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Immigration Reform Updates

Jan 28, 2013
Wendy Rhein

The debate on immigration reform is moving quickly.  CLINIC strives to keep its network and others informed so that they can continue to serve the immigrants in our communities with the most up-to-date information. 

This morning the New York Times published a bi-partisan statement of principles outlining four goals of immigration reform.  CLINIC welcomes this bi-partisan leadership in keeping the conversation moving.  The principles include a path to citizenship and relief for agricultural workers and highly skilled graduates.  The Senators also outline plans for continued enforcement along the border as well as a strong employment verification system.  Read the whole statement here.

Also, exciting news from Illinois last night, as it became the fourth and largest state to allow undocumented individuals to obtain drivers licenses.  See the Chicago Tribune’s local perspective here.

President Obama will be speaking tomorrow night from Nevada.  He is expected to outline the Administration’s plan for immigration reform in 2013.  While we do not know yet what the plan entails, we are encouraged that the President is

USCIS Finalizes Regulation on Provisional Waivers for Unlawful Presence

Jan 4, 2013
Debbie Smith and Charles Wheeler

On January 3, 2013, the USCIS finalized its regulation regarding the adjudication of waivers for those who are consular processing and would be triggering the unlawful presence ground of inadmissibility.  The rule provides a process by which the agency will adjudicate these waivers before the applicants leave for their immigrant visa interview.  The procedure would be available only to immediate relatives who are inadmissible based on unlawful presence – and no other grounds – and who can establish extreme hardship to a qualifying U.S. citizen spouse or parent.  To be eligible, the applicant would need to have an approved I-130 or I-360 petition and have paid the immigrant visa fee bill. 

The USCIS will begin receiving and adjudicating the provisional waivers on March 4, 2013.  No applications will be accepted before that date. Applicants will be using a new Form I-601A, which the agency will publish sometime before that date. The filing fee for the waiver application is $585.  There is no filing fee waiver available for the provisional waiver or the biometrics that are required as part of the process.

USCIS Issues Policy Memos on VAWA EAD Eligibility and U Visa Derivative

Dec 14, 2012
Charles Wheeler

 CIS has just released interim guidance on age-out protection for U derivatives. Per the guidance:

  • U-3 derivatives will be approved for the full four-year eligibility period, allowing the U-3 to remain in status past his or her 21st birthday
  • CIS will promulgate regulations to "provide protection" for U derivatives who age-out while the 918-A is pending. In the meantime, aging-out derivatives will be considered for deferred action, which allows for work authorization
  • U derivatives whose status expired upon turning age 21 may now file for an extension of status to receive enough time in U status to allow them to apply for adjustment 

The interim guidance does not address derivatives who age-out abroad while the application for derivative status is pending. The guidance is effective immediately.

CLINIC ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Nov 6, 2012

The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), one of the nation’s leading legal agencies for immigrants and a subsidiary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), seeks an Executive Director (ED) to oversee its extensive support programs to charitable immigration programs throughout the nation. 

The ED should ideally have expertise and experience in: (1) immigration law and policy, with a strong preference for an attorney; (2) managing persons and finances; (3) conceptualizing, developing, funding, and evaluating programs for low-income or at-risk immigrants; (4) resource development; and (5) identifying advocacy needs and pursuing appropriate policy solutions.  S/he should also have a: (1) bedrock commitment to social justice and Catholic teaching; (2) knowledge of the structure of the Catholic Church; and (3) knowledge of the federal immigration bureaucracies.  S/he should have at least five-years of experience in successfully managing a non-profit agency (preferably), a for-profit agency, or significant, large-scale programs.  

The ED should have the following, minimum competencies: (1) the ability to conceptualize and

DHS Guidance on Hurricane Sandy

Oct 27, 2012

Click here for the original letter.

To the extent that Tropical Storm/Hurricane Sandy (Sandy) impacts law enforcement operations and/or the storm triggers the need for an officially ordered evacuation or an emergency government response, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) highest priorities are to promote life-saving and life-sustaining activities, the safe evacuation of people who are leaving the impacted area, the maintenance of public order, the prevention of the loss of property to the extent possible, and the speedy recovery of the impacted region.

As such, to the extent that Sandy impacts law enforcement operations and/or the storm triggers the need for an officially ordered evacuation or an emergency government response, there will be no immigration enforcement initiatives associated with evacuations or sheltering related to Sandy, including the use of checkpoints for immigration purposes in impacted areas during an evacuation. If a state or local law enforcement agency determines that individuals in their custody should be transferred or released due to Sandy, the state or local law enforcement agency should not decline to do so solely on the basis of an immigration detainer issued by ICE or CBP.

