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Immigration News

USCIS Now Accepting DACA Applications

Update: Jan. 13, 2018

In response to a federal court order, USCIS has resumed accepting applications to renew Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

If you were previously granted DACA, you are now eligible to request renewal. USCIS is NOT accepting initial applications, therefore, individuals who did not have DACA in the past are not eligible to file.

Please note, USCIS has not changed its policy with regard to advance parole for DACA recipients. USCIS will not accept or approve advance parole applications from DACA recipients.

Please immediately contact our Williamson County Immigration Attorneys at 512-253-4202 to discuss filing a renewal application.

Termination of TPS for Honduras

On May 4, 2018, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced the decision to terminate a humanitarian program for nationals of Honduras, commonly known as TPS.

Temporary Protected Status program provided relief for Honduran citizens, allowing them to live and work in the United States. The program has been continually renewed over the last 20 years, but will come to an end on January 5, 2020. Honduran citizens with current TPS registration will be required to re-register and apply for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) in order to legally work in the United States until the termination becomes effective. The effective date has been delayed for 18 months to allow for an orderly transition of TPS recipients back to their home country of Honduras.

The administration has previously announced the termination of TPS for El Salvador and Haiti. TPS designation was also terminated for Nicaraguans last year.

Termination of TPS for Salvadorans

On Monday, January 8, 2018, Secretary of Homeland Security announced the decision to terminate a humanitarian program for nationals of El Salvador, commonly known as TPS.

Temporary Protected Status program provided relief for Salvadorans, allowing them to live and work in the United States since a pair of devastating earthquakes struck their country in 2001. The program has been continually renewed over the years, but will come to an end on September 9, 2019. The effective date has been delayed for 18 months to allow for an orderly transition of nearly 200,000 Salvadorans back to their home country of El Salvador. The department said in a statement, “the secretary determined that the original conditions caused by the 2001 earthquakes no longer exist. Thus, under the applicable statute, the current T.P.S. designation must be terminated.”

The administration has previously announced the termination of TPS for Haiti with a delayed effective date of July 22, 2019. TPS designation was also terminated for Nicaraguans last year.

Beware Of Immigration Scams

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has recently issued a warning to those who are looking to immigrate to the United States and those who help them: be on the lookout for scammers. The perpetrators have most recently been imitating government officials in an attempt to try to extract money and information from their victims.

Most often, the victim will receive a phone call or email from someone pretending to be an immigration official, informing them that there is a problem with their immigration application, which can only be resolved by filling out a form that asks for sensitive personal information and by paying an additional fee.

Do not provide any personal data or payment if contacted by phone or email under any circumstances! These are in no way affiliated with the USCIS. If you receive one of these phony emails or phone calls, report it immediately to the Federal Trade Commission. If you receive any emails, USCIS has asked that you forward it to their Webmaster at uscis.webmaster@uscis.dhs.gov, it will be reviewed and then forwarded to the proper authorities.

How Do I Know It’s a Scam?

There is one easy way to tell if what you’ve received is a scam: if you are being asked for payment or sensitive information via the phone or via email, it’s a scam. USCIS needs additional information or payment on any pending application, they will contact you and your attorney by regular mail. The letter will be printed on official USCIS letterhead and will contain contact information should you desire to speak with an agent regarding your case.

If you have any questions regarding your pending applications, you can contact the USCIS customer service line by dialing 800-375-5283 or you can make an InfoPass appointment online.

Avoid being scammed by speaking with a reputable and knowledgeable Williamson County immigration lawyer. An attorney will be able to advise you as to whether a request is legitimate, and help you report any fraudulent activity to the proper authorities. A qualified attorney can also help you respond to legitimate request made by USCIS.

2017 USCIS H-1B Cap Lottery Completed

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on April 7, 2016, that it had received over 236,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period for the 2017 fiscal year.

A computer-generated random selection process has been completed to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 H-1B regular cap and 20,000 U.S. Master’s cap quota. All unselected petitions will be rejected and returned with filing fees. USCIS will begin premium processing on selected petitions by May 16, 2016.

Petitions that are exempt from the cap will continue to be accepted, including petitions filed on behalf of individuals who have been counted against the cap in prior years. The following types of petitions will continue to be accepted:

  • H-1B extensions petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers;
  • H-1B amended petitions seeking to change the terms of a current H-1B worker’s employment;
  • Petitions to change a current H-1B employer;
  • Petitions requesting authorization for a current H-1B worker to concurrently work in a second H-1B position;
  • Petitions filed by cap exempt employers.

U.S. Supreme Court hears oral argument in United States v. Texas

Oral arguments began this morning, April 18, 2016, before eight sitting justices in United States v. Texas, a lawsuit brought to determine the legality of President Obama’s 2014 executive actions on immigration. Expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) are the executive actions at issue. On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced a new Deferred Action program to benefit parent of U.S. citizens and lawful resident of the United States who have been residing in the U.S. since 2010. In addition, the President announced an expansion of the Deferred Action program for Dreamers. If found to be legal, these executive actions would open up eligibility for work authorization and deferred action for many living in the U.S.

Expansion of Opt for Stem Students

On March 11, 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced an expansion Optional Practical Training (OPT) work authorization for F-1 students pursuing studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Effective May 10, 2016, international students in STEM field may request 24 months of work authorization to pursue training in a position directly related to the student’s program of study. The former 17-month STEM OPT regulations will remain in effect until May 9, 2016.

H-1B Petitions May Be Filed with USCIS Beginning April 1, 2016

The H-1 B filing season for petitions subject to the Fiscal year 2017 cap will begin on April 1, 2016. The H-1B program enables U.S. employers to hire foreign workers in specialty occupations. There is a cap on the number of H-1B visa that may be granted, U.S. employers are encouraged to apply within the first week of April to have a chance at obtaining one of the 65,000 visas available. Individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher may file under the master’s cap. The first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed for those with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the 65,000 cap.

As was the case for the last 3 years, USCIS expects that during the first five business days of this year’s program they will received more than 65,000 petitions. If more than 65,000 petitions are received in the first five business days, USCIS will conduct a lottery, randomly selecting petitions until the cap is reached. All petitions not selected will be rejected.

In addition, USCIS has announced that premium processing for H-1B cap subject petitions will begin no later than May 16, 2016.

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