In the News at ABIL

Posted on: August 22nd, 2019
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Siskind Susser is excited to announce that Lynn Susser was recently elected to ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers. ABIL is comprised of over 20 lawyers from top tier immigration practices with years of expertise and a comprehensive understanding of immigration law. For more information on ABIL, including a map of ABIL attorneys worldwide, visit their website.
The following articles are excerpts from ABIL’s monthly Immigration Insider, available here on their website.

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House Holds Hearing on USCIS Policy Changes, Processing Delays

On July 16, 2019, the House of Representatives held a hearing on policy changes and processing delays at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Witnesses included representatives from USCIS, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, and the Center for Immigration Studies. Statements were also submitted by various organizations.

Regarding policy changes, Jill Marie Bussey, CLINIC’s Director of Advocacy, cited the expansion of in-person interview requirements and related “extreme vetting,” new rules on requests for evidence and notices of intent to deny, elimination of the 90-day processing requirement for employment authorization documents, information services “modernization” that includes narrowing of the options and points of access for stakeholders to request information and services regarding their pending cases, the ending of self-scheduling of in-person InfoPass appointments at field offices, and diverting resources to enforcement-focused activities. All of these policy changes, she said, are contrary to USCIS’s mission, contribute to backlogs and inefficiencies, and create unnecessary barriers for applicants and their legal representatives, are not justified by data, and thus have contributed to significant consequences and cascading effects for employers, legal service providers, individuals and families, and USCIS and other agencies.

With respect to processing delays, Marketa Lindt, AILA President, testified that USCIS’s average case processing time surged by 46 percent from FY 2016 to FY 2018 and by 91 percent from FY 2014 to FY 2018. “[I]n FY 2018 the agency processed 94 percent of its benefit form types more slowly than in FY 2014. For many of these form types, processing times more than doubled in recent years, and some tripled. This past fiscal year, the agency’s overall backlog of delayed cases exceeded 5.69 million, a 69 percent increase over FY 2014.”

Details: Hearing testimony and statements, https://bit.ly/2LWUAp8

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USCIS Announces Changes to Naturalization Test

On July 19, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it is revising the current naturalization test in English and civics.

In December 2018, USCIS formed a naturalization test revision working group with members from across the agency. The working group is reviewing and updating the naturalization test questions. The group will also assess potential changes to the speaking portion of the test. USCIS said it “is soliciting the input of experts in the field of adult education to ensure that this process is fair and transparent.” Details of the changes being considered were not released. USCIS plans to pilot the test revision this fall, and to set an implementation date in December 2020 or early 2021. USCIS is also formalizing a decennial revision process to allow for updates every 10 years. Critics have expressed concerns that the announcement is a continuation of efforts by USCIS to make naturalization more difficult, including dramatically slowing down the processing of naturalization applications.

Details: USCIS announcement, https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-announcesplan-improve-naturalization-test; USCIS memorandum on the revisions, https://bit.ly/2xY4XAM.

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DHS, DOJ Issue Joint Third-Country Asylum Rule

The Department of State’s (DOS) Visa Bulletin for August 2019 notes that there has been a steadily increasing level of employment-based applicant demand since late May for adjustment of status cases filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and there is no indication that this trending increase will end. Therefore, the agency has established or retrogressed many of the August Final Action Dates in an effort to hold worldwide number use within the maximum allowed under the FY 2019 annual limits.

The implementation of these dates is expected to be only a temporary issue, DOS said. For October, the first month of fiscal year 2020, “every effort will be made to return these final action dates to those which applied for July.” Details: DOS Visa Bulletin for August 2019 (scroll down to “D”), https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-bulletin/2019/visa-bulletin-foraugust-2019.html

Details: USCIS release, https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/executives-staffingcompanies-charged-visa-fraud.

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USCIS Announces Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Opportunities

On July 30, USCIS announced it would accept applications for two funding opportunities under the Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program, potentially providing $10 million in grants for citizenship preparation programs. The grants are available to organizations that prepare lawful permanent residents for naturalization, promoting knowledge of English, U.S. history, and civics.

There are two different grant opportunities:

  • The Citizenship Instruction and Naturalization Application Services grant opportunity will fund up to 36 organizations offering both citizenship instruction and naturalization application services to lawful permanent residents.
  • The Refugee and Asylee Assimilation Program grant opportunity will fund up to four organizations to provide individualized services to lawful permanent residents who entered the United States under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program or were granted asylum. These services will assist these individuals in acquiring knowledge and skills leading The grant aims to promote long-term assimilation through the education of lawful permanent residents who strive for naturalization but lack the instruction, information, and services necessary to attain it.

Applications for either of these grant opportunities are due by August 13, 2019.

Within 30 days of receiving the award, all funded grant recipients must enroll in E-Verify as a regular employer and remain in good standing with E-Verify throughout the entire period of grant performance. USCIS projects its announcement of award recipients to occur in September. To apply for one of these funding opportunities, visit grants.gov. For additional information on the Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program for fiscal year 2019, visit uscis.gov/grants or email the USCIS Office of Citizenship at citizenshipgrantprogram@uscis.dhs.gov.

Details: To apply for either funding opportunity, visit grants.gov; for more information on the Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program for FY 2019, uscis.gov/grants or email the USCIS Office of Citizenship at mcitizenshipgrantprogram@uscis.dhs.gov.

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This newsletter was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers (www.abil.com), of which Lynn Susser is an active member.

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Disclaimer: This newsletter is provided as a public service and not intended to establish an attorney client relationship. Any reliance on information contained herein is taken at your own risk.