Special Programs

There are three types of temporary programs:

The first two are administered by USCIS while the third one by USICE's litigation department known as The Office of the Principal Legal Adviser (OPLA). The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a foreign country for TPS due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country's nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately. USCIS may grant TPS to eligible nationals of certain countries (or parts of countries), who are already in the United States. Eligible individuals without nationality who last resided in the designated country may also be granted TPS. On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several key guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and would then be eligible for work authorization. Deferred action is a discretionary determination to defer removal action of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion. Deferred action does not provide an individual with lawful status.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

From June 15, 2012, the Obama Administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (“DACA”), instructs the USCIS, ICE and CBP to exercise Prosecutorial Discretion towards certain undocumented aliens, who came to the USA as children. On August 15, 2012, the USCIS made available the application form I-821D for DACA. The application fee is $465 ($380 for the processing and $85 biometrics fee). This Prosecutorial Discretion, if granted, does not confer on the alien any lawful immigration status, and neither does it entitle such alien to apply for a green card or Naturalization in the USA. The main relief offered by DACA is the two year deferral of removal or deportation such aliens will receive.

Humanitarian Parole

Every now and then, there may be a situation in which someone needs to enter the United States for a temporary amount of time because of a humanitarian emergency. In order to accommodate these rare situations, U.S. Immigration Law has established Humanitarian Parole (HP), a program, which, while not a panacea or “go around” of the normal visa application process, is designed to accommodate true emergencies of humanitarian nature. The U.S. Government strictly enforces this policy. Hence, applying for HP is one step, which should be first discussed with an experienced immigration attorney to properly consider all the intricacies of the situation and assess reasonable changes of success on the Humanitarian Parole application.

Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a temporary benefit provided to nationals of a country designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security as unable, due to conditions in the country, to safely handle the return of its nationals. If a national of a country designated for TPS is granted TPS, he or she is not removable from the United States, may be granted an employment authorization document (EAD), and may be granted authorization to travel. However, TPS is a temporary benefit and it does not lead to lawful permanent resident status or any other immigration status. However, TPS beneficiaries may apply to change to a nonimmigrant status, adjustment to permanent resident status, or for an immigration benefit for which they are eligible.

DHS Extends TPS for Nationals of El Salvador for an Additional 18 Months

On July 8, 2016, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson extended Temporary Protect Status (TPS) for nationals of El Salvador, and those without nationality who last habitually resided in El Salvador, for an additional 18 months. El Salvadorians who are currently on TPS and want to extend their TPS must reregister during the 60-day reregistration period that runs from July 8, 2016, through September 6, 2016. The news release advises El Salvadorians who wish to extend their TPS to reregister as soon as possible.

Using Employment Authorization from TPS While Holding Nonimmigrant Status

A person with a valid nonimmigrant status may apply for and be granted temporary protected status (TPS). One of the principal benefits of TPS is that a person on TPS may apply for and be granted an employment authorization document (EAD), which allows for employment in the United States. However, certain nonimmigrant statuses that may be held in conjunction with TPS (e.g., F-1, B-2) limit or outright prohibit the employment that a status-holder may engage in and continue to maintain status. This article will explain USCIS’ guidelines for TPS EADs for persons who hold a nonimmigrant status that either limits or prohibits employment.

USCIS Issues Reminder About May 21 Termination of TPS Designations For Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone

On May 21, 2017, designations of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone will terminate. TPS benefits for individuals from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone will no longer be in effect starting on May 21, 2017. TPS-beneficiaries from these three countries who hold another lawful immigration status, which they have maintained or acquired while on TPS, may continue to hold such status upon the termination of TPS. However, TPS beneficiaries from the three countries who hold no other lawful immigration status will no longer be protected from removal or eligible for employment authorization based on TPS beginning on May 21, 2017.

Parole

An alien may be granted parole in order to enter the United States. A parolee is eligible to apply for and be granted adjustment of status so long as he or she remains in the United States as a parolee (and is not otherwise ineligible to adjust status). However, while a person is considered to be lawfully present so long as he or she is on parole, parole does not constitute “admission” to the United States, and it may be revoked at any time. In this article, we will provide a general overview of parole and some of the different situations in which it may be granted.

TPS and Dual Nationality When the Operative Nationality is that of a non-TPS Country

In order to qualify for temporary protected status (TPS), an alien must be present in the United States when his or her country of nationality (or country of last habitual residence if he or she does not have a country of nationality) is designated for TPS. The Board of Immigration Appeal’s decision in Matter of Ognibene established that for purpose of changing status to E2 treaty investor status, the operative nationality of an alien is the nationality that he or she claimed upon entering the United States as a nonimmigrant. Although the issues are not entirely the same for dual nationals seeking TPS, the principles of Matter of Ognibene have been broadly applied to dual nationals whose operative nationality is determined to be that of the non-TPS designated country.

