What do USCIS furloughs have to do with you?
More than half of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) employees or approximately 13,400 people will be furloughed beginning August 3rd. The furlough will last anywhere from 30-90 days. This is terrible news for those who will be furloughed and their families, especially those at our local USCIS office, who we’ve been working with for just over 20 years. It’s also terrible news for those who have cases before USCIS – whether it’s your pending N-400 or green card case, DACA, etc. – everything is expected to come to a grinding halt. Interviews at our local field offices will continue, but we can expect those to come at a much slower pace. Stay tuned for updated processing times in the weeks to come.
President Trump suspends the entry of people outside of the U.S. seeking temporary/non-immigrant employment-based visas.
President Trump’s Proclamation, effective June 24, 2020 suspends the entry of people outside of the U.S. seeking temporary/non-immigrant employment-based visas. Remember, this is for people outside of the United States. The visas that are suspended include H-1Bs, H-2Bs, Ls, and J-1s. These visa categories are suspended through 12/31/2020. This most recent proclamation also extended Trump’s April 22, 2020 executive order. It was set to expire within 60 days but is in effect through the end of the year. The April 22 proclamation suspends entry to those outside of the U.S. seeking entry based on employment-based immigrant immigrant visas. The expiration date of these proclamations of 12/31/2020 is not set in stone and is reviewable in 30 days and then every 60 days for potential modifications or extensions. This most recent proclamation does not affect those who are in the U.S. in one of these visa categories, but if you are in the U.S. and are planning on traveling outside of the U.S., please contact us before doing so!
DACA lives another day!
The U.S. Supreme Court gave the approximately 800,000 “Dreamers” who have DACA the opportunity to continue to renew their applications and also to file new applications for those who are now eligible (or for those who didn’t file initially). The Supreme Court ruled that Trump’s attempt to end the DACA program was “arbitrary and capricious.” It’s not over yet though. USCIS immediately issued a statement stating that the court’s opinion “has no basis in law and merely delays the President’s lawful ability to end the illegal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals amnesty program.” Let’s hope Congress comes up with a permanent solution to protect the Dreamers. We are currently meeting with potential new DACA applicants for eligibility and filing renewals for our clients whose DACA expires in a year or less. It’s up in the air what will happen to DACA, but we are at the ready to help our clients make the best decisions as to what to do.
USCIS allows for increased response time to notices.
You can respond to USCIS within 60 days of your due date If you received deadlines for any of the following so long as the notice is dated between March 1, and September 11, 2020: Request for Evidence (RFE), Continuations to Request Evidence (N-14), Notices of Intent to Deny/Revoke, Rescind, N-336, I-290B. For example, if your due date is August 1, then you can submit the response up to 60 days past August 1st. Let us know if you need help responding to that RFE or NOID and evaluating whether responding (instead of refiling) is the best option for you.
USCIS has naturalized approximately 64,500 new citizens over the past month and anticipates completing nearly all postponed administrative naturalization ceremonies by the end of July. Awesome work, USCIS! Our local office is cranking these oaths out every single day, 12 at a time and the feedback from our clients has been 100% positive. Don’t forget to register to vote after you swear in, and then don’t forget to vote!
Marijuana has been decriminalized!
Virginia has decriminalized marijuana effective July 1, 2020. If caught with marijuana, there will be a summons issued and a possible fine of $25. For our non-U.S. Citizen clients (Lawful Permanent Residents/Green card holders, DACA, H-1B, TPS, etc.), a marijuana “ticket” or admitting to the use of marijuana can still get you into big trouble for your immigration case. It may prevent you from entering the U.S. as a permanent resident, getting your naturalization application, DACA or other immigration benefit approved. Be wise and stay away from marijuana use if you’re NOT a U.S. Citizen. If you get one of these tickets and you are not a U.S. Citizen, do not pay the fine without talking to us first!
VA In-State Tuition Update
Also effective July 1, 2020, Virginia students who otherwise meet the requirements for in-state tuition will be eligible for in-state tuition regardless of their citizenship or immigration status. To be eligible, students will only have to show that (i) they attended high school for at least two years in Virginia and either graduated or passed a high school equivalency examination on or after July 1, 2008; (ii) submits evidence that he/she or at least one parent (if student is a dependent) has filed Virginia income tax returns for at least two years prior to the date of registration or enrollment; and (iii) registers as an entering student or is enrolled in a public institution of higher education in Virginia. This is awesome news and definitely something to celebrate!
Driver Privilege Card for VA Residents
Finally, effective January 1, 2021, residents of Virginia will be able to apply for a “driver privilege card” issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) without being required to show proof of legal presence in the United States. To be eligible, applicants will be subject to the driver examination and will have to show that they (i) have reported income from Virginia sources or been claimed as a dependent on an individual tax return filed in Virginia in the preceding 12 months; and (ii) are not in violation of the insurance requirements for the registration of an uninsured motor vehicle. This new driver privilege will confer the same driver privileges and be subject to the same provisions as drivers licenses and permits. Do you need help with meeting eligibility requirements? We have the GMLAW Driver’s Card Team ready to assist you so you’re first in line to get your card on January 1, 2021. Plan ahead and don’t let not having a driver’s card hold you back.
When will Embassies Open Back Up?
That is the million dollar question and causing a lot of concern and fear among our community. We are monitoring the situation daily and will provide updates. It’s important to note that Embassy open dates will not all be the same and has to do in part with the country the Embassy is in and the quarantine rules of that country. Stay-tuned.
Asylum seekers do not have to first seek asylum in a country they pass through such as Mexico or Guatemala before seeking asylum in the U.S. A federal judge in Washington, D.C. struck down a Trump administration policy that bars most Central Americans and other migrants from requesting asylum at the southern border. This was welcome news as U.S. asylum seekers continue to face roadblocks, especially with the proposed changes and rules that would prevent many from becoming eligible for asylum.
Questions? Leave a comment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to meet with one of our attorneys, please give us a call at 757-464-9224 or send us an email. We are here for you during these uncertain times. You need someone to guide you through your immigration journey now more than ever.