On March 6, 2018, the US Department of State announced a change in the location of certain greencard interviews in India.

In summary, for interviews scheduled on or after April 1, 2018:

  • The US Embassy in New Delhi will no longer conduct interviews for US Permanent Residence for the spouse (IR1/CR1) and the unmarried minor child(ren) (IR2/CR2) of a US citizen
  • The US Consulate General in Mumbai will begin conducting interviews for US Permanent Residence for the spouse and the unmarried minor child(ren) of a US citizen.

The change includes cases already in process and going forward. The National Visa Center will notify applicants of the specific location of their interview, along with details relating to visa interview preparation.

This change is for the purpose of consolidating visa processing of this type in Mumbai.

Recently, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) changed the language in the agency’s Mission Statement.    Previous language recognized that the United States is a “nation of immigrants”.   USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna provided a statement to explain the reasoning behind the change.

New Mission Statement:
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administers the nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity and promise by efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for immigration benefits while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values.

Old Mission Statement:
USCIS secures America’s promise as a nation of immigrants by providing accurate and useful information to our customers, granting immigration and citizenship benefits, promoting an awareness and understanding of citizenship, and ensuring the integrity of our immigration system.

However, immigration advocates see this change as further demonstration that this administration does not recognize the importance of immigration to the history and growth of this nation.  By ending DACA, restricting Refugees and ending TPS designations for El Salvador, Haiti and Honduras among other actions, this administration appears on a pathway to make more changes to the U.S. immigration landscape than any recent administration.  The language of the Statue of Liberty from Emma Lazarus’ poem The New Colossus so eloquently reads:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

It does not appear that USCIS’ change in Mission Statement adheres to this vision of America nor our long history of welcoming immigrants and their significant contributions.

Last evening, President Trump delivered his State of the Union Address, which touched on many aspects of immigration.  The President’s plan consists of four pillars, summarized below:

1.)  Path to Citizenship for 1.8 million “illegal” immigrants (often referred to as Dreamers) who were brought here by their parents at a young age.  President Trump claimed that this number covers almost three times more people than the previous administration (under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)). Under the Trump plan, those who meet education and work requirements, and show good moral character, will be able to become full citizens of the United States.    President Trump did not indicate any specific details how this plan would be enacted but he has made past comments that the path to citizenship would take over a decade.

2)  Building of the border wall with Mexico, hiring more federal agents and ending “catch and release” which the President called dangerous.   President Trump’s plan to end “catch and release” would require much more bed space to hold detained immigrants and doesn’t acknowledge the fact that those who are released are non-violent individuals with terms of release, much like the criminal probation/bond system.

3)  Ending the visa lottery.  President Trump claimed that the program randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of our people. He indicated that a merit-based immigration system should be adopted.  President Trump indicated that this merit based system would admit people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and who will love and respect our country.  President Trump’s language suggests that those who enter on visa lottery do not meet these characteristics, which is contrary to the program’s purpose of creating diversity.

4) Ending what the President calls “chain migration”. President Trump claimed that a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives. His plan would limit sponsorships to spouses and minor children.  This term which many people consider derogatory would end U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents being able to re-unite with family members and would do away with sponsorships for parents of U.S. Citizens, siblings of U.S. Citizens, among others.  President Trump also does not indicate the long wait times associated with visa availability which often make it difficult to sponsor family members.

Should a person have questions regarding how the pillars may impact their case or sponsorships for family members, now would be the time to contact an immigration lawyer to discuss the person’s eligibility to file the appropriate applications.




Congressional negotiations on a federal spending bill remain very active. To avoid a federal government shutdown, a decision or a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government at current levels must be reached by Friday, January 19, 2017. Until a deal is made or a CR is passed, the threat of a shutdown remains a possibility. Generally, if the government shuts for budgetary reasons, all but “essential” personnel are furloughed and are not allowed to work.

Such a shutdown will impact immigration services across a number of different government agencies, affecting many of the systems and processes employers rely on to facilitate employment, including E-Verify, visa petition processing, labor certifications and other government services that corporations and individuals rely upon.

We will closely monitor the circumstances and provide updates as they become available. Individuals with pending applications or who are planning to travel abroad to secure a visa should consult with their Fox Rothschild immigration attorney, prior to travel.


E-Verify, the Internet-based system that allows employers to determine the eligibility of prospective employees to work in the United States, would be unavailable during a shutdown. Although employers must still complete the Form I-9 on a timely basis, in the past, U.S. Department of Homeland Security has suspended E-Verify’s 3-day rule and extended the time for responding to Tentative Non-Confirmations. Federal contractors are recommended to contact their contracting officers to confirm time frames.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

As a fee-based agency, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will continue to process applications and petitions for immigration benefits during the shutdown; however, processing delays are likely, as a certain portion of the staff will be furloughed. Further, delays may occur if adjudication of a petition/application is dependent on support from nonessential government functions that are suspended during the shutdown—for example, if a petition requires a certified Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the Department of Labor (DOL).

