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Posted on: December 30th, 2019
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USCIS Implements Two Decisions from the Attorney General on Good Moral Character Determinations

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the implementation of a new policy guideline which adopts two decisions from the Attorney General pertaining to how two or more convictions of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) impacts an individual’s good moral character (GMC) requirements as well as the manner in which post-sentencing changes to criminal sentences impact convictions and sentences when it comes to immigration purposes.

The attorney general reached a decision on October 25th in Matter of Castillo-Perez concluding that two or more DUI convictions occurring during the statutory period could impact an individual’s GMC determination. It is possible for applicants who have two or more DUI convictions to overcome this by demonstrating their good moral character during the time these offenses occurred.

On the same day, the attorney general also reached the conclusion in the Matter of Thomas and Thompson that the definition of, “term of imprisonment or a sentence,” typically is in reference to an alien’s original criminal sentence, without respect to any post-sentencing augmentations. Post-sentencing orders which change a criminal alien’s original sentence are only pertinent for immigration purposes if based on a procedural or substantive defect in the underlying criminal proceeding.

For more information, view the USCIS announcement.

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Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” Program Has Asylum Grant Rate of Less Than 1 Percent

Roughly one year after the Trump administration initiated its Remain in Mexico program for asylum seekers, less than one tenth of a percent of applicants have been granted asylum. Out of the total 47,000 applicants, fewer than 10,000 have even had their cases completed, with 5,085 being denied outright and 4,471 dismissed, typically based on procedural grounds, prior to reaching a decision. An astounding 11 applications resulted in asylum being granted, accounting for less than 0.1 percent of the total number of completed cases, a significantly lower figure than the 20 percent of individuals granted asylum outside the Remain in Mexico program.

The motivation behind the Remain in Mexico program, formally referred to as Migrant Protection Protocols, stems from the logic that if the government forces individuals through the lengthy process of waiting in Mexico until their court date, fewer indiviudals will file an asylum claim at all, thus reducing the burden of the courts so they will be able to focus on more “legitimate” claims.

Immigration advocates assert that this deterrence affects everyone seeking asylum, not just those whose cases the government views as, “illegitimate.” A recent report found a total of 636 reported cases of kidnapping, torture, and other violent attacks on asylum seekers who are part of the Remain in Mexico program, 138 of which involve kidnapping of attempted kidnapping of children.

For more information, view the full article from The San Diego Tribune.

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More Restrictions and Lawsuits Expected for H-1B Visas in 2020

The upcoming year is not likely to yield an improvement for companies hiring foreign-born scientists and engineers on H-1B visas, according to immigration experts. H-1B visas, typically the most practical method for international students or highly skilled foreign nationals who were educated abroad to acquire long-term employment in the United States, have seen unprecedented spiked in petition denial rates during the Trump administration. According to the National Foundation for American Policy, the denial rate for H-1B petitions for initial employment has quadrupled, “rising from 6% in FY 2015 to 24& through the third quarter of FY 2019.” The high rate of denial is more confounding when taking into consideration the fact that companies and attorneys only submit applications they are confident will adhere to the legal requirements, due to the expensive and time-consuming nature of the applications.

There are three developments which are to occur in 2020 which suggest that these denial rates will not regress back to their mean.

  1. USCIS has announced an implementation of electronic registration for H-1B petitions, and along with it a $10 registration fee for each registration.
  2. USCIS plans to publish a new rule changing the definition of specialty occupation and the definition of employment and the employer-employee relationship.
  3. Ongoing litigation involving issues surrounding H-1Bs.

For more information, view the full article from Forbes.

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