A monthly publication of the International Law and Immigration Section of the California Lawyers Association.
Editor-in-Chief, Payal Sinha
* Contributions by Radhika Balaji
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) Announced the Expansion of Citizenship and Integration Grant Program*
On June 27th, USCIS announced open application period for the Citizenship and Integration Grant Program that will provide up to $20 million in grants (an increase from $10 million from last year) to various citizenship programs including funding to non-profit organizations across the country that aid thousands of immigrants in their journey to citizenship. With the application deadline of August 5th for the four programs that are available, USCIS expects to announce the funding recipients in September 2022.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Announced Spanish Option for I-94 feature in CBP One Mobile App*
In October 2020, CBP announced the launch of its “CBP One Mobile” application to facilitate travelers to access the I-94 record online. This feature asks a series of intuitive questions and guides the users to their needs. Users accessing the features to “Apply for I-94 in Advance” and “Get My Recent I-94” will now have the option to select “English” or “Spanish” as their preferred language.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Issued Fact Sheet about Cuban and Haitian Family Reunification Parole Programs*
In order to increase support for Cuban and Haitians families in line with the national interest, the U.S. government is taking a series of initiations, including rebuilding operational capacity to resume the Cuban Family Reunification Parole (CFRP) Program and Haitian Family Reunification Parole (HFRP) Program operations. DHS issued a fact sheet on the resumption of the CFRP and the resumption and increase in participation of the HRFP.
U.S. Passport Holders Returning to the U.S. with an Expired Passport Will No Longer be Permitted to Enter *
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) had issued guidance permitting U.S. citizens to use their expired U.S. passports, whose passport expired on or after January 1, 2020, to return to the U.S. through June 30, 2022. On June 29, 2022, CBP announced that U.S. passport holders returning to the U.S. with an expired passport will no longer be permitted to enter. Individuals with an expired U.S. passport should contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to renew the passport prior to travel to the U.S.
Social Security Administration (SSA) Resumes E-Verify Operations*
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, E-Verify extended the timeframe for an employee to take action to resolve a Social Security (SSA) Tentative Non-Confirmation (mismatch). For E-Verify cases referred on or after July 15, 2022, E-Verify will no longer provide extended timeframes for employees to visit SSA to resolve these mismatches. E-Verify cases referred between March 2, 2020 to July 14, 2022, with a SSA mismatch will still have an extended timeframe to be resolved. More information can be found here.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Released a NEW EDITION of Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination
USCIS released a new edition of Form I-693 (07/19/2022 edition) , the form civil surgeons complete for recording the results of a medical exam. Starting October 5, 2022, USCIS will only accept the new 07/19/2022 edition. These dates are based on when the civil surgeon signs the form, not when USCIS receives it. This means you may also use the 09/13/21 edition if the civil surgeon signs the form by October 4, 2022. If the civil surgeon signs the form on or after October 5, 2022, you must use the 07/19/22 edition.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) Extends Flexibility for Responding to Agency Requests
USCIS has again extended response times for any Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) issued between March 1, 2020 and October 23, 2022; responses submitted within 60 calendar days of the initial response deadline set forth in the RFE or NOID will be considered timely by USCIS. Furthermore, an appeal of a USCIS denial (Form I-290B) will be considered timely if it is filed within 90 calendar days from the date the decision was issued, and that decision was made between March 1, 2020 and October 23, 2022.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will Accept Reproduced Signatures Permanently
In addition to announcing the extension of response deadlines, in the same update, USCIS announced that the reproduced signature policy announced in March 2020, became a permanent USCIS policy on July 25, 2022. For forms that require an original “wet” signature, USCIS will accept electronically reproduced original signatures such as photocopies or scans of the original signature and the individuals submitting the must retain copies of the original documents containing the “wet” signature.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is Experiencing I-589 Intake and Processing Delays
On July 28, 2022, USCIS announced that it is currently experiencing delays in issuing receipts for I-589 Applications for Asylum. Due to the delays, you may not receive a receipt notice in a timely manner after you properly file your client’s Form I-589. Despite receipt delays, your filing date will still be the date USCIS receives the I-589, not when USCIS processes and issues the receipt for the I-589.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) Announced Updated COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements for Uniting for Ukraine Parolees
On August 10, 2022, The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) updated the COVID-19 vaccination requirements for beneficiaries paroled into the United States under Uniting for Ukraine. Effective immediately, all beneficiaries aged six months and older must have an attestation submitted attesting that they received COVID-19 vaccinations both before traveling to the U.S. and after arrival in the U.S., unless they are eligible for an exception. Previously, beneficiaries younger than five years old qualified for an exception to the COVID-19 vaccination requirement because the vaccine was not approved or licensed for use in that age group.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Statement on U.S. District Court’s Decision Regarding Migration Protection Protocols (MPP)
On August 8, the Northern District of Texas lifted the injunction that required DHS to reimplement the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) in good faith. The Supreme Court has just reversed the Fifth Circuit (and the district court) and held that the administration does not have to place people in MPP. It also does not adopt the Fifth Circuit’s view that the INA requires everyone to be detained. Individuals are no longer being newly enrolled in MPP, and individuals currently in MPP in Mexico will be disenrolled when they return for their next scheduled court date. Individuals disenrolled from MPP will continue their removal proceedings in the United States. MPP enrollees should follow the directions on their court documents and tear sheets to appear for their scheduled court date as required.
