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President Signs “CARES Act” Into Law

March 27, 2020

In response to the overwhelming economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the U.S. economy, on Friday, March 27, 2020, after prior approval by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act” or the “Act”) was signed into law by President Trump.

We will focus on the portion of the Act pertaining to SBA loans (“Small Business Administration”), particularly to the extent relevant to small and mid-sized businesses. In the event any applicable regulatory or other guidance is issued as this pandemic evolves, PPID will provide an update.

 

Expanding SBA Loan Qualifications for Businesses with 500 or Fewer Employees

The CARES Act provides a small business with a pathway to apply for one or more SBA loans up to $10 million if the business decides to keep its staff employed and paid between February 15, 2020 through June 30, 2020 (the covered period).

 

Which Businesses Qualify for a Loan?

During the covered period, any business employing 500 or fewer employees (or the size standard in number of employees for the industry in which the entity operates as established by the SBA)[1] in the United States and which was operational as of February 15, 2020 will be eligible to receive a loan under Section 7(a) of the Small Business Act.[2] Certain self-employed individuals, independent contractors and sole proprietorships may also qualify for a Section 7(a) loan. The loan must be applied for, or the application must be pending, after the enactment of the Act.

Notably, however, the Act does not permit double-dipping under Section 7(a) and Section 7(b) of the Small Business Act. Rather, a borrower that receives assistance under Section 7(b)(2) of the Small Business Act (an economic injury disaster loan) for payroll support related to COVID-19 cannot also receive a loan under Section 7(a) for the same reason.

 

How much can be borrowed?

For Companies Operational Prior to February 15, 2019:

The maximum loan amount is equal to the lesser of (1) $10 million or (2) the sum of (A) the outstanding amount of a loan under subsection 7(b)(2) of the Small Business Act that was made during the period beginning January 31, 2020 and ending on the date on which the covered loans are made available to be refinanced under the covered loan and (B) the product obtained by multiplying two and one-half (2.5) times the average total monthly payments of the company for payroll costs incurred during the one (1) year period before the date on which the loan is made.

Calculating the maximum loan amount for seasonal employers is the same as for all other companies, as stated above, except the average total monthly payments for payroll are equal to the average of payroll payments for the period beginning February 15, 2019 (or, at the Company’s election, the period beginning March 1, 2019) and ending June 30, 2019.

For Companies Operational After February 15, 2019:

The calculation of the maximum loan amount is the same as for companies operational prior to February 15, 2019, as explained above, except that the average total monthly payments by the company for payroll costs shall be those payroll costs incurred during the period beginning January 1, 2020 and ending February 29, 2020.

 

Are there any Restrictions on Using the Loan Proceeds?

Section 7(a) loan proceeds can be used for any reason permitted under Section 7(a), which include the following: (a) payroll costs, (b) costs related to the continuation of group health care benefits, (c) employee salaries, commissions or similar compensation, (d) payments of interest on any mortgage obligation, (e) rent payments (including rent under a lease agreement), (f) utilities, and (g) interest on any other debt obligations incurred before February 15, 2020.

Payroll costs include not only payment of salary, wages, commission or similar compensation, but also include separation payments, payments required for the provision of group health care benefits, including insurance premiums, and payments of state and local compensation taxes, among other things. Payroll costs also include the compensation paid to any independent contractor as a wage, commission, income or similar compensation, in an amount not more than $100,000 per year, as prorated for the covered period.

Notably, however, there are certain caps the company should be aware of with respect to covered payroll costs under the Act. Payroll costs do not include, among other things, compensation of any individual employee in excess of a $100,000 annualized salary, as prorated for the covered period, or payments made for qualified sick leave wages for which the company is already receiving credit under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

An eligible company may also refinance any loan made under Section 7(b)(2) of the Small Business Act as part of a Section 7(a) loan.

 

Are There Collateral Requirements?

Unlike other loans under Section 7(a) of the Small Business Act, (i) there is no requirement for a personal guarantee, (ii) there is no collateral required for the loan, and (iii) there is no requirement that a company applying for the loan is unable to obtain credit elsewhere.

In addition, there is no recourse against any individual shareholder, member or partner of an eligible recipient of a Section 7(a) loan for non-payment of the Section 7(a) loan, except to the extent such shareholder, member or partner used the loan proceeds for an unauthorized purpose.

 

Are there any Origination Fees and May Payments be Deferred?

During the covered period, the loan administrator may not collect a yearly administration fee or any guarantee fees. Also during the covered period, the lenders for each Section 7(a) loan must provide complete payment deferment relief for impacted borrowers for a period of not more than one (1) year. Each Section 7(a) loan shall further be guaranteed 100% by the SBA.

Lenders are required to provide complete payment deferment relief for borrowers with Section 7(a) loans for a period of not less than six (6) months and not more than one (1) year. The deferment shall be a complete deferment of any payment of principal, interest and fees.

The Act also waives any prepayment penalty on a Section 7(a) loan obtained under the Act.

 

Is Debt Forgiveness Permitted?

A recipient of a Section 7(a) loan may be eligible for forgiveness of some or all of the indebtedness on such loan.

