DHS Proposing to Charge Fees for Asylum Applications

According to DHS briefing documents obtained by BuzzFeed News, USCIS is planning to publish proposed Federal regulations in January 2020 modifying the fee structure for certain immigration benefits.  Most notably, USCIS is allegedly proposing to charge $50 for asylum applications and an unspecified additional amount for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewals.  Fees would also be added to asylum-based work authorization documents.  In addition to the new fees, USCIS is purportedly going to further restrict the use of fee waivers.

These are but the latest tactics of the Trump Administration to make immigration inaccessible to a large swath of the population.  Of note, the United States would become one of only four countries in the world to charge for asylum applications.

DHS Extends Work Authorization for Salvadorans with TPS to January 2021

DHS has announced that it is extending the validity of work permits to Salvadorans with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) through January 4, 2021.  In 2018, the Trump Administration announced it was planning to end TPS for Salvadorans, but Federal litigation has thus far stalled its efforts.  On October 28, 2019, DHS announced that it has reached agreements with El Salvador that will allow for more orderly repatriation of its nationals.  TPS for Salvadorans was to expire on January 2, 2020.

DOS Places Hold on Public Charge Rule Implementation

While it has been widely reported that a preliminary injunction has prevented implementation of the new public charge rule at USCIS, some may not be aware that the U.S. Department of State is planning to implement a similar rule.  The Interim Final Rule went into effect on October 15, 2019.  However, DOS has stated that it will not implement the Interim Final Rule until a new Form DS-5540 is published.  The Foreign Affairs Manual has also not yet been updated. For now, applicants and practitioners continue to proceed under the traditional “public charge” framework.

Court Temporarily Halts Immigrant Health Insurance Requirement

On November 3, 2019, a Federal judge in Oregon issued a preliminary injunction halting the implementation of President Trump’s Presidential Proclamation preventing the entry of immigrants “who will financially burden the United States healthcare system.” The rule was set to become effective on November 3, 2019.  Ultimately, the court will decide, after a trial on the merits, whether the rule will be allowed to take effect.

For a more complete discussion of the Presidential Proclamation itself, see this earlier entry.

DHS Announces Plan to Request Social Media Info from Immigrants

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security plans to request information from immigrants as to their social media accounts and activities over the last five (5) years.  DHS published a notice in the Federal Register of its plans.

DHS’s stated goal is to gather information on immigrants to determine whether they pose a law enforcement or national security risk to the United States.  In practice, many are concerned that this will be yet one more discretionary tool that immigration officers can use to deny otherwise qualified applicants and impinge on the right of free speech.  This has already begun happening at the consular level, and Customs and Border Protection has already faced accusations of using social media as a pretext for denying qualified immigrants and nonimmigrants entry into the United States.

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