USCIS Filing Fees Increasing, Forms Changing on April 1, 2024

New filing fee for USCIS benefits effective soon in 2024

On January 31, 2024, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued its Final Fee Schedule Rule, taking effect on April 1, 2024. The new fee schedule impacts several family, humanitarian, and employment-based immigration benefits. USCIS benefits requested with a postmark on or after April 1, 2024, must include the new filing fee amount. We at Ibrahim Law Office encourage any applicant or petitioner seeking an immigration benefit with USCIS to strongly consider filing as soon as possible before a possible fee increase takes effect.

As part of its public announcement, USCIS provided FAQs that include a chart detailing the new fees compared to USCIS’s current fees. These FAQs provide useful and important information about the new fee schedule, such as an informative chart, a summary of the changes, and information about the impact the new rule has on USCIS forms and deadlines.

Within the USCIS Final Fee Rule are several updates to USCIS’s forms. USCIS stated that the agency will post a preview of the Form Changes on its website 30 days before to their effective date. The new forms will take effect on April 1, 2024. USCIS states it will offer a grace period to accept prior editions for most forms through June 3, 2024, as long as the new, correct fee is included in the submission.

Finally, USCIS will use the postmark date of a filing, not the receipt date, to determine whether the correct form version and fees are submitted. This is not to be confused with deadlines, as USCIS shall use the received date to determine whether any regulatory or statutory filing deadlines have been met.

If you or a loved one have questions about your immigration case, contact Ibrahim Law Office to schedule a consultation today.

The Battle for TPS

On October 3rd, 2018, a federal judge ruled to maintain Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for tens of thousands of non-citizens. This is one step closer in victory for those fighting against deportation laws and regulations currently enforced under the Trump administration. Judge Edward Chen of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California blocked the administration ending TPS protections, stating that it would cause "irreparable harm and great hardship."

TPS grants temporary protection to non-citizens who come to the United States fleeing humanitarian crises in their home country, such as civil war and natural disasters. Many TPS beneficiaries have been in the United States for decades, are law-abiding, and make positive impacts on our communities.

"We have families, we have kids, we pay taxes, so I think it's time." - Edwin & Mily Murillo, protesters supporting TPS

TPS supporters are pushing for a resolution to allow those who have been in the United States and supporting the country for years to acquire permanent residency and be removed from the deportation list. It seems like Judge Chen, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, has sided with TPS supporters, but not indefinitely. Chen seems to have quoted a legal brief highlighting the large contribution of labor that immigrants contribute to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) through highly desirable and hard to fill arduous labor. Chen highlighted that, according to the brief, 17 states estimated that they would lose about $132 billion in GDP $5.2 billion in Social Security and Medicare contributions, and $733 million in employer turnover costs if the ruling on TPS was to send those immigrants home.

Chen went on to quote much of the Trump administration’s efforts on increasing immigration enforcement laws, both beneficial and harmful to his cause. He also mentioned that the movement to end TPS may be fueled by racial bias, which has been a large issue and topic of discussion under the Trump administration.

An official hearing for the Trump administration and the plaintiffs has been set for October 26th.

To find out how this may or may not affect you, reach out to Ibrahim Law LLC immigration firm today to schedule a consultation for yourself or a loved one

Hondurans Need Help

Upwards of 3,000 Hondurans are on the journey to the United States, seeking hope and opportunity while collectively leaving a life of government corruption and gang violence.

 

Making a massive public statement, these Honduras have recently joined together in hopes of seeking refuge here in the United States. News spread like wild fire, and what seemed to be a few Hondurans suddenly grew in numbers. Quickly gathering their essentials and stuffing their sacks with what would be a treacherous journey, these Hondurans created a caravan destined for the United States, beginning their journey with little to no food at their disposal.

 

These were not always the plans for the desperate Hondurans. Government instability and gang-related violence remain prevalent in Honduras. With a lack of support from Honduran President Joan Orlando Hernandez, coupled with President Trump anti-immigration policies, the issue seems to be a complex one. Hondurans have seen United States as the solution to their struggle, but the question still stands on how Hondurans will approach the United States at its borders.

 

U.S. immigration law has been in much discussion lately, constantly appearing on the news and being question by both pro- and anti-immigration proponents in the United States. Many question if the caravan is welcomed and point fingers at Donald Trump for the policies that are currently in place. His defense? Citing that he is working hard on advancing the current situation with immigrants, standing true to his campaign efforts in immigration law, and making negative references to President Obama's immigration policies. On October 16, 2018, President Trump tweeted: "The United States has strongly informed the President of Honduras that if the large Caravan of people heading to the U.S. is not stopped and brought back to Honduras, no more money or aid will be given to Honduras, effective immediately!"

