Trump Administration Adopts New Stricter Screening Policy for Asylum Seekers – Many More Applications Expected to be Summarily Denied Without a Full Hearing

On July 12, 2018, the Trump Administration issued new policy guidance that is expected to result in potentially thousands of people, seeking refuge in the U.S., being summarily refused entry into the country. Under the new harsher policy, persons seeking refuge or temporary asylum in the U.S. based upon fears of gang violence and domestic violence may be summarily rejected at the border with no opportunity for any trial or full hearing of their claims. Implementation of the new stricter asylum-screening policy is expected to be challenged in the federal courts, as cases are denied.

From CNN, Trump administration to turn away far more asylum seekers at the border under new guidance

and Impact of Sessions’ asylum move already felt at border

From USA Today, Trump administration activates new asylum crackdown; potentially valid claims could be denied

USCIS Announces New Policy Affecting More Than One Million F-1 and J-1 Students and Researchers – New “Unlawful Presence” Memo Creates Harsh Penalties for Non-Compliance with Complex Rules

On May 10, 2018, USCIS issued a far-reaching new Policy Memo, effective August 9, 2018, that will directly affect more than 1 million current and former F-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors and their spouses and children. The new policy imposes harsh new penalties, including possible 3 or 10 year bars, on individuals who commit even minor violations of the complex and vaguely defined “maintenance of status” rules for F-1 and J-1 students and scholars. For more about the new policy from the American Immigration Council, click here. For more from USCIS, click here.

USCIS Completes Data Entry on H-1B Work Visa Petitions Selected in the April 2018 Lottery – Petition Adjudication Process Begins Now

On May 15, 2018, USCIS announced that it had completed data entry on all H-1B petitions selected in the lottery. 190,098 petitions were submitted for the 85,000 available new H-1 cap-subject work visas. No more new cap-subject H-1B work visa petition approvals will be available until 2019. The H-1 is the most commonly used temporary work visa for newly-hired professional workers. H-1 workers are generally required to have at least a four-year degree in a specific field and a job offer that requires such a degree. For more from USCIS, click here and here. For FAQ’s about H-1 work visas, click here.

H-1B Work Visa Cap is Reached in 5 Days – No More New Quota-Subject H-1B Work Visas Available Until 2019

USCIS received 190,098 new petitions from employers for H-1B work visas to become effective October 1, 2018. By Congressional mandate, only 85,000 new cap-subject H-1B petitions are permitted each fiscal year. “Winners” of the H-1B work visa lottery were selected randomly by computer for further processing and adjudication. The H-1 is the most commonly used temporary work visa for newly-hired professional workers. H-1 workers are generally required to have at least a four-year university degree in a specific field and a job offer that requires such a degree. For more details from USCIS, click here and here. For FAQ’s about H-1 work visas, click here.

Trump Establishes New National Vetting Center to Further Increase Screening of Individuals Seeking to Enter the U.S.

On February 5, President Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum creating a new National Vetting Center to more aggressively and thoroughly screen all non-citizen individuals seeking visas or immigration benefits. The National Vetting Center will coordinate information about non-citizens who may present a threat to national security, border security or public safety. The new center will have access to extensive information from law enforcement agencies, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the State Department and the U.S. intelligence community. Further operation plans for the new Vetting Center are expected after August 15, 2018. For details from DHS, click here, the White House here; from CNN, and the Washington Post click here and here.

USCIS Expands Credit Card Payment Option for Filing Fees

On February 14, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will now accept credit card payments for filing fees for most forms. For more details from USCIS, click here.

Free Online Feature that Allows Visa Waiver Travelers to Track Departure Date

Visa Waiver travelers (90 day visitors for business or pleasure) can use a free online service from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to track how many days longer they may stay in the U.S. on each visit. For details from CBP, click here. For FAQ’s on the Visa Waiver Program, click here.

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