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USCIS Response to the 2019 Coronavirus




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2/5/2020

USCIS Response to the 2019 Coronavirus


USCIS is actively monitoring the effects of the public health emergency related to the 2019 coronavirus outbreak on agency operations.

Office Closures in China

According to U.S. Department of State guidance, USCIS is temporarily closing its field offices in Beijing and Guangzhou. We will reschedule all affected appointments and will send new appointment notices to applicants.

Check our Beijing and Guangzhou webpages for updates on the status of these offices.

Rescheduling Appointments in the United States Due to Illness

If you are in the United States and are sick or start to feel symptoms of being sick, please follow the instructions on your appointment notice to reschedule your appointment. There is no penalty if you reschedule your appointment.

General symptoms of illness can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Sore threat
  • A general feeling of being unwell

For the safety of our employees and those we serve, if you or someone with you appears ill during your appointment, the officer may reschedule your appointment.

Special Situations

When requested, USCIS may provide special support for individuals who may be affected by natural or extreme circumstances. When applying for an extension or change of status due to a special situation that prevented your planned and timely departure, we may take into consideration how the special situation prevented your departure. Check our Special Situations webpage for more information.


Source: https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-response-2019-coronavirus




USCIS Updates Process for Accepting Petitions for Relatives Abroad

Release Date: Jan. 31, 2020

WASHINGTON — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today announced that, as part of the adjustment of its international footprint to increase efficiencies, Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, will only be processed domestically by USCIS or internationally by the Department of State in certain circumstances beginning Feb 1, 2020.  

DOS will assume responsibility for certain services previously provided at USCIS international offices, services that DOS already provide in countries where USCIS does not have a presence. Eligible active-duty service members assigned overseas will file their Form I-130 locally with DOS, as will certain non-military petitioners who meet specific criteria for consular processing.  

“USCIS continues to modernize and become more efficient as an agency,” said USCIS Deputy Director Mark Koumans. “Since the Department of State has a much larger international presence, we have delegated authority to our State partners to accept and adjudicate petitions for immediate relatives abroad in certain circumstances. USCIS continues to expand online filing options, which are available to those filing domestically or those filing from abroad, saving applicants and petitioners time and money.” 

Generally, DOS will process Form I-130 locally if the petition falls under blanket authorization criteria, as defined by USCIS:  

  • Temporary blanket authorizations for instances of prolonged or severe civil strife or a natural disaster; or  

  • Blanket authorization for U.S. service members assigned to military bases abroad. 

In addition to these blanket authorizations, DOS maintains the discretion to accept Form I-130 if a U.S. citizen petitioner meets the “exceptional circumstance” criteria as outlined in the Policy Manual update. 

All other petitioners residing overseas must file Form I-130 online or by mail through the USCIS Dallas Lockbox facility for domestic processing.  

For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), Instagram (/uscis), YouTube (/uscis), Facebook (/uscis), and LinkedIn (/uscis). 


Source: https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-updates-process-accepting-petitions-relatives-abroad




USCIS Adjusts Process for Managing EB-5 Visa Petition Inventory


Change Addresses Fairness Issues in Visa Allocation


Release Date: Jan. 29, 2020

WASHINGTON— U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today announced a process change for Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor, from a first-in, first-out basis to a visa availability approach.

This new operational approach aligns with other visa-availability agency adjudications processes, is more consistent with congressional intent for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, and increases fairness in the administration of the program.

“Changing our approach from a first-in, first-out adjudication process to one that prioritizes petitions connected to individuals from countries where visas are currently available better aligns the EB-5 program with congressional intent and makes it more consistent with other USCIS operations,” said USCIS Deputy Director Mark Koumans. “This new approach increases fairness, allowing qualified EB-5 petitioners from traditionally underrepresented countries to have their petitions approved in a more timely fashion to receive consideration for a visa.”

This operational change is consistent with the agency’s processing of Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, in cap-subject categories. The new visa availability approach simply gives priority to petitions where visas are immediately available, or soon available, and will not create legally binding rights or change substantive requirements. Applicants from countries where visas are immediately available will now be better able to use their annual per-country allocation of EB-5 visas. The new visa availability approach will apply to petitions pending as of the effective date of the change. USCIS will implement the visa availability approach on March 31, 2020.

