Q&A’s published on the World Journal Weekly on January 17, 2021 1. My H-1 change of status got approved and I have a L-2 extension in progress. If my L-2 is denied will I maintain my H-1 status? 2. Applied for asylum after being in the U.S. over 1 years and used a fake social security number. 3. Can my husband file a petition for me if he did not file taxes for the last 4 years and he was gainfully employed? 4. Affidavit of Support (I-864 Form) 5. Steps for I-601A?

1. My H-1 change of status got approved and I have a L-2 extension in progress. If my L-2 is denied will I maintain my H-1 status?

My L2 expired on 8/25/2020 and I filed for L2 extension. Meanwhile my employer filed H-1B change of status which got approved on 10/15/2020 and now I have a valid I94. On 10/20/2020, I sent a letter to USCIS to withdraw my L2 petition. On 10/23, I received NOA to appear for biometrics for I-539 ( L2 extension approval). NOA says that if I do not appear for biometrics, my petition will be marked as abandoned. My question is, if I do not go to biometrics and my L2 is denied, will I keep my H1B status? – Does “Last Action Rule” apply in this case?

Mr. Lee answers:
The last action rule generally has to do with approvals and not denials. If you are already approved for a change of status on your H-1B, an L-2 denial should have no effect since you are already holding a valid legal status. 

2. Applied for asylum after being in the U.S. over 1 years and used a fake social security number.

If someone came here with a visa & stays & it’s been expired for over 5yrs. Later applies for asylum and gets approved. Is that legal? Even while using a fake social security number to work in the 5/6 years period.

Mr. Lee answers:
The awarding of political asylum depends upon whether an individual can prove past persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, political opinion, membership in a social group, or nationality. A person applying for asylum who has been here over one year would have to show changed circumstances. Use of the fake Social Security number is generally not a ground to deny an asylum application although it may be considered a discretionary factor. 

3. Can my husband file a petition for me if he did not file taxes for the last 4 years and he was gainfully employed?

My husband has not filed a tax return for the years 2016- 2019. Can he petition for me?

Mr. Lee answers:
If your husband was gainfully employed and did not file taxes for the last four years, he is in violation of the tax laws. Without a record of having worked, it would be difficult for your husband to file for you and for you to pass the public charge ground of inadmissibility. If he really wishes to do so, he should consult an accountant or tax lawyer who can advise as to whether he can file late tax returns and the penalties for doing such. 

4. Affidavit of Support (I-864 Form)

I am trying to apply green card for my fiancé and have difficulties to find the right adjusted gross income. Is the one in first line on W-2 form or 8b 1040 form. 

Mr. Lee answers:
Your guiding light on what figure to put down should be according to the instruction on the I-864 form itself that “For purposes of this affidavit, the line for Total Income on IRS Forms 1040 and 1040A will be considered when determining income. For persons filing IRS Form 1040 EZ, the line for adjusted gross income will be considered.”  

5. Steps for I-601A?

I entered the U.S without documentation when I was 2 years old. I recently married my husband and we’re trying to get my papers. What are the steps?

Mr. Lee answers:
I assume that your husband is either a US citizen or permanent resident. Unless you qualify under section 245(i) having had a labor certification application or immigrant visa petition filed on your behalf by 4/30/01 and having been present in the US on 12/21/00, you would not be allowed to adjust status and must ultimately consular process your paperwork. The first step is your husband filing form I-130 petition for alien relative for you, having it approved and forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) of the Department of State, and then filing an I-601A application to waive the 10-year bar brought on by your unlawful stay. The standard for passage of an I-601A is proving extreme hardship to your husband (or a parent if your mother or father is a US citizen or permanent resident). Kindly note that this waiver application is only available to those who are inadmissible only because of being in the US in violation of law. Assuming that the waiver application is approved, you would complete the preliminary processing at the NVC, which would then set up an interview for you at the American consulate or embassy in your home country. Assuming that there are no other complications, you would likely return to the US with permanent residence within 30-60 days. 

Article: “The Congressional Review Act and Freeze on Regulations Give Immigrants Hope for Relief ” by Arthur Lee, Esq.

As published in the Immigration Daily on January 11, 2021

Notwithstanding the debacle in the Capitol this past week and fears that an unstable president will unleash actions to further endanger or divide the country during his last nine days in office, the victory of the Democrats in the two senatorial races in Georgia promises hope to immigrants as well as others affected by the steady parade of regulations that the Trump administration has been marching out in the last months.

