Sunday, March 20, 2022

CAN UKRAINIAN REFUGEES COME TO THE U.S. AND HOW DOES ONE APPLY?

 


Why do we make it so hard for refugees fleeing violence in their homeland?

By Christopher Kerosky

Published in the Sonoma County Gazette: https://www.sonomacountygazette.com/sonoma-county-news/can-ukrainian-refugees-come-to-the-u-s-and-how-does-one-apply/

In the 1980’s our country permitted large numbers of refugees from countries of the former Soviet Union to immigrate here. Our nation also opened it’s doors to those fleeing the repressive regimes in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.  And Cubans were entitled to asylum as soon as they landed on U.S. soil.

Almost all of these refugees were provided legal status, a right to work and even limited government assistance; and later they could apply for permanent residence and U.S. citizenship. 

So why has it been so hard for refugees fleeing Syria and Afghanistan to come here? Will the same fate await the refugees from the Ukraine – now numbering 3 million and growing?

Our Refugee Program and Procedure.

When a refugee applies for admission to the U.S. from abroad, they are governed by the U.S. refugee law and the limited numbers and long waits that apply. 

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), foreign nationals qualify for status as a refugee if they can prove they have experienced past persecution or have a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.  This definition is based on the United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees, to which the U.S. is a signatory.  Congress passed the Refugee Act of 1980, which incorporated the Convention’s definition into U.S. law. 

Persons applying for refugee status must be approved through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.  First, applicants mustt apply with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the country to which they have fled.  If UNHCR deems the applicants eligible and suitable for resettlement to the U.S., they will then undergo a lengthy vetting process by the U.S. Department of State in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

They are also subject to annual numerical limitations set by each administration. Usually, there are non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved in assisting the refugee family with transition to life in the U.S.  Refugee immigration to the U.S. takes a long time due to these annual numerical quotas and the limited resources of these NGOs.    

Numerical Limits on Refugee Acceptance.

Historically, the U.S. offered refuge to more people than all the other countries of the world combined.  That changed recently. 

Donald Trump slashed the annual quota of refugees from 110,000 per year under Barack Obama to an all-time low of 18,000.  Moreover, due to budget cuts and extreme vetting implemented by the Trump Administration, far fewer refugees were actually admitted – only 11,814 in 2020.  Moreover, under the so-called “Muslim Ban”, refugees from countries like Syria were banned altogether.

Shortly after taking office, President Biden raised the refugee quota to 65,000. 

Some good news for Ukrainians: relief from COVID bar and Temporary Protected Status

The Biden Administration also announced an exception to the continuing Title 42 policy restricting asylum applications at the Southern border due to COVID.  Ukrainians seeking asylum at the Mexican border will not be automatically turned away, but will be considered on a case-to-case basis.   

The Administration also granted Temporary Protected Status to Ukrainian citizens already here.  This means those already here can stay at least 18 months and obtain a work permit.

It remains to be seen whether our country’s refugee policies will be more generous in light of the flood of those fleeing Ukraine.  Almost certainly, the road to a U.S. border will be a long one and far fewer refugees will be admitted by our country than most European nations.  Poland has already admitted over 2 million through its borders for resettlement; Hungary, Moldova, Slovakia and Romania: about one million more.  Germany, France, England, and almost all the EU countries have agreed to accept hundreds of thousands.   

Give Us Your Tired, Huddled Masses, Yearning to Be Free.

“Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”  Those words of Emma Lazarus on the base of the Statue of Liberty have inspired generations of immigrants to seek refuge here.

It’s hard to imagine clearer images of “tired, huddled masses yearning to be free” then those of the refugees fleeing Ukraine – as well as those from Syria, Afghanistan and Central America before them. 

It’s time the U.S. once again step forward and adopt more humane refugee policies worthy of its long immigrant tradition.  The need has never been greater.

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CHRISTOPHER A. KEROSKY of the law firm of KEROSKY PURVES & BOGUE has practiced immigration law for over 25 years.   He graduated from University of California, Berkeley Law School and was a former counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington D.C. 

Mr. Kerosky has been recognized as one of the top lawyers in Northern California for over 10 years by “Super Lawyers”.  See https://profiles.superlawyers.com/california-northern/san-francisco/lawyer/christopher-a-kerosky/358dc9f1-b1c2-46b5-80cc-6e9610b1cd43.html

WARNING: The foregoing is a summary generally discussing legal issues. It is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice. We recommend that you get competent legal advice specific to your case before filing any application or petition.


Friday, March 18, 2022

Temporary Protected Status for Afghan Nationals

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Afghanistan Nationals

By Immigration Attorney Liliana Gallelli, Esq 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced the designation of Afghanistan for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months. Only individuals who are already residing in the United States as of March 15, 2022, will be eligible for TPS.

