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A blog by Melissa Aguinaga on United States immigration law.

Latest News

USCIS Provides Updated Guidance on Work Permits and Deferred Action for Noncitizen Crime Victims

15 June 2021

The guidance applies both to direct victims applying for a U visa, a type of nonimmigrant visa for crime victims, as well as their qualifying family members. Here are the highlights:

  • USCIS will perform an initial review and issue work permits and deferred action for 4 years for nonimmigrant status and qualifying family members if USCIS determines the petition is bona fide, or genuine and made without intention to deceive, rather than making victims wait for a complete adjudication;
  • If USCIS determines that a petition is bona fide, it will asses whether the petitioner poses a risk to national security or public safety, and, finally, whether the petitioner should receive a work permit and deferred action;
  • If a petitioner does not pass this bona fide test after initial review, their application will proceed to the waiting list for full adjudication. If their petition is then approved, they will be placed on the waiting list for a U visa. Once a petitioner is placed on the waiting list, they and their qualifying family members will receive deferred action. If they have properly filed for a work permit, they will receive one valid for four years;
  • If a petitioner's application is found to be bona fide on initial review, they will not be placed on the waiting list. Instead, their petition will be reviewed for a final adjudication for a U visa when space is available under the statutory cap;
  • Throughout the initial four year validity period for a work permit and deferred action, USCIS will review background checks regularly to determine whether a petitioner and their qualifying family members can keep their work permits and grant of deferred action. USCIS may update background and security checks at any time when warranted by case-specific circumstances;
  • All petitions will be reviewed in receipt date order for final adjudication of U visa nonimmigrant status.
  • When considering a relationship between a petitioner and their qualifying family members based on marriage, USCIS will evaluate whether the relationship existed when the petition was granted, rather than when the petition was filed.

President Biden Suspends Prior Administration's Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants

14 May 2021

In A Proclamation on Revoking Proclamation 9945, President Biden announced:

The suspension of entry imposed in Proclamation 9945 of October 4, 2019(Suspension of Entry of Immigrants Who Will Financially Burden the United States Healthcare System, in Order To Protect the Availability of Healthcare Benefits for Americans), does not advance the interests of the United States. My Administration is committed to expanding access to quality, affordable healthcare. We can achieve that objective, however, without barring the entry of noncitizens who seek to immigrate lawfully to this country but who lack significant financial means or have not purchased health insurance coverage from a restrictive list of qualifying plans. The suspension of entry imposed in Proclamation 9945 is also in tension with the policy set forth in section 1 of Executive Order 14012 of February 2, 2021 (Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans).

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including sections 212(f ) and 215(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f ) and 1185(a), hereby find that the unrestricted entry into the United States of noncitizen immigrants based solely on the reasons articulated in Proclamation 9945 is not detrimental to the interests of the United States....

For more information, visit or contact Aguinaga Law Group.

USCIS Announces Changes to Biometric Services

11 May 2021

Today, USCIS released the following news alert:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that applicants, petitioners, requestors and beneficiaries may now call the USCIS Contact Center (800-375-5283) to reschedule their biometric services appointments scheduled at a USCIS Application Support Center. Previously, applicants had to submit requests in writing to reschedule their biometrics appointments. This change helps eliminate undue paperwork and allows USCIS to track the request through a more efficient process.
Applicants must establish good cause for rescheduling and must call before the date and time of their original appointment to reschedule. If an applicant fails to call before the scheduled appointment or fails to establish good cause, USCIS may consider the application, petition, or request abandoned and, as a result, it may be denied.

Additionally, USCIS announced a temporary suspension of the biometrics requirement for certain tourist visa extension applications (I-539) effective May 17, 2021.

