Leadership Changes at USCIS

Posted in Department of Homeland Security, USCIS

There are reported leadership changes at USCIS.  According to reports, Joe Edlow, chief counsel of USCIS, has been appointed deputy director for policy, assuming responsibilities of Mark Koumans, deputy USCIS director and interim leader, who takes a new deputy director for operations role.  According to reports, Mr. Koumans may return to DHS in a new capacity in the near future.

See our previous reporting on USCIS leadership, and please check back for updates. As always, contact your GT attorney with any specific questions.

Update – U.S. Embassy and Consulates General in China Suspended Regular Visa Services as of Feb. 3

Posted in China, Coronavirus, EB-5 Program, Travel, USCIS, Visa Issuance

On Feb. 7, 2020, the official visa information website of the U.S. mission in China (http://cdn.ustraveldocs.com/cn/index.html?firstTime=No) announced that as of Feb. 3, 2020, regular visa services at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and Consulates General in Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Shenyang are all suspended. The notice further states that the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in China have very limited staffing and may be unable to respond to requests regarding regular visa services. Limited emergency appointments may be available to individuals who have urgent travel needs, and qualify for an exemption under the February 2 Presidential Proclamation on Coronavirus (i.e., lawful permanent residents; spouses and children (unmarried and under age of 21) of U.S. citizens or permanent residents; parents or legal guardians of U.S. citizens or permanent residents, provided the U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents are unmarried and under 21; siblings of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, provided the U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents are unmarried and under 21). Individuals who have urgent travel needs and qualify under the exemption of the Presidential Proclamation may go to https://ustraveldocs/com/cn/index/html to submit an emergency appointment request or contact your GT attorneys for assistance.

Pursuant to this announcement, unless indicated otherwise in further notifications, all immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments scheduled in the coming weeks will be cancelled. Immigrant and non-immigrant visa applicants, including EB-5 immigrant visa applicants, with scheduled interview appointments in the coming weeks should expect to receive cancellation notices shortly. Please contact your GT attorneys for questions regarding the appointment cancellation and rescheduling. Please note that given the limited staffing the U.S. Embassy and Consulates operate with, we do not expect timely responses for rescheduling requests at this time. We will monitor the situation and provide updates as they become available.

USCIS Revises Forms in Response to Public Charge Inadmissibility Final Rule

Posted in President Trump's Administration, Public Charge Rule, Supreme Court, USCIS

The Public Charge Inadmissibility Final Rule was issued in August 2019 and was to go into effect October 2019, when a preliminary injunction with national scope was granted that prevented the Department of Homeland Security from implementing the rule. On Jan. 27, 2020, the Supreme Court stayed the national injunction, and DHS may now implement the rule, except in the state of Illinois. Continue Reading

Update on Cancellation of Visa Appointments at U.S. Embassy and Consulates in China, and USCIS Response to the Coronavirus

Posted in China, Coronavirus, EB-5 Program, USCIS

As a follow-up to our Jan. 31 blog post, we have yet to see an official announcement from the U.S. Embassy & Consulates in China regarding visa appointment cancellations for the week of Feb. 10 or later. However, this week, we began receiving non-immigrant and immigrant visa appointment cancellations for the week of Feb. 10. Likewise, the U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou informed some EB-5 investors that “Due to the evolving situation with the novel corona virus, and the Chinese government response, the USCIS Consulate Guangzhou is cancelling immigrant visa appointments the week of February 10.”  Continue Reading

DHS to Suspend Trust Traveler Programs for All New York State Residents

Posted in Department of Homeland Security, Driver’s License, Global Entry program, President Trump's Administration, Travel

Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf announced that DHS will be immediately suspending Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) for all New York residents, including Global Entry, NEXUS, Sentri, and FAST as of Feb. 5, 2020. The suspension will apply to new enrollment, as well as re-enrollment. It should be noted that this suspension does not include TSA PreCheck.

This suspension is in response to New York’s “Green Light Law,” which allows any New York resident to obtain driver’s licenses or learner’s permits, regardless of immigration status. The state of New York does not allow the state DMV to share criminal records with Customs and Border Protection, or Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

GT will continue to monitor this developing situation with New York residents. Please contact your attorney if you have additional questions.

Effective Feb. 1, Form I-130 Petitions Only Processed Domestically by USCIS or Internationally by DOS

Posted in Form I-130, Global Immigration, USCIS

Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, one of the most widely filed USCIS forms, is filed by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident petitioning for an immediate or close relative intending to immigrate to the United States. Until now, petitioners had the option of filing Form I-130 with the USCIS, directly with the USCIS international field offices abroad, or a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad, if they could prove an exceptional circumstance.

Without any notice, USCIS announced on Jan. 31, 2020, that starting on Feb. 1, it will no longer accept and adjudicate Form I-130 petitions at its international field offices except the USCIS field offices in Accra, Ghana, and London, England. These two offices will continue to accept and adjudicate Forms I-130 petitions until April 1, 2020. Going forward, I-130 petitions will only be processed domestically by USCIS or internationally by the Department of State in certain circumstances. Continue Reading

President Trump Issues New Proclamation on Travel Ban, Adding Six Additional Countries

Posted in Travel, Visa Issuance, Visas

On Jan. 31, 2020, President Trump issued a Proclamation, effective Feb. 21, 2020, imposing even more limitations on visa issuance and travel to the United States for additional countries entitled “Proclamation on Improving Enhanced Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry.” This Proclamation follows his first travel ban from March 2017 where the Secretary of Homeland Security was ordered to develop an assessment model to assess national security and public safety threats in identifying whether countries would be removed or added to the list. From the March 2017 travel ban, 200 countries were reviewed and assessed, and in September 2017, President Trump issued a revised version of the travel ban.

