Month: June 2016

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OPT Extensions

Q&A of the Day: Can I Extend My 17 Month Stem Opt To 24 Months?

Yes, if you currently hold a STEM Employment Authorization Card you may apply to extend it for an additional 7 months, if:

  • You file when you have at least 150 days remaining on your current STEM EAD
  • You file by August 8, 2016

Your employer will need to complete the new I-93 form outlining a training plan and you will need to work with your DSO to prepare the filing.

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Colorado Repeals Employment Verification Law

Effective August 10, 2016, Colorado employers will no longer have to complete the state affirmation verifying employment authorization of new employees.  Similarly, they will no longer be required to keep a new employee’s identity and employment authorization document(s).  Governor  Hickenlooper recently signed into law a provision that repeals the verification requirements passed in 2006 during a special legislative session.

Employers are reminded that the verification law remains in place until August 10, 2016 so until then they must continue to complete the Colorado affirmation and retain documents.  Additionally, the law does not address whether employers are required to retain the legally completed affirmations and retained documents subsequent to August 10, 2016.  The conservative approach would be to retain them for the duration of the employee’s tenure as was originally required.

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Equally Divided Supreme Court in United States v. Texas Affirms Injunction of DAPA Program

The Supreme Court has finally announced its decision on the controversial case United States v. Texas (No. 15-674), and in effect, on the future of the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program as well. This program was an attempt by the President, through executive action, to shield close to five million undocumented immigrants from deportation, while simultaneously allowing them to legally work, similar to the administration’s previous program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). In a single statement per curium opinion however, the Court notes that the Fifth Circuit’s judgement–ordering an injunction of DACA’s expansion and DAPA’s launch–is “affirmed by an equally divided Court.” While the 4 to 4 deadlock means the injunction will remain in place, the precedential value of this decision going forward on jurisdictions outside of the Fifth Circuit is negligible at best, and ambiguous at worst. Whatever the ruling’s effect on the president’s authority to act unilaterally, it seems assured that President Obama’s successor will inherit the task of reworking the nation’s immigration system.

The President made a brief statement to press in response to the Court’s decision, available here.

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A New Parole Program for Caregiver Family Members of Filipino-American WWII Veterans

The Department of Homeland Security is developing a new parole program to allow eligible family members of Filipino and Filipino-American World War II veterans to bypass extensive waiting periods and enter the United States to provide much-needed care and support for their aging veteran family members in the United States.

Over 260,000 Filipino soldiers fought for the United States during World War II. Approximately 26,000 of these veterans became U.S. citizens following the war, and an estimated 6,000 Filipino-American WWII veterans still reside in the United States today. This ageing population increasingly requires home health care and assistance, and many wish to spend time with their family members during their final days. Unfortunately, due to statutory visa caps and administrative backlogs, family members of Filipino-Americans must wait decades to receive a visa to enter the United States and reunite with family members. A recent NPR program spoke with some of these veterans as well as their advocates about their experiences following WWII and the challenges they face without family members to help care for them.

Under the new parole program, USCIS would be authorized to permit these family members to enter the country for a temporary period of time to care for their veteran family members. These issuances of parole would be made by USCIS on a case-by-case basis, based on humanitarian concerns and significant public benefits. The parole program was proposed as part of President Obama’s 2014 executive actions on immigration, and was detailed in the 2015 White House report, Modernizing and Streamlining Our Legal Immigration System for the 21st Century. Although the agency has not begun accepting applications, USCIS expects the first group of parolees to enter the United States by the end of this year.

 

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New Colorado Law Cracks Down on Notario Fraud

The Colorado Legislature recently passed a bill to protect immigrants and other Colorado residents from notario fraud. The Immigration Consultants Deceptive Trade Practice bill, HB16-1391, would prohibit deceptive practices among nonattorneys who provide immigration services. The bill targets notarios who fraudulently present themselves as legal representatives or attorneys for compensation. In many Spanish-speaking countries, a “notario” is an attorney or a highly-trained legal specialist. In the United States, however, a “notary public” is able to certify the authenticity of documents, but is not trained or licensed to provide legal assistance or represent individuals in court. Individuals who present themselves as notarios are able to use this mistranslation to take advantage of vulnerable immigrant populations, offering to provide immigration status, relief, or benefits to people regardless of their eligibility. This deception can carry serious, life-changing consequences. It costs immigrants thousands of dollars in charges and filing fees, prevents them from receiving immigration status, relief, or benefits in the future, and can lead to deportation and permanent bars on admission into the United States. Governor Hickenlooper is expected to sign the bill into law in the near future.

Colorado Public Radio recently spoke with the bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Dan Pabon, along with victims of notario fraud. The full interview can be found here.

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