The amount of forgiveness is capped at the principal amount of the loan, and shall be otherwise equal to the sum of the following costs incurred and payments made during the covered period: (a) payroll costs, (b) any payment of interest on a covered mortgage obligation, (c) any payment on a covered rent obligation, and (d) any covered utility payment.

Any amounts forgiven will be considered as cancelled indebtedness by lenders and will be excluded from gross income for the purposes of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.

Notably, however, debt forgiveness will be reduced in the event the company reduces its workforce or reduces its workforce’s compensation during the covered period.

The amount of loan forgiveness will be reduced by a percentage roughly equal to the percentage the company’s workforce is reduced during the covered period. The amount of forgiveness will also be reduced if, during the covered period, the company reduces by more than 25% the compensation of employees who receive wages or salary at an annualized rate of $100,000 or less.

 

How Will My Company Apply for Loan Forgiveness?

To apply for loan forgiveness, a company receiving a Section 7(a) loan will submit to the lender an application which must include documentation verifying the number of full-time equivalent employees on the company’s payroll and such employees’ pay rates for the required periods. The application must also include documentation of any alleged covered payroll, mortgage, lease or utility payment and any other documentation the administrator deems necessary.

The application must also include a certification of the borrower that the documentation provided with the application is true and correct and which further provides the following:

  1. That loan was necessitated by the uncertainty of current economic conditions and to support the ongoing operations of the company;
  2. That the loan proceeds will be used to retain workers and maintain payroll or make mortgage payments, lease payments and utility payments;
  3. That the company does not have an application pending for another Section 7(a) loan for the same purpose or that is duplicative of amounts applied for or received under the applied-for loan; and
  4. During the period beginning on February 15, 2020 and ending on December 31, 2020, that the company has not received amounts under Section 7(a) of the Small Business Act for the same purpose and duplicative of amounts applied for or received under the applied-for loan.

The lender must issue a decision on an application for forgiveness no later than 60 days after the date it receives an application for loan forgiveness.

 

What About Portions of the Loan that are Not Forgiven?

If a Section 7(a) loan has a remaining balance after loan forgiveness, the loan will have a maximum maturity of ten (10) years and shall bear an interest rate of no more than four percent (4%).

Before applying for a Section 7(a) loan, you should review your current loan agreements and consult with your current lenders to ensure your application for or receipt of a Section 7(a) loan will not place you in default with respect to your current loan agreements.

If you or your company have any questions for our attorneys, please contact us online or call us at 212-203-4795.

[1] Employees include any individual employed on a full-time, part-time or other basis. Notably, the Act waives the Small Business Act affiliation rules aggregating affiliates for the purpose of meeting the size standards for eligibility for a Section 7(a) loan for (i) any business concern with not more than 500 employees and which is assigned a North American Industry Classification System Code beginning with 72 (accommodation and food service establishments), (ii) those businesses that receive financial assistance from Small Business Investment Companies (SBIC), and (iii) certain franchises. The current affiliation rules still apply to nonprofit and veteran organizations.

[2] Certain businesses with more than 500 employees employed in multiple physical locations, where there are no more than 500 employees per physical location, may qualify for Section 7(a) loans. 

Source: Congress.gov READ MORE >>


Important Announcement on H2 Visas

March 26, 2020

In response to significant worldwide challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State temporarily suspended routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates as of March 20, 2020. As resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide emergency and mission critical visa services.

The H-2 program is essential to the economy and food security of the United States and is a national security priority. Therefore, we intend to continue processing H-2 cases as much as possible, as permitted by post resources and local government restrictions. Secretary Pompeo, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security, has authorized consular officers to expand the categories of H-2 visa applicants whose applications can be adjudicated without an in-person interview.  Consular officers can, if they so choose, now waive the visa interview requirement for first-time and returning H-2 applicants who have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility. This expansion also increases the period in which returning workers may qualify for an interview waiver. Applicants whose previous visas expired in the last 48 months, and who did not require a waiver of ineligibility the last time they applied, do not need to be interviewed in-person if they are applying for the same visa classification as their previous visa.  We anticipate the vast majority of otherwise qualified H-2 applicants will now be adjudicated without an interview.

Consular resources and local government restrictions vary widely, and each consular section is continuously reviewing its capacity to adjudicate visa applications during this worldwide pandemic. We encourage applicants to consult with the relevant U.S. embassy or consulate in order to confirm the level of services currently offered. Our overseas missions will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time.

Source: Travel.state.gov READ MORE >>


USCIS: Temporary Office Closure Extended Until at Least April 7

March 25, 2020

On March 18, to protect our workforce and to help mitigate the spread of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in our communities, USCIS temporarily suspended all routine face-to-face services with applicants at all of our offices, including all interviews and naturalization ceremonies. The temporary suspension is extended, and USCIS offices will re-open on April 7 unless the public closures are extended further.

This includes interviews, naturalization ceremonies and biometric collection appointments. However, we will continue to provide emergency services during this time. If you have an emergency service request, please contact the USCIS Contact Center.  Employees in these offices are continuing to perform mission-essential services that do not require face-to-face contact with the public.

