July 2014 Newsletter

In This Issue
  • White House Announces Response to Increase in Unaccompanied Children, Families
  • US Immigrant Visa Processing
  • Tips for New Immigrants
  • State Dept. Announces End to Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Program, Seeks Extension
  • SEVP Announces New Exchange Visitor Program I-901 Mobile Fee Processing Website
  • Government agency links
  • Hodkinson Law Group News

White House Announces Immigration Reform Efforts, Response to Increase in Unaccompanied Children, Families

President Barack Obama announced on June 30, 2014, that because House Speaker John Boehner has told him that Republicans in the House of Representatives will not pursue immigration reform legislation this year, he has directed Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Charles Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder to identify administrative actions that can be taken "to try to fix as much of the immigration system as possible." He said he does not "prefer taking administrative action," and that he takes executive action "only when we have a serious problem…and Congress chooses to do nothing."

Noting that "there are enough Republicans and Democrats in the House to pass an immigration bill today," President Obama said he had "held off on pressuring them for a long time to give [House Speaker John] Boehner the space he needed to get his fellow Republicans on board" with immigration reform legislation.

President Obama also sent a letter on June 30 to congressional leaders asking that they "work with me to address the urgent humanitarian challenge on the border, and support the immigration and Border Patrol agents who already apprehend and deport hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants every year." The letter notes, among other things, that the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security are deploying additional enforcement resources, including immigration judges, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement attorneys, and asylum officers, "to focus on individuals and adults traveling with children from Central America and entering without authorization." Shelters have been opened at three military bases, according to reports. The letter states that the Obama administration will submit a related "formal detailed request when the Congress returns from recess."

Also, on June 20, President Obama directed DHS and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate a government-wide response to the increase in unaccompanied children entering the United States from Central America. A White House fact sheet said the first priority "is to manage the urgent humanitarian situation by making sure these children are housed, fed, and receive any necessary medical treatment." The fact sheet notes that the United States will also increase enforcement and partner with "our Central American counterparts in three key areas: combating gang violence and strengthening citizen security, spurring economic development, and improving capacity to receive and reintegrate returned families and children."

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, "We're going to open up some additional detention facilities that can accommodate adults that show up on the border with their children. And we're going to deploy some additional resources to work through their immigration cases more quickly, so they're not held in that detention facility for a long time, and hopefully [will] be quickly returned to their home countr[ies]." He blamed much of the influx on misinformation intentionally "propagated by criminal syndicates in Central America."

In Guatemala, Vice President Joe Biden recently met with regional leaders to address the increase in unaccompanied children and adults coming with their children to the United States and to discuss efforts "to address the underlying security and economic issues that cause migration."

The Obama administration announced the following related efforts:
  • The U.S. government will provide $9.6 million in additional support to Central American governments for receiving and reintegrating their repatriated citizens. "This funding will enable El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to make substantial investments in their existing repatriation centers, provide training to immigration officials on migrant care, and increase the capacity of these governments and non-governmental organizations to provide expanded services to returned migrants."

  • In Guatemala, the United States is launching a new $40 million U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) program over five years to improve citizen security. "This program will work in some of the most violent communities to reduce the risk factors for youth involvement in gangs and address factors driving migration to the United States."

  • In El Salvador, the United States is initiating a new $25 million Crime and Violence Prevention USAID program over five years that will establish 77 youth outreach centers in addition to the 30 already in existence. "These will continue to offer services to at-risk youth who are susceptible to gang recruitment and potential migration."

  • In Honduras, under the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI), the United States will provide $18.5 million to support community policing and law enforcement efforts to confront gangs and other sources of crime. In addition, USAID will build on an existing initiative to support 40 youth outreach centers by soon announcing a substantial new Crime and Violence Prevention program.

  • USAID is calling for proposals to support new public-private partnerships through the Global Development Alliance to increase economic and educational opportunities for at-risk youth in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

  • The United States also plans to provide $161.5 million this year for CARSI programs "that are critical to enabling Central American countries to respond to the region’s most pressing security and governance challenges. On an ongoing basis, the United States is providing almost $130 million in ongoing bilateral assistance to El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala for a variety of programs related to health, education, climate change, economic growth, military cooperation, and democracy assistance.

  • The United States is collaborating on campaigns to help potential migrants understand the significant danger of relying on human smuggling networks and to reinforce that recently arriving children and individuals are not eligible for programs like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and earned citizenship provisions in comprehensive immigration reform currently under consideration in the U.S. Congress.

  • The Department of Justice and DHS are taking additional steps to enhance enforcement and removal proceedings. This includes increasing detention of individuals and adults who bring their children with them and handling immigration court hearings "as quickly and efficiently as possible while also protecting those who are seeking asylum." The fact sheet says this will allow U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to return unlawful migrants from Central America to their home countries more quickly.

