Update on Employment Based Interview Requirement

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Processing of Applications and Petitions Leave a comment

USCIS announced that adjustment of status interviews are now required for all employment based immigration. On October 1 USCIS began phasing in this requirement.

In the past USCIS waived the interview requirement for most employment based applications for adjustment of status to permanent resident. Under the law it could require an interview on a case by case basis, but rarely did. These would commonly be conducted when an individual had a long priority date or if there was any question of fraud. The new policy complies with Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” and is part of the agency’s comprehensive strategy to further improve the detection and prevention of fraud and further enhance the integrity of the immigration system.

The current policy requires that all applicants attend an interview at their local USCIS office. On a recent teleconference USCIS officials stated that the interview will strictly focus on the application to adjust status (Form I-485) and the individual’s eligibility for an immigrant visa. The officer should conduct the interview following the application: confirmation of biographical information, valid entry to the U.S., maintenance of valid immigration status, criminal history, etc. The officer should not re-adjudicate the approval of the employer’s petition for immigrant worker (Form I-140) as the decision was made at the Service Center by officers specially  trained to adjudicate these applications.

Dependents are also required to attend the interview. For a spouse the officer will confirm a valid marriage and will use the guidelines provided above. For children USCIS will confirm a valid parent – child relationship. USCIS is looking into waiving the interview requirement for younger children and will make an announcement soon.

The agency anticipates a 17% increase to workload at the local offices. At this time there are no plans to hire additional personnel to address the increase. This could cause further delays in all areas of immigration because the local offices are already at capacity with the family based interviews.

Please be sure to discuss this new requirement with an immigration lawyer. Legal representation is allowed at the interview and an attorney specializing in immigration law can help you determine if one is recommended in your situation.


Tiempo de espera para el proceso de  el perdón provisional de estadía ilegal: tendencias actuales

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Consular Processing, I-601A Waivers, I-601A waivers, Immigration Trends, Processing of Applications and Petitions Leave a comment

Powers Law Group, P.C.

Octubre 3, 2016

Por la Abogada certificada en Inmigración, Ruby L. Powers

En el bufete de abogados de Powers Law Group, tenemos una extensa experiencia en perdones, hemos preparado y presentado un gran número de perdones provisionales desde el comienzo del programa en Marzo del 2013 y esperamos poder archivar más con la reciente expansión que se dio en Agosto del 2016.

Actualmente, el proceso para el perdón provisional de esposo (a) peticionario (a) para el miembro de la familia que califica, está tomando de 18 a 24 meses para ser finalizado. A continuación se provee un desglose detallado del tiempo de espera para el tiempo de espera para el perdón provisional.

  • Paso uno: I-130 Petición para el miembro extranjero:
    • 5-7 meses, puede tomar más tiempo si la demanda aumenta.
  • Paso 2: Centro Nacional de Visa ( National Visa Center) Parte I:
    • 1 mes después de que la tarifa ha sido recibida
  • Paso 3: El perdón provisional es archivada:
    • 7 meses para el fallo (adjudicación)
  • Paso 4: Centro Nacional de Visa( National Visa Center) Parte II:
    • 2-3 meses para el fallo ( adjudicación)
  • Paso 5: Cita para la visa/ Conectar la aprobación del perdón con el Consulado de los EE.UU. y obtener la visa.
    • 1-3 meses para la notificación de la entrevista, dependiendo del correo del consulado.

 

Por favor tome en cuenta que estos tiempos de espera son estimados basados en las recientes tendencias de espera de el gobierno y no se toma en consideración el tiempo que le tome al cliente y al abogado preparar el caso. Aunque, esto puede percibirse como un proceso tardado, es una inversión a futuro. Nuestros clientes nos han agradecido el que los hallamos alentado a completar el proceso, ya que un al obtener éxito en el proceso y poder regresar a EE. UU con un permiso de residencia, le permitirá obtener un permiso de trabajo, un número de seguro social y una licencia de conducir. Una exención provisional le da el alivio y seguridad de que usted se encuentra legalmente en el país y con un camino hacia la ciudadanía.

Por favor llame para una consulta si usted desea que su caso sea revisado para ver si usted o su algún miembro de su familia califican.

 


Things to Consider for Asylum Applications

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Asylum, Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, pathway to citizenship, Processing of Applications and Petitions Leave a comment

Powers Law Group, P.C.