USCIS field offices will send de-scheduling notices to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments impacted by the public closure. We will also send de-scheduling notices to naturalization applicants scheduled for naturalization ceremonies. We will reschedule all applicants when USCIS resumes normal operations.

USCIS asylum offices will send interview cancellation notices and automatically reschedule asylum interviews. When the interview is rescheduled, asylum applicants will receive a new interview notice with the new time, date and location of the interview.

USCIS will also automatically reschedule ASC appointments due to the office closure. Those impacted will receive a new appointment letter in the mail. Individuals who had InfoPass or other appointments at the field office must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center once field offices are open to the public againPlease check to see if your field office has been reopened before reaching out to the USCIS Contact Center.

Additionally, USCIS is postponing all in-person public engagement and outreach events for the duration of the temporary office closure. Please contact [email protected] if you have an immediate engagement question during this time.

Education and precautions are the strongest tools against infection. Get the latest facts by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 website. Continue to practice good health habits, refrain from handshakes or hugs as greetings, and clean hands and surfaces appropriately.

USCIS will provide further updates as the situation develops and will continue to follow CDC guidance in response to this situation. Please visit uscis.gov/coronavirus for updates.

Kind regards,

Public Engagement Division

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

 

USCIS: Cierre Temporal de Oficinas de USCIS se ha Extendido Hasta, por lo menos, el 7 de Abril

March 25, 2020

El 18 de marzo, para proteger a nuestra fuerza laboral y ayudar a mitigar la propagación de la enfermedad coronavirus (COVID-19) en nuestras comunidades, USCIS suspendió temporalmente todos los servicios rutinarios cara-a-cara  con los solicitantes en todas nuestras oficinas, incluyendo todas las entrevistas y ceremonias de naturalización.  La suspensión temporal se extiende, y las oficinas de USCIS reabrirán  el 7 de abril a menos que los cierres públicos sean extendidos.

Esto incluye entrevistas, ceremonias de naturalización y citas biométricas. Sin embargo, continuaremos brindando servicios de emergencia durante este tiempo. Si tiene una solicitud de servicio de emergencia, comuníquese con el Centro de contacto de USCIS. Los empleados en estas oficinas continúan prestando servicios esenciales para la misión que no requieren contacto cara a cara con el público.

Las oficinas regionales  de USCIS enviarán avisos de reprogramación a los solicitantes y peticionarios con citas programadas afectadas por el cierre público. También enviaremos avisos de reprogramación a los solicitantes de naturalización programados para ceremonias de naturalización. Reprogramaremos a todos los solicitantes cuando USCIS reanude las operaciones normales.

Las oficinas de asilo de USCIS enviarán avisos de cancelación de entrevistas y reprogramarán automáticamente las entrevistas de asilo. Cuando se reprograme la entrevista, los solicitantes de asilo recibirán un nuevo aviso de entrevista con la nueva hora, fecha y ubicación de la entrevista.

USCIS también reprogramará automáticamente las citas de ASC debido al cierre de la oficina. Los afectados recibirán una nueva carta de cita por correo. Las personas que tuvieron InfoPass u otras citas en la oficina de campo deben reprogramar a través del Centro de Contacto de USCIS una vez que las oficinas de campo estén abiertas nuevamente al público. Verifique si su oficina local ha sido reabierta antes de comunicarse con el Centro de Contacto de USCIS.

Además, el USCIS esta posponiendo  todos los eventos de participación pública y divulgación en persona durante el cierre temporal de la oficina. Comuníquese con [email protected] si tiene una pregunta de compromiso inmediata durante este tiempo.

La educación y las precauciones son las herramientas más fuertes contra la infección. Obtenga los datos más recientes visitando el sitio web COVID-19 de los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades. Continúe practicando buenos hábitos de salud, abstenerse de apretones de manos o abrazos como saludos, y limpie las manos y superficies adecuadamente.

USCIS proporcionará más actualizaciones a medida que se desarrolle la situación y continuará siguiendo las pautas de los CDC en respuesta a esta situación. Visite uscis.gov/coronavirus para obtener actualizaciones.

Saludos cordiales,

División de Compromiso Público

Servicios de Inmigración y Ciudadanía de los Estados Unidos

 


USCIS Temporary Office Closure

March 17, 2020

To protect our workforce and to help mitigate the spread of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in our communities, effective immediately, USCIS is suspending all routine face-to-face services with applicants at all of our offices, including all interviews and naturalization ceremonies.

All USCIS field offices, asylum offices and Application Support Centers (ASCs) will not provide in-person services until at least April 1. This includes interviews, naturalization ceremonies and biometric collection appointments. However, we will continue to provide emergency services during this time. If you have an emergency service request, please contact the USCIS Contact Center. USCIS field offices will send de-scheduling notices to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments impacted by this closure. We will send de-scheduling notices to naturalization applicants scheduled for naturalization ceremonies. All applicants will be rescheduled when USCIS resumes normal operations.

USCIS asylum offices will send interview cancellation notices and automatically reschedule asylum interviews. When the interview is rescheduled, asylum applicants will receive a new interview notice with the new time, date and location of the interview.