Some of the regulations that could be canceled under the Congressional Review Act or an immediate regulatory freeze are the H-1B rule tying lottery selection to highest wages offered (86 FR1676 finalized on 1/8/21 with implementation date of 3/9/21); the no traditional administrative closure rule as used by immigration judges and the BIA despite over 1 million plus pending asylum cases (85 FR 81588 in effect on 1/15/21); the DHS/ EOIR joint rule tying eligibility for asylum to health concerns as affecting the security of the US (85 FR 84160 effective 1/22/21); the DHS/DOJ joint rule barring asylum to those who transit third countries without applying for asylum in one of the countries (85 FR 82260 effective 1/19/21); and the USCIS/EOIR rule imposing seven mandatory bars on asylum (85 FR 67202 effective 11/19/20).

  1. The Congressional Review Act:

The Congressional Review Act, established in 1996, allows a joint resolution of Congress to nullify regulations finalized in the last 60 days of the legislative session if such is done in the first 60 legislative days of the new Congress. Now that the Senate is in the hands of the Democrats, a simple majority of both houses of Congress allows a joint resolution of disapproval to be made and signed by the president. This is the expedited procedure envisioned by Congress in 1996 to cancel midnight regulations of the previous administration.

60 legislative days are not the same as 60 calendar days, and although the author does not have complete calendars of the days that Congress was in session in 2020, the look back conceivably affects all passed regulations since August 2020. In looking forward and seeing the Congressional calendar for 2021, and taking into account that changes can be made and that the counting of the 60 days does not begin until January 15, Congress could conceivably pass joint resolutions through April 2021. An example of the applicable timeline is that on March 27, 2017, a Department of Defense, General Services Administration, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration rule amending the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR); Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces (81 Fed. Reg. 58,562 (Aug. 25, 2016)) was overturned (see Pub. L. No. 115-11 (March 27, 2017)).

The Act can also be used to nullify other agency memos, guidance documents, statements of policy, and interpretive rules that are in effect rules but were never submitted to Congress. In such case, the General Accountability Office (GAO) would verify that such qualify as rules, and Congress then has 60 legislative days to pass a joint resolution of disapproval. This is another tool by which agency rulemaking without going through the regulatory process during the Trump years can be further nullified. Since a “rule” is not legally a rule without being submitted to Congress, another choice of the Biden administration in that situation would be to publish a notice that the rule not being in effect is being withdrawn or abandoned.

  1. The Regulatory Freeze:

Implementation of a regulatory freeze on January 20, the day of inauguration, would immediately stop whatever regulations have not yet been finalized as of that date. Jen Psaki, a Biden spokesperson, said that the Biden-Harris White House would issue a memo to take effect on the afternoon Eastern time on January 20 to halt or delay midnight regulations, actions taken by the Trump administration that will not have taken effect by Inauguration Day. If it is similar to the memos put out by Rahm Emanuel in January 2009 and Reince Priebus in January 2017, the memo would have three components:

  • Subject to some exceptions for emergencies, no regulation should leave the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) or agencies to be published in the Federal Register.
  • For regulations sent for formal publication, they should be withdrawn and reviewed.
  • For recent regulations that have been published, temporarily postpone the effective date by 60 days, subject to certain exceptions. In addition, agencies should consider proposing for notice and comment a rule to delay the effective date beyond 60 days.

With reference to published regulations yet not implemented, an agency like DHS could temporarily postpone the effective date of the regulation by 60 days while reopening the regulation for further notice and comment, and upon receiving comments, either withdraw the final rule or extend the effective date of it.

