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List Of European Countries From Which All Travel Is Suspended For 30 days

March 12, 2020

Author: NYC Immigration lawyer Alena Shautsova

In response to the Coronavirus outbreak, the USA decided to suspend the entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of all aliens who were physically present within the Schengen Area during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. These countries include: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

These countries do not include England. The bar does not affect movement of goods.

The following individuals are not barred from entering the United States:

(i)     any lawful permanent resident of the United States;

(ii)    any alien who is the spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident;

(iii)   any alien who is the parent or legal guardian of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident is unmarried and under the age of 21;

(iv)    any alien who is the sibling of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that both are unmarried and under the age of 21;

(v)     any alien who is the child, foster child, or ward of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications;

(vi)    any alien traveling at the invitation of the United States Government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus;

(vii)   any alien traveling as a nonimmigrant pursuant to a C-1, D, or C-1/D nonimmigrant visa as a crewmember or any alien otherwise traveling to the United States as air or sea crew;

(viii)  any alien

(A)  seeking entry into or transiting the United States pursuant to one of the following visas:  A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3 (as a foreign government official or immediate family member of an official), E-1 (as an employee of TECRO or TECO or the employee’s immediate family members), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6 (or seeking to enter as a nonimmigrant in one of those NATO categories); or

(B)  whose travel falls within the scope of section 11 of the United Nations Headquarters Agreement;

(ix)    any alien whose entry would not pose a significant risk of introducing, transmitting, or spreading the virus, as determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, through the CDC Director or his designee;

(x)     any alien whose entry would further important the United States law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees, based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee;

(xi)    any alien whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees; or

(xii)   members of the U.S. Armed Forces and spouses and children of members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

(b)  Nothing in this proclamation shall be construed to affect any individual’s eligibility for asylum, withholding of removal, or protection under the regulations issued pursuant to the legislation implementing the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, consistent with the laws and regulations of the United States.

B-Ban Or How Babies Became Threat for The US National Security

January 26, 2020
Image result for Baby Banned

Author: New York Immigration Lawyer Alena Shautsova

It is official: pregnant ladies will be denied U.S. tourist visas! This is the essence of the new rule that was published by the U.S. government on January 24, 2020.

“Birth tourism” or entering the U.S. for having access to the best and most reliable medical care has been around for decades. Ladies all over the world, some having to save money for a long time, came to the U.S. to have assurance that the most important day in their lives and in the lives of their new babies would go as smoothly as possible. While I am not in a possession of any official statistics, I know for a fact that to get a B or tourist visa has never been easy: a person would have to show that they had sufficient funds to sustain themselves in the U.S. and had strong ties with their home country… In fact, one of the purposes of the B visa was to seek medical attention/help in the U.S.  Thousands of women used this provision to give birth to the U.S.

It is so happened that the U.S. Constitution provides  every baby who was born in the U.S. (with the exceptions of babies of certain diplomats) U.S. citizenship. Basically, regardless of the babies’ mother’s true intentions: to have safe delivery or to plan for the future Immigration to the U.S., the law works to protect the babies born on U.S. soil. And this very provision and threat of “anchor babies” became the reason why recently the U.S. Administration decided to ban pregnant ladies from coming to the U.S.:

“Permitting short-term visitors with no demonstrable ties to the United States to obtain visas to travel to the United States primarily to obtain U.S. citizenship for a child creates a potential long-term vulnerability for national security.” “ By obtaining a child’s U.S. citizenship through birth tourism, foreign nationals are able to help that child avoid the scrutiny, standards, and procedures that he or she would normally undergo if he or she sought to become a U.S. citizen through naturalization.” In other words, they help newborns!

Hence,  “a consular officer shall deny a B nonimmigrant visa to an alien who he or she has reason to believe intends to travel for this primary purpose. “ says the new rule.

