The UK could leave the EU in 6 weeks, or there may be another delay like the one we saw in April. Brexit watchers have likened the UK to a cat that can’t decide if it wants to be in or out and just sits in the doorway. This has an impact on EU citizens living in the UK who are waiting to see exactly what their status will be post-Brexit. The UK has announced a set of policies that will apply starting on October 31, but much still depends on whether the UK and EU reach a deal. A lot is still up in the air.
Congress created temporary protected status (TPS) as part of the Immigration Act of 1990. TPS allows qualifying persons inside the United States to remain and work lawfully until conditions in their home countries improve following civil war, natural disaster or similar extraordinary situations. DHS has the discretion to determine when the circumstances in a particular country merit TPS designation. Nationals of those countries already present in the United States can apply for TPS, along with permission to work lawfully. TPS is usually granted in 6, 12, or 18 month increments, and can be renewed. Haiti received the most recent TPS designation for a natural disaster, following the 2010 earthquake that devastated the island nation.
In 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it will terminate the temporary protected status (TPS) program for nationals of El Salvador on September 9, 2019. Employment authorization documents (EADs) held by qualifying individuals that expired on March 9, 2018, were automatically extended through September 5, 2018, providing applicants time to apply for new EADs valid through the termination date. However, in late 2018, a federal court judge in California issued a preliminary injunction preventing the administration from ending the TPS program for El Salvador and other countries. At that time, DHS extended the EADs until September 9, 2019. In light of that ruling, TPS beneficiaries holding EADS set to expire on September 9, 2019, will remain valid until January 2, 2020. Because this is an automatic extension, TPS beneficiaries are not required to apply for new EADs. Employers can update the re-verification section of the I-9s by using a copy of the Federal Register notice found at this link.
DHS is expected to issue a subsequent notice prior to January 2, 2020, that will describe the steps DHS will take after that date if continued compliance with the preliminary injunction is necessary. Please check back for updates as we approach January 2, 2020.
As discussed in last week’s post, obtaining US citizenship is the ultimate goal for many foreign nationals in the US who often wait years for a green card and then wait a few more years to apply for citizenship through naturalization. But naturalization is not the only way to obtain citizenship. A major source of data on citizenship laws, GlobalCit’s Global Database on Modes of Acquisition of Citizenship available from the Global Citizenship Observatory has identified 30 different modes of acquisition of citizenship, 10 of which are available under US law through more than 15 different sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Obtaining US citizenship is the ultimate goal of many foreign nationals in the United States. Naturalization is US citizenship. It provides security and an end to endless waiting and uncertainty. Or it used to be. The current administration has made denaturalizing individuals who obtained naturalization through fraud a priority. The scope of US Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) denaturalization efforts remains to be seen; however, with heightened scrutiny, including revising the citizenship test, it is important to remember the basics of naturalizing in the US to ensure the best outcome for individuals and employers.
In 2018, the US received approximately 740,000 visitors a week. While that number looks big, when compared to the US population of 372 million, it is relatively small, equal to only .2 percent of the population. In stark contrast, last week Saudi Arabia, a country of about 33 million people, hosted about 140,000 international visitors for the annual Hajj pilgrimage, temporarily increasing its population by 4 percent.
In what seems to be a continuing effort to limit legal immigration, DHS issued a final rule that reinterprets “public charge” as a ground of inadmissibility. The new interpretation is scheduled to take effect October 15, 2019, but has already been challenged in several federal courts, which may delay the effective date.
The Visa Bulletin is released monthly by the Department of State and is used to determine when a sponsored foreign national can submit the final step of the green card process, or if already pending, when the final step can be adjudicated.
Below is a summary of the September Visa Bulletin, including Final Action Dates and changes from the previous month.
- China: EB-1 retrogresses more than two years to January 1, 2014; EB-2 stalls at January 1, 2017; and EB-3 falls back more than two years to January 1, 2014
- India: EB-1 becomes unavailable for the first time ever (excluding the aftermath of the visa fiasco of August 2007); EB-2 creeps forward six days to May 8, 2009; and EB-3 falls back six months to July 1, 2005
- All Other Countries (including the Philippines): EB-1 remains backlogged, but advances over one year to October 1, 2017; EB-2 moves forward one year to January 1, 2018; and EB-3 stalls at July 1, 2016
USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli announced today, via Twitter, that USCIS will close all but seven of its international field offices, leaving only the offices in Beijing, Guanghzou, Guatemala City, Mexico City, Nairobi, New Delhi and San Salvador to service the many US citizens and permanent residents who reside abroad. USCIS has also made the official announcement on their website. The decision leaves the entire continents of South America and Europe without a USCIS office. Although not ideal, this announcement still marks a welcome change from USCIS’s prior announcement, in March 2019, by then-Director Francis Cissna that all twenty international offices would be closed and their workload shifted to domestic offices.
On Tuesday, July 30, 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a settlement agreement with United General Bakery, Inc. based in Phoenix, Arizona. The agreement resolved a DOJ investigation into whether the company discriminated against authorized workers based on their citizenship status when verifying their work authorization in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).