If you are
not a US citizen yet, you most likely have certain anxiety attached to possible
international travel: you may be worried about being allowed to enter the US
upon return, or if you can even qualify for travel documents, or if you will be
able to return to the US after a prolonged stay abroad.
all common questions asked by both green card holders and those for whom the
laws of the US allow to apply for a travel permit while they are in the process
of receiving a status. For example, people granted asylum or a refugee status
in the US can travel abroad only using an asylee/refugee travel document;
persons in TPS status, adjustment of status pending, T status, or DACA may
request advance parole which will allow them to return upon temporary travel
abroad; persons with green cards who may stay abroad for longer than 6 months
would want to file for a re-entry permit to avoid issues at the border.
all travel documents such as advance parole, re-entry permit, and
refugee/asylee travel documents are filed for using form I 131 found at www.usics.gov.
It is the same form that is used by different applicants for different
purposes. The filing fee for the form will depend on the purpose or the type of
travel authorization one is requesting. For example, today, for an advance
parole one will have to pay $575, for a refugee travel document most applicants
will pay $220, and for a re-entry permit: $660.
form I 131 is filed with USCIS by mail, and processing times vary upon the type
of the document requested, and vary from 3.5 months to 6-9 months. But what if
your need to travel is quite urgent and you cannot wait for such a long time?
Then, depending on the type of document you request and the circumstances, you
may request that USCIS expedite the issuance of travel documents.
two ways one can go about it. If your application with USCIS had been
filed already, and the travel needs from less urgent turned into very urgent,
you can submit and expedite the request with USCIS asking to process the
already filed application. Your request will have to comply with the expedited
guidelines that can be found here: https://www.uscis.gov/forms/filing-guidance/how-to-make-an-expedite-request.
have to demonstrate that failure to process the document fast will result in:
· Severe financial loss to a company or person, provided that the
need for urgent action is not the result of the petitioner’s or applicant’s
o Timely file the benefit request, or
o Timely respond to any requests for additional evidence;
Emergencies and urgent humanitarian reasons;
Nonprofit organization (as designated by the
Internal Revenue Service) whose request is in furtherance of the cultural
or social interests of the United States;
U.S. government interests (such cases
identified as urgent by federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of
Defense, U.S. Department of Labor, National Labor Relations Board, Equal
Opportunity Commission, U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of
State, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, or other public safety or
national security interests); or
Clear USCIS error.
agrees with you, your document will be issued pretty quickly, but still, it
will take about 30 days to get processed!
is a different way as well. What if the need to travel appeared within the past
48 hours due to some sort of emergency? Then (and it is true, especially for
advance paroles), you may request that your travel document be issued to you in
person at a local USCIS field office. For that, you first have to request an
appointment at a local USCIS field office either by calling USCIS customer
service number or using the online scheduling tool: https://my.uscis.gov/en/appointment/v2.
If your request for the appointment is confirmed, you will have to appear at
the local USCIS office with your filing fee, filled out form I 131, proof
of emergency, a copy of your ID, passport, and 2 passport-style photos, as well
as proof of your eligibility to seek advance parole (a copy of receipt for
pending I 485 form, affirmative asylum, or having a DACA or TPS status for
example). A local USCIS officer will decide if your request warrants merit, and
if agrees with you, you will receive advance parole on that very day.
USCIS Processing Times, Immigration Court Updates and More!
January 18, 2022
NYC Immigration Lawyer Alena Shautsova shares the most recent updates regarding USCIS real processing times for I 765, I 485, N 400 and I 601A; discusses the most recent Immigration news and practices.
Immigration News Updates: Immigration Reform Plan C?
Judge’s Ruling Undermines Biden’s Reform Efforts, A Great Decision from a Judge in Nevada, and More Recent Immigration News
A decision from Texas Judge stops Biden’s recent ICE enforcement priorities from reverting back to the Trump era practices: ICE is ordered to not follow Biden administration’s Memoranda regarding enforcement and report its compliance to Court.
Good news for adjustment of status applicants: green card medical exams will be valid longer!
On July 27, 2021 Biden Administration published Immigration Blueprint or a comprehensive plan that includes steps to reform the United States Immigration System. The plan addresses the most troublesome areas of the US Immigration including border security and asylum, Immigration court and access to representation in immigration proceedings, visa backlog, and more. The published Blueprint can be accessed at www.whitehouse.gov.
