Breaking News 11.13.2017

TPS to End in January 2019 for Nicaragua, Future Uncertain for Honduras beyond July 2018

On November 6, 2017, Acting Secretary for Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Elaine Duke announced that DHS will terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Nicaragua effective January 5, 2019. DHS decided that conditions in Nicaragua no longer justify extending the original TPS designation, which was made in 1999 following the devastation of Hurricane Mitch. The Nicaraguan government did not request TPS status be extended. Absent an extension, TPS for Nicaragua was set to expire in January 2018. This announcement delays the effective date of this expiration for 12 months (until January 2019) to "provide time for individuals with TPS to seek an alternative lawful immigration status in the United States, if eligible, or, if necessary, arrange for their departure," as well as to "provide time for Nicaragua to prepare for the return and reintegration of their citizens." This decision impacts an estimated 5,300 Nicaraguans living and working in the U.S.

In the same announcement, Secretary Duke extended the TPS designation for Honduras, which was also set to expire on January 5, 2018, for six months or until July 5, 2018. DHS indicated it needs more time to assess the country conditions in Honduras from pre- and post-Hurricane Mitch before it makes a final determination on whether to terminate TPS for Honduras as well. There are 86,000 Honduran nationals currently protected by TPS in the U.S.

The Trump Administration has until January to make a decision on TPS status for El Salvador, which currently protects 200,000 Salvadorans from deportation, and must make an announcement by Thanksgiving Day with regard to the 50,000 Haitian nationals currently protected under TPS. While DHS makes the ultimate call on TPS designations, it seeks input from various other government agencies. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has stated that TPS should be terminated for all Central American countries and for Haiti.

As reported by the Washington Post, it is estimated that TPS holders in the U.S. have over 275,000 U.S.-born children.

USCIS Releases Another Medical Exam Form

On November 3, USCIS announced that it had released a new Form I-693, the form for the immigration medical exam, which is a required component for most applications for adjustment of status ("green card"). The new edition is dated 10/19/2017. USCIS previously released a new edition for the medical exam in February 2017. USCIS will accept only the new 10/19/2017 edition beginning January 2, 2018.

The immigration medical exam is valid for only one year after it has been submitted to USCIS. As processing times surpass one year for employment-based green cards, and creep closer to the one-year mark for family-based green cards, it is worth considering whether you should wait to obtain your medical exam until you have an interview set. This is especially true given the increasingly frequent updates to the Form I-693.

Dan Kowalski Quoted on Proposed Bill for Agricultural Guest Workers

According to the Department of Agriculture, half of the farm workers in the U.S. are undocumented, and the industry is experiencing a labor shortage crisis. U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia) has sponsored a bill that he says would create a guestworker program and increase the number of workers allowed into the U.S., ease red tape and include not just seasonal workers, but those who work year-round in feedlots and dairies. Ware|Immigration's Dan Kowalski was quoted by Harvest Public Media in an article discussing the pros and cons of this proposed bill.

U.S., Turkey Partially Resume Reciprocal Consular Services

On November 6, the Department of State announced that it would partially resume visa issuance services at the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Turkey. Last month, the U.S. suspended all non-immigrant visa services in Turkey following the arrest of a senior U.S. consular employee in Istanbul. The stated reason for the U.S.' suspension of visa services was to assess the security of its staff in Turkey. The Turkish government retaliated by suspending visa processing for U.S. nationals on October 8, 2017, but on November 6 the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C. announced it would match the U.S.' partial resumption of visa services.

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