In the past, USCIS has relaxed its rules and accepted H-1B filings without certified LCAs when DOL operations have been suspended or delayed, however, USCIS has not yet announced whether it will do so during the current shutdown.

Department of Labor

The Department of Labor (DOL) will suspend all immigration-related functions during a shutdown, affecting PERM Labor Certifications and Labor Condition Applications. Filed and pending applications will not be processed, nor will filings be accepted during a shutdown.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

The majority of the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP’s) employees are expected to stay on the job at the borders and ports of entry. CBP is deemed an essential function and will likely continue operations at near normal capacity, including the adjudication of applications/petitions for TN and L-1 status that are normally processed at the border.

The Department of State

In the past, The Department of State’s (DOS’s) consular operations have remained operational, although services may be limited. It is expected that U.S. Consulates abroad will continue to process visa applications as long as funds are available. This funding is expected to last only for a few days, at which point the State Department will likely cease processing visas and focus solely on diplomatic services and emergency services for American citizens.

The Bureau of Consular Affairs/Passport Office U.S. Passports

The Bureau of Consular Affairs is a fee-based agency; therefore, the Passport Office should continue to operate normally during a shutdown. However, some those passport offices that are located in federal buildings, which themselves may have to shut down, restricting access to those passport offices.

Social Security Administration

While The Social Security Administration (SSA) is expected to remain open during a shutdown, it will not accept or processing Social Security Number (SSN) applications. Although an employee may begin work without a social security number, the lack of an SSN could affect the individual’s ability to secure a U.S. driver’s license, open a bank account, secure credit or obtain other benefits.

State Department of Motor Vehicle Agencies

Although driver’s license and state identification cards are issued by state governments, applications by foreign nationals could be delayed during the shutdown because local agencies must access a federal database to verify the foreign national’s immigration status before it may issue a driver’s license or identification card. This database, known as SAVE, could be suspended during a shutdown.


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 Morristown, 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.

U.S. PassportFox partner Matthew D. Lee has published a client alert warning that individuals who owe more than $51,000 in back taxes are now at risk of losing their U.S. passports. This has arisen under a new law requiring the Internal Revenue Service to notify the State Department of taxpayers with “seriously delinquent tax debts.”

This month the IRS will begin the process of certifying delinquent taxpayers to the State Department, which is required by law to deny passport applications or renewals filed by such individuals, and in some instances revoke existing passports. The IRS estimates that 270,000 individuals currently meet the criteria for certification to the State Department, and expects to certify an initial group this month, with additional certifications to follow weekly throughout 2018.

At-risk individuals concerned about losing their passports must take immediate steps to address their outstanding tax liabilities, by either paying such debt in full or seeking to negotiate a collection alternative such as an installment agreement or offer-in-compromise.

You can read Matt’s full Alert on the Fox Rothschild website.

On January 9, 2018, U.S. District Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California granted an injunction that resulted in provisional relief for current DACA recipients by allowing them to renew their DACA benefits which include employment authorization and deferred action from removal. USCIS recently posted on its website that due to the federal court order, the agency has resumed accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under DACA. USCIS indicates that as of now, the DACA policy will be operated on the terms in place before it was rescinded on September 5, 2017.

Individuals previously granted deferred action under DACA may file for renewal. USCIS is not accepting requests from individuals who were never granted DACA before. USCIS also announced that the government will not accept or approve advance parole requests from DACA recipients.

In the FAQ previously generated by USCIS, applicants were strongly encouraged to file a renewal request within the recommended 150-120 day filing period. Many individuals have already entered this period and were previously unable to file the renewal based on the September 5, 2017 rescission. USCIS indicates in this guidance that requests received sooner than 150 days in advance will be accepted, however, this may cause less time for an extension.

If your DACA is up for renewal, an application must be filed promptly. Given the concern over whether additional court action will result in DACA being rescinded again, consideration should be made to file an application for renewal pre-emptively based on USCIS guidance for renewal. If your status runs out in more than 150 days it would be worth discussing renewal with an immigration attorney.

UPDATE: The Department of Justice has appealed the decision.  Keep posted for further information.

Today, January 8, 2018, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen M. Nielsen, announced her determination that termination of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for El Salvador was required pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act.  To allow for an orderly transition, she has determined to delay the termination for 18 months, which means the designation will terminate on Sept. 9, 2019.

According to the notification published today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) states that the decision to terminate TPS for El Salvador was made after a review of the disaster-related conditions upon which the country’s original designation was based and an assessment of whether those originating conditions continue to exist as required by statute.  The notice explains that the Secretary determined that the original conditions caused by the 2001 earthquakes no longer exist and, therefore, under the applicable statute, the current TPS designation must be terminated.

The Department of Homeland Security conducted extensive outreach to Salvadoran communities throughout the country and made its decision based upon careful consideration of available information, including recommendations received as part of an inter-agency consultation process.  This includes, but is not limited to, community forums on TPS, panel discussions with Salvadoran community organizers, stakeholder teleconferences, regular meetings with TPS beneficiaries, news releases to the Salvadoran community, meetings with Salvadoran government officials, meetings at local churches, and listening sessions.  The Secretary met recently with the El Salvadorian Foreign Minister and Ambassador to the United States, and spoke with President Sánchez Cerén.