CLINIC’s Acting Executive Director on What the Next President Needs to Do on Immigration Day 1

Oct 17, 2012
Donald Kerwin

Click here for the HuffPost blog.

On Jan. 22, 2013, President Romney or President Obama should take a dramatic step to stabilize, strengthen and promote the integration of hundreds of thousands of American families. The president should issue an Executive Order that would allow persons who have passed the first hurdle in qualifying for a family-based visa to seek a waiver before they leave the United States that would permit their return after they secure a visa. To understand the significance of this step requires a primer on our nation's family-based immigration system.

The United States awards most of its "green cards" -- roughly two-thirds -- to persons who enjoy close family ties to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (LPRs). This process begins with the filing of a petition by a U.S. citizen or LPR for a non-citizen family member. By approving the petition, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) formally recognizes the existence of a qualifying family relationship. The agency then assigns a "priority date" or number based on the petition's filing date. When the date becomes "current" or advances to the front of the visa queue, the qualifying family member can apply for an immigrant visa. However, backlogs for persons

Non-Minister Provision of the Special Immigrant Worker Program Extended

Sep 21, 2012
Megan Sahar Turngren

The Religious Immigration Section of CLINIC, along with immigration practitioners around the country, breathed a sigh of relief on September 13, 2012,when the House of Representatives passed an extension of the Non-Minister Provision of the Special Immigrant Worker Program.  Unless this extension passed, individuals pursuing religious vocations and religious occupations would no longer have been eligible to become legal permanent residents.  This would have meant that nuns, brothers, seminarians, pastoral associates, religious teachers, missionaries, and those in formation would have been excluded from permanent residency.

The incredible service that is performed by these individuals often reaches those far outside the boundaries of the United States.  By using the resources that only a country such as the United States has to offer, these “non-ministers” are able to spread their message of compassion and charity throughout the world. 

For example, sisters of various religious communities are currently serving at the United Nations.  While their ministry encompasses many areas, there is a primary focus on poverty, education, and bringing awareness to the global epidemic of human trafficking. 

Letter from ICE and CBP about Hurricane Isaac

Aug 27, 2012

Click here for the original letter in English, Spanish or Vietnamese.

In the event that Hurricane/Tropical Storm Isaac (Isaac) triggers the need for an officially ordered
evacuation or an emergency government response, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) highest priorities are to promote life-saving and lifesustaining activities, the safe evacuation of people who are leaving the impacted area, the maintenance of public order, the prevention of the loss of property to the extent possible, and the speedy recovery of the region

As such, there will be no immigration enforcement initiatives associated with evacuations or shelteringrelated to Isaac, including the use of checkpoints for immigration enforcement purposes in impacted areas during an evacuation. If a state or local law enforcement agency determines that individuals in their custody should be transferred or released due to Isaac, the state or local law enforcement agency should not decline to do so solely on the basis of an immigration detainer issued by ICE or CBP. If a state or local law enforcement agency does decide to release an individual subject to an ICE or CBP detainer based on Isaac, the agency should, wherever possible, contact the local ICE or CBP office prior to any such release to ensure that the release does not pose a danger to the community.

August 14th USCIS Update on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)

Aug 21, 2012
Susan Schreiber, Debbie Smith and Charles Wheeler

On August 14, 2012, USCIS issued the DACA "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" application form, posted a new FAQ, and held a stakeholder call that provided additional information on DACA program. The FAQ and stakeholder call, led by USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas, reviewed basic eligibility requirements for DACA as well as the education requirements, disclosure provisions and filing procedure.

This update will discuss the information released on August 14th and review details of the program previously reported in CLINIC's August 6th article on DACA. The DACA application form, Form I-821D, is available here and the FAQ is posted here

Additional resources on DACA may be found on the CLINIC website and include:

  • DACA Workshop Toolkit (working document)
  • Updated Materials  on CLINIC's DACA website including previous CLINIC webinars
  • August 23rd Webinar on Capacity Building for DACA and DACA Updates (register here)

CLINIC Announces Updated Naturalization Guide

Jan 24, 2012
Laura Burdick

CLINIC is pleased to announce our updated handbook, Strategies for Naturalizing the Most Vulnerable Applicants: A Guide to Helping Refugees and Immigrants Who Are Elderly, Disabled, Low-Income, Low-Literate, and Limited English Proficient.  The handbook, initially released in 2008, has been updated to reflect the latest naturalization policies and procedures.  It discusses English exemptions, due consideration, reasonable accommodations, disability waivers, oath waivers, fee waivers, and expedited processing.  It also contains approximately 30 links to various references and resources such as USCIS policy guidance and sample letters.

The handbook is available here as a free resource on the CLINIC website.

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