New USCIS policies will significantly affect your immigration status

USCIS recently issued two new policies that will significantly affect many people seeking immigrant benefits in the United States.

The first such policy directs the USCIS offers to refer the applicants to removal proceedings if their applications are denied and if they are no longer in legal status.  For example, if you file for B2 extension and when the USCIS denies your application, your 6 month stay expired, you may be put in removal proceedings(in this case if you just leave the US you may be ordered removal at your master hearing in absentia).  Another example is if you file H-1 extension and if your petition is denied and your current H-1 expired, you may be put in removal proceedings.

The second new policy involves the denial of applications without issuing request for evidence (RFE) or notice of intent to deny(NOID).   Now USCIS may deny your application without first asking for more evidence if it determined you did not provide basic evidence or required form.  If you have a deadline to submit an application, the denial of your application will be devastating as you may have missed the deadline and you cannot file it again.

All these changes have raised the stake for anyone who file applications/petitions with the USCIS.  You may have only one chance to get things right.  If you do it yourself, or hire inexperienced lawyer or immigrant consultant, you may fall into a deep hole you cannot dig yourself out.  

Attorney General decides Immigration Judges and BIA do not have authority to administratively close removal cases

In Matter of Castro-Tum, Attorney General on May 17, 2018 decided that immigration court and the Board of Immigration Appeals do not have general authority to administratively close removal cases.  The Attorney General asks the government to file motions to recalendar all previously closed cases.

As we know, immigration court used to close many cases in the past to save its resources for more pressing cases.  Many clients had their cases closed and they just wait for other options before they seek to recanlander their cases.

With this new decision, once the government has resources, many previously closed cases will be reopening and client will have to appear in immigration court for hearing.  If no relief available, they may face removal order.

If your case was administratively closed before, it's time that you contact experienced immigration lawyer to discuss your options.

DHS proposes to change how to calculate unlawful presence for F, J and M students

Under current interpretation, students in F, J or M status will NOT accrue unlawful presence in the following situations:

  • The day after they no longer pursue the course of study or the authorized activity, or the day after they engage in an unauthorized activity;
  •  The day after completing the course of study or program, including any authorized practical training plus any authorized grace period;

Under the proposed policy change, students in F, J and M status will start accruing unlawful presence if they fall into the above listed situations.

This is a dramatic change that will affect students/exchange visitors if they stop attending school, or otherwise fail to maintain the status.

The proposed change is published for public comments.

Choose where to file your asylum application will have major impact on the outcome

News reports say that it is increasingly harder to receive asylum approval under the Trump Administration.

The approval rates of immigration officers and judges may be affected by “America First” policy. According to the latest statistics from the Department of Homeland Security, from January to June 2017, the approval rate in New York were 10.02%, 14.39%, 12.22%, 14.64%, 20.82% and 9.99%, respectively. New York has the lowest approval rate among all the asylum offices.

While applicants file their asylum application in one place but the interview depend on where the applicant live.  You cannot ask for interview in San Francisco, where asylum approval rate is the highest in the nation, if you do not live in the San Francisco jurisdiction (northern California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska).  

2018 H-1B quota reached today

 United States Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting H-1B petitions on April 2, and on April 6, USCIS announced that it had received more petitions than the entire H-1B cap for Fiscal Year 2019 allows. As in years past, USCIS will conduct a lottery to determine which employers will be able to employ the workers they chose to sponsor.

If not cap-exempt, Congress limits H-1B new hires to 65,000, with an additional 20,000 for individuals who graduated with an advanced degree from U.S. universities that meet certain requirements.

News from the USCIS

Starting April 2, USCIS will destroy Permanent Resident Cards, Employment Authorization Cards and Travel Documents returned as undeliverable by the U.S. Postal Service after 60 business days if USCIS is not contacted by the document’s intended recipient to provide the correct address.   

if is very important to keep your address current.  If you have attorney representing you and you asked the USCIS to mail the cards to your attorney's office, this problem should not occur.

2017 is another great year for our clients

We saw another successful year for our clients.  With the last working day in 2017  to end in a few hours, we can proudly say that with only 3 exceptions, all of our immigrant/non-immigrant/visa cases that were resolved in 2017 have been approved!.  The 3 cases that were not approved represent a small fraction of our cases.  Of which, two were referred to immigration court where we have 100% grant rate in 2017.

We look forward to another successful year in 2018.

Happy New Year to our hardworking team members, our clients and readers of our postings!

International Entrepreneur Rule(IER) May Come Back after all

The Trump Administration delayed the effective date of the Obama Era rules to allow foreign entrepreneurs to receive special "parole" in order to stay in the US to start their new business.

Today a federal judge ruled the delay violated rule of law and invalidated the delay and ordered the government to start process applications of foreign entrepreneurs.  While we do not have any details and the implications of the ruling at this time.  The government may appeal the ruling and anything could happen.  The ruling, however, is a welcome sign that many Trump Administration decisions on immigration may run afoul with the courts.

We will closely watch the development of this matter.

