REMINDER: Registration Period for Nepal TPS Ends Dec. 21, 2015

The 180-day registration period for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Nepal began on June 24, 2015, and the Dec. 21, 2015 deadline is fast approaching.

DHS designated TPS for Nepal based on the current country conditions resulting from the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that occurred on April 25, 2015, along with strong aftershocks, affecting more than 8 million people, causing over 8,700 fatalities, and resulting in a substantial disruption of living conditions.  The designation means that, through Dec. 24, 2016, eligible nationals of Nepal (and people without nationality who last habitually resided in Nepal) are eligible to remain in the U.S. and will not be removed.  They may also receive employment authorization and apply for a travel document.

Eligibility requirements for TPS include the following:

1) Must be a national of Nepal (or a person without nationality who last habitually resided in Nepal);

2) Must have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 24, 2015; and

3) Must have been continuously physically present in the U.S. since June 24, 2015.

Please be aware that TPS does not grant nor lead to lawful permanent resident status.  However, TPS beneficiaries are not prevented from applying for other immigration benefits.  For a consultation regarding your eligibility for TPS and assistance with your application, please contact our office.

Please consult an attorney for advice about your individual situation.  The information provided on this site is not legal advice, nor is it intended to be.  You are welcome to get in touch with our law firm by electronic mail, letters, or phone calls.  Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.  Until an attorney-client relationship is established, please withhold from sending any confidential information.

USCIS Acquiesces to Shalom Pentecostal Case Invalidating Legal Status Requirements for Special Immigrant Religious Workers

On July 5, 2015, USCIS issued an important Policy Memorandum acquiescing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit decision in Shalom Pentecostal, stating that USCIS will no longer require a beneficiary to have held lawful U.S. immigration status or employment authorization while he/she acquired qualifying 2-year religious work experience in the U.S. prior to filing the I-360 special immigrant religious worker visa petition.  The Policy Memorandum was issued to USCIS adjudicators nationwide and applies to all pending special immigrant religious worker petitions as well as new petitions filed on or after July 5, 2015.  The Memorandum is in effect until new regulations are enacted by DHS.

This Memorandum follows a significant decision issued on April 7, 2015, in which the Third Circuit in Shalom Pentecostal Church v. Acting Secretary DHS, 783 F. 3d 156 (3d Circ. 2015), found the lawful immigration status requirements in 8 CFR 204.5(m)(4) and (11) inconsistent with the clear and unambiguous intent of Congress as evidenced in the plain language of the statute at 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(27)(C), and therefore beyond DHS’s legal authority to mandate (ultra vires).  As a result of the decision, USCIS is unable to apply the legal status requirements of 8 CFR 204.5(m)(4) and (11) to cases arising in the Third Circuit, and with additional federal courts reaching the same outcome, USCIS decided in July to acquiesce to the finding in Shalom Pentecostal in order to “promote consistent adjudications and a nationally uniform immigration policy.”

Although a beneficiary of the special immigrant religious worker visa petition is no longer precluded from eligibility for the I-360 visa with qualifying religious work experience acquired in the U.S. without lawful status or employment authorization, the beneficiary must, nonetheless, meet eligibility requirements of section 245 of the Immigration and Nationality Act to successfully adjust status to permanent resident.  If you would like a consultation regarding your eligibility for the special immigrant religious worker visa, please contact us to speak with our experienced attorneys.

Please consult an attorney for advice about your individual situation.  The information provided on this site is not legal advice, nor is it intended to be.  You are welcome to get in touch with our law firm by electronic mail, letters, or phone calls.  Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.  Until an attorney-client relationship is established, please withhold from sending any confidential information.

DHS Designates Nepal for TPS – Registration Now Open

On June 24, 2015, USCIS designated Nepal for Temporary Protected Status effective for 18 months from June 24, 2015 to December 24, 2016.  The 180-day registration period during which applicants may apply for TPS begins June 24, 2015 and ends on December 21, 2015.  DHS designated TPS for Nepal based on the current country conditions resulting from the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that occurred on April 25, 2015, along with strong aftershocks, affecting more than 8 million people, causing over 8,700 fatalities, and resulting in a substantial disruption of living conditions.

Eligibility requirements for TPS include the following:

1) Must be a national of Nepal (or applicants without nationality, must have last habitually resided in Nepal);

2) Must have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 24, 2015; and

3) Must have been continuously physically present in the U.S. since June 24, 2015.

Those approved for TPS:

1) Are eligible to remain in the U.S.;

2) May not be removed from the U.S.;

3) Are eligible to obtain an employment authorization document (EAD); and

4) May apply for a travel document.

Filing fee waivers are available to those who apply and qualify by showing inability to pay.  All applicants age 14 and over are required to complete biometrics (fingerprints).

