USCIS just released a new policy memorandum that may be of interest and help to surviving relatives of US Citizens. PM 602-0126 is entitled "Approval of a Spousal Immediate Relative Visa Petition under Section 204(l) of the Immigration and Nationality Act after the death of a U.S. Citizen Petitioner." The memo is highly technical and intended for USCIS employees, but the main thrust of it is to nationally implement the holding of Williams v. DHS Secretary, 741 F. 3d 1228 (11th Cir. 2014), a court case out of the 11th circuit, and clarify the boundaries of 204(l).
Few people may be aware that the much-vilified Secure Communities Program has actually been discontinued and replaced by a purportedly more focused Priority Enforcement Program, or "PEP." The death knell of Secure Communities was actually heard in November of 2014 when DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson released a memo about it, but only recently have ICE officers received training in the implementation and application of PEP.
Just last week, USCIS quietly issued a Field Guidance Memo providing clarity and guidance to USCIS personnel on "reason to believe" issues and how they affect adjudication of Provisional Unlawful Presence Waivers.
Determining the viability of an adjustment of status application--"Should I file?"-can, at times, be very challenging. There are many factual and legal issues to consider, including but not limited to the immigration status of the petitioner (lawful permanent resident or United States Citizen?), priority dates, pre-conceived intent, overstay issues, eligibility under 245i, misrepresentation, and potential criminal bars. In addition to these considerations, there are special restrictions regarding aliens who enter the US under the Visa Waiver Program.
In 2002, the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) was signed into law, providing much needed relief to beneficiaries of petitions who would otherwise not be able to immigrate because they had turned 21. Through application of the CSPA, many beneficiaries of family-based, employment-based, and some humanitarian petitions (including asylees and refugees) are able to preserve their status as children under the immigration law even though their biological ages may well be over the age of 21 (a "child" is an unmarried son or daughter under the age of 21).
A very important USCIS Policy Memorandum (PM-602-0091) was issued on November 15, 2013 that for inexplicable reasons, has not received much attention, although it potentially affects thousands of undocumented or "illegal" aliens throughout the United States. The Subject is "Parole of Spouses, Children and Parents of Active Duty Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve, and Former Members of the U.S. Armed Forces or Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve and the Effect of Parole on Inadmissibility under Immigration and Nationality Act 212(a)(6)(A)(i). "
On August 23rd Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) released an administration policy directive entitled "Facilitating Parental Interests in the Course of Civil Immigration Enforcement Activities." This memo serves to supplement as well as complement already existing memoranda relating to prosecutorial discretion and enforcement priorities. This memo in particular focuses on policies that affect alien parents, including placement, monitoring, accommodation, detention and removal. It states that "particular attention" should be given regarding any proposed action that involves 1) parents or legal guardians who are primary caretakers; 2) parents or legal guardians who have a direct interest in family court proceedings involving a minor or child welfare proceedings in the United States; and 3) parents or legal guardians whose minor children are U.S. Citizens or lawful permanent residents.
There is a very informative memo that may be of some interest to foreign/exchange students here on F, M, or J visas. The memo can be found at www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/bm1112-05-dmv-timing.pdf. The purpose of the letter is to provide guidance to non-immigrants with the aforementioned visas in connection with applying for driver licenses and social security numbers. In brief, the memo advises students to wait at least 10 days after arriving in the US before applying for a driver license or social security number. This gives ample time for the government databases to be updated with each student's information. Secondly, students need to consult with their DSO or RO/ARO advisors to confirm that their status is "Active" before making a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles or the Social Security Administration. If the student's status has just been activated, it is prudent to wait at least two days so that the databases can be updated. Although these best practices may seem common-sense, they are nevertheless worth repeating, as students may sometimes forget them in the midst of getting settled here in the US.
There is a new Policy Memorandum regarding the validity of Medical Reports/Certifications on Form I-693. The memo, dated December 29, 2011, essentially extends the validity of civil surgeon endorsements contained on the I-693. An I-693, when submitted in support of an I-485 or I-687 application, will be deemed valid until the time of adjudication provided that: 1) the I-693 was included with the initial adjustment of status filing and 2) there is no Class A or B medical condition, other than a Class B condition in the Other Medical Conditions section of Form I-693. This policy represents a change from current practice in which medicals are deemed valid for only one year; with current delays associated with some I-485 applications, this is a welcome adjustment that will enable faster adjudication of cases once they are scheduled for disposition, sometimes past one year. This new policy will be in effect until January 1, 2013.
The Vermont Service Center recently announced a change in policy with respect to the K-1 Fiance. As part of a new effort to standardize, the validity dates of approved K-1 petitions will be extended to 4 months minus 1 day instead of the customary 90 days.