2021 AILA Conference Day 2: Key Immigration Updates From Each Agency
2021 AILA Conference Key Immigration Updates:
In this video, Joseph talks about the key immigration updates from the following immigration agencies.
- Department of Labor
- Biometrics or Application Support Center (ACS)
- Employment Verification for I-9s
- Department of State
Learn more by watching the full video.
Full Video Transcript
Hi, everyone. This is Joseph. Day 2 session 2 of AILA’s 2021 conference: Strategy Session with AILA National Officers. Now, the roster of the people speaking today includes three AILA presidents, two vice presidents, Treasury, and secretary. This is amazing! This is not just any popular but at multiple top-tier immigration lawyer attorney, but it is the AILA presidents themselves speaking, and multiple of them. It’s like Avengers all coming together,
[Clip from Avengers movie]
As to which officer is which Avenger? Your guess is as good as mine. Well, anyways, they were so excited about this forum; they used the entire time they talked about all the agencies and all the updates. This session was called the Strategy Session with AILA Officers, but it’s more like a key update and what’s to come, and because they covered so much good material, let’s get to it.
[Tsang Intro Splash]
[1:00] The title of their presentation was Strategy Session with AILA Officers, but realistically, it was more like a key update on everything that happened this past year and this past few months and what they’re looking forward to. There are so many things that they talk about; they almost felt like they were rapping. I bet if somebody put music to it, it would be super good.
If somehow you’ve been MIA for the past year, for whatever reason your office was shut down, you were in a coma, and you don’t know what happened in the immigration space, this is the one session that you need to go download right now from AILA Agora or AILA University and find out because these officers, they talked about all the key changes in every agency. Big changes! Now, it was super fast, but at least, they show you what they tell you what exactly happened and you can find out more right? So it’s a great, great starting point.
For the purpose of this video, I’m just going to do one thing from each agency because there’s just too much.
[1:53] The first thing, USCIS. One of the biggest changes this past year was that they are waiting a lot of adjustment of status interviews. Prior to the Trump Administration, a lot of adjustment of status interviews were not needed; people just directly get their green cards. But now you have to wait for an actual interview and then because of COVID it got delayed and it was complicated. So anyways, a lot of the times now, adjustment interviews are waived. The exact method on which cases are waived hasn’t exactly been exactly said yet, but know that that is happening. But as they were talking about all the changes with USCIS, USCIS announced another huge change.
[2:29] Basically lockbox in the past 6 months, there were some major issues; in cashing the check and filing and giving the receipt notices to people who paid. See, this was the problem right? So for about six to eight months, people tried to file cases to the lockbox, but for whatever reason, the case couldn’t get processed, and then the check expired, and because it expired, well, now when the system is back up in place, they have to deny the case. Well, that’s unfortunate. Now the whole family is going to get deported because USCIS couldn’t process the case.USCIS just announced, if your case was denied because of the lockbox issue, well, you can refile it an there’s no penalty right? And so that’s a great news. People who have been experiencing this problem, you file, and you don’t get a receipt for 2 months, for 3 months, and suddenly your case gets returned; you are in panic mode. So finally they addressed that. As they were presenting, this news drops and everyone’s checking their phone. It was insane. It was amazing. But that’s how AILA conferences normally happen.
[3:30] Next is the Department of Labor. Now, this is the department that is in charge of wage levels for all the different industries, for all the different positions, and how does that relate to immigration? Well, whatever wage level that they set, that is what the immigration applicants that they have to get paid at least for. And so a lot of the conflict between whether or not immigrants are stealing American jobs, are they getting paid enough, are employers taking advantage of foreign workers getting them… paying them super low. All of these issues is decided, not just by immigration agency, but by the department of labor as well. So if you are an immigration attorney, you also have to have a mastery of labor law and work with the Department of Labor.
