Trump Executive Order Bans Most Immigration for 60 Days

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Regardless of country, President Trump has banned immigration of those outside the United States as of midnight on April 23, 2020.  This means that a) those seeking admission to the US as immigrants, b) are located outside the US and c) do not yet have an immigrant visa or a travel document valid beyond April 23, 2020 are banned entry to the United States for 60 days.  There are certain classes of individuals that this ban does not apply to, i.e., they are exempted: 1) those who are green card holders (lawful permanent residents); 2) those applying for adjustment of status within the United States; 3) EB-5 immigrant investors and their dependents; 4) certain medical professionals; 5) spouses and children under 21 of US citizens; and 6) other narrow categories (e.g., those entering for law enforcement or national security purposes; certain relatives of US Armed Forces members; certain Iraqi and…

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Zombies and Petition Revocations

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What do zombies and petition revocations have in common?  Just when you thought they have died a permanent death – never to be seen again or heard from again – they come back to life, sometimes with devastating consequences. This came to mind when a former client, Alex, contacted me about his Diversity Visa case.  He won the Green Card Lottery, but when he went to the Embassy for his interview, he was told that his application would be put on hold until questions about his 1998 L-1 petition were resolved.  I  had represented him back in 1998, after the Embassy sent his L-1 petition back to INS because of a “fraudulent office address” and his inability to describe his subordinates at his L-1 visa interview.  We were able to resolve the fraudulent office address accusation at that time – the Embassy’s investigator had gone to the wrong (!) address…

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Petition Revocations: Potential Conflicts with Employers and Why Denied Visa Applicants Should Consult with their Own Lawyer

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Did you go to your employment visa interview and the consular officer told you that the approval of your petition is being revoked?  This is not an uncommon story, as more and more H-1B, L-1, O-1, and P-1 petitions are being recommended for revocation every year by consular officers. In general, consular officers must defer to the judgment of USCIS and the grounds for revocation are limited.  To recommend revocation of the approval of a petition, the consular officer must have discovered material new facts or misrepresentation or find that the visa applicant does not have the qualifications for the visa.  But often times consular officers substitute their own opinion and readjudicate the petition. We are seeing this more frequently, particularly in the context of O visa adjudications, in which the consular officer sets a much higher bar for qualification than USCIS.   The stakes are particularly high for those applicants…

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New Department of State Rules Channel Trump: The 90 Day Rule and Hire American

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US embassies and consulates abroad adjudicate more than 13 million visa applications a year, so when changes are made to the rules governing visa decisionmaking, the potential impact can be enormous. That is the case with two recent changes in the Foreign Affairs Manual, the State Department’s guidance to consular officers making visa decisions.  The revisions, unfortunately, are not for the better for visa applicants. 90 Day Rule The most important change – with the most severe potential consequences – relates to the pronouncement of a new 90 day rule.  This rule supplants the previous 30/60 day guidance. The 90 day rule states that “if an alien violates or engages in conduct inconsistent with his or her nonimmigrant status within 90 days of entry,” the consul may presume that the “applicant’s representation about engaging in only status-compliant activity were willful misrepresentations of his or her intention in seeking a visa…

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Visa Competence, Consultations, and Consequences

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The story was not unusual.  Ekaterina arrived in the US on a B-1 visa. She became acquainted with an incompetent lawyer, one who did not charge for an initial consultation.  The lawyer, more interested in making a sale because he could not live on free consultations, told her that she could qualify for L-1 status.  They then signed a legal services agreement and Ekaterina made a substantial payment. The lawyer and Ekaterina began preparing to file the L-1 petition. The lawyer opened an American company; Ekaterina opened a corporate bank account and placed funds on the account; and on behalf of the company, Ekaterina leased an office, paying rent for three months in advance.  After this, the lawyer filed the L-1 petition for her to change her status. After USCIS sent a Request for Evidence, the lawyer prepared a response.  Unfortunately for Ekaterina, the response was inadequate, and USCIS denied…

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