All posts by LAW OFFICES OF CHENG, CHO & YEE

Employers Should Be Prepared as DACA Winds Down

two dummies with an option, immigration attorneyWith Trump’s announcement that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program will end, Illinois employers and DACA recipients should take steps to prepare. There are several things that employers and DACA recipients can do in advance of the rolling terminations of benefits that will begin in March 2018. While Congress might act before the program ends, it is best for people to prepare in case the program is allowed to terminate without legislative action. An immigration attorney may assist DACA recipients and their employers with alternatives that might help them avoid some of the negative consequences.

What Is DACA?

DACA is an Obama-era executive action through which immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children have been allowed to remain and to work in the U.S. Under the program, an estimated 800,000 immigrants who were brought into the country as children have been allowed to attend school, get their driver’s licenses and work. DACA will start to end on a rolling basis beginning in March 2018. When it does, recipients will lose their ability to work in the U.S. and may face deportation.

Employer Preparations

Employers should verify when their employees’ authorizations to work will end. They might be able to sponsor certain employees who qualify for H-1B visas. It is important that employers who wish to sponsor employees take the proper steps since there are a limited number of these nonimmigrant visas that are available each year.

Alternatives for DACA Recipients

DACA recipients might want to explore alternatives for which they might be eligible. Immigrants who have been the victims of domestic violence or other crimes might be eligible to apply for U visas. DACA recipients who are married to U.S. citizens may be eligible to apply for permanent resident statuses or for immigrant visas. DACA recipients who come from countries that are designated for temporary protected status might be able to apply for TPS so that they can remain in the U.S. and be able to work. Finally, there are other types of nonimmigrant visas for which DACA recipients might be eligible.

It is important for DACA recipients and their employers to explore all of their options and to make certain that they complete their petitions correctly. An immigration attorney might help identify alternatives that might help DACA recipients remain in the U.S.

Understanding the 90 Day Rule for Inconsistent Alien Conduct

visa page on passport, immigrationThe U.S. State Department issued a new rule on Sept. 1 that could lead to more nonimmigrant visa holders being found to have engaged in inconsistent conduct and permanently barred from reentering the U.S. It is important for foreign nationals to understand this new rule so they can avoid engaging in any conduct within 90 days of their entries that could result in their being permanently barred from ever returning to the U.S. A Chicago immigration lawyer may advise clients about the 90-day rule for inconsistent conduct and how to avoid running afoul of it.

The New 90-Day Rule

The U.S. Department of State updated its rule on misrepresentation for consular offices. The rule replaces the former 30/60 day rule for people who are applying for adjustments of status who initially entered the U.S. with nonimmigrant visas, including visitor visas, student visas, and others. Under the new rule, foreign nationals who enter the U.S. using nonimmigrant visas will be presumed to have engaged in misrepresentation of their stated intent if they engage in conduct that is deemed to be inconsistent within 90 days of their entries. Inconsistent conduct includes the following:

  • Obtaining employment without authorization
  • Marrying a citizen or lawful permanent resident and taking up residence in the U.S.
  • Enrolling in college when the visa did not allow that purpose
  • Engaging in anything else that would require an adjustment of status but without having an adjustment of status

Caution Is Warranted

Foreign nationals who enter the U.S. on nonimmigrant visas and then engage in any of these activities within 90 days of their entries will be presumed to have misrepresented their reasons for visiting the U.S. The foreign nationals will be given the opportunity to provide evidence to rebut the presumption, but if they are found to have engaged in misrepresentation, they may be deported and subsequently permanently barred from reentering the U.S. People who have entered the U.S. on B visas or F visas might be cautioned to wait until after 90 days have passed before they file for adjustments of statuses to obtain lawful permanent residence. Even if 90 days have passed, the U.S. consular may still revoke the visa if he or she reasonably believes that the foreign national misrepresented the reason for the visit. A Chicago immigration lawyer may help clients understand the implications of the new rule.

Diversity Lottery Now Taking Applications

an application form, immigration attorneyThe diversity visa program lottery for foreign nationals who live in eligible countries is currently open for the fiscal year 2019 until Nov. 22, 2017. People who wish to apply so that they can obtain green cards to live and work in Illinois should submit their applications as soon as possible. The program is available to potential immigrants who are from certain underrepresented countries. If they are selected in the lottery, they may receive green cards that allow them to move to and work in the U.S. The best immigration lawyers recommend that people get their applications submitted soon and that they make certain that they are completed correctly.

What Is the Diversity Visa Program?

Established by Congress, the Diversity Visa program is administered by the U.S. Department of State on an annual basis. It is designed to allow people who live in countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. to participate in a lottery through which they may be granted diversity visas. To participate in the lottery, the applicants must meet eligibility requirements. They must also not be from any country that has been deemed to be ineligible. After a random computer-controlled drawing, 50,000 immigrants are chosen for visas. No specific country may receive any more than 7 percent of the total number of visas that are granted.