A country may be designated for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) when conditions in the country fall into one or more of the three statutory bases for designation: ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or extraordinary and temporary conditions. This designation is based on extraordinary circumstances that include a lack of infrastructure, an economic crisis, lack of basic needs such as food, water and access to healthcare, human rights abuses and repression by the Taliban, among other issues.

“This TPS designation will help to protect Afghan nationals who have already been living in the United States from returning to unsafe conditions,” said Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “Under this designation, TPS will also provide additional protections and assurances to trusted partners and vulnerable Afghans who supported the U.S. military, diplomatic, and humanitarian missions in Afghanistan over the last 20 years.”

Most Afghan nationals who arrived as part of the US evacuation effort were paroled for a period of two years and received work authorization. These individuals may also register for TPS. Those who attempt to travel to the United States after March 15, 2022, will not be eligible for TPS.

The 18-month designation of TPS for Afghanistan will go into effect on the publication date of the forthcoming Federal Register notice. The Federal Register notice will provide instructions for applying for TPS and an Employment Authorization Document.

Although the instructions have not yet been formally published, in our experience with TPS applications, the following will be some of the documents required to apply: 

The requirements:

1) Be a national of Afghanistan (or a noncitizen without a nationality who last habitually resided in Afghanistan);

2) Have continuously resided in the United States since March 15, 2022;

3) Undergo and pass security checks; and

4) Have been continuously physically present in the United States since March 15, 2022.

Documents that will likely be required:

1) Proof of Afghan nationality (passport, birth certificate and form of photo ID, or other government issued identification such as driver’s license, voter registration card, etc

2) Proof of date of entry into the United States (passport, visa, and I-94 card or proof of presence in the United States after unlawful entry, see below);

3) Proof of continuous residence in the United States since March 15, 2022 and physical presence since March 15, 2022. Documents with the name of the applicant and date that indicate presence in the United States are acceptable, including pay stubs, medical records, educational records, bills, banks statements, etc.;

4) 2 passport-style photos;

5) If applicable, certified court dispositions from any criminal case. (Some crimes may disqualify an applicant based on discretion)

6) Filing fee (must wait for publication in the federal register for the amount, if any)

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(c) K & G Immigration Law - helping immigrants with reliable legal assistance since 1989

Monday, March 14, 2022

Temporary Protected Status for Ukrainians

 Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Ukraine nationals

By Liliana Gallelli, Esq

A country may be designated for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) when conditions in the country fall into one or more of the three statutory bases for designation: ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or extraordinary and temporary conditions. This designation is based on both ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions in Ukraine that prevent Ukrainian nationals, and those of no nationality who last habitually resided in Ukraine, from returning to Ukraine safely.

Individuals eligible for TPS under this designation must have continuously resided in the United States since March 1, 2022. Individuals who attempt to travel to the United States after March 1, 2022 will not be eligible for TPS. Ukraine’s 18-month designation will go into effect on the publication date of the forthcoming Federal Register notice.

The Federal Register notice which has not yet been published, will provide instructions for applying for TPS and an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). TPS applicants must meet all eligibility requirements and undergo security and background checks.

Although the instructions have not yet been formally published, in our experience with TPS applications, the following will be some of the documents required to apply: 

The requirements:

1) Be a national of Ukraine (or a noncitizen without a nationality who last habitually resided in Ukraine);

2) Have continuously resided in the United States since March 1, 2022; and

3) Have been continuously physically present in the United States since March 1, 2022.

Documents that will likely be required:

1) Proof of Ukrainian nationality (passport, birth certificate and form of photo ID, or other government issued identification such as driver’s license, voter registration card, etc

2) Proof of date of entry into the United States (passport, visa, and I-94 card or proof of presence in the United States after unlawful entry, see below);

3) Proof of continuous residence in the United States since March 1, 2022 and physical presence since March 1, 2022. Documents with the name of the applicant and date that indicate presence in the United States are acceptable, including pay stubs, medical records, educational records, bills, banks statements, etc.;

4) 2 passport-style photos;

5) If applicable, certified court dispositions from any criminal case.

6) Filing fee (must wait for publication in the federal register for the amount, if any)

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(c) K & G Immigration Law - helping immigrants with reliable legal assistance since 1989

Sunday, March 13, 2022

LAST WEEK TO SIGN UP FOR H-1B LOTTERY


 

LAST WEEK TO SIGN UP FOR H-1B LOTTERY

H-1b Visas for Professional Workers will be available again this Spring

By Christopher Kerosky

[This was the subject of a prior article in the March edition of the Sonoma County Gazette]

Every year, in the spring, about 200,000 foreign nationals roll the dice by entering a lottery for a chance to be able to obtain a coveted professional visa.

