Becki Young speaks on Inside Washington on Middle East Broadcasting/Alhurra TV regarding the current state of U.S. immigration law and policy

How does a government shutdown affect my immigration case?
By: Meg Hobbins and Ali Nasserghodsi
During a government shutdown, many government functions come to a halt as thousands of non-essential government employees are furloughed. There are multiple government agencies involved in adjudicating immigration benefits and administering immigration law. These agencies are impacted by a government shutdown differently, depending on their funding sources and their various functions.  
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): Because USCIS is self-funded through filing fees, it operates as usual even during a shutdown. Petitions and applications are accepted, interviews are conducted, and notices are issued. However, there are certain USCIS programs, such as E-Verify, that receive appropriated funds and are therefore unavailable until funding resumes.  
Department of State (DOS): DOS visa and passport functions are also self-funded through application fees, and therefore should proceed during a shutdown. However, applicants may experience delays and even a suspension of visa services if the shutdown is protracted and consulate/embassy funds approach depletion.  
The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR): As part of the Department of Justice, the EOIR relies largely on appropriated funds and its functions are limited during a shutdown. Courts will proceed with their detained dockets, and non-detained cases will be rescheduled once funding resumes.  
Customs and Border Protection (CBP): The vast majority of CBP staff are considered “essential” and will therefore be required to work without pay during a government shutdown. Ports of entry will be open but there may be significant delays in processing any applications filed directly with CBP.
The Department of Labor (DOL): The DOL is funded entirely through appropriations, however it is not affected by the current shutdown as it is funded through September 2019. Labor certifications and prevailing wage determinations are therefore unaffected by the shutdown.  
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): ICE enforcement and removal operations will generally continue with agents going without pay. The ICE Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) offices will also remain open as the SEVP is funded by fees. 

“Remain in Mexico” – Serious Due Process Concerns with New Asylum Policy 
By: Meg Hobbins and Ali Nasserghodsi
On December 20, 2018, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen announced that the United States will be returning migrants entering the United States from Mexico back to Mexico for the duration of their immigration proceedings. The administration spoke disparagingly of undocumented migrants who flee their countries to seek protection in the United States, as “fraudsters” who are “gaming the system.” In spite of a promise to uphold domestic and international legal obligations, the policy is legally dubious at best and lacks any clear coordination with Mexico to guarantee the safety and due process protections required under U.S. law and the U.N. 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocols. The administration stated they “expect” Mexico to provide humanitarian visas while asylum seekers await their court date and stated that – somehow – these asylum seekers in Mexico will have access to immigration attorneys. How thousands of destitute Central American migrants will have access to immigration attorneys to help them navigate U.S. asylum law while they remain in Mexico is unclear. Tragically, even the harshest immigration policies cannot deter families fleeing relentless violence and persecution. Access to counsel is likely the most important factor affecting the outcome of asylum proceedings. Creating even more barriers between asylum seekers and the network of attorneys and organizations that seek to serve them presents grave due process concerns. 

Proposed Rule Adding a Registration Requirement for Cap-Subject H-1B Petitions
By: Meg Hobbins and Ali Nasserghodsi
On December 3, 2018, USCIS proposed a rule that would require petitioners seeking to file H-1B petitions subject to the regular cap to first electronically register with USCIS. USCIS would then select a sufficient number of registered petitioners to meet the applicable H-1B allocations.
The proposed rule would also prioritize selection of individuals who have earned a Master’s or higher degree by selecting these applicants first for further processing. The registration process would begin before April 1st, prior to the period during which H-1B cap-subject petitions can be filed.  Advocacy efforts are currently underway, urging USCIS to delay these proposed changes beyond the Fiscal Year 2020 H-1B cap season.


Grossman Young & Hammond |

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