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01/14/2021 – Firm News

Hello & Happy New Year!

Though we are still in the midst of the pandemic, you can remain assured that PPID is here for you. We understand the deleterious impact that this crisis is having on families around the world and so close to home. But, be reminded that even though this is a difficult season, it is just a season – it will pass! If you have questions pertaining to your case, or any questions in general, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are grateful to serve our clients and we will not let anything, even a pandemic, change that. Please stay safe and take the proper precautions to protect yourself and others in this new year.

The purpose of this notice is to inform you about:

  1. USCIS and Immigration Matters
  2. The Current Status of New York State Courts
  3. Personal Injury Update
  4. Criminal Law Matters
  5. Employment Law Matters


 1. USCIS and Immigration Matters

Our Immigration Department understands how important it is for you to get essential information about immigration and other legal news quickly during these turbulent times. The following is a list of the latest developments in immigration that we think you should be aware of.


The Visa Bulletin

February 2021 (Coming Soon)

January 2021

December 2020


1.  USCIS Extends Flexibility for Responding to Certain Agency Requests.

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, USCIS is extending the flexibilities originally announced on March 30, 2020. This flexibility applies to requests for evidence, notices, or decisions issued between March 1, 2020, and January 31, 2021, inclusive. USCIS will consider a response to the above requests and notices received within 60 calendar days after the response due date set in the request or notice before taking any action.

2.  The New DHS Rule Increasing USCIS’ Filing Fees has been Permanently Enjoined.

On Dec 28, 2020 the government withdrew its appeal in the underlying lawsuit challenging the new fee structure.  As a result, the rule is permanently enjoined and USCIS will continue accepting the current forms and associated fees.  This development does not affect the premium processing fees, which were increased by Congress.  The premium processing fees are now $1,500 for H-2Bs and $2,500 for all other categories.

3.  USCIS District Offices Automatically Rescheduling Interviews and Biometrics Appointments in Case of Recent Travel Abroad.

USCIS field offices are automatically canceling scheduled final interviews for anyone who has been outside the U.S. within 14 days prior to it. USCIS is using its own information to verify if someone traveled outside the US.   There is no guidance yet on how quickly these interviews are being rescheduled.

4.  NY Immigration Courts Update.

Certain immigration courts have resumed non-detained hearings. Hearings in non-detained cases at courts without an announced date, including New York,  are postponed through February 5, 2021.  For a list of other jurisdictions, please click here.

5.  Mixed Status Families included in the Covid Stimulus Bill.

On December 21, 2020, Congress passed a spending package to fund federal agencies through September 30, 2021, as well as COVID relief. The bill contains several immigration-related provisions. The Bill grants the Secretary of Homeland Security the authority to issue additional H-2B visas beyond the statutory limit of 66,000. It also authorized stimulus checks to be issued to mixed-status families (where at least one family member files taxes with a social security number) and provides retroactive relief to these families who did not receive payment in the CARES Act.  The CARES Act excluded families where one member is undocumented.

6.  The U.S. Will Require Negative COVID Tests from International Passengers Arriving by Air.

According to a new federal policy going into effect on January 26, 2021, all international passengers flying to the United States (regardless of vaccination status), will first need to show proof of a negative coronavirus test before boarding their flight. The test must be taken within three days before the flight is scheduled to depart to the U.S. and international travelers must present the documentation of the test results or proof of having recovered from Covid-19.

7.  “Death to Asylum” Rule Blocked!

Last summer, nearly 5,000 immigration advocates, including PPID, submitted comments to oppose the Trump administration’s attempt to gut the U.S. asylum system and drastically limit the ability of individuals to obtain protection from persecution. On January 8, 2021, a judge in the Northern District of California blocked this regulation, fully halting its implementation nationwide ahead of its scheduled effective date of Monday, January 11, 2021.

8.  DOS update.

DOS updated its announcement and FAQs on the phased resumption of visa services, noting that resumption would occur on a post-by-post basis, but there are no specific dates for each mission. DOS has also extended the validity of Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fees to September 30, 2022. DOS also announced that it has temporarily expanded consular officers’ ability to waive in-person interviews for individuals applying for a nonimmigrant visa in the same classification.