Guidelines

People who are from countries from which more than 50,000 immigrants were sent to the U.S. in the last five years are not eligible for the diversity lottery. Applicants must also meet the education or work requirements, including the equivalent of a high school diploma or two years of work experience during the prior five years that required at least two years of training. The applications must be submitted online and must follow the instructions that have been provided by the Department of State. Applicants who submitted their applications between Oct. 3 and Oct. 17, 2017, will need to resubmit them because the system experienced a problem.

The diversity lottery offers an opportunity for people who were born in certain underrepresented countries to be able to immigrate to the U.S. While only 50,000 people are selected each year, it is still possible to win. The best immigration lawyers help applicants with their diversity visa applications and encourage those who are not selected to reapply next year. They may also be able to recommend other visa programs that might work.

US Leaders Urge Trump to Protect DREAMers from Deportation

the border of America, immigrationDespite calls from leaders across Illinois and the U.S. to keep the protections of Dreamers in place, Trump ended the program in September. The Department of Justice announced that DACA, the Obama-era program to protect people who were brought to the U.S. as children from deportation and removal proceedings, was being withdrawn. Those who have current authorizations will be allowed to stay until they expire, with the first wave of expirations happening in March 2018 and the last wave occurring in March 2020. While there is a groundswell of support for legislative action to protect the Dreamers, it is unclear whether any legislation will pass before the authorizations begin to expire. Immigration lawyers in Chicago might help current Dreamers with identifying programs that might be able to allow them to remain in the U.S. if legislative action is not taken.

What the End of DACA Means

In 2012, President Obama signed an executive order to start the DACA program, which allowed undocumented immigrants who had been brought to the U.S. before they were 16 to remain. Applicants to the program were given work authorizations and could renew their DACA statuses every two years. With Trump’s announcement, the DACA program and its protections will expire in March, exposing hundreds of thousands of young people to the threat of deportation. Legislators on both sides of the aisle have indicated that they are willing to enact a law to protect these young people who were brought to the country through no fault of their own. Many DACA recipients do not have any connections to their original countries and consider the U.S. to be their home. With DACA’s end, they could be sent back to countries with which they are unfamiliar.

Trump Sends Request to Congress

Trump recently sent a request to Congress that any legislation to protect the Dreamers includes several hardline immigration measures. Among his proposals, Trump has demanded that any legislation includes funding for his border wall, a change to a merit-based immigration system and a crackdown on illegal immigration. Democrats are reacting with outrage to the proposals, making a bill less likely to be enacted. It is also unclear whether very many Republicans are on board with the hardline approaches that Trump has outlined.

While the fate of Dreamers hangs in the balance, a legislative standoff seems likely. An immigration lawyer in Chicago might find other avenues for affected people to explore.

USCIS Expands Interview Requirements for Some Immigration Applicants

an interview stamp, immigrationThe U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it will be expanding in-person interview requirements for certain categories of applicants for permanent residence, affecting people throughout Illinois. The expanded policy was effective as of Oct. 1 and may increase the waiting periods before people are approved for their green cards. Immigrants who are applying for adjustments of status based on their employment and those who are applying as relatives for principal asylees or refugees will all be affected by the new policy. Having representation from an immigration attorney during in-person interviews with the USCIS may help immigrant applicants to protect their rights.

The Expanded Interview Requirements

For many years, the USCIS used a policy under which certain categories of immigrant applicants did not require in-person interviews for the agency to adjudicate their applications for permanent residence. Under the new policy, people who are applying for permanent residence through an adjustment of their statuses, as well as those who are applying as relatives of principal asylees, will be subjected to in-person interviews. Over the past few decades, nearly all applicants who applied for employment-based status adjustments received their green cards without being interviewed, saving substantial time and monetary resources.

Several policies will be unaffected by the new interview requirements. Work authorizations and advanced parole policies will remain while the applications are pending. Applicants will also still be able to apply for adjustments of status and for immigration visas simultaneously. Applicants will still also be able to change jobs without filing new I-140 petitions for immigration visas through adjustment portability.

Reasons for Expanded Interview Requirements

According to the USCIS, the government’s new policy requiring more in-person interviews is ostensible to help to reduce immigration fraud and security risks. However, the agency is already overburdened, and it is unclear how the policy will achieve either stated goal. Families and employers should expect to face increased wait times under the new policy.

Importance of Representation

While applicants are not required to have immigration attorneys at their in-person interviews, having representation may be important. Attorneys may help to protect their clients from systemic abuses. They may also identify errors made by well-intentioned immigration officers that could potentially lead to further problems and possible deportation. The end results of the new policy are not yet known, but people should expect longer waits at a minimum. Applicants should prepare for their interviews and educate themselves about what to expect.