This visa is necessary for virtually all foreign-born professionals-- from IT workers in Silicon Valley to winemakers in Napa Valley.  For many years now, these workers and their employers have been required to participate in an annual lottery to see if they are lucky enough to be able to apply.

The visa is the H-1B  – a lightning rod for debate over how many immigrants are good for the economy, and whether or not wages are depressed by allowing foreign workers here.  For good or bad, that application season has started again.

H-1b Visa Application Process.

Persons holding an H-1B visa can be hired only for "specialty occupations" – essentially jobs requiring the equivalent of at least a Bachelor's Degree in the field.  Employers must also pay every H-1B worker the “prevailing wage”;  that is, at least as much as what is typically paid in the region for that type of work  

There is a limited number (65,000) of H-1Bs every year and in the recent past, these visas were used up soon after April 1st.  For the last ten years, more than 3 times that number have applied for the visa in the first week of the application period.

Until 2019, it was necessary to submit the entire application so that it arrived at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on April 1st.  It was always the best day of the year for Federal Express.  Immigrant lawyers would send about 200,000 of these heavy applications by overnight mail the day before to ensure receipt on the first day of the program. 

New H1b Registration System

For the last two years, DHS has streamlined the process.  The lottery is now conducted first and employers can simply fill out a simple on-line form to register.  This year, employers who wish to file H-1B petitions for potential employees can register between noon March 1st to noon March 18th EST.

That means this week is the last week to register.

During this period, the electronic registration must be submitted by the employer or its authorized representative. If the number of registrations exceeds the H-1B numerical allocation (which is virtually certain), a lottery will be conducted in late March. Only those petitioners who “win the lottery” – in other words are selected in the first group of eligible applicants – will be able to file a petition for that candidate.   Then the entire application must be submitted to DHS by the employer.  The H-1B petition will then still need to be found eligible in all respects in order to obtain approval.  

Path to a green card?

A person holding an H-1B visa can bring their spouse and children to live with them in the U.S. while they are legally holding the visa.  Dependents obtain an H-4 visa.

The H-1B visas are good for three years and can be extended for another three years.  After six years of working in the U.S., the person must return home for one year prior to obtaining a new H-1B. 

In many cases workers can obtain permanent residence during that six year period.  To do that, the employer needs to prove that no qualified American wants that job.  That is done through a complicated process called “PERM”.  The employer must recruit for the position on line, in newspapers and among its workforce, and show those recruitment efforts failed to locate an American qualified for the position. 

TN Visas for Mexican and Canadian citizens

There is a special visa for Canadians and Mexicans that gives them an advantage over applicants from other countries in obtaining such working visas.  It is called the“TN” visa and it allows Canadians or Mexican citizens to come and work in the U.S. with less difficulty than persons from other countries, provided they have the required training and education.  This visa was the subject of a prior article in the Gazette.  https://www.sonomacountygazette.com/sonoma-county-news/a-special-visa-for-canadian-and-mexican-professionals/

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CHRISTOPHER A. KEROSKY of the law firm of KEROSKY & GALLELLI has practiced law more than 25 years and has been recognized as one of the top immigration lawyers in Northern California for 12 years by“Super Lawyers” www.SuperLawyers.com

https://profiles.superlawyers.com/california/san-francisco/lawyer/christopher-a-kerosky/358dc9f1-b1c2-46b5-80cc-6e9610b1cd43.html

He graduated from University of California, Berkeley Law School and was a former counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington D.C.  His firm has offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles and six other locations in California. 

WARNING: The foregoing is an article discussing legal issues. It is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice. We recommend that you get competent legal advice specific to your case.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

UKRAINIANS GRANTED PROTECTED STATUS (TPS) BY BIDEN ADMINISTRATION.

 



Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security announced a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program for Ukrainians in the U.S. This means all Ukrainians here since prior to March 1, 2022 can now apply for protection from deportation and a work permit.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the move was justified because of the dire conditions created by "Russia's premeditated and unprovoked attack."

Designed for nationals of countries beset by war, natural disasters or other emergencies, TPS is supposed to be temporary and does not allow beneficiaries to obtain permanent U.S. residency. The protected status will be granted for 18 months.  In the past, the DHS has extended this status for other countries, and that could be the case for Ukraine as well. 

One can apply for TPS using USCIS form I-821.  https://www.uscis.gov/i-821

#TPSforUkrainians


Temporary Protected Status for Ukraine

  Temporary Protected Status for Ukraine By Liliana Gallelli , Immigration Attorney TPS is a temporary immigration status granted to eli...