USCIS will also automatically reschedule ASC appointments due to the office closure. Those impacted will receive a new appointment letter in the mail. Individuals who had InfoPass or other appointments at the field office must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center once field offices are open to the public again. Please check to see if your field office has been reopened before reaching out to the USCIS Contact Center.

Additionally, USCIS is postponing all in-person public engagement and outreach events for the duration of the office closure. Please contact [email protected] if you have an immediate engagement question during this time.

Education and precautions are the strongest tools against infection. Get the latest facts by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 website. Continue to practice good health habits, refrain from handshakes or hugs as greetings, and clean hands and surfaces appropriately.

USCIS will provide further updates as the situation develops and will continue to follow CDC guidance in response to this situation. Please visit uscis.gov/coronavirus for updates.

Kind regards,

Public Engagement Division
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Source: READ MORE >>


OFLC Issues FAQs Related to the H-2B Supplemental Visa Allocation for the Second Half of FY2020

March 10, 2020

The Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) has released a set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) to address stakeholder questions concerning the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s public announcement on March 5, 2020, that it will take necessary anti-fraud and abuse measures to protect the integrity of the H-2B visa program and also make available 35,000 supplemental H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas for the second half of fiscal year 2020.

The FAQs are intended to clarify the use of emergency situations related to the supplemental allocation and the procedures that employers can use to return a temporary labor certification issued by OFLC that they no longer need.

Source: READ MORE >>


Trump Administration Plans to Raise Cap for H-2B Seasonal Worker Visas

February 21, 2020

WASHINGTON—The Trump administration may allow an additional 45,000 guest workers to return to the U.S. this summer, but the final decision has not been confirmed. If the additional amount is approved, it would be the highest level since the president took office.

According to an administration official, the Department of Homeland Security plans to announce the additional seasonal visas next week.  The visas will become available in two phases: the first 20,000 will be available immediately, while employers can apply for the remainder for jobs beginning June 1.

The additional visas are being made available before summer, when demand for short-term seasonal work is typically highest. Also, the visas will be primarily available to workers who have previously qualified to H-2B visas because the administration has more confidence that they will leave the U.S. at the end of their job assignment.

Currently, the H-2B visa program enables U.S. employers to hire as many as 66,000 foreign workers per year (split evenly between winter and summer seasons). Last year, there were 100,000 applications for the summer season on January 1, 2019 – which was three times the number of available visas.

If you have questions about the H-2B visa program, please call our U.S. immigration lawyers at 212-203-4795.


USCIS Announces Public Charge Rule Implementation Following Supreme Court Stay of Nationwide Injunctions

January 31, 2020

WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will implement the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds final rule (“Final Rule”) on Feb. 24, 2020, except for in the State of Illinois where the rule remains enjoined by a federal court as of Jan. 30, 2020. Under the Final Rule, USCIS will look at the factors required under the law by Congress, like an alien’s age, health, income, education and skills, among others, in order to determine whether the alien is likely at any time to become a public charge.

The Final Rule, issued in August and originally scheduled to be effective in October, prescribes how DHS would determine whether an alien is inadmissible to the United States based on the alien’s likelihood of becoming a public charge at any time in the future, as set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act. The Final Rule also addresses USCIS’ authority to issue public charge bonds in the context of applications for adjustment of status. Finally, the Final Rule includes a requirement that aliens seeking and extension of stay of change of status demonstrate that they have not received public benefits over the designated threshold since obtaining the nonimmigrant status they seek to extend or change.

“Self-sufficiency is a core American value and has been part of immigration law for centuries. President Trump has called for long-standing immigration law to be enforced and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is delivering on this promise to the American people,” said Ken Cuccinelli, the Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Secretary for DHS. “By requiring those seeking to come or stay in the United States to rely on their own resources, families and communities, we will encourage self-sufficiency, promote immigrant success and protect American taxpayers.”

Except for in the State of Illinois, USCIS will only apply the Final Rule to applications and petitions postmarked (or submitted electronically) on or after Feb. 24, 2020. For applications and petitions that are sent by commercial courier (e.g., UPS/FedEx/DHL), the postmark date is the date reflected on the courier receipt.  The Final Rule prohibits DHS from considering an alien’s application for, certification or approval to receive, or receipt of certain non-cash public benefits before Oct. 15, 2019, when deciding whether the alien is likely at any time to become a public charge. In light of the duration of the recently-lifted nationwide injunctions and to promote clarity and fairness to the public, DHS will now treat this prohibition as applying to such public benefits received before Feb. 24, 2020. Similarly, the Final Rule prohibits DHS from considering the receipt of public benefits by applicants for extension of stay and change of status before Oct. 15, 2019 when determining whether the public benefits condition applies, and DHS will now treat this prohibition as applying to public benefits received on or after Feb. 24, 2020.

