Contact Us: (617) 714-4375 | ellen@ellensullivanlaw.com
Contact Us: (617) 714-4375

Blog

American Immigration Lawyers Association: Talking Points about Tweet

Below are excerpts from a publication released yesterday by the American Immigration Lawyers Association in response to Trump’s “tweet” about limiting “immigration into the US.” All bullet points below are authored by AILA, although edited down to the most important points for my firm’s clients.

From AILA:

  • Unfortunately, this announcement is not a surprise. In the face of growing questions and criticism about his handling of the COVID19 crisis, it was only a matter of time before President Trump resorted to distraction, blame, and fearmongering.
  • There are no details and no language because this isn’t a policy, it is a political strategy. If or when the Administration turns this into a policy, it would be nothing short of a disaster. It would divert attention from the crisis at hand and would be a waste of precious time and resources that should be focused on the health and safety of the American people.
  • During this crisis we have seen first-hand the importance of the agriculture workers who put food on our table, healthcare workers who care for the sick, scientists and researchers searching for a cure, and the factory workers and truck drivers providing critical supplies. Regardless of where we were born, we all have an important role to play in building a better future.
  • Now is the time for us to stand shoulder to shoulder and work toward the day that this crisis is behind us. Isolation won’t make America stronger; fear and division can’t take the place of unity and determination.”
  • To restore the health of the country, both physically and economically, we need to keep our focus on moving forward together. Trump’s tweet, if policy, would do nothing to keep us safe from the virus and would be catastrophic for our economy.
  • The President of the United States has a lot of authority over immigration and we have seen that power used by the Trump administration to cause human suffering and economic pain. But, the power of the President is not unlimited and if the administration were to attempt a power grab of this magnitude it would be far beyond anything that has ever been attempted or contemplated in our lifetime.
  • We have seen the human and economic pain caused by the President’s previous efforts to assert his power over immigration. Now is not the time for another battle over executive overreach. If this were actually turned into a policy, the administration will have pushed past the brink of what the Constitution allows.
  • The President is playing fast and loose with his executive authority. We’ll wait to see what the Order says, but it’s more likely his tweet was a campaign message and in the form of a questionable exercise of executive authority.
  • Since the outbreak began, we have seen a renewed sense of interdependence and mutual care rise from all corners of our nation. We have learned the key role that U.S.- and foreign-born essential workers play to keep our society moving and our families safe.
  • America is facing a public health crisis unlike any we’ve faced in our lifetimes. We desperately need a more robust public health response so that we can get our society and economy back on track. This is a distraction from that priority. It’s all of us against the Coronavirus and people across America must stand together and resist extreme policies and politicians that seek to separate us in a moment of national crisis. Despite how uncertain this moment feels, America is at her best when we band together and take care of one another.
  • This is a sign of what is to come in the months ahead. Americans are tired of polarization and division and should not allow politicians to sow fear and mistrust. We must stand together and defend our country against this virus.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 20042109.

Green card approval without USCIS intervew?

Yesterday, the American Immigration Lawyers Association reported that based on a survey of AILA members, it appears that in some cases USCIS is approving some family-based and employment-based green cards without an interview. Interviews, which are normally a requirement for most green-card cases, cannot be conducted until at least May 4 because USCIS is closed due to COVID. Waiving the interview requirement would be tremendously helpful to applicants awaiting decisions on their cases. Further, waiving the requirement will help USCIS reduce the backlog that it will inevitably face once USCIS re-open for in-person business.

If you have questions about this issue, please contact my office to set up a consultation.

Unknown: The Implications of Last Night’s “Presidential” Tweet about Immigration

Last night, Trump tweeted that he was closing immigration to the US. No one knows what that means. USCIS is the agency that processes immigration in the US. The Department of State’s embassies and consulates process US immigration from outside the US. The worst case scenario is that Trump actually effect a closure of both agencies’ immigration operations. While there is no “best” case scenario following such a hateful, incoherent xenophobic statement, the least worst thing that could happen is that Trump does not actually issue an order/proclamation doing what he claimed. With his record of inconsistency, that is possible. If he does make such an order, the “best” case scenario would be for the order to only affect one agency and for that order to be enjoined by a court, allowing operations to continue until the legal case goes to court.

My plan is to continue filing applications until USCIS and/or DOS tell us not to. Unfortunately, many cases will be stalled due to USCIS’s and DOS’s current in-person closures and restrictions. Nonetheless, USCIS continues behind the scenes processing of cases and in recent weeks has given indications that it is looking for creative solutions such as waiving in-person interviews and new biometrics, in order to allow cases to continue to process and be adjudicated.

