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USCIS Updates Policy Guidance on Civics Educational Requirement for Purposes of Naturalization

USCIS updated policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual related to the naturalization civics test, increasing the general bank of questions to 128, the number of exam questions to 20, and the number of correct answers needed to pass to 12, as well as providing that officers will ask all 20 test items even if applicants achieve a passing score. This update becomes effective December 1, 2020, and applies prospectively to naturalization applications filed on or after that date

District Court Found DHS Acting Secretary Wolf Was Not Lawfully Appointed When He Suspended DACA

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York granted the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment and found that Chad Wolf was not lawfully serving as DHS acting secretary under the Homeland Security Act when he issued the July 28, 2020, memo suspending DACA following the Supreme Court decision in DHS v. Regents of the University of California. Plaintiffs estimate there are 1.1 million undocumented immigrants who are prima facie eligible for DACA.

Trans Women in ICE Custody Already Suffered Sexual Harassment and Abuse. Then Came COVID-19

Members of the LGBTQ+ community, and particularly trans individuals, in ICE detention have long complained of persistent sexual harassment, with reports showing that LGBTQ+ people are 97 times more likely to be victimized within detention than other detainees. Now, the pandemic has magnified those vulnerabilities, with experts and advocates warning that the lockdown of facilities is making it harder for victims to escape abuse since they are often locked up with their aggressors. 

USCIS Increase to Premium Processing Fees

USCIS is increasing premium processing fees, effective today, October 19, 2020. Fees are increasing from $1,440 to $2,500 for benefit requests that are already eligible for premium processing services through the Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing, except for H-2B and R-1 petitions, which are increasing from $1,440 to $1,500.

DOS published a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register that would end the “B-1 in lieu of H” policy.

CNN reports that lawyers have not been able to reach the parents of 545 children who had been separated from their families by U.S. border officials between 2017 and 2018. Hundreds of parents may also have been deported without their children. As part of litigation that forced the reunification of many families separated through the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, a court-appointed “steering committee” has attempted to reach the families of 1,030 children; however, the committee has been unable to reach the parents of 545 children

DOS Issues Proposed Rule to End “B-1 in Lieu of H” Policy

DOS published a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register that would end the “B-1 in lieu of H” policy.

Border travel restrictions to stay in place through Nov. 21.

Acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf announced Monday that the U.S. will extend non-essential border travel restrictions through November 21. However, for the first time since DHS put the restrictions in place, Wolf left open the possibility of easing them in the future, saying “We are working closely with Mexico and Canada to identify safe criteria to ease the restrictions in the future and support our border communities.” The current travel restrictions have been in place since March as a response to the pandemic.

Supreme Court to review Trump’s asylum policy and use of military funds for border wall.

On Monday, the Supreme Court said it would review cases concerning the Trump administration’s use of Defense Department money to build the border wall and its policy that forces asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases work through the immigration court system in the U.S., also known as the Remain in Mexico policy. The justices did not expedite either case, meaning that they will be heard next year, with rulings expected mid-2021. This decision came after the justices said last Friday they would rule on the Trump administration’s effort to exclude immigrants in the country illegally from the census.

USCIS Premium Processing Fee Increase Effective Oct. 19, 2020.

The USCIS premium processing service allows petitioners to pay an additional filing fee to expedite the adjudication of certain forms, generally within 15 days. Any Form I-907 (Request for Premium Processing) postmarked on or after Oct. 19 must include the new fee amount. If USCIS receives a Form I-907 postmarked on or after Oct. 19 with the incorrect filing fee, we will reject the Form I-907 and return the filing fee.

ICE moves to quickly deport more immigrants without court hearings.

On Wednesday, the Trump administration said it is making more undocumented immigrants eligible to be quickly deported without a court hearing. In July 2019, ICE announced new rules which are now being implemented that greatly expand their used of “expediated removal.” The Trump administration claims the new expedited removal rules will allow ICE to save resources typically used for long-term detention and help the immigration court system reduce its massive case backlog.

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