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The Eleventh Circuit recently denied a petition for review of a decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals, effectively ending a Sri Lanka citizen’s asylum case.  In Senthooran Murugan vs. U.S. Attorney General, No. 19-13715 (August 24, 2021), a Sri Lankan citizen, Senthooran Murugan, fled Sri Lanka and entered the United States with the intent to seek asylum.  He was issued a notice to appear in removal proceedings and his case was heard before an immigration judge.

During the removal hearing, Mr. Murugan applied for asylum, withholding of removal and CAT (Convention against Torture) relief.  Mr. Murugan testified that he had been persecuted based on his membership in a particular social group (Tamils) and based on imputed political opinion.  Mr. Murugan testified that he had been arrested on three occasions in Sri Lanka and on one occasion he was held for four hours and slapped and kicked by soldiers.  Mr. Murugan testified that he thought he was going to die.

The immigration judge denied Mr. Murugan’s asylum, withholding and CAT claims and ordered him removed.  Mr. Murugan appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals, who affirmed the immigration judge’s decision.  Mr. Murugan then appealed to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

What is a Petition for Review?

             A petition for review (PFR) is a pleading that you may file in federal Circuit Court if you disagree with a decision regarding a removal or deportation order issued by the Board of Immigration Appeals or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In most cases, you cannot appeal a decision of an immigration judge directly to the Circuit Courts, you have to appeal to the BIA first and then if you lose, you can file a PFR with the Circuit Court.

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Can I File a Petition for Review?

What is Prosecutorial Discretion?

            Prosecutorial discretion is the authority of government immigration agencies to determine how to use its resources (tax payer’s money) to enforce the law. This means that ICE attorneys may choose not to pursue certain immigration enforcement actions, such as arrests, detentions, or deportations, in particular cases.

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How can Prosecutorial Discretion Help Me?

TPS is back for citizens of Haiti! USCIS announced that as of Friday May 21, 2021, Haitians in the United States may qualify for Temporary Protected Status, also known as TPS.

https://www.dhs.gov/news/2021/05/22/secretary-mayorkas-designates-haiti-temporary-protected-status-18-months

WHO WILL QUALIFY FOR THE NEW HAITIAN TPS?

It has finally happened, USCIS announced that as of Monday, March 8, 2021, Venezuelans in the United States may qualify for Temporary Protected Status, also known as TPS.

WHO WILL QUALIFY FOR VENEZUELAN TPS?

As I thought, here are the TPS requirement for Venezuelans:

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Beginning on December 1st, 2020, applicants for naturalization will be required to take an expanded civics test at their naturalization interview.  The current test requires the applicant to answer 6 out of 10 questions correctly to pass.   Applicants study from a list of 100 possible questions.  The new test will require the applicant to answer 12 out of 20 questions correctly.  There will be 128 questions that the applicant will study and USCIS will choose 20 questions out of those 128 possible questions.  The applicant will have two chances to pass the test.  If the applicant does not answer 12 questions correctly at the first interview, they will be rescheduled for an additional interview where they will get one more opportunity to pass the test.  If the applicant does not pass the second time, he or she will have to start the entire naturalization process over by filing a new N-400 form along with new filing fees.


What kind of questions will they ask me during the civics exam at my naturalization interview?


The civics exam is designed to test your knowledge of  U.S. government and history topics.  Here are some of the questions that might be asked:

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USCIS is set to increase their filing fees on immigration benefit cases, beginning on October 2nd, 2020.  This means that anyone who wants to file for an immigration benefit, including a greencard, work permit, naturalization, asylum and more should consider filing their forms before the October 2nd date, or there could be a substantial increase in cost.


What are the new filing fees for a greencard application?


Don’t be fooled by the $10 decrease in filing fee for the I-485 application for a greencard from $1140 to $1130.  The total fees have actually dramatically increased.  The old fee used to include the I-765, which is an application for a work permit while the greencard application is pending.  Because the processing time for the greencard can be so long, currently up to 3 years in our jurisdiction, almost everyone is going to have to file an I-765 to obtain a work permit, which is usually approved within about 6 months.  The new fee for the I-765 is $550.

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There was a national victory yesterday in the ongoing litigation involving DACA – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.  And while immigrants and immigration attorneys alike cheered the important U.S. Supreme Court decision, the jubilation has been tempered by the revelation of what the decision does and does not actually do for DACA eligible recipients.  So, let’s take an in-depth look at the case, the issues before the Court and the Court’s holding.


What was the actual issue before the Supreme Court?


Under the Obama administration, DACA was expanded and a new form of deferred action called DAPA was announced.  Many states filed for injunctions to prevent the expansion of DACA and the implementation of DAPA.  When the Trump administration came to power, the Attorney General told the Acting Director of Department of Homeland Security that DAPA and DACA were illegal and therefore, she should discontinue DACA.  So, DHS allowed for a renewal for those whose DACA was about to expire, but no new DACA applications would be accepted and no other DACA renewals would be accepted.  Multiple petitioners filed for injunctions claiming that the decision was a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) because it was “arbitrary and capricious.” Various Circuit Courts agreed with the Petitioners and the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

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Beginning on February 24th, 2020, most non-citizens applying for a greencard have been subject to a dramatic change in the Public Charge Rule.  This change is going to present an additional burden on those seeking a greencard, including the need to fill out and submit a new form, the need to present additional evidence, and the potential need for a joint sponsor.  It will also increase the number of greencard denials.


What is the Public Charge Rule?


Section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act makes any person likely to become a public charge inadmissible.  The applicant has the burden of proof.  This means that most applicants for greencards must prove to the government that you are not likely to become a public charge.  In the past, it was usually enough to submit an I-864, Affidavit of Support from the Petitioner (U.S. citizen spouse, parent, etc.) along with tax returns showing that the Petitioner made 125% of the federal poverty level.  This is no longer the case.  Now, the government requires a completely new form, Form I-944 to be filed by the applicant, along with new additional evidence.

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There are two different categories of people who are in the United States without authorization.  First, there are people who were lawfully “admitted or paroled” and then overstayed their visa or otherwise violated the terms of the admission.  Second, there are people who entered the United States without authorization or inspection.  Different laws apply to each of these categories of individuals.  How a person entered the United States can have a drastic effect on whether they are eligible to get a green card inside the United States or whether they will have to wait outside the United States for many years before obtaining a greencard.


What if I entered the United States with a visa, but overstayed and now I have a United States citizen spouse who wants to apply for me?


According to the Department of Homeland Security’s 2018 Report, there were 666,582 overstays in the year 2018.  An overstay is a person that was granted authorization to enter and stay in the United States for a temporary period of time and then did not leave the United States within that authorized period.  This can be overstaying on the visa waiver program, a visitor visa, student visa, or any other temporary visa.  A person who overstays their visa is deportable.  However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that person will be deported.   The government forgives the overstay in many situations and will allow the person to obtain a greencard within the United States if they are otherwise eligible.  For example, under the current policies, USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) will, within their discretion, allow a person who has overstayed their visa to obtain a greencard based on marriage to a United States citizen.  This forgiveness usually only extends to family based applications and not employment based.  There are also many considerations that can affect eligibility, so it is important for any person with any immigration violation, like an overstay status, to consult with an immigration attorney before filing any immigration paperwork.  USCIS can issue a Notice to Appear and place a person in removal (deportation) proceedings, so consult with an immigration attorney to understand the risks.

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