Month: August 2017

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USCIS To Require In-Person Interviews for More Permanent Resident Applications

Beginning October 1, USCIS will expand the in-person interview requirement to include two new categories of permanent resident applications. The in-person interview requirement will extend to include applicants filing for employment-based adjustment of status, as well as refugee and asylee relative petitions for beneficiaries already in the United States. Notably, both categories are applicants who are physically present in the United States, having already passed comprehensive background checks and U.S. Customs and Border Protection screening.

The expanded interview requirement is an effort to implement President Trump’s Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” which suspended the U.S. refugee program, banned entry into the U.S. for foreign nationals of six predominantly-Muslim countries, and called for increased scrutiny in background checks for all immigration programs. USCIS states that although the interview requirement will only extend to two new categories for now, the agency plans an incremental expansion to include other types of immigration benefits in the future.

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Change in Policy Regarding Travel on Advance Parole

In an unannounced dramatic change in policy, USCIS has changed how it is handling advance parole applications for adjustment applicants in H or L status.

Previously those applicants with H or L status could freely travel after their adjustment of status application was filed and their application for advance parole was pending with USCIS. Such individuals would return to the U.S. in H or L status and then their advance parole travel document would be approved so that on their next trip they could use advance parole to travel internationally.

USCIS has changed its policy. Adjustment of status applicants may continue to travel if they have H or L status.  However, any adjustment of status applicant who travels while the advance parole application is pending at USCIS will have the advance parole application denied.  Therefore, if an adjustment of status applicant wishes to travel on advance parole, he or she must apply for advance parole and wait until it is approved before leaving the United States.  As always, it is required that the person traveling on advance parole return to the United States during the validity period of the advance parole.

Stated another way, adjustment of status applicants in H or L status have the following options regarding travel:

  • Travel in H or L status while the adjustment of status application is pending; or
  • Apply for advance parole understanding that you cannot travel until your advance parole is approved. Were you to travel on your H or L visa while your advance parole application remains pending, the advance parole would be denied.
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(Another) New Form I-9 Released

As of September 18, 2017, employers must use a revised Form I-9 (rev. 7/17/17) to verify new employee work eligibility.  The revised document is available here: You will also find a copy attached, with the changes highlighted.

This most recent revision was released just six months after employers were required to begin using the 11/14/16 version of the form. We have no idea why USCIS initiated the change.  The good news is that the new form is very similar to the old form.  The bad news is that they both have the same expiration date, so you must pay close attention to the revision date in the bottom left corner to ensure you are using the correct Form I-9.  The new version  date is 07/17/17.

Can I keep using the old form?

No, beginning September 17, 2017, employers must use the new form for any new hires; however, current employees do not need to complete new forms.  Keep the forms you already have for current employees and use the new form for new hires.

What has changed?

The list of acceptable documents to establish employment authorization (“List C”) has been revised and reorganized. In addition, the Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240) has been added to that list.  These changes have been highlighted in the attached I-9 form.

Additionally, there are minor revisions to the instructions although they should not affect employer practices. The Handbook for Employers was also revised.  You can obtain the latest version at:

How long do I keep the form?

The required retention period remains unchanged. Employers must keep the form for the later of three years after date of hire or one year after date of termination.

Feel free to give us a call if you have any questions about the Form I-9 or work eligibility verification.

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The RAISE Act – Proposed Bill in the Senate

On February 13, 2017, the RAISE Act (Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment) was introduced in the Senate. In August, 2017, President Trump publicly backed a new, modified version the bill.

The RAISE Act proposes a number of changes to current immigration policy. You can find a more detailed description of the adjustments here. Below is a summary of some of the key provisions.

First, the RAISE Act would reduce the number of legal permanent resident immigrants by 50% over the next 10 years.

The RAISE Act would also change the current visa application system, turning it into a “merit-based” immigration system. The RAISE Act would institute a points-based system considering different factors, such age, education, and English-language ability. This type of system is used in Canada and Australia.

Additionally, the RAISE Act would alter the current preference system set up for family-based immigration. It would eliminate the preference for the extended and adult family members of U.S. residents. Preference would continue to be given to spouses and children under the age of 18.

Currently, there is a diversity visa program that provides visas for a certain number of immigrants who lack family or employment-based immigration options. Out of the millions of people that apply to the lottery system, 50,000 are chosen and granted visas. The RAISE Act would eliminate this program.

The RAISE Act would also cut the number of refugees allowed annually from 110,000 to 50,000.

The RAISE Act does not, however, make any changes to seasonal visas for guest workers.

To become law, the RAISE Act will have to be passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives. During the review process, changes may be made to the bill. If both the Senate and the House pass the RAISE Act, President Trump can then sign the final version into law.

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Which States Offer Tuition Benefits for Immigrants

As of July 21, 2017, twenty-one states offer in-state tuition to certain undocumented immigrant students through legislative action at the state level or through the universities themselves. Most require that students attend and graduate from state high schools, be accepted to a state university, and promise to apply for legal student when eligible. Some of these states also allow undocumented student to apply for financial aid. There has, however, been considerable pushback in certain states from lawmakers who seek to revoke the in-state tuition policies, including Texas and Connecticut. In fact, in 2011, Wisconsin revoked its in-state tuition policy for undocumented immigrants in 2011.

On the other side of the coin, six states have enacted legislation that explicitly barred undocumented students from in-state tuition benefits (as of 2015). Arizona is one of those states. In 2006, voters enacted Proposition 300 which prohibits public benefits for anyone living in Arizona without legal status. In 2015, though, a trial court judge ruled that undocumented students who were granted deferred action (DACA recipients) were considered “legally present” and therefore qualified for state benefits. On June 20, 2017, however, the Arizona Court of Appeals overturned the trial judge’s decision and found that DACA recipients are not automatically eligible for the benefit of in-state tuition. Proposition 300 therefore continues to bar them from qualifying for in-state tuition. 

You can find a color-coded map of the states that do and do not offer tuition benefits for undocumented immigrants here (as of 2015), along with a list of enacted bills related to immigrant tuition benefits.

Read about debate over undocumented student tuition here.