To be fair, the rule tries to address the issue of many women trying to come to the U.S. simply to seek high quality medical care which is often unavailable in their home countries. It says: “ Under the primary purpose test, a consular officer must consider a visa applicant’s primary (or principal) purpose of travel to evaluate the applicant’s eligibility for the requested visa classification. All of a visa applicant’s intended activities in the United States are considered in determining the applicant’s eligibility for a visa under standards set out in INA 212 and 214(b), 8 U.S.C. 1182 and 1184, and other applicable visa eligibility standards. The Department’s FAM guidance to consular officers on this point—that an “alien desiring to come to the United States for one principal, and one or more incidental, purposes should be classified in accordance with the principal purpose”—has remained unchanged for well over 30 years. Compare 9 FAM 41.11 N3.1 (August 30, 1987) with current 9 FAM 402.1-3 (last revised May 21, 2018)”

But if we have to measure on a scale of justice a visit to see a family member vs. delivering a baby, it is obvious that delivering a baby purpose will always outweigh any and all other legitimate purposes for travel. So, it is pretty obvious, that the ladies will not be able to come to the U.S. to give birth anymore. Moreover, if a lady “looks” pregnant she will be denied a visa as well!

While some may be annoyed at the fact that ladies come to the U.S. to give birth in the U.S. hospitals to produce “anchor babies”, I have to respond that for such a baby to be able to sponsor a mother or a father, the baby has to be 21 years old, reside in the U.S. and have sufficient income! Which, in most cases, simply will not be possible. The baby ban will affect not those who are crossing the border or are victims of criminal activities, but those who tried to follow the law and actually applied for a visa, arranged for medical treatment facility and doctors and could demonstrate that they could afford their stay in the U.S.

Can I Travel Abroad If I Have TPS and an Order of Removal?

December 22, 2019

Author: Deportation attorney Alena Shautsova

Beneficiaries of the TPS (temporary protected status) are allowed to obtain advance parole: an authorization that allows them to travel abroad and be paroled back into the United States. Many have used this opportunity to obtain a “paroled” status necessary for adjustment of status under INA section 245 which states that one of the qualifications for adjustment of status is for a person to be inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States…

For some time, TPS holders in removal proceedings and with final orders of removal were able to obtain advance paroles and travel on them as well. According to the author’s information, some USCIS offices were accepting such a return on advance parole as an execution of the order of removal and authorization to come back to the United States, opening the door for such travelers for adjustment of status with USCIS.  Recently, USCIS issued yet another policy closing the door to such an interpretation of the travel on advance parole for the TPS holders with orders of removal/deportation.  

Specifically, the policy states that when the TPS holder travels on advance parole and returns to the US, his/her status does not change; if a TPS holder had an order of removal or deportation, he would still be considered as having an unexecuted order; and if removal/deportation proceedings were pending at the time of travel, they remain pending at the time of return.

Now, for an adjustment of status, a TPS holder without the order or removal, can satisfy the paroled requirement if he/she travels and returns on TPS.  A grant of TPS by itself does not cure an alien’s entry without inspection or constitute an inspection and admission of the alien (in most jurisdictions). If an alien under TPS departs the United States and is admitted or paroled upon return to a port of entry, the alien meets the inspected and admitted or inspected and paroled requirement provided the inspection and parole occurred before he or she filed an adjustment application. The applicant, however, must still meet all other requirements to be eligible for adjustment. 

So, what would you do if you traveled on TPS but you have pending removal proceedings? Perhaps, you may be eligible for an adjustment before the judge. If you have an old removal order: it will be considered unexecuted, and legal analysis will be more complicated depending on circumstances.

If you need a consultation regarding your options, please call 917-885-2261 to book an appointment.  

US Asylum Procedure Changes

July 15, 2019

US Asylum Procedure Changes

Author: Asylum USA Lawyer Alena Shautsova

Asylum is the area of Immigration law that is undergoing rapid and vast changes. Just recently the Trump Administration announced that it will tighten the rules of qualifying for asylum again: now, a person who was traveling through other countries on the way to the US will be disqualified from asylum in the US unless narrow exceptions apply.

These are the exceptions:

  1. A person was trafficked into the US
  2. If the country the migrant passed through did not sign one of the major international treaties that govern how refugees are managed: 1951 Convention on Status of Refugees, 1967 Protocol; and CAT convention.
  3. If an asylum-seeker sought protection in a country but was denied.

