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On our Emerging Companies Insider blog, Fox associate Alex Radus provided an update on the new International Entrepreneur Rule by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The rule, which would grant limited entrée to entrepreneurs establishing stateside startups, has undergone a public comment period. Slated to become effective July 17, 2017, the rule would permit the Secretary of Homeland Security to offer parole (temporary permission to be in the U.S.) to individuals whose businesses provide “significant public benefit.” That means the startup should have a substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation, and that the entrepreneur’s parole would significantly help the startup conduct and grow its business in the U.S. As a result of public comments, USCIS generally made it easier for foreign entrepreneurs to establish startup companies in the U.S. via the program.

Alex outlines the changes made in the final rule since his previous discussion, including the timeframe for startup formation, the definition of “entrepreneur,” the minimum investment amount and other aspects. He also notes that with the change to the Trump administration, the future of the role, which was spearheaded by former President Obama, is uncertain. He also notes some of the practical concerns surrounding the rule as proposed. We invite you to read his valuable discussion.

A unanimous three-judge panel has rejected the Trump Administration’s bid to revive a travel ban that would have blocked most travel into the United States by natives of seven Middle Eastern and African countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

For businesses, universities, individuals and others potentially affected by Trump’s executive order, the situation remains far from certain because the government has vowed to take the fight to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In its Feb. 9 ruling, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by a federal judge in the state of Washington. As a result, the lower court’s TRO – which restrains implementation of Trump’s executive order – continues in effect for now.

But the TRO is, by definition, only temporary, so travel abroad by noncitizens from these countries is still potentially dangerous, even for those who have dual citizenship.

The legal battle over the ban is far from over. The Trump Administration could pursue an immediate appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court or could opt instead to ask for a rehearing at the Ninth Circuit before a much larger panel of judges. However the courts rule at this stage, the case could ultimately find its way back to the trial judge in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington for more in-depth hearings.

On February 3, 2017, a Seattle federal court judge granted Washington State and Minnesota’s emergency motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) in its challenge to President Trump’s Executive Order (EO) on “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals.”

In accordance with the court ruling, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has suspended any and all actions implementing the affected sections of the EO, including actions to suspend passenger system rules that flag travelers for operational action subject to the EO. DHS personnel will resume inspection of travelers in accordance with standard policy and procedure. Further, the Department of State (DOS) has lifted the provisional revocation of valid visas of nationals of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.

According to DOS, those visas are now valid for travel to the United States may travel if the holder is otherwise eligible. However, DOS also stated that “individuals whose visas are expired or were physically cancelled, must apply for a new visa at the a U.S. embassy or consulate, absent a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) decision to grant parole or waive the visa requirement at the port of entry”. DOS has also resumed processing those immigrant and non-immigrant visa applications that were halted by the EO.

All CBP Field Offices have been instructed to immediately resume inspection of travelers under standard policies and procedures, and that all airlines and terminal operators have been notified to permit boarding of all passengers without regard to nationality.

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Alka Bahal is a Partner and the Co-Chair of the Corporate Immigration Practice of Fox Rothschild LLP. Alka is situated in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though she practices throughout the United States and at Consulates worldwide. You can reach Alka at (973) 994-7800, or abahal@foxrothschild.com.

 The civics test is an oral test which is required in the Naturalization application process. The USCIS Officer will ask the applicant up to 10 of the 100 civics questions and the applicant must answer 6 out of 10 questions correctly to pass the civics portion of the naturalization test. On the naturalization test, some answers may change to reflect the result of federal and state elections and appointment or to clarify content and ensure consistency in terminology. After the Presidential Inauguration, USCIS updated the following answers to the questions which are effective immediately. Applicants must ensure that they know the most recent answers to these questions.

Question Update
20.  Who is one of your state’s U.S. senators now?

The answer to this question may have changed on January 3, 2017, when the 115th Congress began to meet.

 

Give the name of one of your state’s current U.S. senators. For a list of current members of the U.S. Senate, please visit www.senate.gov.