The discussion on immigration law is at a peak, and with the Honduran caravan on the hike, will the United States answer when they arrive on our front door step?

 

To find out how this may or may not affect you, reach out to Ibrahim Law LLC immigration firm today to schedule a consultation for yourself or a loved one.

Immigration in the Midterm Election

The 2018 mid-term elections are right around the corner and everyone is on the edge of their seats to find out how some hotly contested races pan out. Among the major issues debated among the candidates stands out the discussion of immigration policy. Made a highlighted topic during the Obama and Trump campaigns, debate on deportation enforcement and border security has been on the rise for years. So what does this mean for immigration law in the United States? What are some important immigration-related issues this election, and what does it mean for you if you are a lawful permanent resident, a temporary protected status holder, a non-immigrant, or an individual seeking entry to the United States? Let us look at some important statistics as a baseline for discussion.

According to the American Community Survey (ACS), More than 43.7 million immigrants resided in the United States in 2016, accounting for 13.5 percent of the total U.S. population of 323.1 million. Between 2015 and 2016, the foreign-born population rose by approximately 449,000, or 1 percent, which is lower than 2014 to 2015's increase of 2.1 percent.

As of 2017, the "Current Population Survey (CPS)" reports immigrants, including their U.S. born children, now account for about 86.4 million people, which comes out to about 27 percent of the total U.S. population.

Google also states that as of 4:18PM on 10/23/2018,  the current trending midterm election topic is on immigration, or more specifically the caravan coming from Honduras, as previously discussed in our blog, "Hondurans Need Help".

Immigration Law Caravan Trending

 

As a matter of fact, immigration is such a widely discussed topic for November’s elections that it is the only topic currently on the top 23 items searched on Google. This tells us that there will be a great discussion and change approaching during the elections. Make sure to pay attention to these topics and related comments from both Democrats and Republicans whenever the news is made available.

Google projects total search results ranking on the November elections to complete as follows:

1.      HealthCare

2.      Immigration

3.      Social Security

4.      Abortion

5.      Minimum Wage

What do these numbers mean to the American voter, political observant, or potential immigrant? It means that we may be in a wave of progression and that although immigration is a stressful topic, it is being widely discussed. We can only hope for justified, long-overdue pro-immigration reform post-mid-terms. We urge you to stay current on these topics on Ibralaw.com with Ibrahim Law Office LLC and in the news.

If you are a U.S. citizen, please don’t forget to vote - your opinion matters. Remember that only citizens of the United States over 18 years old are eligible to vote.

To find out how this may or may not affect you, reach out to Ibrahim Law LLC immigration firm today to schedule a consultation for yourself or a loved one.

Appeals Court Rules Trump Administration Unlawfully Ended DACA

On November 8, 2018, a federal appeals court ruled that President Donald Trump cannot put an end to the "dreamers act". The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court injunction that blocked the Trump administration's September 2017 termination of DACA. Before being terminated in September 2017, DACA protected young non-citizens who had no lawful immigration status from deportation if they demonstrated that they had completed or were enrolled in high school or a GED program, had no significant criminal history, and warranted the discretion of the government.

 

"Dreamers," as DACA recipients are often called, often were brought to the United States when they were infants or toddlers by their parents, have lived in the United States their entire life, and have integrated into American society. DACA offers young, undocumented individuals living in the United States a work permit and an opportunity to remain in the United States with temporary protection from deportation. It was and still is a temporary benefit used as a way for an estimated 700,000 young people to be able to work lawfully in the United States, despite facing attempts from the government of DACA student deportation.

 

In its published, official opinion, the Court states that DACA recipients "have plausibly alleged that the rescission of DACA was motivated by unconstitutional racial animus in violation of the Equal Protection component of the Fifth Amendment," and that the Trump administration's efforts to dismiss the lawsuit must be denied. For now, initial, first-time DACA applications are still unavailable. DACA holders may still continue to renew their DACA, per the decision of the district court months ago. The administration may now decide to appeal the 9th Circuit decision to the Supreme Court in its effort to terminate DACA. Ultimately, DACA advocates hope that the administration will decide to work with Congress and USCIS on immigration reform.

 

To find out how this may or may not affect you, reach out to Ibrahim Law LLC immigration firm today to schedule a consultation for yourself or a loved one.

Central American Migrants Face Tear Gas at U.S. Border

We last spoke about the “caravan” of Central American asylum seekers back on October 18th, 2018 and the situation has changed since then.

To get you caught up, the migrant asylum seekers have approached the border. President Donald Trump made an aggressive statement informing the public that the asylum seekers will not be allowed in the United States. In addition, he had advised Mexican politicians to insure the safety and safe-keeping of the migrants by helping them return home. Nonetheless, these desperate migrants continued marching forward.

