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Liu & Associates

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Subcategories from this category: To Our Clients and Friends

On August 28, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it would begin expanding the requirement of in-person interviews for certain immigration benefit applicants whose benefit, if granted, would allow them to permanently reside in the United States. Specifically, USCIS will start to phase in interviews beginning October 1, 2017 for applicants applying for employment-based adjustment of status (Form I-485) and for applicants applying for refugee/asylee relative petitions (Form I-730).

This policy is part of an incremental expansion of interviews to other benefit types beyond these categories, and is in compliance with the Trump Administration’s Executive Order 13780 “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.” USCIS states that the purpose of this expansion is to improve the detection and prevention of fraud in an effort to enhance the integrity of the immigration system within the United States. These interviews will provide more robust screening and vetting procedures, allowing USCIS officers to more reliably verify the information provided with the application, gather additional relevant information, and ascertain the credibility of the applicant seeking permanent residency within the United States.

At Liu & Associates, PLLC, our attorneys not only like to keep up-to-date on the latest changes in immigration policy but also stay actively involved in the discussion and evolution of these policy changes. On January 27, 2017, Attorney Kellie Pai contributed to the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) seminar focused on National Interest Waiver (NIW). This was a 90-minute “Late-Breaking Seminar” discussing how, after 18 years of relying on Matter of New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), the Department of Homeland Security designated a new NIW case as precedent on December 27, 2016.

On December 27, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security designated as precedential the USCIS Administration Appeals Office’s (AAO) decision in Matter of Dhanasar, thereby vacating the previously used Matter of New York State Dep’t of Transp., 22 I&N Dec. 215 (AAO 1998) (NYSDOT), which had been in place for nearly two decades. Matter of Dhanasar provides a new analytical framework that the AAO hopes would apply more flexibility to circumstances of both petitioning employers and self-petitioning individuals.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has recently announced that they are increasing the fees for numerous immigration benefit requests, effective December 23, 2016. Applications and petitions postmarked or filed on or after December 23, 2016 must include these new fees or USCIS will reject the submission.

In recent years, Liu & Associates have had hundreds of National Interest Waiver (NIW) cases approved by USCIS. The majority of cases were approved directly; a small percentage of cases were approved after USCIS requested for additional evidence and the USCIS request was properly responded to. Occasionally, however, a small number of cases were denied by USCIS for apparently illegitimate reasons.

When a National Interest Waiver petition is erroneously denied by USCIS, the petitioner/beneficiary can appeal the denial to the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) within 30 days of the denial date. The legal standards for a National Interest Waiver as set out in Matter of New York State Dept. of Transportation (NYDOT) are: (1) that the alien seeks employment in an area of substantial intrinsic merit; (2) that the proposed benefit will be national in scope; and (3) that the national interest would be adversely affected if a labor certification were required. Under the current procedure, USCIS will first treat the appeal as a motion to re-open and re-consider. Instead of forwarding the appeal to AAO, USCIS may re-open the denied case and approve it. If USCIS refuses to re-open the case, then it will forward the appeal to AAO, and AAO will make a decision to sustain or to dismiss the appeal. If the appeal is sustained, then the case will be approved. In recent years, we have been successful in representing NIW clients before AAO. Upon appeal, some erroneously denied NIW cases we filed were re-opened and approved by USCIS. A few appeals that were forwarded to AAO by USCIS were sustained and the cases were approved by AAO.

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