USCIS will post updated forms, submission instructions, and Policy Manual guidance on the USCIS website during the week of Feb. 3, 2020, to give applicants, petitioners, and others ample time to review updated procedures and adjust filing methods. After Feb. 24, 2020, everywhere except in the State of Illinois, USCIS will reject prior editions of forms if the form is postmarked on or after Feb. 24, 2020. If USCIS receives an application or petition for benefits using incorrect editions of the forms, USCIS will inform the applicant or petitioner of the need to submit a new application or petition using the correct forms.

USCIS will continue to release information through its website in the weeks leading to the rule’s implementation date, including in the event that the injunction Illinois is lifted. This will include an update to the USCIS Policy Manual.

In the coming weeks, the agency is planning to hold a public engagement for immigration attorneys, industry representatives, and other relevant groups to discuss the final rule.

DHS remains enjoined from implementing the Final Rule in the State of Illinois. Should the injunction in Illinois be lifted, USCIS will provide additional public guidance.

 

USCIS Anuncia la Implementación de la Regla de Inadmisbilidad por Carga Pública

January 31, 2020

El Servicio de Ciudadanía e Inmigración de Estados Unidos implementará la regla final de Inadmisibilidad por Motivos de Carga Pública a partir del 24 de febrero de 2020, excepto en Illinois, donde la implementación de la regla permanece prohibida por un tribunal federal desde el 31 de enero de 2020. DHS ha solicitado ante el Tribunal de Apelaciones de Estados Unidos que suspenda ese mandato judicial preliminar a la luz de la decisión del Tribunal Supremo de suspender los mandatos judiciales preliminares en todo el país. USCIS proporcionará guías adicionales si se levanta el mandato judicial preliminar en Illinois.

Esto significa que USCIS solo aplicará la regla final a solicitudes y peticiones mataselladas (o a las enviadas en línea, si corresponde) en o después del 24 de febrero de 2020. Para las solicitudes y peticiones que fueron enviadas a través de mensajería comercial (como, por ejemplo, UPS, FedEx y DHL), la fecha del matasello es la fecha que aparece en el recibo de la compañía de mensajería. Después del 24 de febrero de 2020, excepto en Illinois, rechazaremos las ediciones anteriores de los formularios si están matasellados en o después del 24 de febrero de 2020. Si recibimos una solicitud o petición para la cual usó una edición incorrecta del formulario, el solicitante o peticionario tendrá que presentar una nueva solicitud o petición.

Además, al determinar si es probable que un extranjero se convierta en una carga pública en algún momento futuro, DHS no considerará la solicitud, certificación o aprobación del extranjero para recibir o haber recibido ciertos beneficios públicos no monetarios antes del 24 de febrero de 2020. Respecto a la condición de beneficios públicos de solicitudes o peticiones de extensión de estadía o cambio de estatus, DHS solo considerará los beneficios públicos recibidos en o después del 24 de febrero de 2020.

Estamos comprometidos con determinar el método de implementación más justo y más efectivo. Publicaremos los formularios actualizados, instrucciones de presentación de solicitudes, y guías del Manual de Políticas en el sitio web de USCIS las próximas semanas – mucho antes de la fecha de implementación – para darles a los solicitantes, peticionarios y otros, el tiempo suficiente para revisar los procedimientos y formularios actualizados.

Además, en las próximas semanas llevaremos a cabo una sesión de enlace público para el público y otros grupos de interés con el fin de asegurarnos que entienden la regla final.


OFLC Announces Number of H-2B Applications Filed in the Foreign Labor Application Gateway System During First 24 Hours of the Peak Filing Season

January 3, 2020

During the first 24 hours of the H-2B peak filing season, employers filed 4,930 applications in the Foreign Labor Application Gateway System requesting more than 87,298 worker positions with an April 1, 2020, or later, work start date.

The Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) will continue to accept H-2B applications during the three-day filing window, and plans to randomize all applications submitted on January 6, 2020. OFLC will use the using the randomization procedures published in the Federal Register on March 4, 2019, to randomize H-2B applications.


Lawsuit Against ICE to Halt Immigration Arrests at State Courthouses Will Proceed to Trial

December 19, 2019

New York officials’ challenge to the Trump administration’s policy of arresting undocumented immigrants in and around state courthouses will be allowed to proceed toward trial, under a Manhattan federal court ruling issued on Thursday, December 19, 2019.

“Courts cannot be expected to function properly of third parties (not least the executive branch of the government) feel free to disrupt the proceedings and intimidate the parties and witnesses by staging arrests for unrelated civil violations in the courthouse, on court property, or while the witnesses or parties are in transit to or from their court proceedings,” said Jed Rakoff, U.S. District Judge of the Southern District of New York.

The lawsuit was filed in September 2019 that targeted a 2017 executive order from the Trump administration, which gave authority to ICE agents to conduct civil immigration arrests on state courthouse premises. Since the policy went into effect, courthouse arrests jumped by more than 1,700% according to one analysis by an immigrant advocacy and legal services group.

All discovery in the case is set to be completed by the end of February 2020, with briefing to follow.  A hearing on summary judgement motions is set for April 14, 2020.

For additional information or to speak with a top U.S. immigration lawyer, please call 212-203-4795.