October 3, 2016

By Board Certified Immigration Attorney Ruby L. Powers

Things to Consider for Asylum Applications

Asylum is the legal protection afforded by the United States government to a person who can demonstrate a “well-founded fear of persecution” based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Many people do not know that asylum is an option to enter or remain in the United States when certain criteria are met. If asylum is a viable option for you, it is important to remember that timing is critical, as asylum applications must be filed within one year of your last entry. Although there are exceptions to this one year filing deadline, which include demonstrating changed circumstances or extraordinary circumstances, keep in mind that it can take time to gather the appropriate documents and prepare a strong case for submission, so plan accordingly.

As an asylum applicant, you are eligible to apply for work authorization 150 days after submission of your aslyum application. After applying for work authorization, it could then take 1-3 months for adjudication for the work authorization. Upon receiving work authorization you will be able to apply for a social security number and a driver’s license or renew it.

The Houston Asylum Office is currently taking about two years to schedule interviews, and processes applications from Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.   In Spring 2016, a sub-office of the Houston Asylum Office opened in New Orleans processing applications from Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Powers Law Group has experience in both offices.

You should remember that not only is the application preparation process important, but your interview preparation is equally as important. Some attorneys do not include this service as part of their legal fees, so it is important to have your case assessed by an experienced asylum immigration attorney and upon hiring the attorney, know which services are included.

Powers Law Group has a long history of experience representing clients from various countries for US asylum affirmatively (with asylum office) and defensively (immigration court) including: Venezuela, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Kyrgyzstan, Rwanda, Pakistan, Nepal, Zimbabwe, El Salvador, China and more. If you are interested in learning more about the asylum process, please schedule a consultation with us.


Current Trends in Provisional Waiver Processing Times

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Consular Processing, I-601 Waivers, I-601A Waivers, I-601A waivers, Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, Processing of Applications and Petitions Leave a comment

Powers Law Group, P.C.

October 3, 2016

By Board Certified Immigration Attorney Ruby L. Powers

Provisional Waiver Processing Times: Current Trends

At Powers Law Group, we have extensive experience in waivers in general  and have filed many successful provisional waivers since the program’s inception in March 2013 and look to have more filed with the recent program’s expansion from August 2016.

Currently, the provisional waiver process is taking about 18-24 months to complete from start to finish for a spouse-petitioner/qualifying relative case.  Below is a more detailed breakdown of the provisional waiver processing times:

  • Step 1: I-130 Petition for Alien Relative
    • 5-7 months, could take longer when demand increases from the expansion
  • Step 2: National Visa Center Part I
    • 1 month after approval to receive fee bills
  • Step 3: Provisional Waiver Filing
    • 7 months for adjudication
  • Step 4: National Visa Center Part II
    • 2-3 months for adjudication
  • Step 5: Visa appointment/Connect Waiver Approval with U.S. Consulate & Obtaining Visa
    • 1-3 months for notice of interview depending on the consular post

Please note that these times are estimates based off recent trends in government processing times and do not take into consideration attorney & client preparation. Although this may seem like a lengthy process, it is an investment in your future. Our clients have been grateful for our encouragement to complete the process because successful completion and return to the U.S. with a green card allows you to obtain work authorization, a Social Security number, and a driver’s license.  With a provisional waiver you can have the security and peace of mind that you are in legal status with a path towards citizenship.

Please call for a consultation if you would like a review of your case to see if you or a family member might qualify.


President Obama’s Executive Actions on Immigration – Update – May 2016

Posted on by Ruby Powers in DREAM Act, immigration bill, Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform, Processing of Applications and Petitions Leave a comment

President Obama’s Executive Actions on Immigration – Update

By Board Certified Houston Immigration Attorney Ruby L. Powers

Powers Law Group, P.C.

May 23, 2016

On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced a series of executive actions to limit illegal immigration at the border, prioritize deporting felons not families, and require certain undocumented immigrants to pass a criminal background check and pay taxes in order to temporarily stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation.

The two initiatives, most important to many immigrants, include expanded DACA and DAPA:

  • Expanding the population eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to people of any current age who entered the United States before the age of 16 and lived in the United States continuously since January 1, 2010, and extending the period of DACA and work authorization from two years to three years.
  • Allowing parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to request deferred action and employment authorization for three years, in a new Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program (DAPA), provided they have lived in the United States continuously since January 1, 2010, and pass required background checks.

