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Immigration Law

Excerpts From the June 1, 2013, Bender's Immigration Bulletin

Payment of USCIS Immigrant Visa Fee via USCIS ELIS

USCIS has moved the online payment of the USCIS Immigrant Fee to its Electronic Immigration System (USCIS ELIS). Customers must now pay the $165 fee using USCIS ELIS after they receive their immigrant visa packages from the Department of State and before they depart for the United States. This fee has been in place since February 1, 2013, and is a separate fee from the Department of State immigrant visa application fee. The USCIS Immigrant Fee allows USCIS to recover the cost of processing the immigrant visa package and other information as well as producing and delivering the permanent resident cards after immigrant visa holders are admitted to the United States. The fee does not apply to certain special immigrants and those entering the United States through the inter-country adoption programs. The USCIS Immigrant Fee was established in the 2010 final rule adjusting fees for immigration applications and petitions. 75 Fed. Reg. 58962 (Sept. 24, 2010). USCIS processes approximately 36,000 immigrant visa packages each month.

Settlement Approved in Class-Action Suit over Asylum Clock

On May 7, 2013, a federal judge in Seattle granted preliminary approval of a settlement in B.H. v. USCIS, No. 11-2108 (W.D. Wash.) (formerly known as A.B.T. v. USCIS), a nationwide class action challenging numerous problems in the implementation of the "clock" used to determine asylum applicants' eligibility for employment authorization documents (EADs).

Under the terms of the settlement, the Executive Office for Immigration Review will amend Operating Policies and Procedures Memorandum 11-02: The Asylum Clock (Nov. 15, 2011), to require immigration judges to disclose on the record any reasons for adjournment of a case. Upon filing an asylum application with an immigration court, or being referred to an immigration court by USCIS, noncitizens will receive information concerning the impact of hearing adjournment codes on their eligibility for EADs, as well as where to direct inquires if they believe the EAD clock has been improperly stopped.

To qualify as a member of the nationwide class, noncitizens must fall within one of the four subclasses: (1) those filing complete defensive asylum applications prior to a hearing before an immigration judge; (2) those whose clocks have been stopped due to delays attributed to them by the government, including failure to accept an expedited hearing date; (3) those who failed to appear for a USCIS asylum interview; and (4) those whose clocks remained stopped despite a remand from the Board of Immigration Appeals or circuit court.

Going forward, the EAD clock will run when an asylum application is "lodged" at an immigration court clerk's window rather than when it is "filed" with an immigration court. In non-detained cases, immigration judges must also allow a minimum of forty-five days between the master calendar hearing and the individual hearing date. In cases where an immigration judge's denial of an asylum application has been remanded by the BIA or circuit court, noncitizens will be credited for EAD purposes with the number of days that elapsed between the initial denial and the BIA's remand order.

Preliminary approval of the settlement comes nearly eighteen months after the initial filing of the suit on December 15, 2011. A fairness hearing on the settlement is scheduled for Sept. 30, 2013. The settlement agreement is reprinted at Appendix A.

Immigration Court Opens in Adelanto, Calif.

On May 20, 2013, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) opened a permanent immigration court at the Adelanto Detention Center in Adelanto, Calif. The court will operate from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. The address is: 

Adelanto Detention Facility

10250 Rancho Road, Suite 201A

Adelanto, Calif. 92301

(442) 246-5404.

Bender's Immigration Bulletin

[This is an excerpt from the June 1, 2013, issue of Bender's Immigration Bulletin.]

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