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Employer Fights Back on Behalf of Employee

We have written previously about the current administration’s increased scrutiny of immigration applications.  We have heard reports that the government now is denying H-1B petitions for jobs that it has previously approved as a specialty occupation.  One employer and its long-time employee are fighting back.

The employer argued that United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) unlawfully denied an employee’s H-1B extension of status. The employer contends that the employee’s job meets one or more of the criteria for a specialty occupation. USCIS unlawfully denied the petition by misreading the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook.

It is great to see employers standing up for their employees and challenging the government when it misapplies the law. This sends a clear message to USCIS that it cannot continue to unlawfully deny employment-based petitions. Employers and employees alike should fight to make sure their rights are preserved and their cases are fairly adjudicated.

Travel Ban Faces Lawsuit

As a part of Trump’s travel ban, foreign-nationals from the seven blocked countries, are prevented from entering the United States. The only way to circumvent this ban is to apply for a waiver, which is issued at the discretion of the government on a case-by-case basis. As a response to this, a coalition of organizations has filed a class action lawsuit challenging the implementation of the waiver provisions in the travel ban.  The groups argue that the waiver application adjudication is inconsistent and arbitrary.  The lawsuit aims to ensure that those who qualify for waivers actually receive them and are issued visas.

According to the State Department, the government has approved only 2% of waivers. Former U.S. consular officials have called the process “fraudulent.” The lawsuit hopes to clarify and implement a waiver process for those who would otherwise be unable to immigrate to the United States so that they can reunite with family or join employers who need them.  The lawsuit is one way to fight against the discriminatory ban, which marginalizes entire groups of people based on their religious belief or countries of origin. Though we hope the ban is lifted entirely, we applaud these organizations that are doing what they can to navigate the uncertain immigration policies set forth by the current administration.

Your Voice Matters

The anti-Semitic domestic terrorist targeted the Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh partly because of its outspoken support of immigrants.  Undeterred from the violent attack on a faith community, the next day, the First Unitarian Church in Los Angeles spoke out in support of immigrants.  I was proud to give the sermon to dispel the myths that fuel hatred of immigrants.  Communities like the First Unitarian Church and the Tree of Life Synagogue pride themselves on offering support for these vulnerable people.

I continue to support immigrants and communities who support them.  One way to do this is to distinguish fact from fiction in the immigration debate. The next step is to become politically engaged this November.  To help with this, the American Immigration Council has created a state-by-state immigration fact sheet for voters to use. The fact sheets include information on the financial contributions and demographics of immigrant communities in each state.  I urge you to visit the website and educate yourself on these important issues.

Further, First Unitarian Church has raised money to help post bond for deserving immigrant detainees.  To contribute to the fund, please visit the Church’s website. Many immigrants do not yet have the right and privilege to vote for issues affecting their lives and need your support now more than ever.Church Photo - Blog

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to Start Removal Process After Denying Certain Immigration Applications

The current administration continues its crackdown on immigration through a new policy memo. The guidance instructs USCIS to issue a Notice to Appear after it denies certain immigration applications.  A Notice to Appear is a document that requires an individual to appear before an immigration judge to argue his or her case.  It is the first step for the government to start the removal process of an individual immigrant.

USCIS may now issue a Notice to Appear after it denies applications such as adjustment of status (green card applications), B visitor extensions, and other non-employment-based applications to extend or change nonimmigrant status.  USCIS will still first issue a denial letter, which will explain the reason for the denial and provide applicants with notice of the decision.  If these applicants then remain in the U.S. without authorization, USCIS may issue a Notice to Appear.  USCIS will continue to prioritize cases of applicants with criminal records, fraud, or national security concerns. The new guidance does not apply to employment-based petitions or humanitarian applications at this time.

As we previously discussed in a recent blog, it is very important to make sure you submit a complete and thorough application to the government to avoid a denial. Now, it is equally as important to understand what could happen if the government denies your application.  A denial under this new policy could mean that you have to fight your case in front of an immigration judge in order to stay in the United States. With such high stakes, we recommend talking to an experienced immigration attorney to make sure you understand all of the potential outcomes when applying for an immigration benefit.

Federal Judge Rules in Favor of Iranian Refugees

A Federal Court has stepped in again to stop the Trump administration from breaking U.S. immigration law.  The Department of Homeland Security violated immigration laws because it issued a blanket denial for Iranian refugees, rather than providing specific reasons for the denials. The federal judge in California ordered the administration to reconsider the refugee requests of nearly 90 Iranians. Though the government may still deny the applications, it must at least provide a reason. This will give the claimants an opportunity to file an appeal. Now that applicants will have a specific reason for the denial, they will be able to appeal based on those grounds and fight their case.

These refugees are part of a specialized refugee program expanded in 2004 to include persecuted religious minorities in Iran. The program has been extremely successful since its expansion, but its future now hangs in the balance, as no new applicants have been accepted since January 2017.  As the government continues to clamp down on immigration, many would-be immigrants face growing uncertainty. We will continue to speak out against these injustices and fight for the immigrant community.