Source: READ MORE >>


Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Extended for Citizens of El Salvador

October 29, 2019

Yesterday the U.S. and El Salvador signed a number of documents to implement greater collaboration on information sharing, border and aviation security, and international diplomacy, and announced additional time for citizens for El Salvador with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to repatriate.

The Trump Administration is extending the validity of work permits for TPS holders from El Salvador through January 4, 2021. Additionally, the Trump Administration is providing El Salvadorans with TPS an additional 365 days after the conclusion of the TPS-related lawsuits to repatriate back to their home country.

If you have questions about TPS, speak with our U.S. immigration lawyers by calling 212-203-4795.

Source: READ MORE >>


USCIS Announces Final Rule Enforcing Long-Standing Public Charge Inadmissibility Law

August 12, 2019

Today, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a final rule that clearly defines long-standing law to better ensure that aliens seeking to enter and remain in the United States — either temporarily or permanently — are self-sufficient and rely on their own capabilities and the resources of family members, sponsors, and private organizations rather than on public resources.

This final rule amends DHS regulations by prescribing how DHS will determine whether an alien is inadmissible to the United States based on his or her likelihood of becoming a public charge at any time in the future, as set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act. The final rule addresses U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) authority to permit an alien to submit a public charge bond in the context of adjustment of status applications. The rule also makes nonimmigrant aliens who have received certain public benefits above a specific threshold generally ineligible for extension of stay and change of status.

“For over a century, the public charge ground of inadmissibility has been part of our nation’s immigration laws. President Trump has delivered on his promise to the American people to enforce long-standing immigration law by defining the public charge inadmissibility ground that has been on the books for years,” said USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli. “Throughout our history, self-sufficiency has been a core tenet of the American dream. Self-reliance, industriousness, and perseverance laid the foundation of our nation and have defined generations of hardworking immigrants seeking opportunity in the United States ever since. Through the enforcement of the public charge inadmissibility law, we will promote these long-standing ideals and immigrant success.”

DHS has revised the definition of “public charge” to incorporate consideration of more kinds of public benefits received, which the Department believes will better ensure that applicants subject to the public charge inadmissibility ground are self-sufficient. The rule defines the term “public charge” to mean an individual who receives one or more designated public benefits for more than 12 months, in the aggregate, within any 36-month period (such that, for instance, receipt of two benefits in one month counts as two months). The rule further defines the term “public benefit” to include any cash benefits for income maintenance, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), most forms of Medicaid, and certain housing programs.

The regulation also excludes from the public benefits definition: public benefits received by individuals who are serving in active duty or in the Ready Reserve component of the U.S. armed forces, and their spouses and children; public benefits received by certain international adoptees and children acquiring U.S. citizenship; Medicaid for aliens under 21 and pregnant women; Medicaid for school-based services (including services provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act); and Medicaid benefits for emergency medical services.

This rule also makes certain nonimmigrant aliens in the United States who have received designated public benefits above the designated threshold ineligible for change of status and extension of stay if they received the benefits after obtaining the nonimmigrant status they seek to extend or from which they seek to change.

Importantly, this regulation does not apply to humanitarian-based immigration programs for refugees, asylees, Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJs), certain trafficking victims (T nonimmigrants), victims of qualifying criminal activity (U nonimmigrants), or victims of domestic violence (VAWA self-petitioners), among others.

This rule also explains how USCIS will exercise its discretionary authority, in limited circumstances, to offer an alien inadmissible only on the public charge ground the opportunity to post a public charge bond. The final rule sets the minimum bond amount at $8,100; the actual bond amount will be dependent on the individual’s circumstances.

This final rule supersedes the 1999 Interim Field Guidance on Deportability and Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds and goes into effect at midnight Eastern, Oct. 15, 60 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register. USCIS will apply the public charge inadmissibility final rule only to applications and petitions postmarked (or, if applicable, submitted electronically) on or after the effective date. Applications and petitions already pending with USCIS on the effective date of the rule (postmarked and accepted by USCIS) will be adjudicated based on the 1999 Interim Guidance.

USCIS will provide information and additional details to the public as part of public outreach related to the implementation of this rule. In the coming weeks, USCIS will conduct engagement sessions for the public and other interested groups to ensure the public understands which benefits are included in the public charge inadmissibility rule and which are not.

 

USCIS Anuncia Regla Final que Hace Cumplir la Ley Existente de Inadmisibilidad por Carga Pública

12 agosto 2019

El Departamento de Seguridad Nacional de Estados Unidos (DHS, por sus siglas en inglés) y el Servicio de Ciudadanía e Inmigración de Estados Unidos (USCIS, por sus siglas en inglés) anunciaron hoy una regla final que define claramente la ley vigente desde hace tiempo sobre inadmisibilidad por carga pública.

DHS ha revisado la definición de carga pública para garantizar que los extranjeros sujetos a la causal de inadmisibilidad por carga pública indicada en la sección 212 (a)(4) de la Ley de Inmigración y Nacionalidad (INA, por sus siglas en inglés), sean autosuficientes. Por ley, al determinar si un extranjero es inadmisible bajo esta causal, el gobierno debe, como mínimo, considerar la edad del extranjero, salud, estatus familiar, bienes, recursos y situación financiera, educación y habilidades, y puede tomar en consideración cualquier declaración jurada de patrocinio económico requerida.

