The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a recent suspension of the Department of Homeland Security’s public charge rule during the COVID-19 pandemic only applies within the Second Circuit, which includes the states of Vermont, Connecticut, and New York. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may still enforce the public charge rule in every other US state and the District of Columbia. This ruling does not impact the Department of State (DOS), which is still barred from implementing their public charge rule nationwide based on a separate lawsuit, Make the Road New York, et a. v. DOS. While each agency’s public charge rule varies, both penalize foreign nationals who use certain public benefits.
Under the Trump Administration, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is closely scrutinizing visa petitions and issuing Requests for Evidence (RFEs) that can seem templated and randomized. L-1 intracompany transferee visas are targeted the most, with high rates of denial and over 60% of L-1 petitions receiving RFEs. Work with an experienced immigration attorney to overcome these barriers and effectively sponsor your L-1 employees.
The Department of State (DOS) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are temporarily restrained from enforcing public charge rules during the COVID-19 national health emergency, based on a ruling by Judge George Daniels of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York on July 29, 2020. This order is effective nationwide, at any time when there is a national health emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Department of Homeland Security has clarified that new or initial F and M students may not engage in fully online learning for Fall 2020. The US Department of State will not issue new visas to these students, and US Customs and Border Protection will not admit them into the country. Foreign nationals who have been granted a change of status to an F or M visa may not be permitted to engage in fully online studies and may violate their status if they do so in Fall 2020.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Acting Director Joseph Edlow has confirmed that the agency will postpone furloughs of more than 13,000 of its workers through August 31, 2020. Previously, the furlough was set for August 3. USCIS is hoping that this delay will give Congress enough time to approve the additional funding needed to help the agency avoid furloughing their staff.
On July 6, 2020, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that F and M student visa holders will no longer be eligible for valid nonimmigrant status if they are enrolled in fully online courses for the fall 2020 semester.
On June 4, 2020, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin reopening some field offices and application support centers (ASCs) to the public and resume non-emergency face-to-face services. USCIS offices were temporarily closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
USCIS will follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines. They will establish measures to protect their workforce and the public when facilities reopen.
Effective March 20, 2020, Premium Processing has been suspended for ALL types of Form I-129 petitions (H/L/O/R/TN etc.) and I-140 petitions, including H-1B cap petitions. This is a very important development affecting petitioners who use the premium program. The Premium Processing program is an important source of revenue for the USCIS as petitioners paid nearly $545 million in premium processing fees during FY-2019.