Legal Updates

January 2017

DHS Extends and Redesignates Yemen for TPS

DHS extended the designation of Yemen for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, from March 4, 2017, through September 3, 2018. The 60-day re-registration period runs from January 4, 2017, through March 6, 2017. DHS also redesignated Yemen for TPS, allowing additional individuals who have been continuously residing in the United States since January 4, 2017, and have been continuously physically present in the United States since March 4, 2017, to apply for TPS. The 180-day initial registration period for new applicants runs from January 4, 2017, through July 3, 2017.

December 2016

USCIS Issues New Forms and New Fees

When new fees for most USCIS forms went into effect on December 23, 2016, USCIS also published updated versions of the forms at uscis.gov/forms. They strongly encourage customers to submit these new versions, which are updated with the new fees and have an edition date of 12/23/16.  USCIS will accept prior versions of forms, with the exception of Form N-400, until February 21, 2017.  However, all filings postmarked 12/23/16 or later must include the new fees or the form will be rejected. The updated forms are currently available only at uscis.gov/forms, where all forms can be downloaded for free.

DHS to Rescind NSEERS Regulation

Tomorrow, DHS will publish a final rule removing outdated regulations relating to the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), an obsolete special registration program that required immigrants from 25 Muslim-majority, Arab, and South Asian countries to register their presence in the United States. This is a much welcomed step to ending the discrimination and surveillance of the immigrant community.

BIA Says Untimely Asylum Application Can Be Found Frivolous Under INA §208(d)(6)

In Matter of M-S-B-, a precedent decision, the BIA held that an untimely filed application for asylum may be found frivolous under INA §208(d)(6). The BIA then concluded that the respondent’s asylum application was frivolous, because the respondent deliberately made a false statement when he postdated by more than two years his date of entry into the United States. The BIA held that this was a material element in determining his eligibility to seek asylum given the general requirement to file the application within one year of the date of arrival in the country.

November 2016

PAIR’s Fall Asylum Program Newsletter

Click here to get recent local and national updates and to learn more about PAIR’s pro bono asylum work.

Thoughts on DACA, shared by Dan Berger, of Curran & Berger LLP

“It is a very difficult situation.  The President-Elect has pledged to end DACA and he can do that with the stroke of a pen. It hard to believe that he will suddenly revoke work cards and DACA from 750,000 high achieving students.  Perhaps more likely is that he could stop DACA extensions.  Moving to deport these students would be another radical step – if they just lose their DACA status, that would be awful, but we can advise them as we did pre-DACA. We are encouraging DACA students to apply for renewal at the earliest possible moment – see the calculator at Educators for Change or Immigrant Legal Resource Center. See the National Immigration Law Center for tips if DACA is delayed to get it approved as soon as possible given current long processing delays.

It is also a good time for everyone to consider if they have any longer term immigration options – http://e4fc.org.  And it goes without saying, but advocacy efforts are more important now than ever.  Here are links for information and referrals to advocacy opportunities – http://americasvoice.org/, and https://www.weownthedream.org/. ”

October 2016

Boston Asylum Sub-Office Delays

As most of you know, due to the diversion of an increasing number of asylum officers to conduct protection screening interviews for persons arriving at the border, there are terrible backlogs in the scheduling of asylum interviews. Currently, the Boston Office is scheduling June 2013 I-589 receipts for interview. USCIS prioritizes asylum applications for interview scheduling as follows:

  • First, applications that were scheduled for an interview, but the applicant requested a new interview date;
  • Second, applications filed by children; and
  • Third, all other pending affirmative asylum applications will be scheduled for interviews in the order they were received, with oldest cases scheduled first.

Please see USCIS Processing of Asylum Cases for more information.

Nepal TPS Extended

USCIS has extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Nepal. This allows eligible nationals of Nepal (or persons without nationality who last habitually resided in Syria) to re-register for TPS, from October 26, 2016 through December 27, 2016. For more information and for all relevant filing dates, visit the USCIS website.

Liberian DED Extended
The DED extension runs from October 1, 2016 through March 31, 2018. This Notice provides instructions for eligible Liberians on how to apply for the full 18-month extension of employment authorization. Finally, this Notice provides instructions for DED-eligible Liberians on how to apply for permission to travel outside the United States during the 18-month DED period. See more at USCIS.gov.

Reviewing ATD Restrictions on Clients

All cases where a person is subject to the ATD program are reviewed periodically and in accordance with DHS policy in order to determine whether adjustment of the program conditions is appropriate. While there is no set schedule for review, each case is reviewed according to corresponding program goals. Officers are assigned to each case, in coordination with a Supervisor, as needed, to determine whether to decrease restrictions, keep them the same, or increase them, while evaluating all factors and the totality of circumstances of each case. Attorneys are advised that factors seen favorably at time of review, are: (1) full compliance with all BI and ERO reporting requirements; (2) active participation in acquiring a valid passport/travel document; and (3) careful compliance with the guidelines and restrictions regarding the GPS unit. All ERO determinations are made on a case-by-case basis and attorneys are free to ask Deportation Officers for changes in the ATD program for individual clients when appropriate. – Many thanks to AILA NE for this update. 

September 2016

DOJ Changes Rule on Defensive I-589s filings.

As of October 2016, defensive applications for asylum may be filed directly at the clerk’s window or by mail. They are no longer required to be filed in open court at a Master Calendar hearing. This applies to all Form I-589s, regardless of whether the application is for asylum, withholding of removal, or protection under the Convention Against Torture.” Please click here to review the DOJ’s guide on filing at the immigration court.

August 2016

Syrian TPS
USCIS has redesignated Syria for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and extended the existing TPS designation for the country from Oct. 1, 2016, through March 31, 2018. This allows eligible nationals of Syria (or persons without nationality who last habitually resided in Syria) to register or re-register for TPS. For more information and for all relevant filing dates, visit the USCIS website.

July 2016

Asylum Office Rescheduling Update:

Due to the large volume of reschedule requests received on the day of interview, the Boston Asylum Sub-Office is updating its policy for requests to reschedule.  Under the new, the Boston Sub-Office will no longer grant first-time reschedule requests made on the day of a scheduled interview as a matter of policy.  Applicants making a first-time request to reschedule on the day of a scheduled interview will be required to show good cause for the reschedule request.  The policy change does not affect rescheduling requests made before the day of the interview, only those made on or after the scheduled interview.  As of July 5, 2016, the following policy will be in effect:

As a matter of Asylum Division policy, the Asylum Office reschedules an interview if it is the applicant’s first request for a rescheduling, and the request is received prior to the interview date. If a request to reschedule an interview is made on or up to 45 days after the interview date, or if the interview has already been rescheduled on one (1) occasion, the applicant must establish there was “good cause” for the request. If the request to reschedule is made on or after 46 days after the interview and after a charging document or dismissal by the Asylum Office has been issued, the applicant must establish “exceptional circumstances” for failure to appear. Prior to determining if the applicant established exceptional circumstances, the Asylum Office must determine whether the applicant’s failure to appear was caused by lack of proper notice.

June 2016 

On June 23, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 4-4 decision in U.S. v. Texas. The deadlocked, one-line decision upholds the Fifth Circuit’s decision preventing the implementation of DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents) and expanded DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). PAIR is extremely disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision and shares the frustration of immigrant families in Massachusetts and across the country who desperately need immigration relief.  We also want to emphasize that the decision does not change the DACA (“Dreamers”) program that started in 2012. It is also possible that, in the future, the Supreme Court will rule to allow the DAPA and expanded DACA programs.

While the Supreme Court’s decision is a setback for immigrant families, PAIR, with many other community-based organizations, will explore all legal options at our disposal. On July 7, 2016, PAIR will host a pro bono training about these legal developments and other options for immigration relief. Those who could have been covered under DAPA/DACA and the expanded programs should be vigilant when approached about the programs and other forms of immigration relief.  As of today, there are no DAPA/expanded DACA programs. See the USCIS site to avoid scams and notario fraud.

May 2016

New Biometrics Procedure

USCIS has confirmed that biometrics for court cases will be run automatically. There is no need to do an InfoPass for clients who have previously submitted biometrics.  Attorneys should work with ICE to determine the proper process for the refreshing of fingerprints for applicants in EOIR proceedings. If you have an upcoming hearing, call the Office of Chief Counsel (OCC), 617-565-3140, and ask if the office is able to run your client’s the biometrics.  If you have a case where your client has never had biometrics, you should request a biometrics appointment by mailing a request to USCIS or making an InfoPass appointment.  Once biometrics have been processed and are entered into the system, then ICE will run biometrics as needed.