USCIS will hold a public engagement on March 13, 2020, from 11:00 a.m. to noon Eastern, to provide information and answer questions from the public about these operational changes to the management of Form I-526 petition inventory.

For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), Instagram (/uscis), YouTube (/uscis), Facebook (/uscis), and LinkedIn (/uscis).


Source: https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-adjusts-process-managing-eb-5-visa-petition-inventory




DHS Obtains Another Judicial Victory on Implementing Public Charge Inadmissibility Rule

Release Date: Jan. 27, 2020

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Homeland Security obtained a pivotal judicial victory today after the U.S. Supreme Court stayed a nationwide injunction that prevented the agency from enforcing its regulatory interpretation of section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, a long-standing law that makes an alien inadmissible if the alien is likely at any time to become a public charge.

The high court granted DHS’s motion for a stay of the preliminary injunction issued by a single judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and recently upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

“DHS has always been confident that an objective judiciary would reverse the injunctions imposed on the agency so that we are able to enforce long-standing law passed by a bipartisan Congress,” said Ken Cuccinelli, the Senior Official Performing the Duties of the DHS Deputy Secretary. “Self-sufficiency and self-reliance are key American values not to be litigiously dismissed, but to be encouraged and adopted by the next generation of immigrants. We plan to fully implement this rule in 49 states and are confident we will win the case on the merits.”

The final rule, issued in August 2019, prescribes how DHS will determine whether an alien is inadmissible to the United States based on his or her likelihood of becoming a public charge at any time in the future, as set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act.

For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), Instagram (/uscis), YouTube (/uscis), Facebook (/uscis), and LinkedIn (/uscis).


Source: https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/dhs-obtains-another-judicial-victory-implementing-public-charge-inadmissibility-rule





12/14/2019

聯邦擴大良民標準:未報稅、騙福利、造假…都影響入籍

(World Journal) 編譯黃秀媛


移民局公布具體標準,必須有良好道德才能入籍。圖為移民在猶他州鹽湖城宣誓成為美國公民。(Getty Images)

聯邦公民及移民服務局 (USCIS)13日對可能使申請入籍者無法符合「良好道德標準」(GMC)的不法情事擴大政策準則,被查出未報稅或納稅、詐領社會安全福利、保險詐欺與妨礙司法等行為,都將影響入籍。

原來的政策手冊並未涵蓋不法行為的廣泛資訊,而更新版提供更多事例和指示,以確保更統一公平的審核決定,並加強辨認可能影響「良好道德標準」(GMC)決定的不法作為。

USCIS副局長庫曼斯說,國會在移民和歸化法中規定良好的道德標準是入籍的一個條件,而USCIS決心切實管理合法移民體制,更新政策有助於確保USCIS裁決人員對入籍資格做統一和公平的決定。

根據13日公布的新政策,禁止賦予「良好道德標準」資格的不法行為包括:沒有報稅或納稅、詐領社會安全福利、性攻擊、棄保潛逃、銀行詐欺、共謀銷售違禁物質、謊稱美國公民、偽造紀錄、偽造文件詐欺、保險詐欺、妨礙司法、非法騷擾、非法登記投票、非法投票、違反美國禁運等等。

USCIS目前規範,包括賣淫、通姦、一夫多妻、作偽證、走私人口、非法賭博、對於家屬未盡撫養責任、習慣喝到爛醉以及曾經坐牢180天等,都認定為不符「良好道德標準」。

USCIS 10日已在政策手冊公布另一項準則,表示酒醉駕車被定罪兩次,或是犯罪判刑後改變刑期,可能影響對GMC的決定。

一般而言,申請入籍者必須證明,他們從提出申請前的法定期間,一直到宣誓入籍,一直是秉公守法的良民;美國永久居民的法定期通常是五年,美國人的配偶為三年,一些合乎規定的美軍則為一年。