The new regulations govern those who enter or attempt to enter the US at the “southern border”.

Notably, people who will be barred from requesting asylum due to these new regulations may still apply for withholding of removal or CAT. However, the screening for these applications will use a higher standard of fear than asylum. A negative finding of reasonable fear will be subject to a court’s review.

 

As a result of these new changes, more people, and almost all Central American families will be barred from claiming asylum in the US. They will also be subject to expedited removal proceedings: removal proceedings where one does not see a judge and the removal order is issued at the border by the government agents. An expedited removal order bars one from coming back to the US for 5 years. A person who disobeys such an order and enters the US illegally will be subject to a permanent bar.

Important Changes in Green Card Medical Exam Acceptance Policy

February 21, 2019

Important Changes in Green Card Medical Exam Acceptance Policy

Author: New York Immigration Attorney Alena Shautsova

An application for adjustment of status will not be approved if an applicant does not present a valid I693 form, medical exam. The medical exam itself is a pretty basic examination of one’s health condition, and even if a person has certain health issues, there is a waiver available. But what is hard is to comply correctly with constantly changing requirements for the form submission. 

Starting November 1, 2018, all forms I 693 will be valid only if the doctors signed them within 60 days of the submission of the form to USCIS and USCIS adjudicated the case within 2 years of the signature.

Note: the form I693 does not have to be filed together with the AOS package. It can be brought to the interview or submitted after a request for more evidence. 

If the I 693 form was submitted before November 1, 2018, then the form would be valid if

  • The civil surgeon signs Form I-693 more than 60 days before the applicant files the underlying benefit application with USCIS, but the applicant submits Form I-693 to USCIS no more than one year after the civil surgeon signed Form I-693; and USCIS issues a decision on the underlying benefit application no more than one year after the date the applicant submitted Form I-693 to USCIS.

OR

  • The civil surgeon signs Form I-693 no more than 60 days before the applicant files the underlying benefit application with USCIS; and USCIS issues a decision on the underlying benefit application no more than two years after the date of the civil surgeon’s signature.

OR

  • The civil surgeon signs Form I-693, and the applicant submits Form I-693, after the applicant files the benefit application with USCIS; and USCIS issues a decision on the underlying benefit application no more than two years after the date of the civil surgeon’s signature.

In all cases, a Form I-693 submitted to USCIS more than one year after the date of the civil surgeon’s signature is insufficient for evidentiary purposes as of the time of its submission to USCIS.

The best practice is to obtain the form at the interview: since the notice for the interview comes early (about a month before the interview), it is usually enough time to obtain the form and bring to the interview. 

If you have questions regarding AOS procedures in the US, you can book a consultation here: https://www.shautsova.com/appointments/immigration-lawyer-request.html 

New Policy Regarding Unlawful Presence for F, M and J Visa Holders

August 13, 2018

New Policy Regarding Unlawful Presence for F, M and J Visa Holders

Author: US Visa Attorney Alena Shautsova

Recently, Trump administration started implementing new Immigration policies which construe Immigration laws stricter and with greater negative consequences for the non-residents. For example, several months ago, USCIS announced that the D/S (duration of status) exception of unlawful presence for M, F and J students will be abolished. Meaning, that these visa holders will start accumulating unlawful presence as soon as their program/status expires, and not only when a judge or USCIS determined that their status was “stopped.”  This new policy announcement was in conflict with the existing law allowing F and M  students to apply for reinstatement of status within 5 months of loss of such status, which would negate any determination of “unlawful presence.”

As a result, USCIS eventually changed its policy and the final version of it states that no unlawful presence will be accumulated if the person in F or M status filed a subsequently approved application for reinstatement of status. The new policy is as such:

F, J, or M nonimmigrants who failed to maintain their nonimmigrant status7 before August 9, 2018 start accruing unlawful presence based on that failure on August 9, 2018,8 unless the alien had already started accruing unlawful presence on the earliest of the following:

  • The day after DHS denied the request for an immigration benefit, if DHS made a formal finding that the alien violated his or her nonimmigrant status while adjudicating a request for another immigration benefit;
  • The day after the Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, expired, if the F, J, or M nonimmigrant was admitted for a date certain; or
  • The day after an immigration judge ordered the alien excluded, deported or removed (whether or not the decision is appealed).