9.  USCIS Lockbox Delays.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors, you may experience a delay of four to six weeks in receiving your receipt notice after properly filing an application or petition with a USCIS lockbox. These delays will not affect the receipt date. You can take steps to decrease the time it takes USCIS to process send your receipt notice or find out the status of your case:

10.  DOL Update on Number of H-2B Applications Filed for the Upcoming Season.

The DOL Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) announced the number of H-2B applications filed in the FLAG system during the three-day filing window of the peak filing season. Per OFLC, employers filed 5,403 applications requesting more than 96,888 worker positions with a work start date of April 1, 2021, or later.

11.  Trump extends proclamations banning the issuance of certain immigrant and nonimmigrant visas through 3/31/2021.

The outgoing President extended both the immigrant and the nonimmigrant visa bans through March 31, 2021.  Despite this extension, both bans will likely be lifted after President-Elect Biden takes office.

12.  Opinion | The Biden team does not seem spooked by the ghost of Stephen Miller – The Washington Post.

President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team is sending early signs that the break with the current administration’s worldview will be comprehensive, substituting an entirely new vision



2. Current Status of New York State Courts

State Courts


Pursuant to an announcement on January 4th by Chief Judge DiFiore, stated that she is hopeful that the new “normal” of virtual appearances is short-lived as we ride out the “second wave” of the COVID virus. Despite these unprecedented times, the Courts have managed to hold impressive numbers of remote conferences, motions, ADR, virtual hearings, arguments, and trials. Judge DiFiore remarked, “These numbers are a testament to the resolve and adaptability of our judges, staff, and the lawyers who practice in our courts, and their commitment to new and effective ways of delivering justice and meeting the demand for our services during these extraordinary times”.

Judge DiFiore asked the Permanent Commission on Access to Justice and the Office for Justice Initiatives to help prioritize access to virtual courts to “bridge the digital divide” facing many New Yorkers who cannot access our virtual courts because they lack digital capabilities.

One of the biggest priorities is to achieve a zero policy for racial bias and discrimination. In this vein, this week a live “Virtual Town Hall Meeting on Dismantling Systemic Racism in the Courts” sponsored by the Franklin Williams Judicial Commission will be held on Thursday, January 7th to update Judges and court staff on the status of the Court’s strategic plan to implement the recommendations Secretary Johnson has made and the work that is being done to accomplish implementation led by Deputy Chief Administrative Judge Edwina Mendelson.

Judge DiFiore also highlighted that all four Departments of the Appellate Division issued a joint statement on December 1st announcing the removal of the question regarding United States citizenship and immigration status on the application for admission to the Bar. On December 31, 2020, the questionnaire revision became effective.



First Department

Remote arguments resumed on January 5th.

Pursuant to an update dated December 28, 2020, all oral arguments for the winter terms – and until further notice – will be held remotely via Microsoft Teams. Oral arguments are held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 2pm. If necessary, arguments will also be held at 10 am on Friday mornings. Once a matter is calendared, there will be no adjournments. If a party cannot appear for oral argument as scheduled on the calendar, the argument will be taken on submission as to that party.

Requests for oral argument shall be made no later than 1 week prior to the calendar date by emailing the Court at [email protected], with an e-mailed copy to opposing counsel or self-represented litigant. A completed Notice of Appearance with the contact information, including e-mail address, of the attorney who will appear remotely, shall be attached to the request. As usual, oral arguments will be live-streamed on the Court’s website.

Hard copy filings continue to be suspended until further notice.

Second Department

Remote oral arguments resumed on January 4th.

Until further notice, all arguments are remote via Microsoft Teams or by submission. In order to argue remotely, counsel or self-represented litigants must notify the Court as to the name and e-mail address of the individual who will be presenting remote argument by e-mail to [email protected], on which all counsel and self-represented litigants are copied, no later than three business days prior to the date on which the matter is calendared. Failure to timely and properly notify the Court will result in the matter being marked submitted on behalf of that counsel or self-represented litigant.

Counsel or self-represented litigants may ask the Court for permission to argue in person. Such a request must be made by an e-mail to [email protected], on which all counsel and self-represented litigants are copied, no later than three business days prior to the date of argument, and must be supported by the reasons why, in the applicant’s view, oral argument via Microsoft Teams cannot be accomplished. Such requests will be decided in the discretion of the panel hearing the appeal.

Third Department

The January 2021 Term of Court will be hearing arguments remotely by videoconference. The January Term is short, running from January 5th through January 15th.