 

23.   Name your U.S. representative.

The answer to this question may have changed on January 3, 2017, when the 115th Congress began to meet.

 

Give the name of your current U.S. representative. For a list of current members of the U.S. House of Representatives, please visit www.house.gov.

 

28.  What is the name of the President of the United States now?
  • Donald J. Trump
  • Donald Trump
  • Trump

 

29.  What is the name of the Vice President of the United States now?
  • Michael R. Pence
  • Mike Pence
  • Pence

 

43.  Who is the governor of your state now?

The answer to this question may have changed depending on inauguration dates.

 

Give the name of your state’s current governor. For a list of current governors, please visit http://www.usa.gov/Agencies/State_and_Territories.shtml.

 

46.  What is the political party of the President now?

 

  • Republican (Party)

 

 

An executive order titled “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals” is expected to be issued on Jan. 26, 2017 and will have the immediate effect of blocking entry into the United States by anyone born in seven named countries – including lawful permanent residents who are natives of those countries.

President Trump says in the draft text: “I hereby find that the immigrant and non-immigrant entry into the United States of aliens from (… Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and Syria) would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants or non-immigrants, of such persons for 30 days from the date of this order.”

Those to whom this “suspended entry” applies or may apply should beware. For some, this will delay a return to the United States; for others, this may force cancellation or delay of travel.

It isn’t clear what is meant by the term “aliens from,” but the tone of the order in general and the title of the section in which the phrase is found suggest it is meant to include all nationals of those seven countries being barred from entry into the United States for 30 days. A person is a national of the country in which he or she was born.

Permanent residents or non-immigrant visa holders who were born in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya or Syria, regardless of current citizenship should expect NOT to be admitted or readmitted to the United States for at least the next 30 days.

The Executive Order goes on to “suspend the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days,” to “cease refugee processing … and the admittance of nationals of Syria as refugees …” and “… to process and admit only a total of 50,000 refugees during fiscal year 2017.” The total authorized had been 110,000 for FY17, and approximately 30,000 have been resettled so far this fiscal year. .

The full extent of the implementation of this and other Executive Orders remains to be seen. There is an immediate effect upon non-citizens born in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and Syria and all refugees, especially Syrians, seeking admission to the United States.

In our continuing series of reports, Charles (“Charlie”) Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division, U.S. Department of State, shares his most recent analysis of current trends and future projections for the various immigrant preference categories with AILA (the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association).

Below are highlights from the most recent “check-in with Charlie” (January 13, 2017), reflecting his analysis of current trends and future projections for the various immigrant preference categories.

This month, Charlie offers his analysis of current trends and future projections for the various immigrant preference categories for the beginning of the next fiscal year (October 2016) and beyond.                                                                                                   

Check-in with DOS’s Charlie Oppenheim: January 13, 2017

QUESTION: What can we expect in terms of movement of FB-2 Final Action Dates?

ANSWER: All of the family-based categories will continue to move at a rate that is consistent with the current pace. I do not expect any dramatic forward movement or slowing down in the coming months. FB-2A should continue to move an average of three weeks each month.

The only family-based categories which may change in terms of the rate of forward movement are the Philippines categories. There is very low demand for FB-2B and F-4 Philippines. Cut-off dates for the other Philippines FB categories have advanced at a faster pace initially, but if demand for FB-2B and F-4 starts to increase, movement in the other categories may start to slow.

F-4 China will reach the F-4 Worldwide date in March.

F-4 India will continue to move but is not expected to reach the F-4 Worldwide date until summer. If there are unused numbers from the other preference categories that fall down to F-4 India, the cut-off date may advance more quickly.

Movements in the family-based Final Action Dates may start to slow in the second half of the fiscal year. Updated projections will appear in the next Visa Bulletin.

QUESTION: Can we expect to see any movement in the “filing” dates during the fiscal year, or is movement generally confined to the beginning of the fiscal year?