 

F, J, or M nonimmigrants who failed to maintain nonimmigrant status on or after August 9, 2018 An F, J, or M nonimmigrant begin accruing unlawful presence, due to a failure to maintain his or her status on or after August 9, 2018, on the earliest of any of the following:

  • The day after the F, J, or M nonimmigrant no longer pursues the course of study or the authorized activity or the day after he or she engages in an unauthorized activity;
  • The day after completing the course of study or program (including any authorized practical training plus any authorized grace period, as outlined in 8 CFR 214.2);
  • The day after the Form I-94 expires, if the F, J, or M nonimmigrant was admitted for a date certain; or
  • The day after an immigration judge orders the alien excluded, deported, or removed (whether or not the decision is appealed).

Significantly, nonimmigrants who are not issued a Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, are treated as nonimmigrants admitted for D/S (as addressed in Chapter 40.9.2(b)(1)(E)(ii)) for purposes of determining unlawful presence.

Updates on Trump Executive Order Regarding Family Separation

June 20, 2018

 

 

Updates on Trump Executive Order Regarding Family Separation

Why Trump is digging in on separating families at the border

Author: New York Immigration lawyer Alena Shautsova

Trump, as promised, signed an Executive Order stopping Family separation on the Southern Border. The Order, however, protects families from separation for 20 days only. In addition, the “zero tolerance” policy stays in place. 

The order directs other agencies, including the Pentagon, to take steps to find places to house family units.
The order specifies that migrants entering the US with children will not be kept together if there’s a fear for the child’s welfare. Families will also be prioritized in the adjudication process.
 
It is anticipated that the order will be challenged. It presents a new ground to challenge prolonged family detention. 

US Asylum System is Under Attack

October 16, 2017

US Asylum System is Under Attack

Author: US Asylum Attorney Alena Shautsova

The US asylum system has saved the lives of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of people who would have been tortured, humiliated, beaten, arrested and deprived of all possible freedoms and rights in their home countries.  The system is structured to have two tracks: an administrative (or affirmative) and a judicial (or defensive). It does not provide any interim benefits, except for an employment authorization after six months from the filing of the first application. It also establishes a crucial deadline: one year since entry, that an applicant has to meet in order to file for asylum in the US.

Yet, many, including Attorney General Jeff Session criticize the system. They state that the US allows too many applicants in, and provides them with an opportunity to “game” the system.

The US Asylum system and many of its parts are built on the International Conventions. The most crucial document here would be the 1951 Refugee Convention.  In 1967 followed its Protocol. It is not only the US, but virtually all the countries in the world that drafted and joined this Convention and the Protocol recognizing one huge issue: there are people in the world who need the protection of countries other than the ones they were born in. It happens that not all world leaders and not all people in the world are playing by the rules. There are places with great evil, and we cannot just turn our backs on brothers and sisters and little children that suffer from deprivation and persecution. Hence, the countries agreed to recognize that status of refugees, people who do not want to, or are unable to, to return to their home countries to some very serious reasons.  Therefore, the US, asylum seekers or Immigration attorneys did not invent “asylum.” It is all based on a long history of humankind and International norms.

What differs from country to country is the way various governments implement the International norms. Some, provide financial benefits to the seekers before their applications are decided. Some, allow only an administrative path, without a judicial review.  Some, are not parties to the Convention at all and there is no opportunity to apply for asylum in those countries at all.

What is different about the US, is that it allows one to claim or apply for asylum at the US border, before they enter the country. The procedure is known as a “credible fear” interview. A person comes to the border, surrenders herself to the border agents and states that she would like to seek asylum in the US. Such a person is usually detained. Then, such a person has an interview with an Immigration officer who determines if such a person has a “credible fear” of returning to their home country. If the answer is positive, the person is freed from the detention (often on bond) and can present her claim in the US Immigration Court. In court, an Immigration Judge decides if such a person’s claim will be granted.

