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Immigration law and policy have always been politically contested in the United States, but we have never seen more attacks on immigration than we’ve witnessed over the past four years. But thankfully, a new day is here! We are thrilled to welcome President Biden and Vice President Harris! On January 20th, President Biden “announced a welcoming and inclusive vision for immigration in a legislative proposal that provides a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants who call the United States home.” President Biden’s Day One immigration bill consists of 4 key components: An 8-year pathway to citizenship for…
What’s going on with the travel bans? Can I start planning travel to the U.S.? There’s been a bit of confusion regarding the lifting of the travel bans. On Monday, January 19th, Trump signed an order lifting the travel bans from Ireland, the UK, most of Europe, and Brazil. This news was followed by an announcement from the Biden Administration, stating that they would NOT be lifting any travel bans. Jen Psaki, a Biden spokeswoman stated, “with the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel.”As…
Do I Need a Covid-19 Test to Enter the US? Does this policy change the status of travel bans? On Tuesday January 12th, the CDC announced they would be requiring proof of a negative Covid-19 test to enter the United States. Travelers who have tested positive for Covid-19 in the last three months are exempt from proof of a negative test, they will need to supply a physician’s note indicating they have fully recovered. Individuals who have received the Covid-19 vaccine are still required to show proof of a negative test. This new federal policy will go into affect on…
Can soon-to-be President Biden cancel the travel bans? Will he cancel them? What do you need to know? Many are wondering what power a President has over travel bans and whether Biden might cancel them in the United States. The travel bans were done via a mechanism known as a presidential proclamation. For a new president to come in, it is pretty easy for them to cancel a previous presidential proclamation. The short answer: For soon-to-be President Biden, to cancel the travel bans, he would have to find that it’s no longer detrimental to the interests of the US to…
US citizen spouses and children of undocumented immigrants will finally get stimulus checks! On Sunday, December 27, 2020, President Trump signed a new $900 billion stimulus bill into law, alongside a government spending package that Congress passed on December 21, 2020. The bill fixes a few issues that restricted payment of the first wave of stimulus checks from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) earlier this year. The new bill allows stimulus checks to “mixed-status” families. According to lawmakers and the text of the legislation, if at least one family member filed a 2019…
This past Friday, (December 4) Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the Eastern District of New York ruled that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must begin accepting new applications, renewals, and advanced parole requests under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). The DACA program was created in 2012 under the Obama Administration and it allows undocumented people who were brought to the U.S. as children to apply for temporary protection against deportation and a work permit. DACA has allowed hundreds of thousands of young immigrants do basic things like get driver’s licenses, apply for college, and work with authorization.…
On Tuesday, November 10, 2020, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) issued comprehensive recommendations on swift immigration reform for the incoming Biden-Harris Administration. AILA is the national bar association for immigration lawyers with over 15,000 members scattered throughout the U.S. and even the globe. Our Managing Attorney, Fiona McEntee, is one of a few national spokespeople for AILA and is also the Chair of the Media & Advocacy Committee for AILA National & the Chair of the Media Committee for AILA Chicago. AILA’s recommendations were developed in consultation with its national policy committees and network of volunteer lawyers. The…
Immigration law and policy have always been a politically contested issue in the United States, but we have never seen more attacks on immigration than we’ve witnessed over the past four years. Under the Trump administration’s tenure, the USCIS – the agency that tasks with handling citizenship and visa applications – removed reference to the U.S. being a “nation of immigrants” in its mission statement and replaced it with language about “protecting Americans.” For many this crystallizes how the Trump administration has relentlessly changed the government’s approach to immigration. Over the past 4 years, more than 900 policy changes have…
Four years ago, I was a senior at Wellesley College, a private women’s liberal arts school located just 15 miles west of Boston. Wellesley is known for the excellence of its education, the uniqueness of its campus culture, and of course, its notable alumni made up of numerous glass-ceiling breakers such as Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; newscaster Diane Sawyer; the first lady of the Republic of China, Soong Mayling aka Madame Chiang Kai-shek; and, American poet and author of “America the Beautiful”, Katharine Lee Bates. On Election Night in 2016, over 2,500 students, faculty, staff and members of…
What? The Diversity Visa Program, also known as the “green card lottery”, is a United States government lottery program for receiving a permanent resident card (“green card”). The lottery provides up to 55,000 green cards to the U.S. each year.  When? The registration period opened at noon EDT on Wednesday, October 7, 2020, and runs until noon EDT on Tuesday, November 10, 2020. Who? To apply you must be a native of a country with historically low rates of immigration to the U.S.  You may also qualify based on your spouse’s country or your parents. See here for further details. …
It has been a little over one year since Immigration & Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) swept fear across Mississippi in what was the “largest single-state” ICE raid in U.S. history. In the summer of 2019, hundreds of undocumented workers across different food processing plants were detained by ICE officials who left behind hundreds of traumatized families and sobbing children. This year, loved-ones of those impacted by these traumatizing events gathered across Mississippi to mourn and grieve together, including vigils held at the processing plants where these raids occurred. Last year’s historic raid occurred mere weeks after the Trump Administration’s announced that…
Today, USCIS announced a final draft for a rule change proposal that will not only affect key application forms, but also significantly increase processing fees. We are still wrapping our heads around this 576-page proposal, but so far, these are the main changes: Increase in fees by a weighted average of 20% Adds a $50 fee for asylum applications Removes the proposal to transfer money to ICE Establishes multiple fees for nonimmigrant worker petitions Limits the number of beneficiaries for certain forms As Chair of AILA’s Media & Advocacy Committee, Fiona is working closely with other immigration experts monitoring…
It has been a historic year of Supreme Court rulings. We celebrated during the early hours of June 18th when the highly anticipated Supreme Court decision on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was publicly announced. A collective sigh of relief was shared among millions across the United States. With this order, nearly 800,000 current DACA recipients were given a peace of mind, knowing their fears of imminent deportation could be set aside, while others were given a sense of hope, knowing that new DACA applications would now be processed. All these folks, while unique and extraordinary in…
We mourn the passing of Leader John Lewis, a true beacon of light throughout some of history’s darkest times. Lewis is kindly remembered by his family and colleagues as being a “Lion” – a fitting and endearing way to describe his larger-than-life reputation, his righteous courage, and his unwavering dedication to social justice. His timeless legacy is marked by his fight for voter and racial equality as one of the original “Big Six” civil rights leaders, “Freedom Riders”, and “Bloody Sunday” survivors, along with his 33-year tenure serving as U.S. House of Representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district, from 1987…
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. immigration has seen many policy changes, including the many travel and visa “bans”. From closures of US consulates, embassies, and USCIS officers, to cancellations of visa interviews and appointments, hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals and their families have been impacted. The green card ban suspends the issuance of new immigrant visas from abroad like the EB-1A, EB-2, EB-3 immigrant visa categories. The business visa ban suspends the issuance of non-immigrant visas for those seeking to enter as: H-1B, H-2B, L-1A, L-1B, and some J-1 categories. Many of these employment-based visas, like…
Last Monday, June 22nd, President Donald Trump issued an executive order restricting several employment-based visas until at least the end of the year. Citing those that “present a risk to the U.S. labor market following the coronavirus outbreak,” this order applies to would-be H-1B, H-2B, L-1, certain J-1 categories visa holders, and their dependents. Per the text of the executive order, it unequivocally applies only to those outside the U.S. on the effective date (June 24th) AND those without a valid visa stamp or travel document on that date. Given the crystal clear language in the order, our previous posts…