Here is the judge's ruling.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA NATIONAL VENTURE CAPITAL ASSOCIATION, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Civil Action No. 17-1912 (JEB) ELAINE DUKE, Acting Secretary, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, et al., Defendants. ORDER For the reasons set forth in the accompanying Memorandum Opinion, the Court ORDERS that: 

1. Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED; 

2. Defendants’ Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED; 

3. As the Delay Rule is invalid, it is VACATED; and 

4. Judgment is ENTERED in favor of Plaintiffs. 

T IS SO ORDERED. /s/ James E. Boasberg JAMES E. BOASBERG United States District Judge

Date: December 1, 2017

US Government sues in federal courts in denaturalization cases

The United States today filed civil denaturalization complaints in federal court in the Middle District of Florida, District of Connecticut and District of New Jersey, against three individuals who allegedly obtained their naturalized U.S. citizenship by fraud, the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced. Two Pakistan-born and one India-born individuals’ alleged frauds involved concealing their prior orders of exclusion and deportation under different identities than the identity under which they naturalized.

The US government can file lawsuit to denaturalize anyone who obtained their citizenship by fraud/misrepresentation or other serious offenses.  Do not think you are safe just because you are now a US citizen, if you have dirty secrets in your immigration file.

45 Chinese EB5 investors may welll lose their money and their American Dream

The Securities and Exchange Commission has announced that it has obtained an emergency court order to freeze the assets of a husband and wife in Arcadia, California, who allegedly defrauded investors in two EB-5 investment offerings.

According to the SEC's complaint unsealed yesterday in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Edward Chen (a/k/a Jianqiao Chen, Jian Qiao Chen, and Jian Chen) and Jean Chen (a/k/a Jing Jiang and Jean Jiang) control several companies that raised more than $22.5 million from 45 investors in China for the development of an interior design center in Ontario, California, and a residential condominium building in Los Angeles.

But the SEC alleges that the Chens stole more than $12 million out of investor funds by issuing cashier's checks to Jean Chen, transferring the money to affiliated entities, and purchasing residential real estate completely unrelated to the two EB-5 projects. The Chens allegedly misappropriated more than 91 percent of the money raised from investors in the interior design center project.

Smaller regional centers and projects do represent bigger risks.  

New rule that may bar you from getting immigration benefits for life

On September 1, 2017, the U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) updated its rules to provide U.S. consular officers with new guidance relating to the term “misrepresentation” as it relates to aliens in the U.S. “who conduct themselves in a manner inconsistent with representations they made to consular officers concerning their intentions at the time of visa application or to DHS when applying for admission or for an immigration benefit.”

DOS now has an updated rule titled “Inconsistent Conduct Within 90 Days of Entry” which states:

If an alien violates or engages in conduct inconsistent with his or her nonimmigrant status within 90 days of entry, as described in subparagraph (2)(b) below, you may presume that the applicant’s representations about engaging in only status-compliant activity were willful misrepresentations of his or her intention in seeking a visa or entry.

In the event that a U.S. consular officer “becomes aware of derogatory information indicating that an alien in the United States who has a valid visa, may have misrepresented his or her intentions to you at the time of visa application, or to DHS at the port of entry or in a filing for an immigration benefit”, they are directed to “bring the derogatory information to the attention of the Department for potential revocation.”

Once you are found to have engaged activities inconsistent with your B or F visa(other types of visa may also be included); DOS may revoke your visa without first contacting you.  You may then be subject to inadmissibility for life unless you receive a waiver.

Please contact us if you have or may have this issue. 

You Could Lose Your US Citizen This Way

A Mexican woman who impersonated a U.S. immigration officer and defrauded undocumented immigrants of thousands of dollars by falsely promising them help to obtain legal status has been stripped of her citizenship by a California federal judge.

U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner, of California’s Central District, on Monday revoked the citizenship of Araceli Martinez, who is also known as Maria Araceli Ramos de Martinez. The judge prohibited Martinez from claiming or exercising any rights or privileges of American citizenship, and ordered her to surrender her naturalization certificate and any other citizenship documents to the federal government.

Martinez pleaded guilty to obtaining money, labor or property by false pretense in violation of California state law in Los Angeles County Superior Court in September 2012.

The federal prosecutors said that the native of Mexico falsely presented herself as a U.S. immigration officer to undocumented immigrants between June 2011 and March 2012, offering to help them obtain legal status and scamming them out of thousands of dollars in the process.

Martinez herself applied for citizenship in the midst of her scheme and was naturalized in April 2012.

According to federal prosecutors, Martinez said she had never committed a crime or offense for which she was not arrested during her citizenship interview. This is the key that caused her loss of her US citizen.  If she committed crimes after she became US citizen, she would not have lost her citizenship.

Martinez was arrested by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department in June 2012 in the alleged immigration fraud and indicted two days later on 11 counts of obtaining money, labor or property by false pretense under the California statute that governs theft by false pretenses.

When denaturalization proceedings were started by the DOJ in April 2017, Martinez was serving a two-year sentence in the Mendocino County jail in Ukiah, California, for a December 2015 felony grand theft conviction.

