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Immigration Law

News Excerpts From the Jan. 1, 2016, Bender’s Immigration Bulletin

USCIS Ombudsman Recommends Improvements to SIJ Adjudication Process|

On December 11, 2015, the Ombudsman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issued a 12-page report containing recommendations for improving the process for adjudicating applications for Special Immigration Juvenile (SIJ) status.

Established in the Immigration Act of 1990, the SIJ program offers a path to lawful permanent residence for children who have been separated from one or both parents due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment. To qualify for SIJ status, applicants must generally receive an order from a state juvenile court committing the child to the custody of a state agency or individual, or declaring the child to be dependent on the court.

The Ombudsman recommended that the agency centralize adjudications in one facility, take the best interests of the child into account in determining whether to waive an in-person interview, issue regulations that incorporate statutory changes, and accord greater deference to state court findings.

SEC Takes Enforcement Actions Against EB-5 Attorneys

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced a series of enforcement actions against seven attorneys around the country for offering investments through the EB-5 program without registering to act as brokers. The announcement was made on December 7, 2015.

Without admitting wrongdoing, the attorneys agreed to pay disgorgements ranging from $30,000 to more than $225,000.

The SEC also filed a complaint in the Central District of California against New York based immigration attorney Hui Feng and the Law Offices of Feng & Associates. According to the SEC, attorneys at the firm have already received more than $1.1 million in unauthorized commissions, and are contractually entitled to receive more than $3 million.

New Law Permits Revocation of Passports for Tax Noncompliance

On December 4, 2015, President Obama signed an infrastructure bill containing a provision that authorizes the State Department to revoke or refuse to issue passports to individuals who owe more than $50,000 in federal taxes.

The provision contains exceptions for taxpayers who are making timely payments to satisfy their debts, and in cases where collection has been suspended pending a hearing or innocent spouse relief has been requested.

The bill is the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act [FAST Act], Public Law 114-94, 129 Stat. 1312. The passport provision is in Div. C, Title XXXII, Subpart A, Sec. 32101.

Restrictionist Organization Withdraws Legal Challenge to Texas Tuition Law

On December 2015, the Immigration Reform Coalition of Texas withdrew a longstanding legal challenge to a state law allowing certain undocumented students admitted to state universities to pay in-state tuition rates.

According to the motion for non-suit, the case had become moot due to changes in state law and the membership’s organization.

The case was No. 2009-79110, Immigration Reform Coalition of Texas  [IRCOT] v. Heager, et al. It had been pending in the district court for Harris County, Texas.

It should be noted that the details of this case and its prior history are tracked in Table 3 in the article Legal Resources in Immigration and Higher Education: Data and Materials on Undocumented and “DACA-mented” Students, by Michael A. Olivas, in this issue of the Bulletin.

BITS & PIECES

USCIS—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has released updated versions of Form I-824, Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition (rev. 10/21/15), and Form I-817, Application for Family Unity Benefits (rev. 10/05/15). The agency will continue to accept the prior versions of the forms up until February 8, 2016. Only the new forms will be accepted starting February 8, 2016.

EOIR—Effective December 7, 2015, The Executive Office for Immigration Review requires counsel to file the new version of EOIR-28 which allows for separate appearances in custody and bond proceedings. The revised form reflects the amendment of 8 C.F.R. § 1003.17, Appearances.

Bender's Immigration Bulletin

[This is an excerpt from the Jan.  1, 2016, issue of Bender's Immigration Bulletin.]

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