THE LATEST FROM SRW BORDER BLOG

Canadian Citizen Granted Five Year I-192 Waiver After Complying With All Terms of Previous One Year Waiver Approval

Application Type: I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as Nonimmigrant

Adjudication Time: 104 Days

Adjudicating Agency: Admissibility Review Office (Filed @ Calgary International Airport in Calgary, Alberta)

Grounds of Inadmissibility: INA §212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I) – Conviction for Crime Involving Moral Turpitude (1969 Conviction in Alberta, Canada – Theft of Auto)

Purpose of Entry into U.S.: Business & Pleasure Visits [B1/B2] or Employment in O-1, H-1B, L-1 or TN

SRW Strategy: Evidence of Rehabilitation (no criminal issues since 1969, received a pardon for criminal offense in 1993, compliance with terms of previous one (1) year waiver approval).

Approval Period: Five (5) Years

Consequences Arising from the Presidents Executive Order on Immigration

On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) “Protecting the Nation From Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nation” which became effective immediately.  Over the course of the last two days, the EO has resulted in uncertainty, fear, litigation and support for the immigrant community. 

Below are some of the highlights that we believe may directly impact our firm’s clients: 

Immediate Suspension of Issuance of Visas and Admission to the U.S. for Nationals from Designated Countries

The EO immediately suspends the issuance of visas and admission to the U.S. of nationals from the following seven (7) designated countries - Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen - for a period of 90 days (excludes those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, and C-2 visa for travel to the United Nations). The EO indicates that additional countries could be added to the list as determined by DHS and DOS. After the 90 day period, travel will not be immediately restored – instead, countries must undergo various vetting procedures. During this time period, the EO does allow U.S. Dept. of State (DOS) and U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) to issue visas, admit or grant other immigration benefits to affected individuals on a “case-by-case” basis and when it is in the “national interest”.

Who is impacted in the meantime?

  • Dual Nationals
    • The EO isn’t clear on the definition of ‘from’ the designated countries – in an abundance of caution, it may be best to interpret the term as broadly as possible – to include passport holders, citizens, nationals, dual nationals, etc.
  • U.S. Nonimmigrants & U.S. Immigrants from a Designated Country
    • This includes those individuals who were outside the U.S. at the time the EO was signed on Friday, including those in transit to the U.S.
    • Tip: If you are already in the U.S. in a valid non-immigrant status and are a national of a designated country, do not travel outside the U.S. for the near future. If you must travel, speak to an experienced immigration attorney first.
  • U.S. LPR’s (inc. Conditional LPR’s)
    • While this EO originally applied to LPR’s, DHS has since confirmed that the entry of LPR’s is deemed to be in the national interest.  Accordingly, LPR’s who are also nationals of a designated country, will be allowed to re-enter the U.S., absent significant derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare. 
    • Tip: LPR’s who are nationals of a designated country should be prepared to be placed into secondary inspection and questioned upon re-entry into the U.S.
  • Canadians
    • DHS has indicated to Canada Officials that naturalized Canadian citizens who are also nationals of a designated country will continue to be treated as Canadian citizens (who are visa-exempt).  Locally, we have seen CBP following this practice at our U.S.-Canada Ports of Entry.

How are the various govt. agencies handling the EO?

  • U.S. Dept. of State (DOS)
    • DOS has been instructed not to issue visa to individuals of a designated country.  Pending visa appointments are being cancelled.
  • U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP)
    • CBP is denying entry to individuals from these designated countries despite their facially valid visas. 
    • CBP is then detaining these individuals until they are able to secure a return flight to their country of origin or CBP grants them a waiver for entry (if applicable, based on any legal stays or on a case-by-case basis).
  • U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS)
    • There are reports that USCIS is placing a hold on applications filed by or on behalf of individuals from the countries at issue (this would include I-130’s, I-129F’s, I-765’s, etc.). 
    • It is unclear whether Humanitarian Parole may still be available to affected individuals.
  • U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE)
    • There are reports that ICE (this presumably includes ICE Chief Counsel’s Office and ICE ERO [Enforcement & Removal Operations]) is neither approving nor denying any Prosecutorial Discretion requests until clear directives on enforcement priorities are received.
    • On January 25, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” which provides for new and revised enforcement priorities for removal – noncitizens convicted of any crime, noncitizens who have been charged with committing any crime (but not yet convicted), and those noncitizens who have a final order of removal. 

Suspends the Visa Interview Waiver Program

The EO immediately suspends the visa interview waiver program that is utilized by U.S. Consulates and Embassies throughout the world to facilitate the issuance and renewal of visas for certain travelers who have been deemed low risk. The program allowed for these low risk travelers to obtain visa renewals by utilizing a “drop-box” or “mail-in” application procedure instead of personally appearing for a visa interview at their local U.S. Embassy/Consulate.

With the suspension of this program, all applicants, regardless of nationality, age and whether first-time or renewal, will need to appear in person for their visa interviews. This is likely to result in increased wait times for appointments, increased times associated with accompanying background checks (aka Administrative Processing), and an overall uncertainty for business travelers seeking to renew their existing visas while on business trips.

