more information on Self Check, please visit www.uscis.gov/selfcheck. For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit www.uscis.gov to receive email updates or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis) and the USCIS blog The Beacon.

Source: uscis

USCIS Announces Citizenship and Integration Grant Opportunities

Jan. 20, 2011

WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today the availability of three congressionally appropriated competitive grant opportunities designed to help prepare lawful permanent residents (LPRs) for citizenship and promote immigrant integration in the United States. This year’s program will offer approximately $8.5 million for citizenship preparation programs in communities across the country.

“For more than two centuries, our nation has been a beacon of hope and opportunity for people from around the world,” said USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas. “These grants will assist immigrants from coast to coast on their path to U.S. citizenship.”

Two of the grant opportunities will strengthen citizenship preparation programs that provide direct services in communities across the country. The third will increase the capacity of members or affiliates of national, regional or statewide organizations to offer citizenship services in underserved communities. USCIS expects to announce an estimated 35 award recipients in September 2011.

To apply for these funding opportunities, interested parties may visit www.grants.gov. Applications are due by April 1, 2011. USCIS strongly encourages applicants to visit the website well in advance of the deadline in order to obtain registration information needed to complete the application process. 

Fiscal year (FY) 2011 marks the third consecutive year of this competitive grant program. In 2010, USCIS awarded a total of $8.1 million in grants to 56 immigrant-serving organizations in 78 sites across the country.

For additional information on the FY 2011 Citizenship and Integration Grant Program, visit www.uscis.gov/grants or contact the USCIS Office of Citizenship by phone at 202-272-1280 or by e-mail at citizenshipgrantprogram@dhs.gov.

For more information on USCIS and its programs, visit www.uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis) and the USCIS blog, The Beacon.

Source: uscis

Salvadorans Provided With Interim Employment Authorization Documents

March 8,  2011

WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that some existing Salvadoran Temporary Protected Status (TPS) beneficiaries will receive interim Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) during the continued processing of their re-registration applications. USCIS mailed approximately 4,500 EADs, to be delivered no later than March 9, 2011, to Salvadorans who have not yet received a final action on their re-registration applications.

Issuance of the interim EADs will allow TPS beneficiaries to continue working while USCIS completes the processing of their re-registration applications. The original expiration date for Salvadoran EADs was Sept. 9, 2010. USCIS automatically extended this validity period to March 9, 2011.

USCIS has already processed over 208,000 Salvadoran re-registration applications for the current TPS extension period ending March 9, 2012. Applicants who received requests from USCIS for additional information should respond promptly within the time period listed in the notice USCIS sent to them.

Any re-registration applicant who receives an interim EAD must still respond to any USCIS requests for additional evidence, including requests for documents, or biometric or fingerprint appointments. Applicants can check the status of their cases by visiting the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov. They can also call the USCIS National Customer Service Center toll-free number at 1-800-375-5283.

For more information on USCIS and its programs, visit www.uscis.gov.
 

Source: uscis

National Initiative to Combat Immigration Services Scams

DHS, DOJ and FTC Collaborate with State and Local Partners in Unprecedented Effort

Released June 9, 2011

WASHINGTON—The U.S. government unveiled today a multi-agency, nationwide initiative to combat immigration services scams. The Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are leading this historic effort.

This initiative targets immigration scams involving the unauthorized practice of immigration law (UPIL), which occurs when legal advice and/or representation regarding immigration matters is provided by an individual who is not an attorney or accredited representative.

“We are dedicated to protecting vulnerable immigrants from those who seek to exploit them,” said U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas. “Through our sustained outreach, enforcement and education efforts, and our close collaboration with our federal, state, and local partners, we will provide the communities we serve with the help needed to combat this pernicious problem.”

This initiative is set upon three pillars—enforcement, education and continued collaboration—designed to stop UPIL scams and prosecute those who are responsible; educate immigrants about these scams and how to avoid them; and inform immigrants about the legal immigration process and where to find legitimate legal advice and representation.

“This coordinated initiative targets those who prey on immigrant communities by making promises they do not keep and charging for services they are not qualified to provide,” said Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. “We are attacking this problem both through aggressive civil and criminal enforcement and by connecting qualified lawyers with victims who are trying to navigate a complicated immigration system.”