Following the 2001 earthquake, Salvadorians were granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which has been renewed every 18 months since then.  According to the DHS, many reconstruction projects in El Salvador have now been completed, including the rebuilding or repair of schools, hospitals and homes damaged by the earthquakes, and money has been provided for water and sanitation and to repair earthquake damaged roads and other infrastructure such that that substantial disruption of living conditions caused by the earthquake no longer exist. The DHS statement also noted that the U.S. government has deported more than 39,000 Salvadorans in the past two years, demonstrating, it said, “that the temporary inability of El Salvador to adequately return their nationals after the earthquake has been addressed.”

To allow for an orderly transition, the effective date of the termination of TPS for El Salvador will be delayed 18 months (until September 19, 2019) to provide time for individuals with TPS to arrange for their departure or to seek an alternative lawful immigration status in the United States, if eligible.

Estimates differ for exactly how many immigrants the decision will affect. DHS officials said 262,500 Salvadorans have been granted TPS permits, but activists and experts have put the number of Salvadorans who could lose protections closer to 200,000, noting that official statistics likely include people who are no longer in the program because their immigration status has changed or they have left the United States. Immigrant advocates, Salvadoran government officials and many others had implored Nielsen to extend the TPS designation, citing the country’s horrific gang violence and the potentially destabilizing effect of so many people being sent home. Others urged her to consider the approximately 190,000 U.S.-born children of Salvadoran TPS recipients. Their parents must now decide whether to break up their families, take their entire families back to El Salvador, or stay in the United States and risk deportation.

Senior DHS officials told reporters Monday that the families would have to make that decision, and that the effect on American businesses, among other potential consequences of the TPS decision, were not part of Nielsen’s decision-making process. DHS state that it is up to Congress to determine a remedy.  “Only Congress can legislate a permanent solution addressing the lack of an enduring lawful immigration status of those currently protected by TPS who have lived and worked in the United States for many years,” the DHS statement read. “The 18-month delayed termination will allow Congress time to craft a potential legislative solution.”

Trump administration officials have repeatedly said they considered the TPS program an example of American immigration policy gone awry, noting that when Congress created the designation in 1990, its purpose was to provide “temporary” protection from deportation following a natural disaster, armed conflict or other calamity.

Salvadorans with TPS will be required to re-register for TPS and apply for Employment Authorization Documents in order to legally work in the United States until the termination of El Salvador’s TPS designation becomes effective on Sept. 9, 2019.  The re-registration period is announced through a Federal Register notice.

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 Morristown, 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 American Competitiveness in the Twenty First Century Act of 2000 (AC21) has provisions that extend H-1B visas beyond the 6-year limit for those in the process of becoming US lawful permanent residents.  AC21’s Section 106(a) allows H-1B extensions in 1-year increments beyond the 6-year limit if a labor certification, immigrant visa petition (I-140) or employment-based adjustment of status (I-485) application was filed more than 365 days prior to the expiration of the H-1B status. Section 104(c) of the statute allows 3-year extensions for those whose I-140 has been approved and whose priority date precludes the filing of an adjustment of status application.

 Yesterday, January 3, the Times of India ran an article entitled:  “Trump administration considers proposal that may send back more than 500,000 Indian tech workers.” The article cites rumors that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)  is considering a change in its interpretation of Section 104(c).  AC21 Section 104(c) is being used by employers of hundreds of thousands of Indian tech workers, as well as of other nonimmigrant workers caught in the priority date backlog, to extend their lawful stay so that they may continue to work  in the US while they wait to file the final set of paperwork in their green card applications.  Without the ability to extend their H-1B visas, many could be required to leave…preventing that is the reason Congress passed AC21 into law. Yet, the rumors reported in the Times of India and other news outlets are that the current administration is looking to reinterpret language in Section 104(c) which uses the words “may grant” rather than “shall grant” in order to discontinue the H-1B extensions in support of President Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” initiative. 

 The reported rumors have caused a huge stir.  Interpretations of AC21, some of which predate USCIS’ existence, have not been codified by regulation, but can’t change by rumor.  The interpretation can be formalized, so this is an issue to watch closely.  There haven’t been any official government pronouncements that 500,000 Indian tech workers are being sent back home.  One has to wonder how doing so would enhance the competitiveness of American employers in the 21st century. 


CU.S. Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.ongress has passed a stopgap spending bill which will extend the EB-5 Regional Center Program through January 19, 2018 without change.  It is expected President Trump will sign the bill today, thereby averting a government shutdown. Without the stopgap spending bill, the EB-5 Program was otherwise due to expire tonight. We will be closely following activity on Capitol Hill as efforts towards EB-5 reform continue.

U.S. Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.The EB-5 Program has been extended through December 22, 2017.  The Program was extended as part of a continuing resolution (CR) funding the federal government through December 22, 2017, thus preventing a government shutdown.

There are no changes to any federal programs with this two-week extension which is welcome news for EB-5 industry stakeholders.