Currently, all matters in the 3rd Department are subject to mandatory e-filing except for: appeals in Criminal cases; appeals in Workers’ Compensation cases; appeals in Unemployment Insurance cases; CPLR Article 78 proceedings that have been transferred to the Appellate Division pursuant to CPLR 7804(g); original proceedings commenced in the Third Department; and any appeal in which the appellant is exempt from e-filing pursuant to 22 NYCRR 1245.4(a).

As of November 2, 2020, mandatory E-filing is now required in the following types of matters, unless the appellant is exempt from e-filing: all criminal matters perfected on or after November 20, 2020; and all CPLR Article 78 proceedings that have been transferred to the Appellate Division pursuant to CPLR 7804(g) and have been perfected on or after November 2, 2020.

As of November 2, 2020, Rule 850.4(a) of the Rules of Practice of the Third Department requires digital copies of all papers related to motions and applications, in addition to hard copies. These rules apply to all matters, regardless of whether the matter is subject to mandatory e-filing. For all non-e-filed matters, digital copies shall be submitted through the Court’s Digital Submission Portal.

Fourth Department

The Court’s January Term will be held remotely via the Court’s remote argument platform. The Term will run from January 11th to January 22nd.
The Court is also reducing in-office staffing in an effort to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. The specific Covid-19 protocols for in-person arguments can be found on the Court’s website.


3. Personal Injury Update

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order to “pause” the state’s Statutes of Limitation is no longer in effect.  This means that if you were in an accident exactly three years ago, you may have additional time to file your case due to the pandemic. Be cautioned, it is still under debate whether additional time was added.  There are many people “testing” this to see what will be permitted now that the pause has been lifted.


The Case Handler Highlight: $300,000.00

Carey was driving south on I-95 in the left lane when he slowed down to a complete stop in traffic due to heavy rain. At that moment, a tractor-trailer further behind in the right lane made a quick decision to move into Carey’s lane to try and avoid the slowing traffic in his lane. The tractor-trailer moved behind Carey only to realize that Carey’s vehicle was stopped in traffic! The tractor-trailer crashed into Carey, pushing his car into the concrete barrier!



4. Criminal Law Matters

Options for Incarcerated Defendants
If you have a loved one who is incarcerated, it may be possible to obtain an emergency release from incarceration.  Any incarcerated person who is over 50 years old, or is otherwise vulnerable to COVID-19, may be eligible for release if their case does not involve an allegation of substantial violence and there is no history of violence in the last 10 years. In some cases, an incarcerated Defendant who is not eligible for emergency relief may still be able to be released by having their lawyer negotiate a resolution.  The district attorneys have expanded their criteria for offering non-jail plea deals and are even dismissing cases in certain circumstances.

Criminal Courts
Criminal courts have slowly started to re-open, and are scheduling future court dates for the following matters:

• Conferencing of felony cases;
• Selected plea and sentencing proceedings;
• Arraignments of defendants who have been issued desk appearance tickets; and
• Preliminary hearings in cases involving defendants being held in jail on felony complaints.

You should contact your attorney, or retain new counsel if you are able to do so, to make sure you know when your criminal matter will be heard in court.  If you fail to appear for a court date, A WARRANT FOR YOUR ARREST COULD BE ISSUED.

To schedule a free consultation with a criminal defense attorney, call Gregg A. Pinto, Esq. at (646) 328-2434.


6. Employment Law Matters

Many individuals who have worked in the restaurant and other service industries have been laid off due to the virus.  Prior to the layoff, though, these individuals may have been working 40 or more hours per week but not being overtime in compliance with the law.  It is also possible that some of these individuals did receive all of their required tips under the law.  In addition, employers are required to pay a minimum wage to most service employees.  Contact our office for a free consultation to find out if you were not paid in compliance with the law by your former employer.



Cruising with The Case Handler

Tune in to our legal talk show, Cruising with The Case Handler, for up-to-date, dependable immigration, personal injury, and other legal news every day. We stream on Facebook and WVIP 93.5 FM: Weekdays at 9:30 AM, Saturdays at 7 PM, and Sundays at 12 PM.

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Click here to learn more about our show.


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Our Manhattan Office and Peekskill Office have officially reopened on Monday, July 6, 2020, and our Brooklyn Office will follow suit in a few weeks. We are available to meet with you in-person, on the phone, or via video conference, using Zoom or Skype. All in-person meetings must be scheduled in advance and must follow our office policies and procedures in wake of COVID-19. Your safety and the safety of our staff remains our top priority. Thank you for your patience.


If you need legal guidance, PPID is here to help! Call us toll-free at 800-223-2814


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