在法定期觸犯不法作為、被定罪或囚禁,如被判定負面反映當事人的品格,可能使申請人沒有資格入籍。

USCIS會分析申請人是否能顯示良好品格,而更新版並不改變非法作為對這種分析的影響 。

USCIS說,它的裁決人員都受過廣泛訓練,知道哪些非法作為可能使申請人無法入籍,而且這些作為並不限於政策手冊列出的事例。

移民官會繼續進行個案分析,以決定某種行為是否非法和負面反映申請人的品格,他們也會決定是否有能夠通融的情況。

根據美國移民法律規定,如果入籍申請人曾經觸犯刑法而被定罪、判刑,申請案件可能無法過關,甚至遭驅逐出境,也可能無法獲得移民福利;舉例來說,申請入籍歸化成為美國公民的外籍人士,就必須證明具有「良好道德標準」,未來將持續維持同樣的良好行為。

根據法條文字,一般來說,入籍申請者必須證明申請入籍之前的五年期間均符合「良好道德標準」,提出申請之後一直到宣誓成為美國公民之際,同樣也都繼續維持「良好道德標準」;就算是比五年期間更早之前的犯行,在入籍申請過程中,同樣可能造成負面影響。






5/04/2019

Trump administration proposal would make it easier to deport immigrants who use public benefits

By Yeganeh Torbati

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration is considering reversing long-standing policy to make it easier to deport U.S. legal permanent residents who have used public benefits, part of an effort to restrict immigration by low-income people.

A Department of Justice draft regulation, seen by Reuters, dramatically expands the category of people who could be subject to deportation on the grounds that they use benefits.

Currently, those legal permanent residents who are declared to be a “public charge,” or primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, can be deported - but in practice, this is very rare.

The draft regulation would use a more expansive definition to include some immigrants who have used an array of public benefits, including cash welfare, food stamps, housing aid, or Medicaid.



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While the plan is at an early stage, might not become official government policy, and is likely to attract lawsuits, it is one part of efforts by the Trump administration to restrict legal immigration, in addition to its efforts to reduce illegal immigration to the United States.

The full possible impact is not known, but the change in policy could affect permanent residents - also known as “green card” holders - who are legally entitled to use public benefits soon after their arrival in the United States, such as refugees.

Department of Justice spokesman Alexei Woltornist said the agency “does not comment on or confirm draft regulations.”

U.S. law allows for the deportation of immigrants who have become “public charges” within five years of admission if their reason for seeking help preceded their entry to the United States - for example, if they had a chronic health condition that was not disclosed.


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But due to a 1948 ruling, the deportation of immigrants for using public benefits has been strictly limited to cases in which the government has demanded payment for public services, and the person has failed to pay. Immigration lawyers said they have rarely if ever heard of someone being deported for using public benefits.

The draft rule indicates the government would override that precedent to allow for deportation of some permanent residents who have used certain public benefits within five years of admission.

For the plan to go into effect, it would be subject to public comment, after which it could be revised. Attorney General William Barr would then have to sign off on it.

The public benefits in question include Supplemental Security Income (SSI), given to disabled and older people; the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps; Section 8 housing vouchers; many Medicaid benefits; and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a cash assistance program.


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According to federal policy, many permanent residents do not qualify for public benefits unless they have had a green card for five years, making it unlikely they could be targeted for deportation on the basis of “public charge” even under the draft rule.

But dozens of states have looser rules - for instance, allowing pregnant women and children who are permanent residents to access Medicaid without a waiting period.

And the effort to tighten the rules could affect thousands of immigrant veterans, refugees and asylees, who are eligible to receive many benefits without time restrictions. Active members of the military would not be affected.

Administration officials had earlier indicated that the Justice Department, which oversees U.S. immigration courts, planned to issue a regulation on who can be deported for using public benefits, but its details were not previously known.


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‘NEW TERRITORY’

Immigrant advocates said the impact of the possible change is unclear, because it would be such a departure from long-standing practice.

“We’re in new territory here because this has never been tested,” said Charles Wheeler, an attorney with the Catholic Legal Immigration Network non-profit group. “I’m concerned that it’s going to be targeted at permanent resident aliens who otherwise thought they were free and clear to receive SSI and other public benefit programs.”

The change, if implemented, fits with broader Trump administration efforts to squelch legal immigration by transforming public-charge rules. The administration has also slashed refugee admissions and imposed a broad travel ban on citizens of several mostly Muslim countries.