Central American migrants are currently attempting to enter the United States from all regions of the border, most recently from Tijuana in which President Trump responded by closing the port and threatening to close all southern entry to the United States from Mexico if the current immigration situation continues to worsen. A tweet was posted by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency stating that entry and departure between San Diego and Tijuana was suspended. The statement was not enough to stop the Central Americans from attempting entry, so Border Protection responded with actions of tear gas and increased forces on land in which President Trump deployed military forces into the region.

Reports from the Mexico-United States border claim aggressive altercations between asylum seekers and U.S. border patrol. The current actions of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency includes the use of tear gas and physical altercations against children and adults in what observants would describe as a battle field.

President Trump also mentioned on Saturday that migrants at the United States and Mexico border would be forced to stay in Mexico until their asylum claims were individually adjudicated in the United States, after an apparent deal was struck with Mexico. However, Mexico’s incoming government denied any deal being met.

Migrants gathered themselves soon after the tear gas fiasco, proceeding to march in front of Mexico federal police officers stationed at the border. The migrants are making a bold statement as their efforts to gain protection from corruption, government instability, and gang violence continue. Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez seems to be unable to find a solution for his own citizens.

Tensions are high at the border, but it must be noted that the overwhelming majority of Central American migrants are merely seeking a fair opportunity at applying for asylum in this country. Immigration court proceedings would offer them a fair opportunity to obtain lawful status.

If you have any questions regarding the current status on entry into or departure from the United States, reach out to Ibrahim Law Office, an immigration law firm, to schedule a consultation for yourself or a loved one.

DACA Recipient Named "Rhodes Scholar"

Only a select few obtain the honor of being named a Rhodes Scholar. Jin Kyu Park, 22, was born in South Korea. His parents brought him to the U.S. when he was only 7 years old. He currently attends Harvard University and has already achieved amazing accomplishments.

The "Rhodes Scholarship" is said to be one of the world's most prestigious educational awards, with only 100 allocations allotted worldwide every year. It is an internationally awarded, post graduate, scholarship given to those qualifying who wish to attend Oxford University. The scholarship was created by Cecil John Rhodes, promoting his desire of unity between English nations, while actively choosing recipients who demonstrate signs of high moral leadership, regardless of their career paths. Notable recipients of the Rhodes Scholar are Australian prime ministers  Tony Abbott, Bob Hawke, Malcolm Turnbull, and former U.S. president  Bill Clinton.

In an interview with a Harvard University news outlet, Park stated “I’m thankful that the Rhodes have expanded their eligibility to include DACA recipients.” Park went onto mention that “…it’s important to note that I am just one of 11 million. And this really reflects the fact that if you give DACA recipients a chance, we can really contribute to this country and do amazing things. Every DACA recipient is capable of great things.”

Jin Kyu Park makes a great point as well as a bold statement. Any immigrant or DACA recipients can accomplish great things for a country they love and all it takes is a chance. Facing immigration deportation comes at a cost of knowledge and success, in which the key of the American opportunity can unlock.

American opportunity is what can push a child into accomplishing great things, such as getting accepted into an Ivy League school or the most prestigious scholarship in the world. Ibrahim Law Office has worked with several DACA recipients achieving great things in the United States. These DACA holders include accountants, small business owners, business people, lawyers, and medical professionals.

If you have any questions regarding the current status on DACA qualifications and status, reach out to Ibrahim Law LLC immigration firm today to schedule a consultation for yourself or a loved one.

What does the U.S. border security debate mean for intending migrants?

U.S. border security became a major public talking point when Donald Trump entered the race for the U.S. presidency. During Trump's election campaign, he emphasized the importance of building a wall along the United States-Mexico border to prevent immigrants with no lawful status from entering the country. Border security and unlawful immigration is still a point of contention today.

Soon after Trump won the election on November 8th, 2016, undocumented immigrants and their advocates grew concerned about their status and how the future administration would deal with them. At first, Trump proclaimed that Mexico would fund the wall’s construction. Trump hinted that tariffs and taxes would fund the project.

Today, the U.S.-Mexico border wall has come to the spotlight, as President Trump has partially “shutdown” the federal government as part of his ongoing negotiations of the border wall’s construction. This means that most deportation hearings will be cancelled and rescheduled until the federal budget is agreed upon.  This will only cause further delays in an already backlogged process.

The effect of a constructed border wall is questionable. Although a southern border wall will presumably make it more difficult to walk across the border, it does little to deter unlawful immigration smuggling and trafficking.