La regla final define el término carga pública como un extranjero que recibe uno o más beneficios públicos designados por más de 12 meses, en total, dentro de cualquier período de 36 meses. La regla define además el término beneficio público para incluir beneficios en efectivo con fines del mantenimiento de ingresos o sustento, Seguridad de Ingreso Suplementario (SSI, por sus siglas en inglés), Asistencia Temporal para Familias Necesitadas (TANF, por sus siglas en inglés), Programa de Asistencia Nutricional Suplementaria (SNAP, por sus siglas en inglés), la mayoría de los tipos de Medicaid, Asistencia de Vivienda (Sección 8) bajo el Programa de Vales de Elección de Vivienda, Asistencia de Alquiler Basada en Proyectos de Sección 8, y vivienda pública subsidiada.

La lista de beneficios públicos en la regla final es una lista exhaustiva con respecto a los beneficios que no son en efectivo. Sin embargo, los beneficios en efectivo para mantenimiento de ingresos pueden incluir una variedad de beneficios en efectivo basados en recursos económicos verificados para propósitos generales proporcionados por agencias federales, estatales, locales o tribales que otorgan beneficios, y solo serán considerados los beneficios públicos listados específicamente en la regla. Los beneficios públicos que no están listados en la regla no son considerados en la determinación de inadmisibilidad por carga pública. La regla no incluye, por ejemplo, la consideración de asistencia médica de emergencia, ayuda por desastres, programas nacionales de alimentos escolares, acogida temporal y adopción, Head Start, o préstamos estudiantiles o hipotecas.

Esta regla también aclara que DHS no considera el recibo de beneficios públicos designados recibidos por un extranjero que, al momento de recibir el beneficio o al momento de presentar la solicitud para admisión, ajuste de estatus, extensión de estadía, o cambio de estatus está alistado en las Fuerzas Armadas de Estados Unidos o en servicio activo o en cualquiera de los componentes de la Reserva Lista de las Fuerzas Armadas de Estados Unidos, y no considerará el recibo de beneficios públicos por el cónyuge e hijos de dicho militar. La regla también establece que DHS no considerará beneficios públicos recibidos por niños, incluidos niños adoptados, que adquieran la ciudadanía bajo INA 320, 8 U.S.C. 1431.

De manera similar, DHS no considerará los beneficios de Medicaid recibidos: (1) para el tratamiento de una “condición médica de emergencia”, (2) como servicios o beneficios proporcionados en relación con la Ley de Educación para Personas con Discapacidades, (3) servicios o beneficios relacionados con las escuelas proporcionados a personas que tienen o están por debajo de la edad máxima de elegibilidad para educación secundaria según determinada por la ley estatal o local, (4) por extranjeros menores de 21 años, y (5) por mujeres embarazadas y mujeres que están dentro del periodo de 60 días a partir del último día de embarazo.

La regla final también establece la totalidad de las circunstancias estándar para determinar si es probable que un extranjero se convierta en una carga pública en algún momento en el futuro, lo que incluye, como mínimo, las siguientes consideraciones sobre el extranjero: su edad, salud, estatus familiar, activos, recursos y situación financiera, educación y capacitación, estatus migratorio prospectivo, período esperado de admisión, y declaración jurada de patrocinio económico conforme a la sección 213A de INA. Ningún factor por sí solo, incluido el recibo de beneficios públicos, es determinante del resultado: la determinación de la probabilidad de que un extranjero se convierta en una carga pública en algún momento futuro debe estar basado en la totalidad de las circunstancias del extranjero y con la consideración de todos los factores que son relevantes en el caso del extranjero.

Esta regla también explica cómo USCIS ejercerá su autoridad discrecional, en circunstancias limitadas, para ofrecer a un extranjero inadmisible solo en relación a la causal de carga pública la oportunidad de pagar una fianza por carga pública. La regla final establece el monto mínimo de la fianza en $8,100 (ajustada para la inflación). El monto real de la fianza dependerá de las circunstancias de la persona.

Esta regla también hace que los no inmigrantes en Estados Unidos que han recibido beneficios públicos designados por encima del límite máximo desde la obtención del estatus de no inmigrante o el que desde el que busca cambiar, generalmente no sean elegibles para obtener una extensión de estadía o cambiar su estatus.

Es importante destacar que esta regulación no aplica a los programas de inmigración basados en razones humanitaria, como los programas de refugiados, solicitantes de asilo, jóvenes inmigrantes especiales (SIJ), algunas víctimas de la trata de personas, víctimas de una actividad delictiva cualificada, o víctimas de violencia doméstica.