Further, in the US, under the Real ID Act, an asylum seeker must present evidence to corroborate his/her claim or provide sufficient explanation if such evidence is missing.  The government, and the Immigration Judge (“IJ”), both challenge the evidence and make sure that the applicant’s testimony is consistent and credible. If the IJ denies a person’s claim, he/she can file an appeal.

Attorney Gen. Sessions recently stated that the US Asylum system is being gamed. It is unclear what exactly he referred to. The US Asylum system is built partially on International law and partially on principles of due process and access to justice.  To deny asylum seekers a fair and just opportunity to save their lives in the US due to fear of fraud, would be the same as to execute every person charged with a crime without giving them a chance of due process and the presumption of innocence.

Finally, the US has very serious consequences for those who file false asylum claims: if a person is found to file a false asylum claim, he/she will be forever inadmissible into the US.

 

No More Parole for Children from Central America

August 17, 2017

No More Parole for Children from Central America

Attorney: Immigration Attorney Alena Shautsova

On December 1, 2014, DHS and the U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced that the U.S. Government would allow certain minors in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to be considered for refugee status in the United States.  The program helped children to come to the United States if a qualifying parent was present in the US in a legal status.  At some point the program was expanded and helped to come  (1) The in-country biological parent of a qualifying child who is not legally married to the qualifying parent in the United States may apply, and the unmarried and under 21 years of age children and/or legal spouse of the in-country parent can also be included as derivatives of the in-country parent; (2) the caregiver of a qualifying child who is related to either the qualifying parent in the United States or the qualifying child may apply, and the unmarried and under 21 years of age children and/or legal spouse of the caregiver can also be included as derivatives of the caregiver; (3) the married and/or 21 years of age or older children of the qualifying parent (who is lawfully present in the United States) may apply, and (4) the unmarried and under 21 years of age children and legal spouse of the married and/or 21 years of age or older child can also be included as derivatives.

On August 16, 2017, the new administration cancelled the program. All those who were pre-qualified while in their country of origin will be notified that their registration would be terminated. This decision affects those who have not yet traveled to the United States. Those who were already paroled into the US, may remain here, their parole would not be terminated, and they will be allowed to submit form I 131 to be re -paroled while in the United States.

For those who got left behind overseas: they still may try regular Humanitarian parole route. More information on humanitarian parole may be found here:  http://www.russianspeakinglawyerny.com/humanitarian-parole/.

 

If you have questions regarding parole procedure and qualifications, call our office 917-885-2261.

 

EAD Clock and Transfer of Pending Asylum Case

July 12, 2016

EAD Clock and Transfer of Pending Asylum Case

Author: USA Asylum Attorney Alena Shautsova

Finally, there is a good news for asylum seekers. USCIS is adjusting its policy on stopping the employment authorization clock in case an applicant is filing his/her request to change the venue or transfer the case from one asylum office to another.

Previously, any request for transfer at any point of asylum case was considered by USCIS as a delay of the proceedings caused by the applicant and the EAD clock (the 180 day clock for employment authorization that starts to run once the case is filed) would be stopped, and often stopped permanently.

Recently, USCIS announced that in case of a transfer request the clock will be stopped only if the case had already been scheduled for an interview prior to the request. It is unclear, if the applicant should be aware of the scheduled date or not,  for the “punishment” to be imposed. However, the good news is that clock will be and should be restarted for all those cases were it was stopped in violation of this new policy.

The EAD clock is one of the most sensitive topic for asylum seekers. In many other countries, asylum seekers may enjoy different benefits while they are waiting for the resolution of their applications. The only benefit that they get in the US is a right to an employment authorization that  one can use after his/her case was pending for more than 180 days.

Sometimes, pro se applicants transfer their cases without knowing of the consequences of transfer. The new policy should help to eliminate this injustice and help those awaiting for their asylum cases to be resolved.

The other aspect of the issue is that the wait times for asylum interviews increased dramatically within the past few years. It is not uncommon for an asylum seeker to  wait for 2 years before he/she is called for an appointment with an Asylum officer. It means that if somebody moved within the first 6 months after filing the case, he lost his/her chance for an employment authorization for the whole time the case would be pending.  Hopefully, the new policy will help “movers” to avoid this consequences.