Breaking News 01.19.2018

DHS Terminates TPS for El Salvador Effective September 2019

On Jan. 8, 2018, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen announced her decision to terminate the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for El Salvador. DHS decided that conditions in El Salvador no longer justify extending the original TPS designation, which was made in 2001 following a devastating earthquake. The announcement delays the effective date for TPS termination for 18 months (until September 9, 2019), “to allow for an orderly transition” for the estimated 200,000 Salvadorans currently present in the U.S. under TPS status. Salvadorans will be able to apply to extend TPS and employment authorization through September 9, 2019.

DHS has instructed foreign nationals not to submit any fees or forms until they post further information on when it will open the re-registration period.

Many of the individuals affected by this announcement have other immigration benefits available and should contact a qualified immigration attorney right away to find out their options.

USCIS Resumes Accepting DACA Renewals Effective Immediately

Effective January 13, 2018, USCIS has resumed accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The move comes in response to last Tuesday’s Federal court order granting a nationwide injunction, ordering the Trump Administration to resume processing DACA applications on the terms in place before it was rescinded by Present Trump on September 5, 2017.

Who can apply for a DACA renewal?

USCIS will only accept a DACA renewal request for those who have previously received a DACA grant and whose status expired on or after September 5. However, USCIS will accept “initial” DACA applications for individuals who previously held DACA status, but their DACA expired or was terminated prior to September 5, 2017.

USCIS will not accept any initial DACA applications from individuals who have never held DACA status.

If you believe you are eligible to file a DACA renewal, contact a qualified immigration attorney right away.

Must-Read: Dan Kowalski’s Op-Ed in Austin American-Statesman

On January 8, 2018, the Austin American-Statesman published an Op-Ed authored by Ware|Immigration Partner Dan Kowalski. The article, entitled “Changes to family-based immigration attack bedrock values,” responds to the Trump Administration’s campaign to denigrate the U.S. family-based immigration and to replace it with a “merit-based” visa system. Check out the full article here.

Trump Administration Backs Off Attack on H-1B Extensions for Workers Stuck in Backlog

Over New Year’s Eve weekend, the Trump Administration teased that it was contemplating the elimination of three-year H-1B extensions for visa holders with approved I-140 (employment-based) immigrant visa petitions, who are waiting for visa availability to finalize permanent residence (mostly persons born in India or China, and whose spouse, if any, was also born in one of these countries). The move would have affected over one million foreign workers whose have passed the daunting Employer Petition portion of the permanent residence process. While H-1B visas are subject to a six-year term limit, those who are caught in the green card backlogs can apply for a 3-year extension under the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC21). Workers who start the employment-based green card process prior to the end of their fifth year in H status can apply for one year extensions. The move would have targeted the 3-year extension only, and would have left undisturbed the rule permitting 1-year extensions due to different wording regarding each provision in AC21.

After substantial backlash from the business community, the Administration announced on January 8, 2017 that, while it was “considering a number of policy and regulatory changes to carry out the President’s Buy American, Hire American Executive Order, including a thorough review of employment based visa programs…[the agency] is not considering…changing our interpretation of section 104(c) of AC-21, which provides for H-1B extensions beyond the 6 year limit.”

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