DHS Redesignates Syria for TPS

On August 1, 2016, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, redesignated Syria for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Syria’s existing TPS designation has been extended from October 1, 2016, to March 31, 2018. Accordingly, eligible nationals of Syria and persons of no nationality who last habitually resided in Syria will be eligible to register or reregister for TPS during periods found in the Federal Register notice.

Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program (effective June 8, 2016)

On May 9, 2016, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it would begin implementing the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole (FWVP) policy on June 8, 2016. Notice of the new program was also posted in the Federal Register [81 FR 28097]. The program will allow the family members of U.S. citizen or LPR Filipino WWII veterans who are the beneficiaries of approved family-based immigrant visa petitions to be granted parole on a case-by-case basis. In this article, we will review the USCIS news release and the Federal Register update in order to examine the rules of the FWVP.

Special Parole Program for Certain Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens and Stateless Persons in the CNMI

On December 13, 2016 the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it would extend its parole program for the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and certain stateless individuals in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). The program, which was originally slated to expire on December 31, 2016, will now be extended until December 31, 2018. In this article, we will examine the rules for seeking an extension of parole in the CNMI under the rules of this program, the background of the program, and what the extension means going forward.

SAVE Program and Overview of Using SAVE CaseCheck

When a nonimmigrant, lawful permanent resident (LPR), or naturalized citizen applies for a benefit or license with a federal, state, or local government agency, the government agency must first verify the person’s immigration status to ensure that he or she is eligible for the benefit or license sought. In order to do this, government agencies use the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ SAVE Program. The SAVE Program allows government agencies to expeditiously confirm a person’s immigration status. For persons seeking a benefit or license, the USCIS created a tool called “SAVE CaseCheck.” SAVE CaseCheck allows applicants for benefits or licenses with government agencies to view their case status online.

Extension of Nepal TPS Designation

On October 26, 2016, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a Federal Register notice extending the designation of Nepal for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for eighteen months, effective December 25, 2016, and through June 24, 2018. This article will explain how Nepal TPS beneficiaries may re-register for TPS.

Suspension of Certain Regulatory Requirements for Qualifying F1 Students from Nepal

On December 27, 2016, the DHS extended the suspension of certain regulatory requirements for qualifying Nepalese students who were experiencing “severe economic hardship” as a direct result of the earthquake that occurred in Nepal on April 25, 2015. In this article, we will examine who is eligible to apply for benefits under the extension and what the extension means for qualifying F1 students from Nepal.

DHS Announces End to Cuba "Wet-Foot/Dry-Foot" Policy and Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program

On January 12, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) opted to revoke the “wet-foot/dry-foot” policy for Cuban migrants that has been in effect since 1995. The DHS is also ending the Cuban Medical Professional Parole program. The announcement by the DHS serves to put Cubans who reach the United States without a visa or legal authorization on the same footing as any other individuals who do so. It represents a significant change in how the United States will treat Cuban migrants, and it severely limits the scope of the Cuban Adjustment Act, which does remain in effect despite the new policy. In this article, we will examine what the new policy means and what may happen going forward with the changing administrations.

Change of Gender Designation on USCIS-Issued Documents

On January 19, 2017, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a Policy Memorandum (“the Memo”) titled “Subject: Revision of Adjudicator’s Field Manual Subchapter 10.22 – Change of Gender Designation on Documents Issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.” The Memo revises the Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) to update USCIS’s policies “regarding procedures and requirements to change the gender designation on a USCIS-issued document.” In this article, we will review the new guidance for changing one’s gender designation on a USCIS document.

New Immigrants May Open USCIS Online Account After Payment of USCIS Immigrant Fee

The USCIS explains that upon payment of the USCIS Immigrant Fee – either by the immigrant or by someone on his or her behalf – an immigrant may open a USCIS online account. In this article, we examine the rules for opening a USCIS online account, the benefits it provides, and what an immigrant may do if he or she decides not to open a USCIS online account.

Expedited Processing of USCIS Applications and Petitions

Under limited circumstances, an applicant or petitioner for a benefit adjudicated by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may make a request to expedite the processing of the application or petition at issue. Please note that expedited processing is not the same thing as premium processing. In this article, we will examine the rules for qualifying for expedited processing of an application or petition with the USCIS.

Replacing an Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

In certain cases, an individual may need to seek a replacement Employment Authorization Document (EAD). An individual will need to apply for a new EAD if his or her EAD is lost, stolen, or destroyed. An individual may need to also seek a new EAD if his or her current EAD contains incorrect information due to an error on the part of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The procedures and requirements for seeking a replacement for a lost, stolen, or destroyed EAD are slightly different than those for seeking a replacement for an EAD issued with incorrect information due to USCIS error.