First 6 months of the Trump Administration see large increase of deportation

Data for 2/1/17-7/31/17 show that deportation/removal orders are up significantly during the first 6 months of the Trump Presidency.  Here are the numbers: 

Total Orders of Removal: 49,983 Up 27.8 percent over the same time period in 2016 (39,113) 

Total Orders of Removal and Voluntary Departures: 57,069 Up 30.9 percent over the same time period in 2016 (43,595) 

Total Final Decisions: 73,127 Up 14.5 percent over the same time period in 2016 (63,850).

We practice immigration law in court.  If you have any deportation cases or issues please contact us at (415)-576-9923 or email justin@lawbw.com.  Consultation fee may apply.

Can you get an employment based green card under the new immigration reform bill(The RAISE Act)?

Two Republic Senators introduced a new information bill last week.  The bill was supported by  President Trump.

While it is certain that this bill has zero chance of becoming law in its current form, it is interesting to see the concept of the point system spelled out in the bill.

Calculated your points based on the proposal to see if you are qualified to receive a green card(not family based immigration).

The point system lists the following elements to calculate your total points.  You need at least 30 point to be considered for immigration.

 

1.  Age

26-31 years                 10 points

31-35                            8 points

36-40                            6 points

41-45                            4 points

46-50                            2 points

51 or older                     no points

under 18                        cannot apply

 

Your points:  

 

2. Education

High school anywhere    1 point

Foreign Bachelor's degree   5 points

US bachelor's degree      6 points

Foreign Master's in STEM     7 points

US master's in STEM             8 points

 

Your points:  

 

3. English language Proficiency

TOEFL or IELTS

under 59  percentile         no points     

60%-69% percentile       6 points

70%-79% percentile       10 points

80%-89% percentile        11 points

90%-99% percent            12 points

 

Your points:  

 

4.  Extraordinary Achievement

Nobel Laureate or comparable award        25 points

Individual Olympic Medal/first place in an international sporting event    15 points

 

Your points:  

 

5. Job Offer

salary equal or higher than 150% median household income of your state      5 points

if 200% higher        8 points

if 300% higher         13 points

 

Your points:  

 

6.  Investment and management

Invest at least $1.35 million/active role/3 years         6 points

same above with $1.8 million                                    12 points

 

Your points:  

 

Please add all your points to see if you have at least 30.

If you are married, your spouse will need to calculate under the system and if his/her points are higher than yours, use your points to proceed.

If your spouse's points are lower than yours, your points will be adjusted by times 70% and your spouse's points time 30%; then combined your points and your spouse to determine the final points.

Your points:  

Your spouse points:  

Final points after adjustment:  

 

Good luck!

New York City Regional Center sued by its Chinese EB-5 Investors

According to report, more than 50 chinese EB-5 investors sued a famous regional center in may of 2017 for fraud and breach of fiduciary duties.  below is a brief description of the lawsuit.

Case:Chen Dongwu et al. v. New York City Regional Center

Jurisdiction:New York State Court

Status:Pending

Civil / Criminal:Civil

Cause(s) of Action: Fraud

Description:

Plaintiffs are unsophisticated Chinese nationals, most of whom neither speak nor read English. They sought out the American dream -- the opportunity for them and their family to live, go to school and work in the United States. But their dream has been turned into a financial nightmare.Defendants schemed and conspired to fraudulently induce Plaintiffs and other investors (collectively, the "Investors") to each invest $500,000.00 under the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. NYCRC, Olsen and Levinsohn misled the Plaintiffs to invest, repeatedly
and continually breached their fiduciary duties, failed to act as reasonable and prudent managers, breached the Fund's Operating Agreement, enriched themselves at the Fund's and the Plaintiff's' expense, violated the Limited Liability Company Law and engaged in a lengthy and extraordinary cover-up to prevent the Plaintiffs and other Investors from discovering the truth.

Non-immigrant visa waiver granted

If you are deemed by the US consulate to have committed visa fraud or misrepresentation, or other offenses that are barred from entering the United States, you may need a special waiver from the United States.

One of our clients recently received such waiver and he will be able to receive a non-immigrant visa to visit the United States.

This kind of waiver is easier to get compared with immigrant visa waiver(extreme hardship standard).

If you cannot get a non-immigrant visa due to a finding of fraud, misrepresentation or certain criminal convictions, please contact us to discuss your chance for a non-immigrant visa waiver.

Interesting 2016 Data about Immigration Court cases

Based on most recent released data,  Immigration courts in the United States received total of 328,112 new cases in 2016 and completed 273,390. 

San Francisco immigration court received 17,513 new cases, up 24%; Los Angeles court received 21,132, up 16%; NYC received 18,457, up 3%.

Respondents with legal representation increased every year since 2012, now stood at 61%.

Overall asylum grant rate dropped each year since 2012(56%); 2013(53%); 2014(49%); 2015(48%); and 2016(43%).

San Francisco immigration court granted 74% of its asylum cases; Los Angeles court 22%.

About 83% asylum cases were referred by Asylum Offices nationwide.

China born applicants enjoyed 35.56% of total asylum grant, or about 3103 cases and has remained top 1 country since 2012.

We represent clients in all stages of their immigration cases including in immigration court, Board of Immigration Appeals and Federal Court of Appeals.  Please check our website for more information at www.lawbw.com