Effective May 17, 2021, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will temporarily suspend the biometrics submission requirement for certain applicants filing Form I-539, Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, requesting an extension of stay in or change of status to H-4, L-2, and E nonimmigrant status. USCIS will allow adjudications for those specific categories to proceed based on biographic information and related background checks, without capturing fingerprints and a photograph. This suspension will apply through May 17, 2023, subject to affirmative extension or revocation of the suspension period by the USCIS director.
This temporary suspension will apply to applicants filing Form I-539 requesting the following:
  • Extension of stay in or change of status to H-4 nonimmigrant status;
  • Extension of stay in or change of status to L-2 nonimmigrant status;
  • Extension of stay in or change of status to E-1 nonimmigrant status;
  • Extension of stay in or change of status to E-2 nonimmigrant status (including E-2C (E-2 CNMI Investor)); or
  • Extension of stay in or change of status to E-3 nonimmigrant status (including those selecting E-3D).
This suspension will apply only to the above categories of Form I-539 applications that are either:
  • Pending as of May 17, 2021, and have not yet received a biometric services appointment notice; or
  • New applications postmarked or submitted electronically on or after May 17, 2021.

For more information, visit USCIS's website or contact Aguinaga Law Group.

Reminders for Immigrants Who Entered the U.S. after waiting in Mexico under the Migrant Protection Protocols

10 May 2021

If you came to the United States after waiting in Mexico under the U.S. Government's Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), it is important to remember the following:

1. If you haven't received notice about your immigration case, and the U.S. hasn't informed you that you may remain in the country permanently, you do not yet have lawful status.
2. You must notify the immigration court and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of any change to your address withing five days of the change. You may ask the court and DHS to transfer your case to another city or state but your request is not guaranteed to be granted even if you have moved to another state.
3. You must attend your immigration court hearings. You may access information about your case, including your next scheduled hearing, via phone at 1-800-898-7180 and EOIR's website.
4. You must submit applications on time. For example, you must submit an asylum application to the immigration court within one year of entering the U.S.

Aguinaga Law Group can help you stay on top of your case. Please do not hesitate to contact us for help with your immigration issues.

Receipt Notice Delays and Related Intake Issues

26 April 2021

Please be aware of delays in the issuance of receipt notices for Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status; Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers; and Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (EAD), filed with USCIS lockbox facilities. If you filed an adjustment of status (AOS) (Form I-485) in September, October, or November 2020, you may experience severe delays in receiving a receipt notice.

While some people have received their receipts, it is not unusual to have to wait at least two or three months to get receipts. As a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, I am monitoring this situation.

How will this affect my status?

This depends on what type of status you had at the time of filing and the type of case under which you filed your AOS. Most receipts that were issued after months of delay still reflect the original filing date which demonstrates the application was filed on time.

What if my application is rejected?

There have been widespread reports of rejections from the USCIS lockbox. In some cases, the rejections were sent three months or more after the original filing date. USCIS has cited many reasons for rejections, such as failing to check a checkbox, include all pages of a form, sign a form, or include a valid filing fee. In many cases, the application did, actually, include the requested information that USCIS erroneously claimed was missing. Depending on the reason your application was rejected, you may be able to resubmit your application. Please contact Aguinaga Law Group to discuss whether you should resubmit your application and other options that may be available.

What About My Work Authorization and Advance Parole?

If you have applied for an adjustment of status along with a work permit (Employment Authorization Document, Form I-765) and an advance parole document (Form I-131), you may experience significant delays not only in receiving proof, but also in having your application processed. In the past, processing times averaged from 90 days to six months. Now, these applications can experience delays as long as eight or nine months.

For work permits and advance parole delays, it may not be helpful to follow up with USCIS after 90 days. If eight or nine weeks have passed, reach out to your attorney or, if you do not have an attorney, contact Aguinaga Law Group.

If six months have passed, try contacting USCIS through their online virtual assistance, Emma; by telephone; or by filing an e-request. If this doesn't help, and the delays are egregious, try contacting your local congressional representative or senator.

What Can I Do?

  • Request filing online to receive confirmation that your form has been received;
  • Check the status of your application online or create a USCIS online acccount;
  • Complete Form G-1145, e-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance, to receive a text message or email when your form is accepted.

If you have any questions, please get in touch.

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