About U-Visa

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United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) implemented a special visa category called “U Visa” in conjunction with Congress’s passing of Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act (VTVPA) back in 2000.

This special visa category was created in order to protect undocumented foreigners who have suffered substantial abuse (mental or physical) and who are willing to assist the police, prosecutors and other government officials (if any) investigating the crime.

Congress’s passing of VTVPA is meant to promote investigation and prosecution of crimes such as domestic violence, sexual assault, or human trafficking, while protecting people who help report those crimes.

Since its creation, the U Visa category has protected many undocumented individuals who have helped report such crimes from being deported.

More importantly, a successful U-Visa applicant who otherwise meets all other US requirements qualifies to apply for Adjustment of Status in a few years to obtain their permanent green card.

If you have been a victim of a serious crime such as kidnapping, domestic violence, blackmail, extortion, assault, or any other crime, and have also cooperated with law enforcement pertaining to said crime, you may be eligible to file a U-Visa petition with USCIS.

This particular petition provides you, as the victim, lawful presence within the United States.

Please be aware that this in itself does not grant you permanent residency, and you would need to take additional steps to secure your U.S. Green Card.

To qualify for this petition, the victim must have cooperated with law enforcement agencies (i.e. Police, FBI, or Prosecutor) with the investigation and/or the prosecution of the crime.

In helping the law enforcement with the investigation and prosecution, the victim must have provided sufficient information or evidence in order for either the police department or other law enforcement agencies to attempt at capturing and prosecuting the offender.

Along with providing the law enforcement agency with information on the offender, the victim must have been subject to physical or mental harm.

The victim must be able to provide evidence of the harm done to them. There are several forms of evidence depending on the type of harm that was inflicted upon the victim.

Alongside with the evidence of the harm done to the victim, an official from an applicable government law enforcement agency must sign a document or certificate attesting to the cooperation from the victim and the continual cooperation (if necessary).

The Certification is done on USCIS Form 918 (“Supplement B”) where the law enforcement individual identifies the nature of the criminal act as well as affirming or denying whether the victim assisted law enforcement in their investigation of said crime.

A favorable certification is crucial to the U-Visa petition.

There are several agencies that are qualified to sign the certification. There have been instances where the victim of a crime has had trouble securing certification from one government agency.

In such cases, our law firm seeks out the assistance of different law enforcement agencies involved in the case in order to fulfill this requirement.

Upon obtaining all required documents, our firm moves forward with the victim in filing the appropriate petition to USCIS. Our firm works closely with the victim to ensure all proper information is provided and handled in an appropriate and timely manner.

A successful U-Visa Petition allows an undocumented individual to stay within the United States.

Not only does the victim obtain lawful presence for up to four (4) years, the victim may obtain an employment authorization (EAD) card. With the employment authorization card, the victim is able to legally work within the United States.

After the four (4) years, the victim may qualify for lawful permanent residency, and must take affirmative steps to obtain his/her Green Card.

U.S. SUPREME COURT ALLOWS THE THIRD TRAVEL BAN TO GO AHEAD

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The U.S. Supreme Court allowed the third version of Trump’s travel ban to go into full effect on Monday. This latest travel ban was signed by President Trump on September 24 and puts varying restrictions on U.S. visas for people from eight different countries: Iran, Chad, Libya, Venezuela, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, and North Korea.

Unlike previous version of the travel ban, the visa restrictions in the September 24 travel ban will not automatically expire after a certain period of time. The restrictions are strict, but the U.S. government is authorized to grant discretionary waivers for visas for restricted individuals on a case-by-case basis.

These waivers are based on particular circumstances, such as having relatives that live in the U.S. or needing to return to continue university studies in the U.S.

Several citizens and civil rights groups quickly filed lawsuits against the September 24 travel ban. The plaintiffs have argued that the restrictions were discriminatory to Muslims and that President Trump has exceeded his legal authority. On October 17 lower federal courts in Hawaii and Maryland put partial blocks on implementation of the travel ban.

Monday’s decision by the Supreme Court does not directly affect the lawsuits in Hawaii and Maryland.

These cases are still proceeding and are scheduled for additional arguments in intermediate level courts later this week. However, the Supreme Court’s decision does mean that the visa restrictions will be enforced while the lawsuits continue. The lawsuits in the lower courts are likely to be reviewed again by the Supreme Court later.

As has happened since Trump issued his first travel ban in January 2017, the scope and implementation of the September 24 travel ban are likely to continue to change in the future.

TRUMP WANTS TO END THE DIVERSITY VISA LOTTERY PROGRAM

DIVERSITY VISA

On November 1, President Trump announced his desire to end the diversity visa lottery program. This was in response to the terrorist attack in New York City the day before, which killed eight people and injured 12. The man who committed the attack was born in Uzbekistan and entered the U.S. through the diversity visa lottery program in 2010.

The diversity visa lottery is a system which awards U.S. immigrant visas to 50,000 people per year, selected randomly, from countries which have had low levels of immigration to the U.S. previously. Unlike other ways of immigrating to the U.S., a diversity visa does not require sponsorship from a relative or employer in the U.S. Diversity visa applicants are subject to a security review by the Department of State.

President Trump said he would ask the United States Congress to begin work to eliminate the program. The President cannot eliminate the program without assistance from Congress. Congress passed the diversity visa lottery law in 1990 as a way to encourage more diversity in the immigrant population coming into the country.