Due to a federal court order initiated from the state of Texas from February 16, 2015, USCIS was not able to accept requests for the expansion of DACA on February 18, 2015 as originally planned and suspended implementation of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). The court’s temporary injunction, issued February 16, did not affect the existing DACA. Individuals could continue with requesting an initial grant of DACA or renewal of DACA under the original guidelines.

The federal court order litigation escalated to the Supreme Court. On April 18, 2016, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in United States v. Texas. There are only eight justices, normally nine, currently on the bench after Justice Alito Scalia’s February 2016 passing. If there is a tie of 4-4 at the Supreme Court, then the case will be sent back to the 5th Circuit, which will maintain the unfavorable ruling for immigrants.  It is believed Justice Scalia’s death will not affect the decision as he would have ruled against it anyway.

It is thought that since the case has a mixture of issues not only immigration law but also on legal points of standing and executive power, that the case might be favorable to the Administration and immigrants with a 5-3 holding and possibly a narrow decision on use of executive power. Listening to the justices during the oral argument, it didn’t seem like they believed that Texas would be so inconvenienced by issuing driver’s licenses to all people who are approved DAPA and expanded DACA as an undue burden. This was the main reason Texas said it contested the President’s actions.  One concern is that one state can’t just challenge the President’s executive power when they want to and put the process on hold. Another concern is that the President’s executive powers not to be broadened more than allowed in the Constitution.

The results of the Supreme Court case should be released by mid to late June 2016. According to recent history, USCIS normally takes about 60 days or so to implement new programs. For example, the initial DACA was announced June 15, 2012 and started August 15, 2012. At an April 2016 American Immigration Lawyers Association conference in Washington, D.C., USCIS officials stated they couldn’t plan for DAPA and expanded DACA but they could think about it. They also stated it normally takes USCIS about 6 months to locate, hire, and train personnel. These announcements were not what immigration attorneys wanted to hear due to the limited time available before the next President takes office.

Considering we might learn the Supreme Court ruling in mid-June and wait until mid-August for implementation, we are very close to an unpredictable November election putting in place a new President by January 2017. The rest of 2016 will be very interesting as timing is crucial and we have already waited a year and a half since the President’s November 2014 announcement.

For many interested in applying if DAPA or expanded DACA were to be approved, they should collect evidence of residence since 2010, proof of their children’s birth certificates and/or statuses (for DAPA), and their criminal and immigration history if they have any.  As potentially 3.7 million are awaiting the results, it would be best not to wait until the last minute to collect items that can sometimes take weeks or months to obtain.

For more information:

American Council on Immigration

USCIS on Executive Action


Why Are Some Still UnDACAmented?

Posted on by Ruby Powers in citizenship, immigration bill, Immigration Law, Processing of Applications and Petitions Leave a comment

Why Are Some Still UnDACAmented?

AdministrationChildrenDeferred ActionIntegrationStudents,Undocumented Immigration

by Patrick Taurel

7448553910_0a2bc46804_zThe latest USCIS DACA numbers from March show that the agency has received roughly 470,000 applications, which means that just under half of those estimated to be eligible have applied. While the success reflected by the 470,000 figure is not to be downplayed, the new numbers beg the question: What about the other half million? Why are they still unDACAmented?

 

It’s time to turn our attention to the rural areas and getting those young people DACAmented.

Hard data isn’t available yet, but the organizations working tirelessly to help young people apply for DACA believe that a large percentage of eligible immigrants are living in rural America, which presents them with a range of challenges. Estimates show that roughly one quarter of all DREAMers live in rural communities and that upwards of half of them need to enroll in a qualifying adult education program to become DACA-eligible. If we hone in on the migrant farmworker population — which contains about 55,000 DREAMers – over 80% would need to take steps to meet the education requirement. 

Apart from the educational hurdle, there is a substantial financial one.  Migrant farmworkers generally earn a little over $11,000 a year, making the $465 DACA filing fee cost-prohibitive. As if these obstacles weren’t enough, itinerant farmworkers are particularly hard-pressed when it comes to producing evidence of continuous residence since June 15, 2007 (a requirement of the program) and gaining access to legal services.

