In this issue
- Hodkinson Law Group Launches Our Updated Website
- USCIS Proposes Substantial Fee Increases
- ESTA Website Updates
- New EB-5 Regulations Take Effect, Program Extended Through December 20
- USCIS Indicates H-1B Registration Tool Must Pass Testing to Take Effect in 2020
- Trump Administration Attempts Bar on Immigrants Lacking Health Insurance, but Judge Issues TRO
- New Publications and Items of Interest
Hodkinson Law Group Launches Our Updated Website
USCIS Proposes Substantial Fee Increases
On November 14th, USCIS published its proposed Fee Increase Regulation and, to no one's surprise, fees are increasing dramatically in a number of categories and the Regulation also contains procedural changes to application and petition processing that go beyond mere increases in processing fees. One major change is that the fee for Adjustment of Status which currently totals $1,225 including the fees for biometrics, travel and work authorization will increase by $970 to a total of $2,195 because the fees for the travel and work authorization will be charged separately under the proposed rule. In addition, the reduced fee for children under 14 has been eliminated. The fee for Naturalization will also increase substantially. The biometrics fee of $85 will go away but the increases in application fees where biometrics are normally collected (or not collected in some cases) more than make up this difference. For petitioners who rely on premium processing, there is also a procedural change – under the proposed rule, premium processing will be 15 business days and not 15 calendar days.
ESTA Website Updates
Customs and Border Protection has announced that it is updating its ESTA website. Among the changes are a feature allowing applications to be saved for up to seven days before being submitted.
New EB-5 Regulations Take Effect, Program Extended Through December 20
In July 2019, USCIS announced and published new EB-5 regulations that nearly doubled minimum investment amounts, dramatically changed TEAs designations, changed priority date retention. These new regulations took effect on 22 November 2019.
USCIS Indicates H-1B Registration Tool Must Pass Testing to Take Effect in 2020
Ken Cuccinelli, Acting Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced during a speech at SHRM's Global Mobility and Immigration Symposium in Washington D.C. that the new H-1B online cap registration tool must demonstrate its ability through the testing phase before it can be in place before the beginning of the next filing season early next year. The new H-1B cap registration program would require employers seeking to file H-1B cap cases to register online in order to enter the H-1B lottery. Employers would then be allowed to file full petitions exclusively for registrations selected in the lottery, which would have to be filed with USCIS during a period of at least 90 days. A $10 processing fee is applicable to all H-1B petitions at the time of submission. The primary concern is the system's ability to manage the volume that it is expected to face; a legitimate concern that could result in the program being removed altogether.
Trump Administration Attempts Bar on Immigrants Lacking Health Insurance, but Judge Issues TRO
In early October, Donald Trump issued a proclamation blocking the admission of individuals applying for immigrant visas who cannot demonstrate their ability to acquire health insurance within 30 days of their entrance into the United States. Any applicants who receive an immigrant visa after the order was to go into effect on November 3rd would need to demonstrate when applying for a visa that within 30 days of entering the United States, they would have insurance in place. Individuals who were issued immigrant visas prior to November 3rd but entering after that date are not covered by the proclamation.
Under the executive action, approved health insurance coverage includes coverage under any of the following plans:
- an employer-sponsored plan, including a retiree plan, association health plan, and coverage provided by the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985;
- an unsubsidized health plan offered in the individual market within a State;
- a short-term limited duration health policy effective for a minimum of 364 days — or until the beginning of planned, extended travel outside the United States;
- a catastrophic plan;
- a family member's plan;
- a medical plan under chapter 55 of title 10, United States Code, including coverage under the TRICARE program;
- a visitor health insurance plan that provides adequate coverage for medical care for a minimum of 364 days — or until the beginning of planned, extended travel outside the United States;
- a medical plan under the Medicare program; or
- any other health plan that provides adequate coverage for medical care as determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services or his designee.
For individuals over the age of 18, Medicaid is not considered acceptable health insurance coverage.
The Trump Administration is basing the action on Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act which permits the President to bar the entry of people deemed to be detrimental to the interests of the United States. This is the section of the law used to justify the travel ban. Critics are already arguing that extending this provision beyond physical security issues is impermissible and a court challenge is expected soon.
A Federal Judge has issued a Temporary Restraining Order on the policy, which prevents its implementation for at least 28 days as of its issuance on November 2.
New Publications and Items of Interest
Advisories and tips:
- Community Advisory: Social Media, Criminalization, and Immigration has been published by the National Lawyers Guild's National Immigration Project. This advisory summarizes ways in which immigration agents may use social media against those in removal proceedings or involved in criminal cases.
- How to safeguard your data from searches at the border is the topic of several recent articles and blogs. See examples here and here.
- Listings and links to cases challenging executive orders, and related available pleadings
Government Agency Links
Follow these links to access current processing times of the USCIS Service Centers and the Department of Labor, or the Department of State's latest Visa Bulletin with the most recent cut-off dates for visa numbers: