AILA Demands Protection for Nonimmigrants

Erick Widman

On 23 March, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) sent a letter to USCIS demanding it take the following actions on or before 27 March 2020:

1) Extend statutory or regulatory deadlines for immigration benefits;
2) Suspend all deadlines during the time of the COVID-19 national emergency;
3) Extend any nonimmigrant status and otherwise maintain the status quo for purposes of eligibility for protection and immigration benefits processed by USCIS from the date the President declared a national emergency on 11 March 2020 until 90 days after the emergency proclamation ends.

As coronavirus looms, thousands of immigrants are currently at risk of inadvertently violating US immigration law. Nonimmigrants whose visas are set to expire within the next few months are in a particularly challenging position. Those who accrue unlawful status may be barred from returning to the US for up to ten years, depending on how long they overstay their visas, but many are unable to leave the country before their visa expires; they face border closures, hospitalization, quarantine, and other obstacles outside their control.

We strongly encourage nonimmigrants with temporary statuses to consider filing to extend or change their nonimmigrant status to avoid falling out of status or accruing unlawful presence. For more information, click here.

AILA Files Lawsuit to Suspend Immigration Deadlines and Maintenance of Status

AILA has filed a lawsuit against USCIS calling for the immediate suspension of immigration benefit deadlines and the maintenance of status for nonimmigrants in the U.S. AILA had already written a letter to the USCIS on 23 March 23 requesting these measures, but there has been no favorable response.

AILA Director of Federal Litigation Jesse Bless stated in a press release:
USCIS has every power to immediately and temporarily toll any and all immigration-related deadlines and expiration of status to the benefit of U.S. employers, lawfully admitted foreign nationals, and the public. Many of those fighting on the front lines – our nurses and healthcare workers – are foreign nationals on nonimmigrant visas. At present, immigration attorneys seeking to effectively represent U.S. employers and foreign nationals face a dangerous catch-22: risk exposure and try to protect their clients’ immigration status or protect themselves and risk putting their clients’ cases or rights in jeopardy.

AILA President Marketa Lindt also publicly described how
Across the country, immigration attorneys and their clients are being forced to choose between missing a filing deadline and violating stay at home orders and exposing themselves, their staff and their clients to a deadly illness. USCIS must join many other federal agencies in extending its filing deadlines so that lawfully present foreign nationals in the United States can maintain status during this national crisis. By refusing to do so, USCIS is needlessly endangering lives.

Passage Immigration Law continues to monitor deadlines and file all cases in a timely manner. We will report any updates on this topic on our website.

AILA Seeks the Following Judgments in Lawsuit against USCIS

Suspend/pause all the deadlines for applications
USCIS must suspend/pause all the deadlines for applications, RFE responses, and any other responses to be submitted that were due from 1 March 2020 for initial applications, extensions, or maintenance of status requests.

Continue the availability of work authorization
USCIS must continue the availability of work authorization if they are expiring (i.e., suspend the expiration of status or work authorization) for all lawful status applicants.

Maintain the current status
USCIS must maintain the current status for everyone as they exist today and not penalize for any delays from 1 March, when President declared the emergency, until 90 days after the national emergency officially ends.

Non-Immigrant Visa Lawyer

Whether you are coming to the United States to work, visit family, travel, or attend school, you will need a non-immigrant visa. An expert nonimmigrant visa lawyer will assist you to seek the correct nonimmigrant visa for your travels to the U.S. The nonimmigrant visa you apply for with help from a nonimmigrant visa lawyer depends on the reason for your stay in the United States.

Within each temporary visa category, there are subcategories for which you must apply based on your qualifications. Your nonimmigrant visa lawyer from Passage Immigration Law can help you determine which visa is right for you.

Our expert can help you with filing the following visas:

  • B-1 and B-2: Visitors
  • E-1 and E-2: Treaty Traders and Investors
  • E-3: Australian Workers in a Specialty Occupation
  • F and M: International Students
  • H-1: Professional Workers
  • H-2: Temporary Workers
  • H-3: Trainees
  • J & Q: Exchange Visitors
  • K-1: Fiancée Visas
  • L-1: Intracompany Transferees
  • O-1: Individuals with Extraordinary Ability
  • P: Performing Entertainers and Athletes
  • R1: Religious Workers
  • T: Victims of Human Trafficking
  • U: Victims of Criminal Activity

Passage Immigration Law provides individuals, families, and employers with the legal representation they need to navigate the complex legalities surrounding non-immigrant visas. Our attorneys have decades of combined experience in U.S. immigration law. We have helped guide numerous clients through the complicated process of gaining non-immigrant visas in the U.S. Give us a call today call at (503) 427-8243 or you schedule a one-to-one consultation here with one of our lawyers.

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