Drinking (or using drugs) and driving has huge consequences, whether you are an immigrant or a US citizen.  Aside from the obvious health and safety risks, financial cost, and emotional hardships to families, the following immigration consequences can happen. Non-US Citizens For immigrants, ICE has a policy of arresting people for DUIs (through detainers at jails) and confining defendants at immigration detention centers. You will be detained without bond!  It doesn't matter if you are … [Read more...]

Naturalization applicants are seeing longer waiting times for interview and testing. This is because employment based immigration cases now must be interviewed, and those are being scheduled along with family immigration and naturalization cases.  In addition, there are huge numbers of people applying to become citizens.  Applicants need to be prepared to be asked about their entire immigration history from their very first visa application, extensions, changes of stay requests, the green card … [Read more...]

The Trump Administration has terminated Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nationals of several countries with expiration dates in 2018 and 2019.  Make sure to get your re-registration applications in on time. Even though work permission may be automatically extended, we recommend applying for a new EAD until the final expiration date in case you need it for a new job or renewed drivers license or other benefit.  Here is a list of the upcoming expiring and re-registration TPS … [Read more...]

The primary trend for family immigration is a slow down in processing of all petition and application types at USCIS, at the National Visa Center, and at US consulates abroad. And, interviews are taking longer as part of the "extreme vetting" campaign.  I mentioned in an earlier post that mandatory interviews for employment based adjustment of status applicants is impacting processing times for family based adjustment of status and naturalization interviews. Here in Seattle, where once upon a … [Read more...]

The Trump Administration has been very, very busy addressing business immigration in the last year. Three overriding themes are: 1) a slowdown in processing times in most categories and 2) increased Requests for Evidence (RFEs) in just about every immigration category and 3) a tightening of definitions by adjudication or policy memo.  Receiving an RFE doesn't necessarily mean a case will be denied, but there are more denials out there. Despite all the talk about needing "merit based" … [Read more...]

On January 9, 2018, a federal court in San Francisco issued a nationwide temporary injunction against President Trump's termination of the DACA program.  The case is Regents of the University of California et al v. DHS.  The Judge ordered USCIS to resume accepting DACA applications for renewal. The order does not permit first time filers from applying, and it does not allow the filing of advance parole applications except in extraordinary circumstances. Thus, the window of opportunity to extend … [Read more...]

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the TN nonimmigrant classification permits qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens to seek temporary entry into the United States to engage in business activities at a professional level. NAFTA includes a very narrow and specific list of occupations that qualify for TN professionals, one of which is economist.  Under a new policy issued by USCIS on November 20, 2017, USCIS will look specifically at the job duties to be performed, not the job … [Read more...]

Travel abroad during the holiday season has more risks this year because of extreme vetting, stricter scrutiny, travel warnings, policy changes, and unsettled case law dealing with the various Presidential Proclamation travel bans. If you need to apply for a US visa while abroad: The Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) has been updated in several key sections. Consulates rely upon the FAM for guidance and procedures.  Key updates this year include requiring more evidence of ties abroad and intent … [Read more...]

I took up bluegrass fiddle a few years ago and like to jam with groups at various venues including pubs, libraries, house parties, music festivals and workshops. I noticed that some festival sponsors have not been able to get their foreign workshop leaders or performers visas on time. Or, sometimes pubs like to host visiting musicians, or need last minute substitutions, sometimes on a lark.  Foreign musicians or their agents are often confused about what visas they need or what the permissible … [Read more...]

The Trump Administration is cracking down on fraud and misrepresentation. The US Department of State (DOS) has updated its guidelines or policy in the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) concerning what activities are inconsistent with visa status that could give rise to a finding of fraud or misrepresentation in light of when those activities occur. Previously, the DOS used the "30/60/90-day rule." This rule said that there would be a presumption of fraud or misrepresentation if a person entered the … [Read more...]