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.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Early Adjustment of Status Benefits [Immigration Executive Actions Update]

One provision of the President's immigration Executive Actions allows select nonimmigrants with approved I-140s, and their derivative family members, to file their Applications for Adjustment of Status (to become Permanent Residents) without waiting for their priority date to become current in the Visa Bulletin.

Only a brief description of this proposal has been released, although the White House acknowledges that this policy change must go through the formal regulatory process.  The need for formal written rulemaking is obvious:  8 C.F.R. 245.1(a) specifically requires that “... an immigrant visa is immediately available at the time of application”.  A simple policy shift is insufficient to directly contradict a formal regulation.  

The stated purpose of this proposal is to give these intending immigrants the many benefits available to applicants whose Adjustment application has been filed and accepted by USCIS.  So, what are those benefits?

The most obvious benefit, and often the most valued, is multi-year employment authorization for the principal (sometimes dangerous) and derivatives.  Other benefits include the potential availability of advance parole for travel and enhanced access to portability options.

Notice how this advanced-adjustment filing proposal is also very closely tied to two other IAEA initiatives: 1) increased portability for applicants waiting for a current priority date, and, 2) clarification of portability’s “same or similar occupational classification” requirement.

AC21 Section 106(c) allows a worker with an application for Adjustment of Status to change employers for their Permanent Residence if the new job is the “same or similar” when compared to their original position, AND IF the application for Adjustment of Status has been pending over 180 days.  Under today's proposed change, applicants are able to file for Adjustment of Status many years before their priority date is current.  Since the wait for visa availability in many employment-based categories will almost always be over six months, the opportunity to switch employers is greatly increased.

Like most initial announcements, we have few details and many questions.  For those of you who followed the legal discussion on this blog about the proposed H-4 EAD rule, you know that what may appear to be a simple policy idea can become extremely complex when all ramifications of the rule are explored.

There are many questions that come to mind about this new proposed regulation.

Remember, nothing that has been said so far to indicate that this rule would have any effect on priority dates.  No change in the wait to become a Permanent Resident.  The discussion so far is only about the benefits of being able to file the Adjustment application many years earlier then is now allowed.

Will there be any special protections given to derivative children, unaided by the Child Status Protection Act, who age-out after filing for Adjustment and before PR is granted?   How will USCIS (and especially the embassies) view cases where a person obviously ineligible for Adjustment of Status fradulently reaps the benefits of a pending application before being denied residence?  Further, the government talking points only refer to Employment-Based cases.  Will this rule also cover those occasional Family-based cases where the applicant is in a lawful nonimmigrant status and thus also Adjustment-eligible?

Few facts, but many questions, and the biggest is, “When”?  Conventional wisdom says a regulatory change takes at least six months, usually more.  It is also possible that we will never see this provision in effect if Congress acts on immigration reform before the regulatory process is completed.  However, there is a also very small possibility that USCIS may effect this change as an Interim Rule with a request for comments, allowing the policy to be in effect while the regulatory process is ongoing. 

More updates after more facts are disclosed.  Stay tuned...

Go to the Most Recent Philippines-US Immigration Topics 

View Qualifications of Attorney James W. Austin

Go To Austin & Ferguson, LLC Home Page