In this video I share my thoughts on the Blueprint, and provide more explanations on the issue:
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Immigration News: DACA Is Ordered Illegal By a Federal Judge
DACA or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals has helped hundreds of thousands of kids who were brought to the United States to be protected from deportation and receive at least a work permit. It was first announced by President Obama in 2012, and ever since has been a target of political wars between pro and against immigrant forces. DACA was able to withstand various attacks until recently when a Texas federal judge ordered the program to be illegal. Judge Hanen stated that President Obama did exceed his authority to protect kids from deportation, and ordered that the Department of Homeland Security stops approving new DACA applications… Judge Hanen’s decision left many in frustration and dismay: thousands of kids and now young adults lost all hopes for “legalization.” With their future in the US uncertain, all hopes turned to the Senate. The vote in the Senate may help to pass American Dream and Promise Act which provided status to those who are DACA eligible and other young adults… See our proposed reform summaries here: https://www.russianspeakinglawyerny.com/immigration-reform-updates-when-will-it-happen/.
For now, all those who are currently holding DACA status remain eligible for renewals, including employment authorizations and advance paroles, but no new applications can be approved. However, those filing for the first time may file their applications with USCIS, but the applications will not be approved until Judge Hanon’s decision is changed or appealed.
Watch our video and explanation on the most recent DACA news:
Breaking Immigration News: Administrative Closure Is Back!
July 16, 2021
Author: New York Immigration Lawyer Alena Shautsova
Today, July 15, 2021, the Biden Administration overturned Trump’s Attorney General’s decision in Matter of Castro‑Tum, 27 I&N Dec. 271 (A.G. 2018) and returned administrative closure to the US Immigration courts.
The significance of the decision cannot be overstated: for years since Castro-Tum, immigration Judges were deprived of the ability to control their dockets and postpone cases where respondents were waiting for interim reliefs.
Administrative closure will allow resolving the US Immigration court backlog, and will be helpful to those who either cannot have relief from removal, or have to wait for USCIS to adjudicate underlying petitions.
With the new administration in the Oval Office, the Immigration system and USCIS started to change rapidly. To date, USCIS changed its policies including honoring prior decisions, granting U visa applicants work permits, extending work permits for adjustment of status applicants, and more. In one recent trend, USCIS also started to waive interviews for certain adjustments of status applicants. USCIS waives interviews for employment-based, SIJ based adjustments, as well as VAWA based adjustments, and I 730 beneficiaries.
USCIS focus on Naturalization:
In addition, USCIS announced that it would continue to focus on promoting naturalization and citizenship. In fact, President Biden hosted a naturalization event during which 21immigrants became new US citizens: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUertGpv7rw
Reopening of Immigration courts:
Immigration courts are set to open next week, and you need to be prepared. Learn more on our Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBSrIQswMdYh_T1qToEZRrQ!
In the law office of Alena Shautsova, New York Immigration attorney, we help non-citizens to achieve their dreams to become US lawful permanent residents and citizens. Biden administration voiced their commitment to change the US Immigration System and do all in their power to deliver the Immigration reform. But the executive branch of the government is limited in its actions. Although changing USCIS policies will help thousands of people, the real relief can be brought by the legislative arm of the government or Congress only. Here, we will discuss some of the legislative proposals that were recently introduced or reintroduced by the President, Republicans and Democrats. I will share my thoughts regarding the possible success of the proposals and the latest news related to their status.
The US citizenship Act of 2021. This is the law that was proposed by President Biden. This proposal is very broad and if passed, would bring relief to pretty much every non-citizen who has been residing in the US since January 1, 2021. It has two main tracks: one is for those who do not have any status in the US and are not DACA, or TPS holders and are not agricultural workers. It proposes first a temporary residence for six years with an opportunity to file for permanent residence after five years. Once the person holds permanent residence for three years, he/she will be able to apply for naturalization. For DACA, TPS holders, and Agricultural workers it creates a direct path to green card. There are other significant proposals contained in this act, such as the elimination of the one-year asylum filing deadline, for example. The only update we have with regard to its current status is that on April 28, 2021, it was referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship. In my opinion, it is unlikely that this proposal will pass in its current form, just because it is too broad, does not contain any limitations on the length of the residency required to meet the qualifications for temporary status, and I would treat it more as a conversation starter rather than the practical proposal that can be worked on.
The Dream and Promise Act of 2021, is a bipartisan
bill, that would provide conditional permanent resident status for 10 years to “dreamers”: a qualifying alien who entered the
United States as a minor (18 years old or younger on the date of the entry) and
(1) is deportable or inadmissible, (2) has deferred enforced departure (DED)
status or temporary protected status (TPS) (resided in the US since January 1, 2017
in a TPS status), or (3) is the child of certain classes of nonimmigrants. The
bill imposes various qualifying requirements, such as the alien being continuously
physically present in the United States since January 1, 2021, passing a
background check, and being enrolled in or having completed certain educational
programs. DHS shall remove the conditions placed on permanent resident status
granted under this bill if the alien applies and meets certain requirements,
such as completing certain programs at an educational institution, serving in
the military, or being employed. Furthermore, DHS and DOJ shall cancel the
removal of certain aliens who had TPS, were eligible for TPS, or were eligible
for DED status on certain dates. Such an alien shall receive permanent resident
status upon meeting certain requirements and applying for such status within
three years of this bill’s enactment.”