Iranians were the largest recipients of diversity visas in 2015, followed by Nepalese, Ukrainians, Uzbeks, and Russians.

U.S. SUPREME COURT DISMISSES ONE OF THE LAWSUITS AGAINST TRUMP’S ORIGINAL TRAVEL BAN

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On October 10, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit brought by the International Refugee Assistance Project (“IRAP”) against the original travel ban announced by President Trump in January. The Court wrote that there was no reason to continue the lawsuit because the travel ban IRAP was challenging expired on September 24.

There is still one other active lawsuit against the January travel ban in front of the Supreme Court, which was brought by the State of Hawaii. However, the Supreme Court could still decide to dismiss the Hawaii lawsuit, like it dismissed the IRAP lawsuit.

The Supreme Court chose to dismiss the IRAP lawsuit even though IRAP attempted to update its lawsuit on October 5 by adding new arguments against the new September 24 travel ban. Hawaii has also updated its lawsuit to include the September 24 travel ban, and has asked a lower court to block the new travel ban.

There are at least three new lawsuits against the September 24 travel ban that have been filed by non-profit groups and individuals harmed by the travel ban. These cases are still at the lowest court level and have not reached the Supreme Court yet.

Original Sources:
Justices End One Immigration Ban Row After Order Expires (October 10, 2017)
https://www.law360.com/articles/973162

Justices end 4th Circuit travel-ban challenge (October 10, 2017)

Justices end 4th Circuit travel-ban challenge

Trump’s Travel Ban Hit With New Legal Challenges (October 10, 2017)
https://www.law360.com/articles/972736

Hawaii Asks Judge to Block Trump’s Latest Travel Ban (October 11, 2017)

Hawaii Asks Judge to Block Trump’s Latest Travel Ban

The New US Travel Ban

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WHAT U.S. EMPLOYERS AND THEIR FOREIGN EMPLOYEES SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE NEW TRAVEL BAN

There is much uncertainty after the latest visa and travel restrictions announced by U.S. President Donald Trump on September 24, 2017. These restrictions apply to citizens of 8 different countries and could limit the hiring, promotion, business-related trips and other travel for individuals from these countries working for U.S. businesses.

There are waivers potentially available that may allow citizens of the 8 restricted countries to visit or work in the U.S., but it is not yet clear how the waivers will be administered.

Because of this uncertainty, it is recommended that American businesses should pay close attention to the nationality of their employees and keep all paperwork – such as I-9 forms for employee eligibility verification – up to date.

In the new policy, some of the 8 nations have more restrictions than others. For example, businesses should try to keep all Iranian employees from leaving the United States at all, until things change. If a business is not careful, it could have its employees stranded outside of the country.

These business immigration issues have become more complex, it has become more important for business owners and investors to consult immigration specialists instead of leaving these matters to human resources generalists.

Sept 2017 Travel ban

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DRAFT SEPTEMBER 24 TRAVEL BAN SUMMARY – FINAL ENGLISH DRAFT

On September 24, 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump issued a new set of visa and travel restrictions for certain foreigners coming into the United States. These new restrictions replace the “travel ban” President Trump issued on March 6, 2017, which expired the same day these new restrictions were announced.

The new restrictions target individuals from Iran, Syria, Yemen, North Korea, Venezuela, Chad, Libya, and Somalia. The restrictions begin immediately for some individuals, but apply for others starting on October 18, 2017.

Visas issued before October 18 will still be honored and will not be revoked. However, after October 18, no new U.S. visas will be issued to any Iranians and no Iranian can enter the United States, with the exception of green card holders or individuals who have an F or M student visa or a J exchange visa.

Even though there is a full Iranian ban in place, there are other potential exceptions to these new rules. Any affected potential immigrant, investor, or traveler should consult with a skilled immigration attorney to discuss his or her options.

Supreme court sides with Trump

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Court allows Trump administration to maintain its restrictions on refugees entering the US, but it will not be court’s final word on travel policy.

The supreme court is allowing the Trump administration to maintain its restrictive policy on refugees, agreeing to block a lower court ruling that would have eased the ban and allowed up to 24,000 refugees to enter the country before the end of October.

The order on Tuesday was not the court’s last word on the travel policy that Donald Trump first rolled out in January. The justices are scheduled to hear arguments on 10 October on the legality of the bans on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries and refugees anywhere in the world.

It is unclear, though, what will be left for the court to decide. The 90-day travel ban lapses in late September and the 120-day refugee ban will expire a month later.

The administration has yet to say whether it will seek to renew the bans, make them permanent or expand the travel ban to other countries.

Lower courts have ruled that the bans violate the constitution and federal immigration law. The high court has agreed to review those rulings. Its intervention so far has been to evaluate what parts of the policy can take effect in the meantime.

Appeals court upholds block on travel ban

Ninth circuit said president violated immigration law by discriminating against people based on nationality and he failed to show entry would hurt US interests.

Another federal appeals court has upheld a decision blocking Donald Trump’s revised travel ban.

The ruling on Monday from a unanimous three-judge panel of the ninth US circuit court of appeals deals the administration another legal defeat as the supreme court considers a separate case on the issue.

The judges say the president violated US immigration law by discriminating against people based on their nationality and that Trump failed to show their entry into the country would hurt American interests.

They didn’t rule on whether the travel ban violated the constitution’s ban on the government officially favoring or disfavoring any religion.

The fourth US circuit court of appeals in Virginia also ruled against the travel ban 25 May. The administration has appealed that ruling to the supreme court.