Anecdotal evidence bolsters these conclusions. Recently, the Florida Dream Coalition, working in conjunction with volunteer law students from the University of Miami and Florida International University, organized several DACA workshops throughout central Florida. During the workshops, immigrants described the obstacles they faced to applying for DACA.  Those living in rural communities provided consistent answers: they didn’t know about the program; they live far away from legal service providers; they fear that the government will try to deport them if they apply; they don’t meet the education requirement; and, above all, the application fee is too high. At the Gainesville DACA clinic, the Harvest of Hope Foundation, a non-profit providing migrant farmworkers with emergency and education services, pledged funds to cover the filing fees of local DACA applicants. Nearly every individual at the clinic that day needed financial assistance.

Lessons from North Carolina lend credence to the theory that there is an urban/rural divide within the applicant pool.  If you compare USCIS figures to estimates produced by the Immigration Policy Center, it turns out that about 40-50% of the eligible DREAMer population has applied for DACA.  Except in North Carolina.  In North Carolina, roughly 16,500 out of an estimated 18,000 — 90% — have applied. What explains the disparity?  Farmworker organizers report that North Carolina’s farmworker outreach network is exceptional. In which case, North Carolina may provide the model for effective DACA implementation throughout the country.

If indeed many of the remaining unDACAmented youth are in rural America, future outreach efforts must be targeted accordingly, placing appropriate emphasis on linking would-be applicants to qualifying adult education programs. It also means that the availability and accessibility of microloans and scholarships for DACA filing fees will play a make-or-break role for tens of thousands of individuals going forward.

Let’s not miss the silver-lining, however. If this hypothesis is correct, then outreach in urban areas has largely been a success. The impassioned, outspoken and social media-savvy DREAMers at organizations like United We Dream and its affiliates deserve immense credit for getting the word out about DACA.  Half a million applications in 8 months is no small feat. Now it’s time to turn our attention to the rural areas and getting those young people DACAmented.

Photo by Neighborhood Centers

 


Seven Democratic Senators Push to Maintain Family Visas

Posted on by Ruby Powers in citizenship, Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform, Processing of Applications and Petitions Leave a comment

Seven Democratic senators are asking a bipartisan group of colleagues to reconsider plans to eliminate some categories of family visas as the group finalizes a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws.
In a letter to the eight-member group, Democratic Sens. Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Tom Harkin (Iowa) and Al Franken (Minn.) praised the bipartisan effort but cautioned that the senators should maintain visas reserved specifically for foreign brothers, sisters and married children of U.S. citizens.
The Washington Post reported last week that the senators are planning to eliminate those categories to help clear a back load of 4.3 million family visa applications, while also making it easier for some foreign workers to enter the country. Those family members could still apply for visas but would need other qualifications such as work skills and English proficiency to increase their chances. Senate aides said no decisions have been finalized.

“This is very troubling,” the Democratic senators write in their letter. “Different types of family members can play an important role in each other’s lives, and for some Americans, a brother or sister is the only family they have.”
The letter is the latest push-back against the plan. In the House, two dozen members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus wrote to the Senate group in support of the family visa program. Caucus Chair Judy Chu (D-Calif.) said family visas have long been a core part of the nation’s immigration system. She and other caucus members are scheduled to speak to some Senate members involved in the bipartisan immigration talks Thursday.
Currently, about two-thirds of visas are issued for family reasons, with 14 percent for employment reasons. Republicans have said increasing work visas will balance the country’s economic needs with family ties.
“Family-based immigration is important not only to individual citizens, but to the social and economic well-being of the country as a whole,” the senators wrote. “The available evidence suggests that family-based immigrants add to the economy directly and through their support of other working family members. Family-based immigrants bring vital skills and new ideas to this country, increase the likelihood of successful integration of new immigrants through family support networks, and over time show more upward mobility than any other immigrant group. In other words, family-based immigration should not be considered less important than employment-based immigration. Both are vital to our country’s future.”
The bipartisan Senate group of four Republicans and four Democrats is expected to unveil their bill next month, and it will include a path to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants. The legislation is expected to serve as a template for a potential deal between Congress and the White House.
This post has been updated.


Judges asked to close some immigration cases

Posted on by Ruby Powers in immigration bill, Immigration Law, Processing of Applications and Petitions Leave a comment

Thursday, March 14, 2013- ABC NEWS

HOUSTON (KTRK) — A backlog of immigration cases across the country has courts clogged and now immigration judges are being told to do something about it. They’re being told to close the cases, even without consent from government prosecutors.