  1. The Dawn of a New Day?

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have great opportunity early in the administration to capture many goals, especially with Republican legislators not so beholden to Trump and his agenda after the bloodshed and violence incited by the president against the Congress on January 6. Memories are short, however, and action should be quick as Republican legislators voicing outrage now may be less inclined to go against the Trump agenda dependent upon time and Trump’s ability to hold onto his base. Also the Democrats’ hold on power in the Congress is tenuous, one vote in the Senate and a few votes in the House. A major difficulty of introducing any bill related to immigration now of course is the pandemic and the ability to move the legislation in the face of an out-of-control pandemic and so many Americans out of work. The question is also whether the Democrats can have a united caucus in both houses of Congress on immigration issues. Added into the mix on employment-based matters is the willingness of the Biden administration to rescind the Trump changes given that Democrats in the past have been the party sounding the clarion call against foreigners taking jobs in this country. The recent designation of Boston mayor Marty Walsh, a former union leader, to become the Secretary of Labor is not inspiring as he has been described as a “lifelong champion of the working people.” The lessons of the past, however, have shown that the best chances for immigration reform success are in the first days of an administration. So we urge the Biden administration to take its cue from history and act accordingly – not just on the huge ticket items of legalization for 11 million undocumented immigrants and a pathway to citizenship for the Dreamers, but also on the smaller items such as outlined above.

 

Article “BIDEN TO DO LIST – TWO VERY IMPORTANT ITEMS”

As published in the Immigration Daily on January 4, 2021

Before he is inaugurated, Joe Biden should appoint an immigration advisor who has his ear the same way that Stephen Miller has had Donald Trump’s ear during the past four years. The damage to the field of immigration and to humanity that such a close association has had – an appalling number of executive orders, regulations, interpretations, and guidances to the agencies charged with overseeing the border, points of entry, adjudications, immigration court procedures and decisions – can only be undone by a Stephen Miller clone with opposite views and energy who is close to the president. The influence that he has had with the president has been complete including a hand in over 400 immigration executive actions identified by the Migration Policy Institute by July 2020.

On day one of his presidency, Joe Biden should put a freeze on all federal regulations which have not already been implemented. An excellent article by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) on December 9, 2020, “Trump Policies That May Be Finalized before Inauguration Day 2021” listed a number of regulations that the current administration wishes to finalize before leaving office. Some of them at this point have already been implemented. A portion from the article follows:

The sacrificed lives and continued toll on legal and undocumented immigrants, US citizens and permanent resident parents, children, brothers and sisters, US companies, innovation and the economy demand such attention from Day 1.

Without an immediate freeze, implemented regulations are harder to retract, especially without control of the Senate. At least some of the above proposed regulations will still be floating around on Inauguration Day. The Congressional Review Act (CRA) could eliminate the implemented regulations by simple resolution, but require a majority of both houses of Congress. With Mitch McConnell in charge of the Senate, that will not happen. January 5, 2021, will determine control of the Senate dependent upon the results of the two senatorial contests in Georgia.

Without an advisor solely dedicated to immigration changes and working hand-in-hand with the president, four years will not undo the damage of the last four years. So far, we have seen two cabinet picks, Susan Rice and Alejandro N. Mayorkas, whose roles impact on immigration. As the Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, Ms. Rice is to have an expanded role over the administration’s approach to immigration, healthcare, and racial equality. Mr. Mayorkas in his post of Secretary of Homeland Security is directly charged with governing that huge agency of which there are 16 separate agencies including FEMA, the TSA, US Coast Guard, US Secret Service, and Office of the Inspector General. Their portfolios are too large to get down to the brass tacks that the job requires to reverse the work of Trump/Miller. As described in thebulwark.com article, “Uninstalling Stephen Miller,” on December 17, 2020,

As a senior advisor to the president, Miller used his position to focus on immigration while avoiding the congressional scrutiny to which agency officials are subject. Miller frequently circumvented department heads, opting instead to call lower-level staff to implement his orders, reportedly telling them things like “This is the most important thing you will do at your agency.” Without looping in cabinet secretaries, Miller would hold weekly meetings with their subordinates, occasionally helping get promotions for those who shared his beliefs. Even senior officials reported that they frequently felt torn between Miller and the actual head of their agency. Miller and his allies would go “out of their way to vilify all immigrants,” demanding press releases whenever a refugee or immigrant committed a gruesome crime. This tendency of Miller’s was underscored by his correspondence with officials at the Department of Justice (DOJ) to manufacture statistics linking immigrants to violent crime and terrorism—efforts that were the likely impetus for a misleading 2019 DOJ report claiming that immigrants now comprise 64 percent of all federal arrests, having “more than tripled,” between 1998-2018.

The job does not require someone as Machiavellian as Miller. President Biden needs a “horse whisperer” like Miller who can access the president and help coordinate immigration policy with Rice and Mayorkas. An advisor who must pass ideas through the cabinet members to get to the president would not be nearly as effective. Hopefully there will be a successful search for such a person.