Most entries below contain actual legal discussions of events directly related to Filipinos in or immigrating to the United States.
Remember- These writings are provided for general information only and do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. Each person's needs and requirements are different and require a personal evaluation to determine the proper legal course of action.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Looking Ahead at the Remainder of 2016

Like any other profession, immigration attorneys must always be aware of potential future events that will necessitate additional staff training and workload adjustments.  Below are some 2016 immigration law developments that have already been incorporated into the advice given to current and potential clients.  All times are estimated.

STEM-OPT Transition Guidelines (Timing: Current)

Recent STEM-OPT rule changes have led to the government to establish special short term rules that allow limited recapturing of missed OPT time as well as extended filing deadlines for transition cases.

Filipino WWII Veteran Parole (FWVP) Program

This is a new program designed to benefit Filipino WWII veterans living in the United States.  If those veterans (or their spouses) have filed petitions for their relatives, and those relatives are still on a waiting list to immigrate to the United States, the FWVP Program may allow those relatives to come and wait in the U.S. for their Immigrant Visa.  A full discussion of the benefits and program requirements can be found here.

Final Rule Enhancing EB Portability and Worker Protections  (Timing: May-July)

Although most of the rule does no more than incorporate into the regulations what USCIS already practices, the rule will also will provide several new protections for H-1B workers who are beneficiaries of an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (I-140).  More on these protections once the final rule is issued.

Final Rule Expanding Provisional Waiver Coverage  (Timing: May-July)

This will be a nice expansion in the coverage of the provisional unlawful presence waiver first instituted in 2013.  This provision will extend eligibility to certain relatives of Permanent Residents.

Supreme Court Ruling on Executive Actions  (Timing: June)

The Supreme Court will rule on the viability of several Administrative Immigration Initiatives.  The main proposed programs effected by the ruling include an expansion of DACA (Deferred Action for Children) and the implementation of DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents).  The proposed DACA expansion will move up the “continuous residence” date to since January 1, 2010, and eliminate the age requirement as long as entry was prior to the applicant’s sixteenth birthday. 

            The DAPA program, of course, is the biggie.  DAPA will give millions of persons with U.S. citizen children and are not a threat to the our safety an opportunity to obtain temporary permission to remain in the United States. 

            If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the administration, the DACA expansion is expected to go into effect within sixty days.  For DAPA, the government will need more time to prepare for the potential large number of immediate applicants.  If DAPA does go into effect, applicants are going to have to consider carefully the pros and cons of immediately filing.  The outcome of the U.S. Presidential election will be a major factor to consider, and that question will not be answered until November.

Immigration Fee Increase (Timing – August-September)

USCIS has published for comment the planned increase in immigration user fees.  Yes, the fees will go up.  And yes, the increase is very substantial.  For example, a basic Petition for Alien Relative (I-130) goes up $115 to $535.  An employer’s Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (I-140) shoots up to a cool $700.  Naturalization (N-400), with the biometrics fee, will now cost you  $725.

Philippine Elections  (Timing: Just Happened)

This blog entry was written on the return flight from Manila, one day after the election of incoming president Rodrigo Duterte.  Excellent voter turnout with very interesting results.  While most people do not expected the election to effect immigration between the Philippines and the United States, one never knows what the future holds.  However, the U.S. election in November is where most are watching for possible major changes to the immigration landscape.
A typically busy year for U.S. immigration attorneys.

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