Since then, DHS has continued to review and assess security concerns from each country, utilizing updated methodologies, which includes a foreign government’s willingness and frequency in sharing information, and working with the intelligence community to assess risk of terrorist travel.  A review of each country’s performance per the criteria established in 2017 was also conducted, and as a result, it has been recommended to President Trump that he exercise his authority to suspend entry into the United States for an additional six countries as follow: Burma (Myanmar), Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania.

Continue Reading

U.S. Halting Travel to the U.S. By All Foreign Nationals Who Have Been in China within the last 14 days

Posted in CDC, China, Coronavirus, Halting Travel, Hubei Province

The Trump Administration has publicly announced that on 5 p.m. eastern time Sunday, February 2, 2020, it will deny entry to all foreign nationals who have been in China within the last 14 days (since January 19, 2020). This ban does not apply to the following individuals:

(1) Lawful permanent residents (Green Card holders);

(2) Spouses of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents;

(3) The parent or legal guardian of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who is unmarried and under the age of 21;

(4) The siblings of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, provided both are unmarried and under the age of 21;

(5) The child, foster child, prospective adoptee or ward of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident;

(6) Crew members traveling as air or sea crew;

(7) Any foreign national traveling at the invitation of the U.S. government to assist with containing or mitigating the coronavirus;

(8) Foreign nationals holding diplomatic visas, including dependents of such individuals holding derivative visas;

(9) Foreign nationals the CDC has determined would not pose a significant risk to the U.S.; and

(10) Foreign nationals whose entry is determined to be in the national interest or further important law enforcement objectives.

Therefore, the ban applies to any foreign nationals holding nonimmigrant visas such as H, L, O, E, among others, who have traveled in China within the last 14 days (since January 19, 2020).

Any foreign nationals who believe they are subject to this ban may want to explore traveling back into the U.S. before the imposition of the ban at 5 p.m. eastern time Sunday, February 2, 2020.

U.S. citizens who have been in the Hubei Province in the last 14 days will be subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine upon return to the United States. U.S. citizens returning from the rest of mainland China who have been there in the last 14 days will undergo screening at US ports of entry and up to 14 days of self-monitoring.

This ban will remain in effect indefinitely. However, every 15 days, the Secretary of Health and Human Services will recommend to the President whether to continue, modify or terminate the ban.

We will provide updates if more information becomes available.

Alert – U.S. Embassy and Consulates in China Cancel Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visa Interviews for the Week of Feb. 3 通知:美国驻华大使馆和领事馆取消2月3日一周的移民类和非移民类签证面试

Posted in China, EB-5 Program, Posts in Chinese, U.S. Consulates

On Jan. 31, the official visa information website of the U.S. mission in China posted an urgent announcement that U.S. Embassy and Consulates in China are cancelling immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments the week of Feb. 3. The visa information website cannot provide a specific date when routine visa services will be resumed. We expect EB-5 investors, along with all immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applicants who have been scheduled an interview in China next week to receive interview cancellation notices shortly. For those who have yet to receive cancellation notices, please do not plan on making travel arrangement to attend interviews scheduled for next week. Please contact your attorney should you have any questions regarding the interview cancellation and rescheduling. Please also refer to our previous blog post, “Important Update on Visa Rescheduling Due to the Coronavirus,” for further information. We will monitor developments and provide further updates as they become available.

2020年1月31日,美国驻华官方签证信息网站(签证预约网站)(http://cdn.ustraveldocs.com/cn/) 紧急通知2月3日-2月7日一周的移民类和非移民类签证面试将被取消。目前仍未能确定恢复签证服务的具体时间。我们预计原预定在2月3日这一周进行面试的EB-5投资人及其家属,和所有移民类或非移民类签证申请人,将很快收到驻华大使馆或领事馆的面试取消通知。对尚未收到面试取消通知的申请人,请暂时做不去参加面试的准备。如果您需要确认您的面试是否已取消以及需要重新预约面试时间,或有其他疑问,请联系您的律师。另请参阅我们之前有关的博客文章(https://www.eb5insights.com/2020/01/29/important-update-on-visa-rescheduling-due-to-the-coronavirus/)。 我们会跟近美国大使馆和领事馆的动态,并提供进一步的更新。

USCIS Releases a New Form I-9

Posted in Form I-9, USCIS

On Jan. 31, 2020, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) published in the Federal Register a notice announcing a new version of the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification (I-9 Form).

The I-9 Form is required to be used by certain employers to verify each individual they hire for employment in the United States is legally authorized to work in the U.S. An I-9 Form for each employee must be maintained for as long as the individual is employed by the employer and for the legally required period after separation of the employee from the employer. It is important to properly complete and maintain I-9 Forms, as failure to do so may result in civil monetary or criminal penalties.

USCIS publishes a paper I-9 Form and a fillable I-9 Form. The new version of the fillable I-9 Form has been updated to reflect new countries of issuance. Additionally, USCIS has updated the I-9 Form instructions to provide clarity regarding who can act as an authorized representative and provide additional information on acceptable documents, among other non-material updates. The new version of the paper I-9 Form has no changes from the prior version.

As a reminder, an employer may designate anyone to be an authorized representative to act on their behalf to complete Section 2 of the I-9 Form. However, the employer will be liable for any violations, which may result in civil monetary or criminal penalties, for actions taken by an authorized representative.

The new I-9 Form must be used by all applicable employers on or after April 30, 2020. Any employer who uses the prior version after April 30, 2020, will be subject to applicable penalties.

Employers do not need to reverify current employees solely on the basis of the new Form I-9 for whom the employer already has a properly completed I-9 Form. Unnecessary reverification likely violates various anti-discrimination laws and would expose the employer to civil monetary or criminal penalties.

Read more on Form I-9.