ANSWER: I monitor these dates throughout the fiscal year and there may be some updates in the coming months. Changes in the filing dates tend to be more dramatic at the beginning of the fiscal year, but changes are sometimes required in the second half of the year based on demand patterns and future needs.

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS. Number usage to date is higher than last year across the board.

EB-4 EL SALVADOR, GUATEMALA, HONDURAS AND MEXICO. Since our last column, Charlie has received information that potential demand for EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico prior to the current Final Action Date could be significant. For example, there are more than 1,500 pre-adjudicated applications for EB-4 El Salvador alone. Because there is already enough pre-adjudicated demand beyond the current date to reach the annual targets, the Final Action Date will continue to hold. If the date were to advance now and there was a subsequent flood of demand with earlier priority dates, this could cause the date to retrogress.

EB-1. Demand in this category remains strong and a cut-off date for EB-1 India and EB-1 China will need to be imposed later this fiscal year. Charlie will hold off doing so for as long as possible, but is confident that it will happen. When it does, members should not expect the date to retrogress quite as far back as last fiscal year when the date rolled back to 2010. Charlie continues to expect that the imposition of a Final Action cut-off date in these categories will be relatively short-lived and that EB-1 China and India will return to “Current” in October when the FY 2018 numbers become available.

EB-2. Tremendous demand resulting from EB-3 upgrades means EB-2 India will not advance in February and will likely hold at the current Final Action cut-off date of April 15, 2008 in March. If demand for EB-2 Worldwide remains strong, it is unlikely that EB-2 India will be able to benefit from any unused numbers and may be restricted to its 2,800 per country limit. If the trend in demand continues, EB-2 India is unlikely to recover to last year’s date. Members should not expect any significant movement in this category until at least July or August. Charlie continues to monitor this very closely. If the current surge in demand is not sustained, and Worldwide demand, or India demand with early priority dates subsides, more forward movement than what is currently projected may be possible.

Unlike EB-2 India, EB-2 China did advance somewhat to November 15, 2012 since demand in this category is not currently exceeding the monthly target.

EB-3. EB-3 Worldwide demand has subsided. The decrease in demand that allowed Charlie to advance the Final Action cut-off date earlier this fiscal year continues, and allowed him to advance the date again to October 1, 2016. While this trend may continue, due to current USCIS processing times, additional forward movements after March are unlikely to impact number usage in this category this fiscal year.

EB-3 China downgrades have not yet materialized at the level which had been experienced in past years. Nevertheless, Charlie is not advancing the Final Action date in this category significantly in an effort to avoid retrogression if demand from downgrades materializes in the coming months as expected.

Members should expect consistent forward movement in the EB-3 Philippines Final Action Date. Charlie expects this category to recover significantly but does not expect it to reach the Worldwide date.

EB-5. The EB-5 China categories should continue to advance at the rate of 1 to 2 weeks at a time.

You may access the February 2017 Visa Bulletin here and the January 2017 Visa Bulletin here.

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Alka Bahal is a Partner and the Co-Chair of the Corporate Immigration Practice of Fox Rothschild LLP. Alka is situated in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though she practices throughout the United States and at Consulates worldwide. You can reach Alka at (973) 994-7800, or abahal@foxrothschild.com.

Ali Brodie writes:

Today, January 13, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will expand upon the notice of proposed rulemaking released on January 11, 2017 by publishing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register, titled ‘EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Modernization,’ addressing a variety of policy issues including Targeted Employment Area (TEA) designation and minimum investment amounts.  Notably, minimum investment amounts may increase from $500,000 to $1.35 million for TEA investments, and from $1 million to $1.8 million for non-TEA investments.

Changes to TEA designation include eliminating the method of designation by which states designate areas of high unemployment, and limiting how census tracts can be aggregated to qualify for high unemployment designation.  These regulatory changes will impact both EB-5 Regional Center projects and EB-5 Direct projects.   The deadline for stakeholders to submit comments on the proposals is April 11, 2017.  EB-5 investors or those interested in pursuing an EB-5 investment opportunity should consider acting quickly.


Ali Brodie is counsel in the Denver and Los Angeles offices of Fox Rothschild LLP.