Please be aware that TPS does not grant nor lead to lawful permanent resident status.  However, TPS beneficiaries are not prevented from applying for other immigration benefits.  Furthermore, those with a criminal record or who are a possible threat to national security may be ineligible for TPS.  Consult with an experienced immigration attorney regarding your eligibility if you possess a criminal record.

When DHS terminates Nepal’s designation for TPS, the immigration status of TPS beneficiaries will “return to the same immigration status they maintained before TPS, if any (unless that status has since expired or been terminated), or to any other lawfully obtained immigration status they received while registered for TPS.”  80 FR 36346 (June 24, 2015).

For assistance with your TPS application and a consultation regarding your immigration options, please contact our office.

Please consult an attorney for advice about your individual situation.  The information provided on this site is not legal advice, nor is it intended to be.  You are welcome to get in touch with our law firm by electronic mail, letters, or phone calls.  Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.  Until an attorney-client relationship is established, please withhold from sending any confidential information.

UPDATE: USCIS Now Accepting EAD Applications for Certain H-4 Spouses

USCIS is now accepting applications for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) from H-4 dependent spouses.  To qualify for work authorization, the H-4 dependent must be the spouse of an H-1B holder with an approved immigration petition or who has been granted H-1B status beyond the 6 year limit based on AC 21.  (Please refer to our previous blog post here for more information regarding eligibility for this program.)

As we reported in our previous blog post, found here, on April 23, 2015, a lawsuit was filed against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to invalidate the new H-4 Spouse EAD program.  At this time, the lawsuit does not have any impact on the program, and we at Just Law International, P.C., are moving forward with H-4 Spouse EAD applications as planned.  Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information and to schedule a consultation regarding your eligibility for an EAD application.

Please consult an attorney for advice about your individual situation.  The information provided on this site is not legal advice, nor is it intended to be.  You are welcome to get in touch with our law firm by electronic mail, letters, or phone calls.  Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.  Until an attorney-client relationship is established, please withhold from sending any confidential information.

UPDATE: Expanded DACA & DAPA Still On Hold

On May 26, 2015, a divided Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the federal government’s request for an emergency
stay of the preliminary injunction that halted the implementation of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and an expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).  Therefore, the hold on DAPA and expanded DACA will remain in place at least until the Fifth Circuit decides on the government’s appeal of the preliminary injunction itself.  Arguments are scheduled for early July 2015.  Meanwhile, the underlying case challenging the constitutionality of President Obama’s executive action that created these deferred action programs is still pending in a District Court in Texas and the case is in the early stages of discovery.

What this all means is that the implementation of DAPA and expanded DACA remains uncertain.  We will continue to provide updates here on the blog as the case progresses.

Please consult an attorney for advice about your individual situation.  The information provided on this site is not legal advice, nor is it intended to be.  You are welcome to get in touch with our law firm by electronic mail, letters, or phone calls.  Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.  Until an attorney-client relationship is established, please withhold from sending any confidential information.

Lawsuit filed to challenge USCIS’ H-4 Spouse EAD program

On February 24, 2015, USCIS announced that it would expand eligibility for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to certain H-4 spouses whose primary H-1B holders have an approved immigration petition or have been granted H-1B status beyond the 6 year limit based on AC 21.  (Please refer to our previous blog post here for more information regarding eligibility for this program.)

On April 23, 2015, “SAVE Jobs USA,” a group of former SCE employees filed a declaratory suiH4 lawsuitt against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to invalidate the new H-4 Spouse EAD program, which is scheduled to take effect on May 26, 2015.  (See Save Jobs USA v. DHS, Civil Action No. 1:15-cv-615, United States District for District of Columbia.)

SAVE Jobs USA contends that its members will be injured by the H-4 Spouse EAD program because they will be forced into greater competition with foreign workers for jobs.  The complaint alleges that DHS acted arbitrarily and capriciously by authorizing the program, and that “the H-4 rule is in excess of DHS authority and directly contradicts several provisions of Immigration and Nationality Act.”  According to the May 2015 court calendar, no hearing has been scheduled in the matter.

At this time, the lawsuit does not have any immediate impact on the program and it will still take effect on May 26, 2015.  However, if the court grants a preliminary injunction, the program will be temporarily suspended as in the case of the new DAPA program and expanded DACA.

We at Just Law International, P.C., will continue to provide updates on the pending lawsuit and the H-4 Spouse EAD program.  Until the court makes a decision regarding the preliminary injunction, we will move forward with H-4 Spouse EAD applications as planned.  Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information and to schedule a consultation regarding your eligibility for an EAD application.

Please consult an attorney for advice about your individual situation.  The information provided on this site is not legal advice, nor is it intended to be.  You are welcome to get in touch with our law firm by electronic mail, letters, or phone calls.  Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.  Until an attorney-client relationship is established, please withhold from sending any confidential information.