DHS is committed to ending the court-ordered implementation of MPP in a quick, and orderly, manner. Individuals are no longer being newly enrolled into MPP, and individuals currently in MPP in Mexico will be disenrolled when they return for their next scheduled court date. Individuals disenrolled from MPP will continue their removal proceedings in the United States. More information can be found here.
Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) Clarifies Circumstances Where Defective Notice To Appear (NTA) Supports Issuance of In Absentia Order
InMatter of Fernandes, 28 I&N Dec. 605 (BIA 2022), the Board held that Section 239(a)(1) (the section requiring an NTA to include a time and place for the hearing) is a non-jurisdictional claim-processing rule. Secondly, Objection to a noncompliant NTA is timely if raised prior to the closing of pleadings before the Immigration Judge. (The Board characterizes this as a “guideline”; the pleadings stage may not necessarily be the last opportunity to timely raise the objection, especially if a respondent was previously pro se or is mentally incompetent. On the other hand, earlier this year, inMatter of Nchifor, the Board held that raising the objection for the first time in a motion to reopen after IJ and Board denial was too late.) Thirdly, the respondent need not show prejudice to prove a violation of Section 239(a)(1). (Note that prejudice is required to show a violation of the NTA regulations, so be sure to cite the statutory authority when raising this issue.). Lastly, termination is not the required remedy where the respondent timely objects to an NTA missing time and/or place information. Instead, the IJ has discretion to fashion a remedy, which may include dismissal without prejudice (after which DHS could file a new, compliant NTA).
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Issued Policy Alert Allowing Uncharacterized Military Discharges to be Eligible for Naturalization
On August 2, 2022, USCIS released a policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address eligibility of military service members with uncharacterized military discharges for purposes of naturalization under section 328 or section 329 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
A person who has served honorably in the U.S. armed forces for one year at any time may be eligible to apply for naturalization, which is sometimes referred to as “peacetime naturalization.” Previously, USCIS interpreted “under honorable conditions” to require that the service member’s discharge was characterized as either “Honorable” or “General-Under Honorable Conditions.” USCIS has now reconsidered this interpretation in light of a recent district court decision holding that an “Uncharacterized” discharge is “under honorable conditions.”
Applicants whose military naturalization applications were previously denied under the prior interpretation may submit another Application for Naturalization (Form N-400). There is no filing fee for Form N-400 for current or former members of the U.S. armed forces.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Extends Temporary Protected Status for Syrians in the U.S.
The DHS published a Federal Register notice extending for an additional 18 months Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for eligible Syrians already in the U.S., from October 1, 2022, to March 31, 2024, due to ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions in Syria that prevent individuals from safely returning. In addition, TPS was redesignated for the same reason, now allowing Syrians residing in the United States as of July 28, 2022 to be eligible for TPS.
The Federal Register notice explains the eligibility criteria, timelines, and procedures necessary for current beneficiaries to re-register and renew as well as how to file initial Applications and Employment Authorization Documentations.