Human smugglers, or “coyotes,” are paid thousands of dollars to help bring non-citizens over the U.S.-Mexico border. These smugglers have decades of experience and are able to evade U.S. Customs officials who are unaware of the human capital they are transporting. Most of these smugglers are capable of transporting individuals through ports of entry and need not rely on walking over the border by land. The administration has yet to provide any evidence on how human smuggling and trafficking would be deterred or prevented by a “wall.”

To find out how enhanced border security or the pending government shutdown may effect your immigration case, reach out to Ibrahim Law Office, an immigration law firm, to schedule a consultation for yourself or a loved one.

Possible 2019 Changes to Immigration Laws

With 2018 now behind us, many foreign nationals and non-citizens are eager to know what 2019 has in store for them. What may 2019 hold in store for changes in immigration law and policy? Major topics of interest include Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which is currently in the middle of federal court litigation, the Central American migrant humanitarian crisis, and the contested southern border wall President Trump has pushed since his campaign, which has now caused a multi-week federal government shutdown. These are mere examples of disputes that have had a direct impact on immigration policy discussions, immigration lawyers, and foreign nationals themselves.

Will we see positive strides on the DACA front? DACA recipients have lived their lives in limbo since the president terminated the program in 2017. The federal courts may have something to say about its state. With the border wall debate holding up government funding, will DACA reform be used as part of a deal between Democrats and Republicans? Alternatively, 2019 could bring further strangles on an already difficult area. The president’s current administration has taken a hard line on foreign nationals who have no lawful immigration status.President Trump has already terminated Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for multiple countries.

Could we see further negative direction in 2019?

According to an AP-NORC poll, immigration is the third most debated and highly discussed topic amongst Americans.

Ibrahim law Office Immigration Statistics on Election AP News

 The list of immigration-related issues the country could face continues to grow on a daily basis. Among many hot topics, below are just a handful of the more prominent potential changes in 2019:

1. DACA – will it stay or will it go?

2. The effects of public benefit applications and usage by foreign nationals

3. Are “sanctuary cities” legal or do they infringe on law enforcement duties?

4. Denaturalization of foreign-born U.S. citizens

5. The deportation of criminal non-citizens

 

Much of the immigration-related agencies have been directly impacted by the federal government shutdown. Non-essential employees are furloughed until a budget appropriation is passed and the government is reopened. This is related directly to President Trump’s ongoing push for a wall between the United States and Mexico. Fortunately, USCIS is operated based on fee payments for applications, so most of its functions are not impacted by the shutdown. USCIS already made several concerning changes to its rules and policies in 2018, including implementing authority to recommend to ICE that applicants be required to appear in deportation court, and passing a new rule that scrutinizes green card applicants who are low-income or require public assistance.

 

We may see these lingering topics come into the spotlight as we continue to edge closer and closer to the highly anticipated 2020 election year.

Curious on how 2019 may impact your plans for bringing a loved one into the United States? Reach out to Ibrahim Law Office, an immigration law firm, to schedule a consultation for yourself or a loved one.

The Longest Government Shutdown In History

The partial government shutdown had serious effects on non-citizens and intending immigrants. Having started on December 22nd, 2018, and ending January 23rd, 2019. It lasted one month, making it the longest government shutdown in history. According to President Trump, the government shutdown relates entirely to the key immigration topic of border protection, with the President seeking funding for his proposed United States - Mexico border wall construction. The wall’s construction is estimated by some sources to exceed $5.7 billion in required funding for its completion. President Trump and Democrat leaders, such as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and former-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, have debated what should and should not go into the new budget agreement, with both sides making their opinions very public.

With Trump's proposals failing to pass due to Democratic opposition, there is much confusion among non-citizens about what parts of the federal government are still operating and the impact it has on their lives. What does the partial government shutdown mean to non-citizens and intending immigrants?

Here is what we know so far from the past four weeks of the government shutdown:

  1. Non-detained immigration court (deportation court) hearings where postponed. Those with loved ones currently in detained immigration court proceedings can rest assured that these hearings will go forward;
  2. ICE and CBP continue to operate on limited resources;
  3. USCIS, the immigration agency, is a fee-based agency, and shall continue to operate normally;
  4. Federal courts, which hear cases related to lawsuits brought by non-citizens against the Department of Homeland Security, are likely to close soon, as they have been working on case filing fees which are anticipated to be entirely spent by next week.

The shutdown can be detrimental to those within the immigration process. At Ibrahim Law Office, we have seen deportation trials postponed due to the shutdown, a lack of reasonable communication between the office and the Department of Homeland Security due to their lack of necessary resources, and an inability to submit important filings to the immigration court due to its closure. We have seen confusion amongst our clients about what the shutdown means for their cases. Nonetheless, now that the government shutdown has ended, the federal workers can now continue their work.

To find out more about how the government shutdown may have affected you, or a loved one, reach out to Ibrahim Law LLC immigration firm today to schedule a consultation.