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Many TPS Beneficiaries Now Eligible for Green Cards


Picture: USA Morningpost.com

Many people who have TPS (Temporary Protected Status) will now be eligible for adjustment to permanent residency even if they entered the U.S. illegally, thanks to a new decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California. In Ramirez et al. v. Brown, the court held that, under the Immigration and Nationality Act, a TPS beneficiary is considered to be in lawful status as a nonimmigrant and has satisfied the requirements for becoming a lawful permanent resident, even though he or she may have illegally entered the U.S. You still need a basis for your adjustment to permanent residency, such as a marriage or other family petition or PERM labor certification and I-140. The Ninth Circuit decision covers only people residing in certain states. In addition to the Ninth Circuit, the Sixth Circuit has also made the same ruling. Thus, this will benefit residents of the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington. The Second and Third Circuits have not yet made any decision on this issue.

TPS is intended for immigrants who are temporarily unable to return to their home country because of armed conflict, an environmental disaster or other extraordinary condition. TPS currently covers certain individuals from El Salvador, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Liberia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen. To be eligible for TPS, you must be a national of the designated country, or a stateless person whose last habitual residence was that country, have been living in the U.S. since a certain date, made a timely application, or meet the requirements for late filing, and not have been convicted of a felony or two or more misdemeanors, and other grounds.

The Trump administration has announced that it is ending TPS for Haiti as of January 22, 2018. TPS for Honduras is also set to expire on January 5, 2018 as well as TPS for El Salvador on March 9, 2018. TPS for Syria is to expire March 31, 2018. TPS for Yemen is set to expire September 3, 2018. The Trump administration has not confirmed whether or not TPS for any other countries will be extended or terminated as well.

To be on the safe side, TPS beneficiaries should apply for adjustment to permanent residency, if they have a basis for eligibility, such as a relative petition or employment petition, prior to the expiration of their TPS so they will be in legal status on the date they apply.

US State Dept Plans to Gather Social Media Info & Email Addresses from Certain Visa Applicants of All Countries

Openclipart, Stylized Eye

On May 4, 2017, the U.S. State Department proposed that the government now be able to request all social media information, email addresses and phone numbers of visa applicants from any and all countries, whom they choose to subject to additional scrutiny. Claiming an “emergency”, the US State Department provided less than two weeks for public comment, up to May 18, 2017. See 82 Fed.Reg. 84 (May 4, 2017).

In addition to requesting all social media information, email and phone numbers for the past five years, the US State Dept would also request information on all siblings, children, spouses, former spouses, and civil or domestic partners, and 15 years employment and residence history. The government would also request 15 years of the applicant’s travel history, including the source of funding for each trip, among other information.

The US State Department has provided the following information for those who want to comment on the proposed rule:

” • Email: oira_submission@ omb.eop.gov. You must include the DS form number (if applicable), information collection title, and OMB control number in the subject line of your message. • Fax: 202–395–5806. Attention: Desk Officer for Department of State. You may submit comments to Bureau of Consular Affairs, Visa Office by the following methods: • You may submit comments to Bureau of Consular Affairs, Visa Office by the following methods: • Web: Persons with access to the Internet may comment on this notice by going to www.Regulations.gov. You can search for the document by entering ‘‘Docket Number: DOS–2017–0019’’ in the Search field. Then click the ‘‘Comment Now’’ button and complete the comment form. • Email: PRA_BurdenComments@ state.gov. You must include Emergency Submission Comment on ‘‘Supplemental Questions for Visa Applicants’’ in the subject line of your comment.”

Opportunity to Comment on CBP's Collection of Social Media Info

George Orwell, 1984 book covers

You have the opportunity to comment on US Custom and Border Protection’s (CBP’s) collection of social media information on Chinese citizens with 10-year B-1 or B-2 visas. All Chinese citizens with a 10-year B-1 or B-2 visa are now required to register with CBP through the Electronic Visa Update System (EVUS). The list of questions includes “optional” questions regarding an applicant’s social media accounts and use. CBP may extend the EVUS system to citizens of other countries as well.

You have up to May 30, 2017 to comment on the following: 1) whether collection of applicants’ social media information will have “practical utility”; 2) the estimated costs and burden to the federal government; 3) how to enhance the quality and usefulness of the information collected; and 4) ways to reduce the costs and burden of their procedures. Comments should be addressed to the OMB Desk Officer for Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security, and sent via electronic mail to oira_submission@omb.eop.gov or faxed to (202) 395–5806.

Millions of people coming to the U.S. from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries are already being asked to “volunteer” their social media information. Regarding the collection of social media information from VWP entrants, the ACLU commented in August 2017:

“The proposed expansion of the existing questionnaire would significantly increase the invasiveness of the information collected not only about foreign travelers, but also about their U. S. citizen social media contacts, and have a chilling effect on their communications. It would also increase the complexity of the visa waiver decision-making process…

The proposed change would collect social media identifiers from millions of individuals deemed least likely to have terrorist connections and would result in the collection of personal information on the tens of millions of social media contacts of those individuals, many of whom would be U. S. citizens or residents…”

This will make the decision to admit someone to the US highly subjective and subject to abusive behavior on the part of CBP officers, not to mention the enormous waste of resources on checking people’s Facebook and other social media accounts. People with B-1 or B-2 visas have already been subjected to extensive security checks and have been found not to be a security risk. As pointed out by Jeff John Roberts in Fortune on December 23, 2016, “would-be terrorists, even dim-witted ones, would be unlikely to disclose their social media profile to the U.S. government.”

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