Applicants for U.S. Visas and Green Cards Must Now Disclose Social Media Profile Information

In response to the Trump Administration’s “extreme vetting” of foreign nationals entering the United States, the U.S. Department of State has increased the amount of personal data foreign nationals must provide when applying for a U.S. visa abroad. Federal government agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), have dramatically expanded their social media monitoring programs in recent years by collecting a vast amount of user information in the process, such as political and religious views, data about physical and mental health, and the identity of family and friends. DHS increasingly uses this information for vetting and analysis, including for individuals seeking to enter the United States and for both U.S. and international travelers.

As of May 30, 2019, applicants completing the Form DS-160 (the standard online platform for all non-immigrant visa applications) and the Form DS-260 (the standard online platform for immigrant (“Green Card”) applications), must now provide information on all social media accounts used in the past five years. This information will be used to prevent visa and Green Card fraud.

Using dropdown menus, the Form DS-160 and DS-260 requires applicants to provide the names of all social media accounts used (lists 20 of the most popular social medial platforms), and the applicant’s username or “handle” for each account. The form also provides a text box to provide social media information not listed in the drop-down menu.

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U.S. House Passes Significant ‘Dreamer’ Immigration Bill with Potential to Grant Permanent Residency to 2 Million Undocumented Youth

On Tuesday, June 4, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an ambitious immigration bill aimed at providing a path to citizenship to almost 2 million undocumented immigrants, including “Dreamers” who were brought to the United States as children.  This bill cancels and prohibits removal proceedings against certain aliens, and provides such aliens with a path toward Legal Permanent Resident status.

The bill, titled American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, would provide a 10-year conditional permanent residency to recipients of the Differed Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and for other qualified young, undocumented, immigrants. To be eligible, immigrants must have been younger than 18 when they came to the U.S., and must have lived in the U.S. continuously over the previous four years.  Applicants will also need to possess an American high school diploma or GED, and pass a background check. Applicants who have committed certain crimes would be ineligible under the bill.

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Update on the Travel Ban and DACA

Travel Ban

travel-ban May 2018On April 25th, 2018 the Supreme Court heard oral arguments from both sides on President Trump’s highly scrutinized “travel ban”. The travel ban, now in its third iteration, prohibits entry of travelers from five Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya), as well as North Korea and government officials from Venezuela. Although previous versions of the travel ban were initially partially blocked by U.S. District Courts in Hawaii and Maryland, the Supreme Court lifted such injunctions in December 2017.

Since Trump first issued his travel order, setting off widespread chaos at airports just a few days after his inauguration, the issue has strongly shaped public perceptions of the new administration. It has also led to a string of defeats in lower courts, where judges ruled that the measure exceeded Trump’s authority and, in some cases, said it reflected bias against Muslims.

 

However, the Supreme Court of the United States has provided a friendlier forum, on this topic. The justices issued a ruling in June 2017 that allowed the second version of the travel ban to take partial effect. Then, in December 2017, with only two dissenting votes, they set aside lower-court rulings to allow the administration to put the third version into practice, a strong indicator of where the majority was headed.

Justice Samuel A. Alito rejected the notion Trump’s order could be considered a “Muslim ban,” noting it does not apply to most of the largest Muslim nations.

“If you look at what was done, it does not look like a Muslim ban,” he said.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s appointee, questioned whether the challengers had standing to sue in the first place. Foreigners overseas do not have rights in U.S. courts, he said. Plaintiffs who live in Hawaii sued, contending the travel ban was illegal, but “third parties can’t vindicate the rights of aliens,” Gorsuch said.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy portrayed the issue before the court as one of national security in which the chief executive, not the judicial branch, should be entrusted to weigh possible threats from foreign visitors.

 

A final decision by the Court is expected at the end of June. Meanwhile, the current version of the travel ban remains in effect during deliberation. Continue reading

What You Really Need to Know About the Rescission of DACA

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On September 5, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is being rescinded.  The Department of Homeland Security personnel will take all appropriate actions to execute a wind-down of the program, consistent with the parameters established in Tuesday’s Memorandum on Rescission Of Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA) (hereinafter, “Memo”).

On September 6, 2017, fifteen states and the District of Columbia filed a suit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York seeking to stop the rescission.  During his candidacy for president, Donald Trump said that he intended to end DACA on “day one” of his presidency.

What Is DACA?

On June 15, 2012, under the Obama Administration, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal. They are also eligible for work authorization. Deferred action is a use of prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action against an individual for a certain period of time. Deferred action does not provide lawful status. Continue reading

Immigrant Entrepreneurs May Be Able to Remain in the U.S. on Parole Under New Rule Proposed by DHS

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On August 31, 2016 , the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed an amendment to its regulations in an effort to increase and enhance entrepreneurship, innovation, and job creation in the United States. The proposed rule would allow for the use of “parole” on a case-by-case basis for certain Startup entrepreneurs whose entry into the United States would provide a significant public benefit through “the substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid business growth and job creation.”  Once the notice of proposed rulemaking is published in the Federal Register, the public will have 45 days from the date of publication to comment. To submit comments in support of this rule, follow the instructions in the notice.

The new “International Entrepreneur Rule” would expand the opportunity for international entrepreneurs, inventors, and startup founders to receive “parole”, which is temporary permission to be present in the United States.  “Parole” is not considered an admission to the United States, and does not confer any immigration status.  In addition, once a person is granted parole, the parolee’s stay in the U.S. is at DHS’s discretion and may be terminated at any time consistent with existing regulations.  DHS has broad discretion to grant parole and may do so on a case-by-case basis. Continue reading