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This category includes articles written by CLINIC staff.

USCIS Eliminates “Lawful Status” Requirements in Special Immigrant Religious Worker Program (Permanent Residence Program)

On July 5, 2015, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) issued a policy memo declaring that the “lawful status” requirements of the immigrant regulations for religious workers would no longer be considered when adjudicating the I-360 immigrant petition. In addition, USCIS will amend Title 8 CFR Sec. 204.5(m)(4) and (11) and remove the lawful status requirements from the immigrant regulations for religious workers. Prior to this change, to be eligible for permanent residence a religious worker needed to demonstrate that he/she had at least two years of experience (as a religious worker) and if that experience was gained in the U.S., the religious worker must have shown that he/she maintained lawful status (and work authorization) during that time. With this announcement, the lawful status requirement is eliminated and USCIS will not deny religious worker I-360 petitions on this basis.

Updates on USCIS Site Visits for Religious Workers

An important part of the immigration process of sponsoring international religious workers to the U.S. involves a site visit from USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). This is required per the immigration regulations and is used to verify the elements of the petition filed by the sponsor (including sponsor and beneficiary information, work location, etc.). These site visits may occur with advance notice or without any notice at all. Also, a successful site visit is a prerequisite for the sponsor’s ability to file I-129 petitions for nonimmigrant religious workers via premium processing.

USCIS Proposes Expansion of Provisional Waiver Program

The USCIS published a proposed rule in the Federal register on July 22, 2015 that would expand the current provisional waiver program in two significant ways. The agency is allowing the public 60 days to comment on the proposed regulatory change. The provisional waiver program is currently open only to immediate relatives who, upon leaving the United States to consular process, will trigger the three- or ten-year bar for unlawful presence.

Update on DACA (June 18, 2015)

By Jen Riddle and Jill Bussey

This month marks the 3-year anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Since DACA launched in 2012, over 664,000 individuals have been granted temporary reprieve from deportation and a work permit.  All 50 states now permit DACA recipients to apply for driver’s licenses, following policy reversals in Nebraska and Arizona due to legislative action (in NE) and litigation (in AZ). 

Federal District Court Denies Emergency Stay Request on Executive Action

On Tuesday, May 26, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the government’s request for an emergency stay of the injunction issued by a Brownsville judge in February.  That injunction stopped implementation of the expanded DACA and the DAPA programs that were already set to begin. The district court found that the plaintiffs – 26 states – had standing to bring the lawsuit and it found that the government had violated the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) in failing to publish regulations before implementing the programs.

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