Government Shutdown: Impact on I-129 H Visa Extensions and AOS |
Via e-Mail on October 18, 2013, USCIS alerted stakeholders that if an H-1B, H-2A, or H-2B petitioner submits evidence establishing that the primary reason for failing to timely file an extension of stay or change of status request was due to the government shutdown, USCIS will consider the government shutdown as an extraordinary circumstance and excuse the late filing, if the petitioner meets all other applicable requirements.
Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Pro-Immigrant Bills
In early October, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a slew of bills heralded by immigrants’ rights advocates in the state.
The most prominent measure—AB 60—requires the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to issue drivers’ licenses to undocumented applicants who meet all other licensing requirements. Although the licenses will not be valid for purposes of federal identification, AB 60 prohibits immigration-related detentions or arrests of individuals on the basis of possessing a new license.
The governor also signed a measure allowing otherwise qualified noncitizens to be admitted to the state bar as attorneys, AB 1024. The bill was enacted following arguments before the California Supreme Court in early September, during which the justices indicated that undocumented applicants could not be admitted to the bar without the passage of legislation by the state assembly.
After vetoing a prior version in 2012, the governor also signed a bill known as the “TRUST Act,” which sharply limits the circumstances in which local jails may honor federal immigration detainers asking for suspected noncitizen arrestees to be held for up to five days after they would otherwise be released.
President Obama Signs Bill Extending Special Immigrant Visas for Iraqi Nationals
On October 4, 2013, President Obama signed a measure extending the special immigrant visa program for Iraqi nationals who aided U.S. military efforts.
The bill, Public Law 113-42, continues a program first enacted in 2008 to benefit translators who assisted U.S. troops in Iraq. To qualify for a special immigrant visa, an Iraqi national must have been employed in Iraqi by or on behalf of the U.S. government for at least one year.
Only 6,000 of the allotted 25,000 visas have thus far been issued. The extension of the program allows USCIS to approve applications that were pending on September 30, 2013, as well as an additional 2,000 petitions that are submitted by the end of the calendar year. No numerical cap exists for derivative visas for the spouses and children of Iraqi nationals who qualify as principals.
SEC, USCIS Warn Investors About Scams in EB-5 Program
On October 1, 2013, the Securities and Exchange Commission and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issued a joint investor alert warning of potential scams targeting foreign nationals wishing to immigrate to the United States through the EB-5 program.
The alert notes that the mere designation of a business as a regional center by USCIS does not mean that any of its investments have been approved by a government agency. The alert cites cases in which regional centers have falsely promised investors a specified return on their investment and misused investors’ money for personal expenses.
The alert, reprinted at Appendix A, advises investors to report potential securities fraud associated with the EB-5 program through the SEC’s website at http://www.sec.gov/ complaint/select.shtml.
Revised Settlement Agreement in ABT Class Action
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issued a revised settlement agreement in B.H. v. USCIS, 11-2108 (W.D. Wash.) (known as the ABT class action), a nationwide class action challenging the denial of employment authorization documents to asylum applicants who have waited more than 180 days for a decision.
The settlement agreement provides that certain individuals who intend to file an asylum application, or who have already filed an asylum application, are entitled to new procedures relating to the crediting of time toward eligibility for employment authorization.
A court-ordered fairness hearing took place on September 20, 2013. No formal objections to the settlement agreement were filed before the hearing, but the parties nevertheless determined to clarify two issues in the settlement agreement.
A new class action notice and the revised settlement agreement reflecting these revisions have been posted at www.uscis.gov > LAWS > Legal Settlement Notices > September 2013. Please refer to these documents for detailed information regarding the revisions to the settlement agreement and the process and deadlines for objecting to the revisions.
Margaret Stock, BIB Editorial Board Member, MacArthur Foundation Fellow
The Board of Editors for Bender’s Immigration Bulletin congratulates Board member Margaret Stock, named to the 2013 MacArthur Foundation Fellows (sometimes known as the “Genius Awards”). The following is from the MacArthur Foundation press release, available at http://www.macfound.org/ programs/fellows/:
Margaret Stock is an attorney bringing her singular knowledge of immigration law and national security law to bear on reform efforts through direct representation and policy-based advocacy. With a broad view of national security that goes beyond protecting the country from terrorist threats to include the protection of economic and political interests that ensure our prosperity, Stock articulates the crucial role of a healthy and efficient immigration system in responding to changes in the global economy and maintaining the foundational values of our democracy.
Stock’s experiences serving in the U.S. Army Reserve and teaching at West Point have led her to focus much of her work to date on the impact of immigration law on military personnel and their families. She has spearheaded the development of three groundbreaking programs that creatively adapt existing laws to better the lives of both immigrants and native-born military personnel. Beginning in 2008, she initiated and, in cooperation with the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security, implemented the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program, which allows the U.S. armed forces to attract and retain foreign nationals with language, medical, and other skills critical to military readiness and national security by expediting their path to citizenship.
Having seen firsthand the plight of limited-income military families in dire need of legal assistance, she created the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) MAP program, which pairs volunteer attorneys across the United States with those in need of their services. She also prompted the Naturalization at Basic Training Initiative, an intergovernmental program designed to promote and expedite the naturalization of military personnel by reducing processing times and providing naturalization ceremonies at basic training locations.
Through these programs, her written scholarship, and her contributions to policy debates (including as an expert witness before Congress), Stock is challenging our complex immigration laws in order to provide more humane and rational policies that will also serve American national security interests.
Margaret Stock received an A.B. (1985), J.D. (1992), and M.P.A. (2001) from Harvard University and an M.S.S. (2006) from the U.S. Army War College. In 2010, she retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Military Police, U.S. Army Reserve, after twenty-eight years of service. Currently an attorney with the Anchorage office of Cascadia Cross Border Law, she is the author of Immigration Law and the Military (2012), and her prior affiliations include faculty at the United States Military Academy at West Point (2001–2010) and counsel to the firm Lane Powell (2010–2013).
New Editorial Board Member
The Board of Editors for Bender’s Immigration Bulletin welcomes Sandra Grossman to the Board. Ms. Grossman is the owner of Grossman Law, LLC, an immigration law firm operating in Rockville, Maryland. She is an experienced immigration litigator, having successfully represented individuals in all aspects of immigration law before the immigration courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the federal district courts. Ms. Grossman represents clients in the area of deportation defense, detention/bond, immigration consequences of criminal convictions, waivers of inadmissibility, requests under the Freedom of Information Act, asylum, federal mandamus actions, employment and family based visas, adjustment of status, and naturalization. Ms. Grossman is an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She frequently speaks and writes about immigration. Ms. Grossman graduated from the London School of Economics (Masters in International Relations), and the Georgetown University Law Center (JD). She is a native Spanish speaker and is conversant in French.
[This is an excerpt from the Nov. 1, 2013, issue of Bender's Immigration Bulletin.]
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