The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the domestic immigration agency USCIS have been complaining that there are not adequate fees in their accounts to pay workers and have twice threatened 70% or 13,000 employees with furloughs in August 2020. At the end of July, the DHS/ USCIS released a final rule increasing many filing fees and introducing a 15-business day rather than 15-calendar day premium processing. 

By Polina Dashevsky, Summer Intern

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) added two new chapters  to their policy manual on July 15 2020:  (1) Volume 1, Chapter 8 on the concept of “Discretionary Analysis,” as a general policy and procedure and (2) Volume 10, Chapter 5 on the application of discretion in employment authorization decisions.The ostensible purpose is to consolidate and clarify the existing policy guidance on the use and application of discretion.  This blog focuses on the Discretionary Analysis general procedure chapter.

By Melissa Chavin

For a long time, the US foreign ministry, its State Department, appeared to “give up” the ghost with grading foreign countries based on their danger for US persons to visit. They kept the Global Travel Advisory Level at 4 “Do Not Travel” and allowed their staff to depart and come to the United States.  As of August 6, 2020, the State Department began grading travel advisories by country again, dependent in part on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.  Will this mean more visa issuance again for residents of the United Kingdom?

By: Melissa Chavin, Attorney, and Claire Graham, Summer Intern

During the pandemic, President Trump issued four physical presence related Presidential Proclamations, in which he stated that foreign nationals with any physical presence in the immediately preceding 14 days in the UK, Republic of Ireland, European Schengen area, China, Brazil and Iran are restricted from entering the United States.[1]  No date when the travel restrictions will be lifted is set forth. Individuals who meet certain exceptions are still allowed entry without visiting an unrestricted area for fourteen days prior to entry.  In a prior blog, we discussed explicit/ objective exceptions.[2]  In this blog, we are considering another exception that is subjective in nature and involves substantial judgement calls on the part of the adjudicator, the national interest exception. 

By: Polina Dashevsky, Summer Intern

US Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) as a rule should not reside outside of the US. Some do alternate six months in both the US and their home country, which is permitted. Sometimes situations beyond their control delay an LPR's return to the US.

By: Claire Graham, Summer Intern

July 8, 2020, MIT and Harvard filed a joint suit against ICE and the US Department of Homeland Security in the Massachusetts federal court to stop the Department of Homeland Security from reversing their earlier policy of flexibility around online classes during the pandemic. Did the plaintiffs have a right to sue on a mere Broadcast Message telling stakeholders about the rule to be published in the future?

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) issued a new Broadcast Message Monday, July 6, 2020 covering COVID-19 and Fall 2020, in which, it puts tremendous pressure on educational institutions in the United States to offer in-person classes in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. ***Post Publication Update: The Department of Homeland Security rescinded the Broadcast Messgage on July 14, 2020.  The announcment was made at the hearing for the Harvard and MIT v. Department of Homeland Security lawsuit in in Massachusetts US District Court.***  

By: Melissa Chavin

Students and Designated School Officers (DSOs) at school international offices during the CoVID-19 outbreak receive updates regularly from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).  Here are some of the latest highlights - with an important update from August 20, 2020 regarding student travel to the United States and F-1 visa issuance.

By: Melissa Chavin

The National Visa Center is where family and employment based petitions are held after they are adjudicated by the USCIS and approved, but before the priority date on them becomes current and able to act on.   While a petition waits at the NVC, circumstances may change, and the immigrant visa applicant may want to make the NVC aware of the changes.  

New Method of H-1B Lottery Will Save Petitioners Time and Petition Writing Efforts

The H-1B filing season will begin earlier than in past years with a March registration period for any petitioner-beneficiary pairs. Initial H-1Bs petitions subject to the low H-1B cap, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption, will be activated with a preliminary lottery procedure.  Petitioner-beneficiary pairs will need to register during the period March 1, 2020 - March 20, 2020 - and then be selected in a lottery, in order to be qualified to file a petition together.