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On September 27, the USCIS Office of Public Engagement hosted a live teleconference to inform the public how the agency will implement its new policy, or policy memorandum (PM), issued on June 28, 2018, “Updated Guidance for the Referral of Cases and Issuance of Notices to Appear (NTAs) in Cases Involving Inadmissible and Deportable Aliens.”  The policy aligns USCIS operations with Executive Order 13768: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.

The NTA requires the recipient to appear in court before an immigration judge, and is the first step in removal, or deportation, proceedings. After a brief overview of the new NTA policy, which supersedes previous 2011 USCIS guidance on the same topic, USCIS presented a Q&A series from more than 100 questions received by stakeholders. The USCIS teleconference participants represented a broad spectrum of the agency’s divisions including USCIS Field Operations, Policy, and Office of Chief Counsel.  USCIS also announced that the agency will soon host a public webpage about the new NTA policy implementation, and that information conveyed during the teleconference would soon be available in the USCIS electronic reading room.

The top 10 takeaways of the USCIS teleconference regarding its new NTA policy implementation include the following points: Continue Reading Top 10 NTA Takeaways: USCIS Goes Live to Reveal Implementation Plans of New DHS Deportation Policy

As anticipated by an earlier blog post, and after a couple of months of internal planning, USCIS is ready to announce its implementation plan related to the agency’s new Notice to Appear (NTA) policy guidance.  On Thursday, September 27, Mayer Brown’s Global Mobility and Migration practice will eagerly join a live USCIS teleconference entitled “Updated Guidance for the Referral of Cases and Issuance of Notices to Appear (NTAs) in Cases Involving Inadmissible and Deportable Aliens”.  The dialogue will enable our attorneys to immediately learn and question how broadly USCIS plans to interpret its upcoming interpretations of NTA guidance that may warrant deportation proceedings.  As previously shared, USCIS officers will soon issue NTAs on a wider range of cases where an individual is removable and there is evidence of fraud, criminal activity, or where an applicant is denied an immigration benefit and is unlawfully present in the United States. The USCIS teleconference should also share more insight regarding the Department of Homeland Security’s removal priorities per Executive Order 13768, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States. More to come from The Mobile Workforce on this topic.

On July 30, 2018, US Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it will postpone its June 28, 2018 guidance for the issuance of Notices to Appear (“NTA”) to commence removal proceedings in certain cases.  For the time being, USCIS will delay activating the new NTA policy until the agency determines an implementation plan.  USCIS did not indicate a timeline or date however by which it will publish its NTA operations plan, an agency function traditionally held by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”).

Although USCIS NTAs are on hold until further notice, employers can take practical steps now to prepare for the agency’s transition, specifically by assessing if any of their foreign national employees may be at risk of a potential removal or deportation proceeding.  For example, student employees should have their most current address on file with USCIS in case they receive a Request for Evidence, otherwise they will not be able to respond to USCIS, and could unknowingly receive a NTA if they fail to provide a respond.  Similarly, for employees whose work authorization relies upon a non-immigrant visa category, such as an H-1B visa, employers may renew or extend the non-immigrant status beginning six months in advance of the visa expiration.  Renewing a non-immigrant visa status as early as possible allows both employers and employees more time to respond to Requests for Evidence, or concurrently strategize other immigration options that may be available, and minimize a disruption of work.

For more information about the USCIS NTA policy delay, please read our Mayer Brown Global Mobility Legal Alert here.

 

USCIS Broadens Categories for Deportation Under New Policy Guidance and Will Issue Notices of Appearance 

On June 28, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) issued new policy guidance that expands the circumstances under which an adjudicator will generate a Notice to Appear (NTA), a charging document that commences removal proceedings and the deportation process, and instructs its recipient to appear before an immigration judge.  The guidance broadens USCIS authority to initiate NTAs in cases of fraud, criminal activity, or when an immigrant applicant is denied an immigration benefit and accrues unlawful presence.  The guidance aligns the agency with current immigration enforcement priorities under Executive Order 13768, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.

Traditionally, under 2011 policy guidance, USCIS referred deportation matters to Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE). Now, USCIS will issue NTAs on its own. The new guidance also states that “USCIS will issue an NTA where, upon issuance of an unfavorable decision on an application, petition, or benefit request, the alien is not lawfully present in the United States”. Thus, applicants for U.S. citizenship, green card, or extension or change of status petitions who are ultimately denied could face deportation, whether they are business visitors, H-1B visa holders, or international students.

This policy shift may impact the American workplace if immigrant workers facing deportation lose their jobs due to deportation, and employers must rehire.

To compound the increase of deportation proceedings that the policy might spark, immigration courts and judges currently face over 700,000 backlog cases, almost double the 400,000 cases held in 2014 by the U.S. Department of Justice Executive Office of Immigration Review.

The new USCIS guidance exempts most Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients.

The Texas Attorney General, joined by six other states, filed suit against the federal government yesterday to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on the basis that DACA derives from an executive overreach by President Obama in 2012. The suit was filed in the Fifth Circuit in Brownsville, Texas, where a November 2015 decision overruled President Obama’s plans to protect more than 4 million individuals from deportation.

The lawsuit further complicates the fate of DACA recipients, also known as Dreamers, as other district court rulings remain active. Most recently, a  Washington, DC district judge ordered that DACA renewal applications should continue, and that new applicants may be eligible to apply if the federal government fails to justify within 90 days why DACA should cease altogether.

Continue Reading Texas and Six States Sue to Abolish DACA

On April 24, 2018, Judge John D. Bates of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia ruled against the Trump Administration’s “unlawful” rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program. Arguing that the decision to end DACA was “arbitrary and capricious because the department failed adequately to explain its conclusion that the program was unlawful,” Judge Bates stayed his decision for 90 days to offer the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) the opportunity to provide sound justification for terminating the program.

Should DHS fail to adequately address its reasoning for canceling the DACA program within the timeframe, the government will be ordered to once again accept and process new and renewal DACA applications for eligible applicants.

Read the decision.

In light of recent news regarding data breaches affecting Facebook users, data-mining apps are not the only entities monitoring social media use these days.

Last fall, the Department of Homeland Security expanded its digital monitoring policy in the Federal Register to include immigrant “social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results”.  While DHS describes the announcement as a policy clarification rather than a policy change, the news escalates the debate concerning government use of social media and the tension between privacy rights, free speech, and public safety. Concurrently, DHS issued broader access to public-source data in concert with the intelligence community.  Whereas these 2017 adoptions indicate recent change, DHS has instituted new practices in the digital domain over the last two decades. For instance, the Department began to evaluate social media more closely in the aftermath of the 2015 San Bernardino mass shooting by two attackers who had exchanged private online messages, and added optional requests for social media use under the Visa Waiver Program in late 2016.

Continue Reading 5 Ways Your Social Media Use Might Impact Your Immigration Journey