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Some immigration lawyers say a memo some judges received last week could mean wrapping up cases a lot sooner for some of their clients who are non-violent offenders.

It all has to do with a memo issued to courts addressing immigration case backlogs by the chief immigration judge at the U.S. Department of Justice last week. Attorney’s across Houston have been buzzing about the memo and some are calling it good news.

“We welcome it as a positive sign to remove or administratively close some cases,” immigration lawyer Baldomero Garza III said.

Garza is also the League of United Latin American Citizens’ Vice President for the southwest. He’s reviewed the memo, which reminds judges court resources are too limited to allow some immigration cases to drag on and on.

Garza says the memo reminds judges they have the power to manage their dockets by resolving many low-priority cases without a prosecutor.

“Ultimately, we all must be reassured that the judges will exercise discretion in terms of you are not going to release somebody that’s been convicted of a violent crime, drug trafficking — something serious that’s going to put the public in jeopardy,” Garza said.

Immigration attorneys say some cases drag on, allowing clients to find a lawyer or investigators to gather evidence. Judges are being reminded they can also control those continuances to better manage their courtroom.

“Yes you can delay it as long as you can, but in the end, you are using court resources that really should be going to the people that really do need to be removed,” Garza said.

The U.S. Department of Justice says it will offer immigration judges guidance to better manage their dockets.

There were a total of 42,573 cases pending in immigration courts across Texas at the end of last month. The Executive Office of Immigration Review’s records also show Houston had the most pending cases, a total of 13,711.


TOP 12 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE PROVISIONAL WAIVER RULE – I-601A WAIVER

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Consular Processing, I-601 Waivers, I-601A Waivers, Immigration Law, Immigration or Notario Fraud, Immigration Trends, Processing of Applications and Petitions 1 Comment

By Ruby L. Powers – Provisional Waiver Attorney – January 4, 2013

  1. Final rule published January 3, 2013 and USCIS will start accepting I-601A waiver (provisional waivers) on March 4, 2013
  2. Only applies if the applicant’s qualifying relative is a US citizen spouse or parent.
  3. Only applied if the applicant’s ground of inadmissibility will be unlawful presence.
  4. Applicants still have to leave the US to follow through with the consular processing and waiver. Please note: this rule doesn’t keep the applicant from leaving and triggering a bar but it does diminish the time abroad.
  5. As per the form and instructions, applicants can apply for the provisional waiver more than once.
  6. If an applicant is at the National Visa Center stage, they must notify NVC of plans to apply for the provisional waiver rule.  One must notify the NVC as soon as the fee bills have been paid, by emailing NVCi601a@state.gov.
  7. If an applicant has had a visa interview scheduled, to be able to still submit a provisional waiver a new visa petition ( a new I-130) must be filed and one must ask the Consulate to cancel the registration of the previous immigrant visa case.
  8. If an applicant is in removal proceedings,  has their case administratively closed, has no calendared hearing in the future,  AND otherwise qualify, an applicant can submit a provisional waiver
  9. Only USCIS can adjudicate the I-601A waiver (not immigration court)
  10. An applicant should only file a provisional waiver if they don’t have any criminal history that would make them inadmissible. Therefore, one must consult with an immigration attorney if the applicant has any criminal history and wants to pursue this.
  11. After the I-601A waiver is approved, it is expected that the visa appointment in the applicant’s home country will be 2-3 months afterwards.
  12. If the Consulate at the visa appointment determines the applicant has other grounds of inadmissibility, an approved provisional waiver is automatically revoked.

 

The Law Office of Ruby L. Powers is located in Houston, Texas helping clients around the US and world with their US Federal Immigration needs.
Please beware of ‘notarios’ unlawfully practicing law as it is illegal and they often do not suffer the consequences of their actions as much as the applicants do who use them. The author sees this time and time again via her legal consultations with clients who have cases made more difficult to solve by notario actions.Immigration attorneys and immigrants are grateful for this opportunity by DHS!