  • The fact sheet notes that in FY 2013, ICE removed 47,769 undocumented individuals who came to the United States from Guatemala, 37,049 from Honduras, and 21,602 from El Salvador. This represents approximately 29% of all ICE removals.

The White House fact sheet is available here.
A June 30, 2014, press release is available here.
A transcript of President Obama's June 30 remarks is available here.
President Obama's letter to Speaker Boehner is available here.
A transcript of White House Press Secretary Earnest's June 20 remarks is available here.

US Immigrant Visa Processing

A helpful diagram has been prepared by the Department of State to help people understand the general steps of the immigrant visa process, whether the immigrant visa petition is based on US employment or a US citizen relative. However, immigrant visa petitions being filed with the USCIS at the Embassy in London should continue to follow the separate instructions provided on the Embassy’s website.

Tips for New Immigrants

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued a help sheet for new immigrants as to how to find their A number and DOS case number (‘LND number’ if processing took place in London). These tips are particularly useful when paying the $165 immigrant visa fee online with the USCIS’ Electronic Immigration System (ELIS).

State Dept. Announces End to Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Program, Seeks Extension

The Department of State has announced that it expects to finish issuing all 3,000 visas for fiscal year 2014 under a special program for Afghans by July 2014. The agency's authority to issue special immigrant visas (SIVs) to Afghan nationals under the Afghan Allies Protection Act, as amended, is limited to 3,000 visas for Afghan principal applicants in fiscal year 2014.

The Department said, "We welcome action by Congress to extend this program. We are making arrangements to quickly resume issuances of SIVs to Afghan principal applicants if more visas are allocated." In an op-ed published in the Los Angeles Times on June 3, 2014, Secretary of State John Kerry pleaded for more visas "to help Afghans whose work for the U.S. Government put them in danger of retaliation." He said, "Keeping our word requires passing legislation this summer to authorize additional visas for the remainder of this fiscal year and for the next fiscal year. We don't want to lose the hard-won momentum or put lives at risk."

More than 9,000 Afghans who have worked for the United States in Afghanistan (and their family members) have benefited from the SIV program. Of these, more than 70 percent served as translators, with the vast majority serving U.S. military forces in Afghanistan. Over 6,000 Afghans, mainly interpreters and their family members, have received SIVs since October 1, 2013. This includes just over 2,300 principal applicants and 3,700 of their family members.

The announcement is available here.
A related fact sheet is available here.
A FAQ is available here.
Secretary Kerry's op-ed is available here.

SEVP Announces New Exchange Visitor Program I-901 Mobile Fee Processing Website

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has announced a new automated I-901 Mobile Fee website. The I-901 Mobile Fee site provides automated fee payment for F-1, F-3, M-1, M-3, and J-1 nonimmigrants. It also allows users to check the status of their I-901 (fee remittance form) payments. The site includes access to recent I-901 news and updates and information on frequently asked questions. The site also includes information about Western Union payment automation. The system allows applicants to post Western Union payments and print their I-901 payment confirmations. For more information on the I-901 Mobile Fee site and Western Union payment automation click here.

Government Agency Links

Follow these links to access current processing times of the USCIS Service Centers and the Department of Labor, or the Department of State's latest Visa Bulletin with the most recent cut-off dates for visa numbers:

Hodkinson Law Group News

We did not send a June 2014 Newsletter because Kehrela was out of the office on the Coast to Coast Walk. She reports that it was by far the biggest mental and physical challenge she has ever undertaken, but the walk gave her time for reflection and she has returned to the office with renewed energy. While she was out walking, the rest of the HLG team participated in the run the Race for Life in support of Cancer Research in Battersea Park. Charis then ran the Hastings Race for Life 10k the following weekend.

Well done Tasha for achieving a PB in the Edinburgh Half Marathon.

Kehrela Hodkinson attended the American Immigration Lawyers Association Annual Conference in Boston, MA and spoke on the topic of non-immigrant waivers of inadmissibility.

She continues to be active in the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). She has once again been acclaimed in 'Who's Who Legal, Corporate Immigration 2014 as one of the top 15 corporate immigrations lawyers worldwide.

Allison Ouvry has practiced law since 1996, concentrating in the field of business immigration since 2000. She is a member of the State Bar of Texas and the New York Bar, and a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the American Women Lawyers in London group, and the London Library.

Tasha Wiesman is a member of the Illinois State Bar and assists in the preparation and filing of non-immigrant and immigrant visa petitions and applications of waivers of grounds of inadmissibility.
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Kehrela Hodkinson has again been acclaimed as one of the top 15 most highly regarded immigration lawyers worldwide in 'Who’s Who Legal, Corporate Immigration 2014'.

Allison Ouvry has practiced law since 1996, concentrating in the field of business immigration since 2000.

Tasha Wiesman assists in the preparation and filing of non-immigrant and immigrant visa petitions and applications for waivers of inadmissibility.
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