DHS Extends TPS for South Sudan

DHS announced that it is extending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nationals of South Sudan who already hold TPS. TPS allows qualifying individuals to remain and work lawfully in the United States until conditions in their home countries improve. The new extension allows qualifying individuals from South Sudan to reapply for TPS and work authorization that will be valid until November 2, 2017. The re-registration period is now open and ends on March 25, 2016. Employment authorization documents held by qualifying individuals already set to expire on May 2, 2016 (and endorsed “A-12” or “C-19” under “category”), are automatically extended for an additional six months, through November 2, 2016. Employers can rely on the DHS announcement or Federal Register Notice for I-9 employment verification and reverification purposes.

DHS to Publish Long-Awaited Regulations on AC21 and ACWIA

After more than 15 years since the statutes were enacted, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will finally publish its proposed regulations implementing the American Competitiveness in the Twenty‑First Century Act of 2000, known as “AC21,” and the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998, known as “ACWIA.”

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Appropriations Act Makes Immediate Changes to Visa Waiver Program

When President Obama signed the omnibus appropriations act on December 18, 2015, he not only funded the federal government through Fiscal Year 2016, but also enacted the ”Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act,” which was passed by the House in early December and incorporated into the appropriations bill.

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State Department to Eliminate Addition of Pages to US Passports

Due to security concerns and international passport standards, as of January 1, 2016, US passport holders running out of blank pages in their passports will no longer be able to apply to the State Department to add blank pages.  Individuals will need to apply for new passports by mail.  In addition to the standard 28-page passport, the State Department now offers a 52-page passport.  Frequent international travelers may wish to opt for the 52-page passport to avoid any delays that may occur during the passport renewal process.

UPDATED: CPB Now Offers Email Addresses for “I-94 Correction Requests” at Some Deferred Inspection Sites

This information updates our original post of April 9, 2015.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”), which controls admission of travelers to the United States, maintains more than 70 “Deferred Inspection” offices where travelers may request correction of  I-94 Arrival Records they believe were issued incorrectly.

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State Department Diversity Visa Lottery Begins October 1, 2015

The State Department registration period for the Congressionally mandated 2017 Diversity Visa (DV) lottery is underway. The DV lottery allows nationals from certain countries to apply for immigrant visas (“green cards”) outside of the normal immigrant visa process. Individuals already being sponsored for immigrant visas by family members or employers may participate as well. Requirements include being a national of an eligible country (although an applicant may qualify based on his or her spouse’s nationality) and high school education or work experience. The online registration period begins Thursday, October 1, 2015, at noon EST, and ends on Tuesday, November 3, 2015, at noon EST. Complete eligibility requirements and filing instructions can be found here.

No Consular Services Will Be Available at Any U.S. Embassy or Consulate Worldwide on Friday, October 9, 2015

The U.S. Department of State has announced it will suspend all consular services, worldwide, on Friday, October 9, 2015, due to a consular systems upgrade. Application Service Centers (ASCs) that provide biometrics and fingerprinting services to U.S. consulates will also close that day. Appointments that have already been scheduled for that day will be rescheduled. Each individual consular post will provide instructions for expedited or emergency rescheduling on its website.

UPDATE: New Adjustment of Status Filing Procedures

In response to the Obama Administration’s recommendations to speed-up the backlogged permanent residence process, the State Department issued a revamped monthly Visa Bulletin.  The new Bulletin contains charts for employment- and family-based cases that can be approved (similar to the previous charts), and new charts showing when applicants can file their adjustment of status applications.  Those filing based on the latter charts will reap the benefits of filing adjustment of status applications (interim work and travel permission, as well as immigrant visa petition (I-140) portability), even though their applications will be held until the backlog clears and their applications can be adjudicated.

This development is welcome news to those waiting many years to file their adjustment of status applications.

UPDATE:  On September 25, 2015, the State Department announced that following conversations with the USCIS, the adjustment of status filing dates issued on September 9, 2015, have been revised.  The employment-based categories that are affected are: EB-2 China (changed from 05/01/2014, to 01/01/2013); EB-2 India (changed from 07/01/2011, to 07/01/2009); and EB-3 Philippines (changed from 01/01/2015, to 01/01/2010).  These changes mean that some who planned to file their adjustment of status applications on October 1, 2015, will not be able to do so until their priority dates are current for filing purposes.

DHS Designates Yemen for TPS

DHS announced that it has designated Yemen for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for a period of 18 months. TPS allows qualifying individuals to remain and work lawfully in the United States until conditions in their home countries improve. The new designation allows qualifying individuals from Yemen to apply for TPS and work authorization as of September 3, 2015.  The 180-day registration period is open through March 1, 2016.   The effective period of Yemen TPS expires on March 3, 2017. Prior to the expiration, DHS will decide whether to extend it for another 18 months, and will provide instructions for re-registering and renewing employment authorization documents at that time.

DHS Extends TPS for Haiti

DHS announced that it is extending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nationals of Haiti who already hold TPS. TPS allows qualifying individuals to remain and work lawfully in the United States until conditions in their home countries improve. The new extension allows qualifying individuals from Haiti to reapply for TPS and work authorization that will be valid until July 22, 2017. The re-registration period is now open and ends on October 26, 2015. Employment authorization documents held by qualifying individuals already set to expire on January 22, 2016 (and endorsed “A-12” or “C-19” under “category”), are automatically extended for an additional six months, through July 22, 2016. Employers can rely on the DHS announcement or Federal Register Notice for I-9 employment verification and reverification purposes.

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