La regla aplica a solicitudes y peticiones mataselladas (o, si aplica, presentadas electrónicamente) en o después de la fecha de efectividad de la regla final. Las solicitudes y peticiones que están pendientes con USCIS el día en que entra en efecto la regla final, serán adjudicadas bajo la Guía Provisional de Campo de 1999. Además, la regla final contiene disposiciones especiales para la consideración de beneficios públicos recibidos antes de la fecha de efectividad de la regla final: cualquier beneficio excluido de consideración bajo las Guías Provisionales de Campo de 1999 (por ejemplo, SNAP, cupones de vivienda bajo Sección 8) que sea recibido antes de la fecha de efectividad de la regla final no será considerado; cualquier beneficio público que haya sido considerado bajo las Guías Provisionales de Campo de 1999 y sea recibido antes de la fecha de efectividad de la regla final será considerado en la totalidad de las circunstancias del extranjero, pero no tendrá mucho peso.

En las próximas semanas, USCIS llevará a cabo sesiones de enlace para asegurar que el público entienda cuáles beneficios están incluidos en la regla y cuáles no.


Fast-Track Deportation Requires No Judge

July 22, 2019

The Trump administration is expanding the authority of immigration officers to deport migrants that are in the U.S. for less than two years without requiring them to appear before a judge before deportation.

Pollack, Pollack, Isaac & DeCicco, LLP will continue to provide updates on deportation news and related developments.

Need to speak with an deportation defense lawyer? Call 212-203-4795.


Urgent ICE Raid Notice

July 12, 2019

Reports indicate that border agents will begin raids in select cities this weekend to remove undocumented immigrants and could impact 2,000 or more families in 10 major cities. These cities include: Atlanta, Baltimore/Washington D.C., Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, San Diego, Miami, New Orleans, New York City and San Francisco.

Visit our raids resource page for the latest news: /raids/

To speak with an immigration or deportation lawyer, please call 212-203-4795.


Family 2A Category Will Be Current on July 1, 2019

June 28, 2019

On May 17, 2019, the U.S. State Department announced that the Family 2A category will be current for the month of July 2019. Therefore, spouses and unmarried minor children of lawful permanent residents currently in the U.S. who maintain lawful nonimmigrant status can begin to complete their immigrant visa applications with USCIS starting on July 1, 2019.

It’s been nearly 3 years of waiting for the Family 2A category to be available, and it may NOT be available past the month of July 2019.

If you’re a green card holder that has petitioned or wants to petition for your spouse and/or children, please call our office ASAP: 212-203-4795


Victory for Young Immigrants in NY: Judge Upholds Age Requirement for Special Immigrant Juvenile (“SIJ”) Status

March 15, 2019

The law states that individuals under 21 years old may be eligible to receive Special Immigrant Juvenile (“SIJ”) status, but many young immigrants were still denied at the age of 18-20. While the law did NOT change, the Trump Administration changed the way it was interpreting the law.

In a major class action lawsuit in New York, the plaintiffs alleged that DHS, USCIS, and individual officers of those agencies adopted a new policy without notice, and that prior to this policy change, the plaintiffs’ SIJ applications would have been granted.

The Court agreed with the plaintiffs and found the new policy was in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) and summary judgement was granted.

As a result, SIJ applicants that are 18-20 years old will no longer be denied due to age.

If you were recently denied SIJ status or interested in applying, please contact us online or call 212-203-4795.


DHS Preserves, Extends Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Four Countries

March 1, 2019

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a Federal Register notice titled, “Continuation of Documentation for Beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status Designations for Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador.” These countries were previously scheduled by DHS to lose TPS designation.

The validity of TPS-related documentation for nationals of the four countries will be automatically extended through January 2, 2020, which includes employment authorization documents.

TPS for the four countries will remain in place until further notice and the DHS will not terminate the TPS designations of the four countries until there is a final, non-appealable judicial order that would permit DHS to do so.

Pollack, Pollack, Isaac & DeCicco, LLP will continue to provide updates on TPS designations and related developments.


USCIS Announces Updates to Civics Test Answers

January 4, 2019

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced updates to four answers on the U.S. history and government (civics) test for those seeking naturalization as U.S. citizens. The updated answers to the following questions are effective immediately.

Question  20 – Who is one of your state’s U.S. Senators now?

  • Answer – Give the name of one of your state’s current U.S. senators. For a list of current members, please visit senate.govAnswers will vary. [District of Columbia residents and residents of U.S. territories should answer that D.C. (or the territory where the applicant lives) has no U.S. senators.]

Question 23 – Name your U.S. Representative.

  • Answer – Give the name of your current U.S. representative. For a list of current members, please visit house.govAnswers will vary. [Residents of territories with nonvoting delegates or resident commissioners may provide the name of that delegate or commissioner. Also acceptable is any statement that the territory has no (voting) representatives in Congress.]

Question 43 – Who is the Governor of your state now?

  • Give the name of your state’s current governor. For a list of current governors, please visit usa.gov/states-and-territories. Answers will vary. [District of Columbia residents should answer that D.C. does not have a governor]

Question 47 – What is the name of the Speaker of the House of Representatives now?

  • The House of Representatives generally elects the speaker of the House on the first day of every new Congress. The answer may change after the election. Give the name of the current speaker of the House. Visit uscis.gov/citizenship/testupdates for the name of the speaker of the House of Representatives.

If you have questions on the updated answers or would like to meet with a lawyer, please contact us online or call 212-203-4795.

Source: READ MORE >>

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