The Department of Justice, through United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Civil Division’s Office of Consumer Protection Litigation, is investigating and prosecuting dozens of cases against so-called “notarios.” In the last year, DOJ has worked with investigators at the FBI, ICE, and USCIS, and with state and local partners, to secure convictions—with sentences up to eight years in prison and forfeiture and restitution of over $1.8 million. This is in addition to the many actions at the state and local levels that have been filed against individuals and businesses engaged in immigration services scams.

ICE has also long been pursuing immigration services fraud cases in part through its 18 Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force offices across the country. In a recent case in West Palm Beach, Fla., ICE Homeland Security Investigations agents arrested an individual on May 26 who had posed as an attorney and processed more than 3,000 fraudulent immigration applications.

“Notarios and other illegal immigration service providers take advantage of unsuspecting immigrants trying to navigate the immigration system,” said ICE Director John Morton. “ICE will continue to work with our federal, state and local partners to combat notario fraud and protect the integrity of the legal immigration system.”

Meanwhile, FTC has made it easier for consumers to alert law enforcement about these scams by creating a new Immigration Services code in the Consumer Sentinel Network, its online consumer complaint database. “This is a central location for consumers to report complaints and for our law enforcement partners to find and share information about scams,” said FTC Commissioner Edith Ramírez.

Sentinel, as the network is called, is a secure online database that holds more than 6 million consumer fraud complaints. Shared with more than 2,000 law enforcement entities including ICE, DOJ and now USCIS, it has become the primary repository for complaints involving allegations of immigration services scams. Sentinel will serve as an investigative tool for USCIS Fraud Detection and National Security officers, and will bolster communication between organizations on immigration services scam-related cases.

The initiative’s education component will focus on empowering immigrant communities to avoid unscrupulous individuals and businesses engaged in UPIL. USCIS’s efforts will be primarily aimed at providing immigrants with the information they need to make informed choices when seeking legal advice and representation on immigration matters, and reminding them that The Wrong Help Can Hurt.

Today, USCIS unveiled a new brochure, a poster, public service announcements for use on radio and in print publications, billboard and transit ads, and a new Web resource center that includes a video. All printed materials are available in English and Spanish, and materials in 12 additional languages are available online. To bolster this outreach effort, DOJ’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) and FTC will produce and distribute educational materials for different populations that may be affected by immigration services scams.

As part of the initiative’s emphasis on providing qualified legal assistance to this vulnerable population, EOIR’s Recognition and Accreditation program, DOJ, USCIS, and FTC are working together to increase the number of EOIR-recognized organizations and accredited representatives, particularly in underserved areas. Organizations and representatives seeking to provide lawful immigration services must be recognized by EOIR.

“EOIR is hard at work to increase access for our government partners, nonprofit organizations, and individuals in immigration proceedings,” said EOIR Director Juan P. Osuna. “Through a combination of efforts, including reporting fraud, educating the public and dedicated outreach, we are bolstering our efforts toward growing a force of legitimate legal services providers and getting rid of fraudsters.”

EOIR is improving its Recognition and Accreditation Program by increasing communication with the public, providing easier application processing, and giving timely, accurate information to the public regarding which organizations have representatives available to represent individuals in proceedings.

DOJ’s Civil Division and Access to Justice Initiative are involved in an effort to train more attorneys to handle the cases of immigration fraud victims. As a result of these efforts, DOJ announced that nongovernmental organizations, working with local partners, will organize a pro bono legal clinic in Baltimore later this summer to assist victims of an enforcement action announced by the FTC today. Driven by a continuing dialogue with DOJ, the City Bar of New York, the New York State Bar Association, the New York Office of the Attorney General, the Katzmann Study Group, and nongovernmental organizations, a legal training program will be launched this summer in New York City to expand the pool of lawyers who can assist in immigration matters.

For more information about USCIS’s education initiative, please visit www.uscis.gov/avoidscams or follow us on Twitter, YouTube and the USCIS blog, The Beacon.

A list of federal, state and local immigration services cases and additional information regarding EOIR’s Recognition and Accreditation Program are available on DOJ’s website.

To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). Like the FTC on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

MEDIA CONTACTS
 Department of Justice
202-616-2777
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
202-272-1200
Federal Trade Commission
202-326-2180
Immigration and Customs Enforcement
202-732-4242

Source: uscis