I hope this email finds you all well and enjoying the summer. Siskind Susser continues to operate 90% remotely with a few people in the physical office each day.
As you recall, on June 22nd President Trump issued a proclamation suspending the issuance of H, L and J visas through the end of the calendar year. This primarily applied to foreign nationals outside the US at that time without valid visas. The Proclamation provided for certain “national interest” exemptions. Recently, the State Department issued guidance to consular officers on the criteria for national interest exceptions. Attached is a summary of the criteria for each visa classification. This guidance assumes that consulates are open and issuing visas which is not the case yet in most countries. Until consulates are back to normal, the first challenge is to get a visa interview and the second to get the visa issued pursuant to this guidance. We are starting to see a few consulates in western Europe granting appointments.
Today, the State Department temporarily expanded the ability of consular officers to waive the in-person interview requirement for individuals applying for a visa in the same classification providing the previous visa expired within the last 24 months. This is in effect through 12/31/2020 to help the consulates limit the number of people that need to enter the building. This will be implemented on a post-by-post basis so we will keep our eye on how it rolls out but it should prove helpful.
USCIS issued guidance for major changes to the DACA program which appear to violate a Supreme Court decision and several federal court orders. Litigation challenging these changes is ongoing, and we encourage DACA beneficiaries and new applicants to consult an attorney. As previously announced, USCIS confirmed it will reject DACA applications from new applicants, will deny most Advance Parole requests for DACA, and will issue renewals for existing DACA recipients for only a year at a time rather than for two years. The guidance also includes a new announcement that DACA beneficiaries will not be allowed to file renewal applications more than 150 days before expiration. While USCIS has recently processed most DACA renewals in less than 150 days, we had still recommended filing for renewal earlier because DACA recipients risk of a gap in work authorization if processing slows down. DACA work authorization does not benefit from automatic extension upon filing of a renewal application.
Earlier this year, USCIS fired the contractor that produced work permits and permanent resident cards, and began to produce them internally. This led to a reported backlog of 75,000 EAD cards and 30,000 green cards which had been approved but not produced. Last week USCIS settled a lawsuit by agreeing to allow employees to present their I-765 approval notices (I-797A Notice of Action) as a List C document for I-9 compliance until 12/1/2020.
Please feel free to forward this email with the attachment to your foreign nationals as I know they continue to have many questions about their eligibility to get a new visa in the coming months.
Siskind Susser PC-Immigration Lawyers
To protect our clients, staff, attorneys and families from COVID-19, Siskind Susser is fully operational remotely with only limited staff in the office. The office is closed to the public and we are holding meetings by phone or video chat. The most up-to-date information on COVID-19 and its effects on immigration can be found at www.visalaw.com.