New USCIS Asylum Procedures Manual

The Asylum Office’s AFFIRMATIVE ASYLUM PROCEDURES MANUAL (AAPM) has been updated. The manual provides information on how to process an affirmative asylum application within an Asylum Office and is useful to review as you prepare your client for an asylum interview. Please see USCIS for more information.

April 2016

The Asylum Office LOBBY (not the office) will be closed to the public on the week of April 11-15, and all interviews will be cancelled.  Document drop-offs and inquiries will be done during our normal public hours, however, applicants/attorneys will need to ring the bell at our back entrance located just inside the door marked 675.  Regular operations will resume on Monday, April 18.

March 2016

If you need to supplement your client’s asylum application after submitting the I-589, you should submit all supplementary materials to the Asylum Sub-office three (3) business days before the
interview.  Walk-in hours for document SUBMISSION ONLY are Monday – Thursday, from 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 noon. Walk-in hours for inquiries (including document submission) are on Fridays, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 NOON. Please note that filings documents on M-TH will take second priority to applicants being checked in for scheduled interviews.

February 2016

USCIS has amended the requirement for the number of copies of Form I-589 and related documents. They are in the process of updating the instructions for Form I-589 to reflect this change. USCIS now require: (a) 1 copy of your signed, original Form I-589; (b) 1 copy of any supplementary sheets and supplementary statements; and (c) 2 copies of any additional supporting documents you choose to submit. For more information see, https://www.uscis.gov/i-589.

January 2016

This month, in addition to unaccompanied minors and rescheduled cases, the Boston Asylum Sub-office is interviewing Boston and Portland applicants who filed for asylum in or before March 2013 or April 2013. If you filed before February 2013 in either the Boston or Portland jurisdiction, and have not been scheduled at least once for an interview, please let the Boston Asylum Sub-office know.

They anticipate interviewing May 2013 filings for both Boston and Portland starting March 2016 and 2014 filings starting October 2016. Please note that these estimates are based off of current scheduling priorities; if scheduling priorities change, scheduling estimates may change. Please note that all Portland filings will now be interviewed at the Boston Asylum Sub-Office. This update is for cases filed in the Boston (BOS) and Portland (POM) jurisdictions and scheduled at the Boston Asylum Sub-Office only. Newark, Saint Albans and Buffalo scheduling updates are provided separately.

ICE Raids

In the last few weeks, you may heard many rumors about a nationwide Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) operation to arrest and detain non-citizens. So far, there hasn’t been a confirmed ICE raid in Massachusetts, but if you hear of a raid (home, work-place or public space) or know someone who has been arrested by immigration, please contact PAIR. PAIR is the only non-profit with negotiated access to the 3 major detention facilities in MA. We have upcoming “Know Your Rights”/legal orientation sessions scheduled for detainees in South Bay, Bristol & Plymouth and will conduct case screening. If you are interested in volunteering with us, please email Elena Noureddine.

December 2015

Boston Asylum Sub-Office Public Hours and Guidance on Document Submissions:

Beginning January 2016, the Boston Asylum Office will start accepting document filings on M-TH, ONLY from 8:30 am – 12 pm, in addition to their Friday public hours (8:30 am – 12 pm). Document filings on non-Fridays will take second priority to applicants being checked in for scheduled interviews. If the attorney comes on a day that is not a Friday, the attorney will have to wait until applicants checking-in for an asylum interview are processed.

Please be sure that the documents you are filing are properly packaged (two hole punched at the top, ACCO fastened [or binder clips, but please NO binding of any kind), tabs along the left side or the bottom, index, cover-letter, client’s full name/A number). In-person case inquiries will continue to be accepted on Friday mornings ONLY.

ICE Raids

PAIR has seen a sudden and dramatic increase in the numbers of immigration detainees being held in Massachusetts. Hundreds of young men and women who were detained at the Southern border were issued expedited removal orders and transferred to Massachusetts. Because these individuals were issued expedited orders, they will not appear before an Immigration Judge to present their cases. Since the detainees have arrived in Massachusetts, PAIR has been visiting detention centers across the state to conduct intake interviews and facilitate requests for Credible Fear Interviews. PAIR has submitted nearly 100 such requests in the past month. If you are interested in representing these detainees in a bond hearing, please feel free to contact Elena Noureddine. The representation in immigration court would be limited to the bond hearing.