If you have questions about immigration, please contact me to set up a consultation to discuss.

COVID & Change/Extension of Visa Status

USCIS/DHS just published the following statement about COVID Related Change/Extension of Visa Status:

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recognizes that there are immigration-related challenges as a direct result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We continue to carefully analyze these issues and to leverage our existing resources and authorities to effectively address these challenges. DHS also continues to take action to protect the American people and our communities, and is considering a number of policies and procedures to improve the employment opportunities of U.S. workers during this pandemic.

Generally, nonimmigrants must depart the United States before their authorized period of admission expires.  However, we recognize that nonimmigrants may unexpectedly remain in the United States beyond their authorized period of stay due to COVID-19.  Should this occur, the following options are available to nonimmigrants: 

Apply for an Extension.  Most nonimmigrants can mitigate the immigration consequences of COVID-19 by timely filing an application for extension of stay (EOS) or change in status (COS).  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services continues to accept and process applications and petitions, and many of our forms are available for online filing.

If You File in a Timely Manner.  Nonimmigrants generally do not accrue unlawful presence while the timely-filed, non-frivolous EOS/COS application is pending.  Where applicable, employment authorization with the same employer, subject to the same terms and conditions of the prior approval, is automatically extended for up to 240 days after I-94 expiration when an extension of stay request is filed on time.

Flexibility for Late Applications. USCIS reminds petitioners and applicants that it may excuse a nonimmigrant’s failure to timely file an extension/change of status request if the delay was due to extraordinary circumstances.

Under current regulations, and as noted on our Special Situations page, if a petitioner or applicant files an extension of stay or change of status request (on Forms I-129 or I-539) after the authorized period of admission expires, USCIS may excuse the failure to timely file if it was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond their control, such as those that may be caused by COVID-19. The length of delay must be commensurate with the circumstances. The petitioner or applicant must submit credible evidence to support their request, which USCIS will evaluate in its discretion on a case-by-case basis. These special situations have been used at various times in the past, including for natural disasters and similar crises.

Please see 8 CFR 214.1(c)(4) and 8 CFR 248.1(c) for additional information on late requests to extend or change status. In addition, please see our Form I-129 and Form I-539 pages for specific filing and eligibility requirements for extensions of stay and changes of status.

Flexibility for Visa Waiver Entrants. Visa Waiver Program (VWP) entrants are not eligible to extend their stay or change status. However, under current regulations, if an emergency (such as COVID-19) prevents the departure of a VWP entrant, USCIS in its discretion may grant a period of satisfactory departure for up to 30 days. Please see 8 CFR 217.3(a). For those VWP entrants already granted satisfactory departure and unable to depart within this 30-day period because of COVID-19 related issues, USCIS has the authority to temporarily provide an additional 30-day period of satisfactory departure.  To request satisfactory departure from USCIS, a VWP entrant should call the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283. 

For More Information

USCIS will provide further updates as the situation develops and will continue to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance. Please visit uscis.gov/coronavirus for the latest facts and other USCIS updates.

Education and precautions are the strongest tools against infection. Continue to practice good health habits, refrain from handshakes or hugs as greetings, and wash hands and clean surfaces appropriately.

Noncitizens Divorcing During COVID

Divorcing During COVID

At any given time I represent clients who are in the process of divorcing a spouse. My representation on these cases ranges from joint I-751 petitions with notice to USCIS of the pending divorce to I-751 waiver petitions based on divorce to I-360 self-petitions based on abuse to an immigrant who wants to marry a US citizen but who still is married to someone else.

Right now COVID presents many challenges to clients who want to process the divorce. Family courts in MA as closed to the public, except for emergencies. However, the courts have expanded filing options and even options for obtaining judicial orders without a hearing. At this point, it does not appear a final order of divorce can be obtained without a hearing.

I work with many family law attorneys around Massachusetts who represent my immigration clients on family matters. One of my favorite parts of my job is collaborating with attorneys who specialize in other areas of law.

If you have legal needs related to immigration and divorce, contact me. I will be happy to discuss representation on immigration matters and collaboration with your family law attorneys.

© Copyright 2014 Law Office of Ellen Sullivan, P.C. This website does not constitute a representation agreement with Attorney Sullivan or anyone else at the firm. The information on this website is not intended to, nor does it in fact, replace legal advice provided by an attorney in an attorney-client consultation. Please contact our office or another immigration attorney if you would like legal counsel. Sitemap