This Bill is much narrower in nature, is tailored for DACA holders,
and TPS holders, rather than all non-citizens. For that reason, taking the conservative
opposition, it has a real potential of being passed, perhaps with some
modifications. The last action on the bill was performed on June 15, 2021 when hearings
in the Senate took place.
Citizenship for Essential Workers Act 2021 is another great proposal that, if passed, will bring relief to millions, because it happened that millions of undocumented immigrants in the US are also essential workers, working in construction, health care and child care services, food preparation, delivery, trucking, restaurants, and retail businesses, etc. that served and saved the country during the COVID pandemic. The bill would grant adjustment of status or green card to anyone who can prove that they earned income during the pandemic, even if a person had a prior order of removal, as long as the person passes security background checks. An employer will have to confirm that the employee worked for them, facing severe sanctions in case of arbitrary refusal. The Bill would allow depends of the main applicants (sons, daughters, spouses, parents in certain situations, to benefit form it as well). The following sectors are covered by the bill:
“(G) Agricultural work, including labor that is seasonal in
“(H) Commercial or residential landscaping.
“(I) Commercial or residential construction or renovation.
“(J) Housing, residential, and commercial construction related
activities or public works construction.
“(K) Domestic work in private households, including child care,
home care, or house cleaning.
“(L) Natural disaster recovery, disaster reconstruction, and
“(M) Home and community-based work, including—
“(i) home health care;
“(ii) residential care;
“(iii) assistance with activities of daily living;
“(iv) any service provided by direct care workers (as defined in
section 799B of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 295p)), personal care
aides, job coaches, or supported employment providers; and
“(v) any other provision of care to individuals in their homes
by direct service providers, personal care attendants, and home health aides.
“(N) Family care, including child care services, in-home child
care services such as nanny services, and care services provided by family
members to other family members.
“(Q) Transportation or logistics.
“(S) Laundromat and dry-cleaning operators.
As one can see, it is very broad. Most importantly, it would also help a parent, spouse, son, or daughter of a member of the Armed Forces, including the National Guard. The only continuing presence requirement to meet under this bill: is that a person has to reside in the US since January 1, 2021 and until the application is approved. Ineligible individuals will include those who: “(A) departed the United States while subject to an order of exclusion, deportation, removal, or voluntary departure; and
was outside the United States on January 1, 2021; or
reentered the United States unlawfully after January 1, 2021.
The last action on this bill
was undertaken on May 12, 2021 when Committee on the
Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Safety held
Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2021. This is another bill that has a lot of potential due to its limited
nature. Under the bill, DHW would grant a status an applying alien who “
(1) performed at least 1,035 hours of agricultural labor during the two-year
period prior to March 8, 2021; (2) on that date was inadmissible, deportable,
or under a grant of deferred enforced departure or temporary protected status;
and (3) has been continuously present in the United States from that date until
receiving CAW (certified agricultural worker) status. The bill imposes additional
crime-related inadmissibility grounds on CAW applicants and makes some other
grounds inapplicable.” The status shall be valid for 5.5 years and may be
extended. DHS may grant dependent status to the spouse or children of a
principal alien. An alien with a pending application may not be detained or
removed by DHS and shall be authorized for employment until DHS makes a final
decision on the application. A CAW alien (and dependents) may apply for lawful
permanent resident status after meeting various requirements, including
performing a certain amount of agricultural labor for a number of years. The
last action on the bill was March 22, 2021 when it was received in the Senate and read twice and referred to the Committee on
Among the main points is that this proposal created
a long-term path to a green card, includes a fine as a part of the application
process, and provides a temporary status first for 10 years, with an opportunity
to qualify for a green card later.
There are the main proposals with real potentials to be adopted, at least in parts. As one can see, so far the latest action on any of them was performed in mid-June. Taking into consideration Democrats’ voiced attempts to try to pass some Immigration provisions as a part of the budget voting, it can be expected that any future meaningful actions shall be undertaken no earlier than Fall of 2021.
In the meantime, one can try to benefit from
the ICE/DHS prosecutorial discretion and changed USCIS policies that may bring
at least temporary relief.
f you need help with Immigration
challenges in the US, book a confidential consultation by calling 917 885 2261.
(Consultation fees apply).