In these turbulent times for immigrants, we would like to signal a few recent developments in case law and policy that apply to immigrants and/or their employers.
1. Deportation and Removal
In the case of Pereira v. Sessions decided on June 21, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that individuals with prior deportation orders may now apply to reconsider/ reopen their cases if they were served with a written notice to appear in removal proceedings that did not specify the “time and place at which the removal proceedings will be held”. It is worth noting that most notices to appear served before June 2018 DID NOT SPECIFY the required time and place for the removal proceedings, hence many individuals would be eligible to reopen their removal orders under the Pereira case. The Pereira case would benefit in particular those who have been continuously present in the U.S. for 10 years or longer and have a spouse, child(ren) or parent(s) who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. To take advantage of the path to legalization that this case offers, it is imperative that you contact our office no later than September 21, 2018, which is the deadline for filing motions to reconsider/ reopen under the Pereira case.
2. Employment-Based Immigration
USCIS announced that it is extending the temporary suspension of premium processing for April 2018 cap-based H-1B petitions and, beginning September 11, 2018, will be expanding this suspension to include ALL H-1B petitions filed at Vermont and California Service Centers (and CT falls under the jurisdiction of the Vermont Service Center) except H-1B petitions for extension of status to continue on with the same employer and certain cap-exempt filings. The suspension is expected to last until February 19, 2019. The practical effects on employers will be felt in the areas of April 2018 cap-subject petitions and H-1B transfers which will now take several months to adjudicate. H-1B employees may be impacted in their ability to travel abroad while the H-1B is still pending and we highly recommend consulting us before any international travel. We advise employers looking to petition for H-1B transfers to use premium processing, if desired, no later than September 10, 2018.
In other employment-based immigration categories we are seeing increased processing times for work permits (EADs) from 3 to 6 months, a much higher incidence of Requests for Evidence (RFEs) on most work visa and green card categories, a higher incidence of fraud investigations on a wide range of cases, and as a consequence a spike in the need for highly skilled immigration counsel to ensure strict compliance with applicable laws and policies.
3. Family-Based and Naturalization
Processing times have increased – in some cases dramatically – for most family-based categories and naturalization cases. For example, in CT the I-751 removal of the condition application now takes 18 months instead of 11-13 months and naturalization cases are currently projected at 8.5 to 19 months instead of the 4-6 months previously.
4. DACA Applications and Advance Parole
Ongoing federal litigation in DACA continues to create confusion with regards to DACA applications, and pending litigation means there will likely be changes to the process in upcoming months. At present, USCIS is not considering first-time filings based on DACA, or requests for Advance Parole based on an approved DACA application. It is, however, processing renewals for those who currently have DACA status, as well as accepting initial DACA applications for those who had DACA status in the past. DACA renewal applications should be filed six months before the expiration of current DACA status so as to minimize the likelihood of having a gap in employment authorization.
In conclusion, we invite you to contact us to discuss and carefully plan the impact that these ever-changing immigration policies may have on your status, international travel, or your ability to hire and retain foreign labor. Please note the above-mentioned deadlines by which to act on your applications/petitions.