One of the possible weapons that could have been used to target certain immigrants, especially Muslim immigrants, was removed from the Immigration Regulations of the Department of Homeland Security on December 23, 2016.

NSEERS, National Security Entry-Exit Registry System, was a post-9/11 reaction to terrorist attacks on our country.  Under the NSEERS program, approximately 90,000 non-immigrants in the US from 25 different countries were required to report to Immigration (then INS) and be personally interviewed to determine if they were in status or possibly a terrorist.  The program ran until 2011 and resulted in approximately 13,000 people being deported—none of whom were terrorists, virtually all of whom were Muslims who had merely overstayed their visas.  Of the listed countries, 24 of the 25 were predominately Muslim.

Since 9/11, technological advances have permitted Department of Homeland Security (DHS) authorities to keep closer tabs on immigrants entering and seeking to enter the US.  In announcing the Removal of the NSEERS Regulation, DHS stated: ‘DHS ceased use of the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) program in 2011 after finding that the program was redundant, captured data manually that was already captured through automated systems, and no longer provided an increase in security in light of DHS’s evolving assessment of the threat posed to the United States by international terrorism.  The regulatory structure pertaining to NSEERS no longer provides a discernable public benefit as the program has been rendered obsolete.”  The removal of system removes a way to target Muslims in the US.

Other possible registration requirements that could be used to target certain immigrants are still on the books; the requirements that non-citizens (aliens) carry their “registration” documents with them at all times and that they timely notify DHS of a change of their address.

Section 264(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act requires that every alien over the age of 18 or older “at all times carry with him and have in his personal possession” the “certificate of alien registration or alien registration receipt card”  issued by DHS. This act from 1940 imposes penalties for offenders including criminal misdemeanor charges with incarceration of up to 30 days.  There are many alien registration documents, most common are the “green card”, I-94 and employment authorization document.  Non–citizens are wise to carry their immigration documents with them, keeping color copies in a safe place.

Non-citizens are also required to notify USCIS of any change of residential address within 10 days of such change or possibly face misdemeanor criminal charges.  Aliens who are not in F-1, M-1 or J-1 status must file USCIS form AR-11 to update their address.  The AR-11 can be found and may be completed on the USCIS website.  F-1 students, M-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors also comply by reporting the change of address with their school’s or programs DSO or RO.

While DHS has additional means of checking on the status of non-citizens, one way for immigrants to protect themselves outside of their homes is to carry their registration documents, keeping a color copy  of the registration documents in a safe place, and by timely providing USCIS the required notice of residential address change.

Happy New Year !

Today, December 23, 2016, USCIS posted a large number of new form versions. The forms all have an effective date of today, December 23, 2016, and the website indicates that no other versions of the forms are acceptable, with the exception of Form I-129.  It appears USCIS is continuing to accept prior version of Form I-129. No prior notice of these changes was given, and there was no alert sent to stakeholders today.

Because USCIS elected to deviate from its normal procedures and did not provide notice to stakeholders or provide any grace period during which prior form versions could be submitted, it will pose some challenges to form vendors who will not have time to reprogram the case management software systems and applicants/petitioners who may remain unaware. 

USCIS has indicated to The American Immigration Lawyer’s Association (AILA) that ,while it strongly encourages people to use the new version of the forms, it is aware that there may be older editions of the forms that have already been completed and are in the queue to be mailed and/or filed. USCIS said that it will be flexible and will apply discretion when receipting forms, rather than rejecting them outright.

Affected forms include the following: I-90, I-102, I-129, I-129CW, I-129F, I-130, I-131, I-131A, I-140, I-191, I-192, I-212, I-290B, I-360, I-485, I-485 Supplement A, I-525, I-539, I-600, I-600A, I-601, I-601A, I-612, I-690, I-694, I-698, I-751, I-765, I-800, I-800A, I-817, I-824, I-910, I-924, I-924A, I-929, I-942, I-942P, N-300, N-336, N-400, N-470, N-600, and N-600K.