The Justice Department’s draft proposal is based on a similar plan by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to significantly broaden the definition of what it means to be a public charge.

While DHS can decide whether to grant or deny immigration benefits, DOJ’s immigration judges can also decide whether a resident ought to be deported.

The DHS is expected soon to tighten regulations so that a “public charge” would be any foreigner “who receives one or more public benefits,” including an array of cash and non-cash benefits, such as food stamps, housing vouchers, and Medicaid.


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The DOJ’s draft proposal mirrors that and also directs immigration judges to consider the use of public benefits as a heavily weighted negative factor when determining whether to admit a foreigner to the United States.

The State Department is also trying to restrict entry to the United States of people it suspects might use public benefits.

Last year, it gave U.S. consular officers more discretion to reject visas for people they believe may become public charges. The number of people refused immigrant visas on public-charge grounds was four times higher in 2018 than in 2017, and the highest total since 2004.

In addition to considering new standards for deporting legal residents, the DOJ is also looking at requiring foreigners seeking permanent residency status to submit a declaration to an immigration judge that demonstrates their self-sufficiency. The form asks for a detailed listing of assets, income, and debts, among other information.   




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5/04/2019

川普政府出招!持綠卡領福利 擬擴大驅逐

(World Journal) 編譯黃秀媛


司法部已草擬法規,準備擴大可能因使用公共福利遭到驅逐的民眾類別。(本報檔案照)

川普政府正考慮配合它限制貧窮移民的方針,改變長久以來的政策,使政府更容易驅逐使用公共福利的合法永久居民;路透報導,司法部已草擬法規,準備擴大可能因使用公共福利遭到驅逐的民眾類別。

報導指出,目前持有綠卡的合法永久居民,如被視為「公共負擔」,也就是主要仰賴政府福利過活,也可能遭到驅逐,不過這種情況非常罕見。

草擬法規採用更廣泛的定義,納入使用各種公共福利的移民,包括現金福利、糧食券、住房補助或醫療補助計畫(Medicaid)。

這項作業還在初期階段,可能不會成為正式政策,也可能引起訴訟,不過這只是川普政府除了減少非法移民之外,有意限制合法移民的措施之一。





此舉可能會影響難民等合法永久居民;這些人依法進入美國不久,就能夠使用公共福利。

根據美國法律,獲准進入美國五年內就因原來存在的問題 (例如沒有透露的長期健康問題)而成為「公共負擔」的移民,可以被驅逐出境。

但是,1948年的裁決對驅逐使用公共福利的移民嚴格限制,只能驅逐未遵照政府要求,為其使用的公共服務付錢的人。實際上因此遭到驅逐的人極少。

草擬法規顯示政府有意推翻這種判例,以驅逐一些入境五年內使用某些公共福利的永久居民。

這種計畫必須先接受公開評論,然後可能修改,再由司法部長簽字生效;其中涉及的公共福利包括向殘障者和老人提供的社安生活補助金(SSI)、補充營養援助計畫 (SNAP,糧食券)、住房代券、許多Medicaid福利、貧困家庭臨時援助(TANF)。


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根據聯邦法規,許多永久居民沒有資格獲得公共福利,除非他們擁有綠卡已滿五年;因此,即使根據草擬的新法,他們也不可能因成為「公共負擔」而遭到驅逐。

但是,有幾十個州規定較寬鬆,例如已成為永久居民的孕婦和兒童,不需等到規定期限,就可獲得Medicaid。

加強法規也可能影響數以千計不受時間限制即有資格獲得許多福利的移民退伍軍人、難民和尋求庇護者;一些現役軍人也可能受到影響。

國土安全部也準備擴大對「公共負擔」的定義,國務院則試圖限制它認為可能使用公共福利的人入境。去年因可能成為公共負擔,申請移民簽證被拒的人,比前一年增加四倍。

除了考慮對驅逐合法居民訂定新標準,司法部也有意規定申請綠卡的外國人,必須向移民法官提出財務報告,列出資產、收入、負債等詳細資料,以顯示他們有能力維持自己的生活。

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