——-

LAS 12 COSAS MAS IMPORTANTES QUE DEBE SABER SOBRE LA REGLA DE PERDON PROVISIONAL – PERDON 1-601A

  1. La norma final fue publicada el 3 de Enero del 2013 y el USCIS comenzara a aceptar el perdón I-610A (perdón provisional) el 4 de Marzo del 2013. 
  2. Este perdón solo aplica si el pariente calificado (madre, padre o esposo(a)) es ciudadano(a) American(a).
  3. Este perdón solo aplica si el motivo de inadmisibilidad del cliente es la presencia ilegal.
  4. Los solicitantes deben salir de los EE.UU. para seguir adelante con el proceso consular y perdón. Nota: esta regla no impide que al quitar el país se active el “bar” por haber residido en este ilegalmente pero si disminuye el tiempo que el solicitante debe estar en el extranjero.
  5. De acuerdo con el formulario y sus instrucciones, los aspirantes pueden solicitar el perdón provisional más de una vez.
  6. Si el solicitante se encuentra en la fase de Centro Nacional de Visas, este debe notificar al CNV sobre sus planes de aplicar al perdón provisional. Se debe notificar al CNV tan pronto como las cuotas hayan sido pagadas, por correo electrónico a NVCi610@state.gov.
  7. Si el solicitante ya tiene una entrevista programada, este deberá presentar una nueva solicitud de visa (una I-130 nueva) para poder solicitar el perdón provisional, así como pedir al Consulado cancelar cualquier petición de visa previa.
  8. Si el solicitante se encuentra en proceso de deportación, tiene un caso admirativamente cerrado, no tiene una audiencia programada en el futuro, y califica de otra manera, este puede aplicar a un perdón provisional.
  9. Solo USCIS puede adjudicar el perdón I-601A (no la corte de inmigración).
  10. El solicitante debe presentar una exención provisional solamente si no tiene antecedentes penales que lo harían de otra forma inadmisible. Por lo tanto, se debe consultar con un abogado de inmigración si el solicitante tiene antecedentes penales y quiere continuar con el proceso.
  11. Una vez que el perdón I.601A sea aprobado, se espera que la cita para la visa sea programada para 2 o 3 meses después en el país de origen del solicitante.
  12. Si el Consulado, en la cita para la visa, determina que existen otros motivos para la inadmisibilidad del solicitante, el perdón provisional aprobado es automáticamente revocado.

 Escrito por Ruby L. Powers, Abogada de I-601A/ Perdón Provisional

Oficina Jurídica de  Ruby L. Powers

Houston, Texas ayudando a clientes alrededor de los EE.UU. y el mundo con sus necesidades Migratorias Federales en los Estados Unidos.

 

 


Fees, other rules clarified for new immigrant policy

Posted on by Ruby Powers in DREAM Act, Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform, Processing of Applications and Petitions Leave a comment

Immigrants who came to this country as children will have to pay $465 to apply for deferred action, the so-called administrative DREAM Act, the Obama administration announced Friday.

Alejandro Mayorkas, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, laid out guidelines ahead of the Aug. 15 launch of the new policy that allows some young immigrants who are in the country illegally to apply for two-year work permits.

The agency clarified that to apply, immigrants must have been born after June 15, 1981, arrived in the U.S. before they turned 16 and lived here continuously since June 15, 2012. They must meet certain educational requirements or be a veteran at the time they apply.

Applicants, including those in removal proceedings, will be able to apply for both parts of the program, deferred action and a work permit, Mayorkas said.

‘The biggest concerns’

Perhaps the most important part of the announcement was the administration’s assurance that USCIS won’t ship applicants’ information to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcementagents unless they are national security threats, lie on their applications or are “serious” criminal offenders, advocates said.

“We’re going to issue a very clear statement that information used in the (deferred action) request will not be used for enforcement purposes,” a senior administration official said in a conference call with reporters.

“I think that was one of the biggest concerns,” said Benita Veliz, 27, a graduate of St. Mary’s University in San Antonio whose deportation case was closed last year but who has not been eligible for a work permit.

“For them to be able to assure applicants for the information not being able to be used against them is very important for people to be able to take advantage of the policy.”

It had also been unclear if brief trips abroad would mean applicants violated the rule that they live in the U.S. continuously for five years, said Crystal Williams, executive director of theAmerican Immigration Lawyers Association.

“If you left the country briefly for something like a family wedding or to go to grandma’s funeral, that won’t have to go to interrupting your residence,” she said.

800,000 affected

USCIS, which is funded by fees and not taxpayer money, hasn’t started hiring staff and will do so based on demand, the administration official said.

Department of Homeland Security officials have estimated about 800,000 people will be affected by the new policy, although other groups say the number is larger.

 

jbuch@express-news.net


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