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USCIS Extends Flexibility for Responding to Certain Agency Requests

Friday evening, USCIS announced it would extend flexibility for responding to certain agency requests. For the specified types of requests, if the issuance date on the notice or decision is between March 1, 2020, and January 1, 2021, inclusive, USCIS will consider a response received within 60 calendar days after the response due date set in the request or notice before taking any action

USCIS has implemented new DHS guidance on DACA.

On August 24, USCIS published an update clarifying DHS’ guidance on DACA. USCIS will reject all new DACA applications and limit renewals to one year. Existing two-year renewals will not be affected. Additionally, USCIS will reject DACA renewal applications received more than 150 days before the current DACA period expires; the agency clarified that applicants should file for a renewal between 120 and 150 days before their status expires. USCIS also included information on how it has limited advanced parole for DACA recipients to leave the country for urgent humanitarian reasons or a significant public benefit only.

USCIS has increased fees starting in October.

USCIS is almost entirely fee-funded, and a decrease in applications in recent months and years has caused the agency to be in a serious budget deficit. On July 31, USCIS announced that it would increase fees for a range of immigration and naturalization applications. Fee increases include a $500 increase in applying for naturalization, adding a $50 fee for asylum seekers, and more. In order to encourage online filing, USCIS will decrease fees by $10 for anyone who files an application or petition online. The new rule and fees will go into effect on October 2, 2020.

It is unclear if the Trump administration will comply with a judicial order to accept new DACA applications.

It is unclear if the Trump administration will comply with a judicial order to accept new DACA applications.

Last month, the Supreme Court held that the Trump administration improperly ended the DACA program, and that the program could continue. On July 17, a federal judge ruled that DACA must be restored to its full, “pre-September 5, 2017 status.” Despite the order, USCIS has said that it is currently reviewing the decision. It is unclear whether USCIS will begin accepting new DACA applications soon or if it plans to appeal the ruling. On Tuesday, several DACA recipients filed a lawsuit in New York federal court over the government’s refusal to process new applications after the Supreme Court ruling.

USCIS has extended flexibility on responding to requests

On March 30, USCIS announced that it would grant flexibility on responding to certain USCIS requests and notices like Requests for Evidence, Notices of Intent to Deny, filing date requirements on some forms, and more. The flexibility meant that USCIS would accept responses received within 60 days after the listed response due date. On July 1, USCIS announced that it is extending that flexibility for notices issued through September 11, 2020.

USCIS issued a statement on the Supreme Court’s DACA decision.

Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that President Trump’s attempt to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was “arbitrary” and invalid, and the administration would need to go through the proper processes to end the program. On June 19, USCIS issued a statement in response to the Supreme Court’s decision. USCIS holds the position that the Supreme Court’s decision “has no basis in law” and only “delays” the end of the program. USCIS further said that DACA is not a “long-term solution,” and that Congress has the ability to reform immigration laws to allow for solutions for undocumented immigrants.

USCIS Publishes Final Rule on Employment Authorization for Asylum Applicants

Today, USCIS published a final rule making multiple changes to the regulations governing asylum applications and eligibility for employment authorization based on a pending asylum application. The rule is effective on August 25, 2020. On the Immigration Impact blog, the American Immigration Council’s Aaron Reichlin-Melnick writes that the rule “will strip most asylum seekers of the right to seek work authorization” and that, in response to concerns that the rule would force many into desperate straits, DHS suggested that asylum seekers become familiar with state homelessness resources.

USCIS will furlough employees if it does not get funding.

USCIS has requested emergency funding from Congress to sustain its operations. The agency has said that if it does not get funding, it will administratively furlough some employees starting around July 20. In addition to funding in the next coronavirus relief bill, USCIS has suggested fee hikes of 10% to compensate for the decrease in applications over the last few years. USCIS has 19,000 employees and contractors at more than 200 offices.

USCIS Will Resume Premium Processing for Certain Petitions

USCIS announced that it will resume premium processing for Form I-129 and Form I-140 in phases over the month of June 2020. The announcement provides the effective dates over the month of June on which USCIS will begin accepting premium processing requests for specific applications.

USCIS has reopened some offices

Starting June 4, USCIS began reopening some offices to the public. USCIS has taken some precautions against the spread of COVID-19, including providing hand sanitizer, requiring a face covering, and providing floor markings to ensure social distancing is practiced. Application Support Centers are still closed until further notice.

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