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New Orleans Louisiana Immigration Law Blog

Immigrants who are detained often face tough living conditions

Tens of thousands of immigrants wind up being detained on a yearly basis; the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reports that the total numbers are higher in recent years than they've ever been.

Unfortunately, the ACLU also notes that the living conditions these people are subjected to are often not nearly as good as they should be. Part of the problem, they say, is that standards aren't enforced and there aren't any strict regulations to make sure that people are given the conditions they deserve.

Lawsuit Says State Department Unlawfully Delaying Lottery Visas

Several civil rights groups and law firms have filed suit against the U.S. Department of State and its consulates. They claim that the agency is unlawfully denying or delaying the processing of visas for winners of the U.S. Diversity Visa Program who live in the six countries targeted by President Trump's travel ban.

Although the travel ban is currently under consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court, the high court has already determined that it can't be applied to people with bona fide relationships with people or entities in the United States. The rights groups have a strong case that winning a visa through the Diversity Visa Program lottery constitutes a bona fide relationship.

Proposed Bill Would Use Point System for Immigration

A new bill is being considered that would change the basis on which some immigration is allowed. It is backed by both the Republican party and President Donald Trump.

The bill would use a point system to determine merit and to allow individuals to come into the United States. There are numerous categories that have to be considered, and each "answer" is worth a specific amount of points. Those who have 30 or more points have "passed" the test.

Lawsuit Claims Border Agents Are Turning Asylum Seekers Away

Human rights groups have filed a class-action lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security, claiming that U.S. Customs and Border Protection is turning asylum seekers away at the border in violation of U.S. and international law. They've even released an audio recording that seems to demonstrate the truth of their claims.

The American Immigration Council and other advocacy groups claim that CBP agents not only violate laws meant to protect asylum seekers' rights, but that they're making spurious and misleading claims to do so, according to NPR. This may have dissuaded an unknown number of legitimate asylum seekers fleeing violent gangs in Central America.

USCIS Announces Expansion of Provisional Waiver Process

USCIS announced today that the existing provisional waiver process (also known as "stateside waivers") will be expanded to allow family members of U.S. citizens AND lawful permanent residents (LPRs) who are statutorily eligible for immigrant visas to apply.

DHS Announces Temporary Protected Status for Yemen

On September 3, 2015, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson announced his decision to designate Yemen for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) due to the ongoing, widespread, armed conflict in the country that has resulted in a severe humanitarian emergency. This designation will allow nationals of Yemen (and people without nationality who last habitually resided in Yemen) who are currently residing in the U.S. to apply for temporary protection.

DHS Announces Temporary Protected Status for Nepal

On June 24, 2015, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson announced his decision to designate Nepal for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) due to the devastating magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25, 2015, and the subsequent aftershocks. This designation will allow nationals of Nepal (and people without nationality who last habitually resided in Nepal) who are currently residing in the U.S. to apply for temporary protection.

I-193 Waivers During DOS Technical Difficulties

The Department of State (DOS) has informed the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) that DOS will need to approve any potential I-193 waiver applicant before he or she can apply at a U.S. port of entry. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is accepting I-193 Applications for Waiver of Passport and/or Visa for urgent travel to the U.S. for travelers affected by the DOS technical difficulties preventing visa issuance. Applicants will now be required to contact the embassy or consulate where they would have applied for the visa, or where the application is pending in cases where the interview has already taken place, and explain why they need to urgently travel without the visa. If the embassy or consulate agrees that the reason for travel is sufficiently urgent and the applicant is eligible (no criminal issues, immigration issues, etc.), the post will issue a travel letter, which then must be presented to CBP with the I-193 application.

U.S. Overseas Passport and Visa Systems Down

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) Bureau of Consular Affairs is reporting that they are again experiencing technical problems with the Consular Consolidated Database (CCD). This is the same database that crashed last summer causing the U.S. passport and visa system to go down worldwide. The Department of State has said, however, that the current problems with the CCD are not the same as those previously experienced.

USCIS Accepting Employment Authorization Applications for Certain H-4 Spouses

On May 26, 2015, USCIS began accepting applications for employment authorization from H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who have already begun the employment-based permanent residence process. The eligibility requirements for H-4 employment authorization were previously outlined in our February 24, 2015, blog post DHS Extends Eligibility for Employment Authorization to Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses.

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