Please also note that regardless of the form edition submitted, applications and petitions postmarked or filed on or after December 23, 2016, must include the new fees or USCIS will reject the submission.

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Alka Bahal is a Partner and the Co-Chair of the Corporate Immigration Practice of Fox Rothschild LLP. Alka is situated in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though she practices throughout the United States and at Consulates worldwide. You can reach Alka at (973) 994-7800, or abahal@foxrothschild.com.

On October 24, 2016, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) published a final rule confirming an increase to the processing fees for most of the applications and petitions it handles. This is a result of USCIS’ comprehensive review of the fee schedule for the fiscal year 2016/2017 the first USCIS fee increase since November 2010. The new fees will go into effect on December 23, 2016, which means that all applications or petitions postmarked on or after this date must include the new fees, or they will not be accepted by USCIS for processing.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, USCIS’ operational funding comes almost entirely from the user fees, and the current fees do not cover the full cost of services provided by the agency; the average fee increase of 21% is necessary to recover costs and maintain adequate level of services to the immigration benefits seekers.

While some applications see a relatively slight increase of $30 or $45, the cost of others, such as the Application for Adjustment of Status (I-485), Application for Naturalization (N-400), and Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (I-129) will go up by more than $100, which undoubtedly may affect certain applicants and petitioners, such as households with limited incomes or small employers. As a relief measure, simultaneously with the overall increase of the cost of services provided by USCIS, the agency now offers a reduced filing fee for the naturalization applicants (N-400) whose family income falls between 150% and 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, which is adjusted annually by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to determine eligibility for certain federal programs. An additional benefit of the new rule is that USCIS will no longer automatically reject an immigration or naturalization benefit paid with a dishonored check or missing the required biometrics fee. Instead, applicants will be provided an opportunity to correct the deficient payment (i.e., USCIS will attempt to resubmit the insufficient check to the applicant’s bank once again) or by paying the required biometrics fee during their biometrics appointments or immigration interview. The new rule will not affect charge free services provided to refugees and asylum applicants, as well as other customers eligible for fee waivers or exemptions.

This chart lists some of the key new USCIS’ fees effective December 23, 2016. Applications and petitions postmarked or filed on or after December 23, 2016, must include these new fees or USCIS will reject the submission.  You can find the complete new fee schedule here.

Immigration Benefit Request New Fee ($) Old Fee ($)
I–90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card 455 365
I–102 Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Document 445 330
I–129/129CW Petition for a Nonimmigrant worker 460 325
I–129F Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) 535 340
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative 535 420
I-131/I-131A Application for Travel Document 575 360
I–140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker 700 580
I–290B Notice of Appeal or Motion 675 630
I–360 Petition for Amerasian Widow(er) or Special Immigrant 435 405
I–485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status 1,140 985
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (certain applicants under the age of 14 years) 750 635
I–526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur 3,675 1,500
I–539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status 370 290
I–600/600A Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative/Application for Advance Petition Processing of Orphan Petition 775 720
I–751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence 595 505
I–765 Application for Employment Authorization 410 380
I–824 Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition 465 405
I–829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions 3,750 3,750
I–924 Application for Regional Center Designation Under the Immigrant Investor Program 17,795 6,230
I–924A Annual Certification of Regional Center 3,035 0
N–400 Application for Naturalization* 640 595
N–470 Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes 355 330
N–565 Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document 555 345
N–600/N–600K Application for Certificate of Citizenship 1,170 600/5503
USCIS Immigrant Fee 220 165
Biometric Services Fee 85 85

*Certain low-income naturalization applicants may pay a filing fee of $320 plus the $85 biometric services fee. For eligibility details and filing instructions, see Form I-942, Request for Reduced Fee and Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.

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Alka Bahal is a Partner and the Co-Chair of the Corporate Immigration Practice of Fox Rothschild LLP. Alka is situated in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though she practices throughout the United States and at Consulates worldwide. You can reach Alka at (973) 994-7800, or abahal@foxrothschild.com.