Should you have any questions about the above or want to discuss your specific concerns with our office, please contact us. We look forward to assisting you.

Client Successfully Re-admitted to the U.S. in F-1 status

Client, a Canadian citizen, approached SRW Border Lawyers after she was denied entry into the U.S. in F-1 status, after an overnight trip to Canada. At the time, Client was on approved medical leave from her PhD program at a prominent U.S. university. CBP determined that Client had violated the terms of her F-1 status during her approved medical leave. CBP took issue with Client engaging in outside learning for her own intellectual development while on leave. CBP was also concerned that Client violated her F-1 status because she was not living on campus fulltime.

After reviewing the client’s case, we did not agree with CBP’s determination that Client had violated the terms of her F-1 status. Specifically, we noted that there is nothing in the law stating that an individual must remain on campus while on approved medical leave or that an individual cannot engage in any outside learning during their approved medical leave. We also confirmed that CBP erroneously advised Client that she was not eligible for re-admission in F-1 status until she resumed a full course load of study.

Client engaged SRW Border Lawyers to prepare and submit a packet to CBP Officials, which outlined Client’s continued eligibility for F-1 status and requested that Client be re-admitted to the U.S. in F-1 status. After working with CBP Officials for several weeks, Client was properly re-admitted to the U.S. in F-1 status.

Applicant/Client Testimonial - “Based on a strong recommendation from those in the legal field in Toronto, Canada, I reached out to Serotte Reich Wilson Immigration Law in Buffalo, NY and without delay I was able to consult with the senior partners in the firm. I have contacted and consulted other immigration law firms in the U.S. during this time but their utmost professionalism, empathy, and expediency made my decision to entrust my case with Serotte Reich Wilson an easy one. During the course of next 3 months, Ms. Zabrina Reich and Ms. Nisha Fontaine worked ceaselessly to resolve the issue and with their expertise I was able to re-enter the U.S. with the F-1 Visa. More importantly, Ms. Zabrina Reich’s professionalism extended beyond the initial successful border crossing as she continued to impart her legal advice with my subsequent travels into the U.S. under the F-1 Visa.

I can assert with confidence that Serotte Reich Wilson Immigration Law is an exceptional firm with seasoned professionals who address individual case with utmost expertise and care. Based on my experience with Serotte Reich Wilson Immigration Law, I cannot recommend the firm enough to all those seeking legal assistance with U.S. immigration law."

Canadian Citizen Has I-212 Waiver Approved

Background: Client, a Canadian citizen, approached SRW about two years after he was issued an Expedited Removal Order (ERO) while applying to renew his TN status. During the adjudication of his TN application, Client was questioned in detail about his employment history in the U.S. and more particularly, about whether he had ever done anything outside of the scope of his non-immigrant status. While Client had honestly believed that he had never participated in any activities outside of the scope of his non-immigrant status, it was revealed that Client had inadvertently engaged in impermissible activities in connection with his wife’s prospective E-2 business.

Grounds of Inadmissibility: INA § 212(a)(9)(A)(i) - Alien previously removed pursuant to an Order of Expedited Removal under INA §235, solely under INA §212(a)(7)(A)(i)(I) [Immigrant Intent]

Consequence of ERO: As a result of the ERO, the Client was barred from reentering the U.S. for a five (5) year period – from March 2012 to March 2017. Notably, the Client and his family had been living in the U.S. since 2007 (in valid non-immigrant status), but due to the ERO, were required to return to Canada and re-establish their ties.
After returning to Canada, Client started an independent technical consulting business that served clients in both Canada and the U.S. Unfortunately, Client had lost many potential clients because he could not travel to the U.S. for meetings. Client’s biggest U.S. client had also expressed serious concerns regarding Client’s inability to travel to the U.S. for upcoming projects.

Options: After consulting with Client, we advised him that his options were to either serve out his bar of five (5) years or apply for permission to reapply for admission. We explained after the five (5) year bar was over he would not require a waiver since §212(a)(7)(A)(i)(I) is not a permanent bar. Ultimately, Client chose the latter.

SRW Waiver Strategy: Evidence of Rehabilitation (demonstrated remorse, rehabilitation and compliance with U.S. removal order); Established strong ties to Canada; Compelling reasons for entry (Inability to travel to the U.S. limiting ability to perform consulting services for current and prospective U.S. clients; U.S. travel ban impacting ability to look after U.S. investment properties; Lack of any criminal history); Nearly half of the removal bar was served at the time of filing.

Application Type: I-212, Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission Into the United States After Deportation or Removal

Adjudicating Agency: Admissibility Review Office (Filed @][2] Peace Bridge Port of Entry in Buffalo, New York)

Purpose of Entry into U.S.: Business and Pleasure Visits [B-1/B-2] or Employment in TN, H-1B or L-1

Adjudication Time: 77 Days