[4:12] Now, how does AILA play into it? Well, AILA just issued their memo and their recommendation to the Department of Labor on how to calculate which levels, what are the factors to look at, because frankly, it’s so hard to determine what is a wage level, right? For every company has their own pay scale, what they’re willing to pay for the accountant, for the lawyer, for the marketing, but now the Department of Labor has to set that standard across the board, across the country, right? Isn’t that insane? But that’s their responsibility, and that’s critical to our American economy and AILA, as an organization, provided that recommendation. Isn’t that amazing? That’s why I love AILA. That’s why I love America. That’s the government is trying to do their best. They have this impossible task that they have to do, and then AILA, or private organizations, they would spend their resources and have the best thinkers come together, write this memo and suggestion on how the government should process. And the government isn’t paying AILA to do any of this. This is out of our goodwill, and then now the government, the ruling agency, now they get all these different memos and suggestions on how they should act, and then they implement it. Isn’t that great?
[5:21] Next, Biometrics or Application Support Center (ASC). What do we do to get our clients in line to get that Biometrics? This has been the bain of our existence for the past year, and actually even before that, right? So a lot of people were there filing their cases, the first step, one of the first steps, is to get their Biometrics done. But some people, this is the most crucial thing. For example, a lot of clients file for a reentry permit. That means you need to leave the country because for an urgent reason, and you can’t come back. Well, in order to do that, you need to file the application, you need to wait two months or three months to get your Biometrics done, and then another two, three months before you get your travel permit so you can leave the country for that urgent reason for why do you requested this Biometrics or this reentry in the first place. Isn’t that insane?
“I have an urgent reason. I need to go to Singapore because my grandma has died.”
“Okay, you can do that after you get your permit.”
“How long does it take to get a reentry permit?”
That’s insane, right?
[6:21] So a lot of people what they do is they file the application when they’re in the US. They fly out of the country. And then when they get their Biometrics appointment, they fly back into the country, get their Biometrics, and then fly out. That has been how people have been doing it for years and decades. Well, the COVID made it so much worse, doesn’t it, right? So people fly out of the country, and then now they get their appointment notice for, you know, next Tuesday. Now they have to fly back in, but you know how much plane tickets cost these days, and if it’s even available, and if they even have to get quarantined, so that has been insane and terribly problematic. So this is what the AILA president recommended.
Do not reschedule the Biometrics appointment if at all possible, just fly back and get it done because trying to extend it, it’s a mess. People have extended month after month because you can only do it 30 days at a time, and it takes so much work, and if you don’t do it correctly, the case gets denied, and it’s as if you didn’t even file your application in the first place, and you have to redo the whole thing. It’s terrible. So they recommend just don’t do it.
[7:29] That doesn’t mean you can’t do it. We in our office, we’ve been doing it for our clients for month and months and months now. Some, we have to extend it to three or four times because of the new policies in place, but it’s absolutely a nightmare. The good news is that Application Support Centers are open now for longer for office hours, so they’re processing cases, but still, the backlog is insane..
[7:51] Next, Employment Verification. The I-9’s right? This is the bain of existence for anybody working in HR. All our corporate clients, the HR departments they’re calling us and saying “This is insane. How can they do this, right?”
Basically, new rules are coming out day by day without going through the proper protocols and regulations. And things are changing all over the place and some are contradictory in itself, so it’s extremely, extremely complicated. But the good news is because it’s so complicated and because it’s such a mess, as long as you document it well, and when there is a problem, chances are you will get a waiver or an explanation, and it will be okay. So a lot of the rules that are in place that were put in place, well, they probably don’t apply. So it’s going to be impossible for the HR to deal with it, but the most important thing is that you try. The HR department has been trying and documenting, and if you’re relying on an old rule, it’s okay. You rely on that old rule; you didn’t verify it, but later on, with that employee came back from work remote, then you’re verifying it in person. So a lot of that just makes sense. Just use your common sense. That’s the biggest takeaway from the changes with I-9.
[9:02] Next is the Department of State. Now, this was a huge, huge section of the presentation as you can expect. There’s over 500,000 pending cases for immigrant visas abroad. There’s no way things are going to get back to normal anytime soon. But what’s the prediction? What are they going to do? It’s just absolutely insane because the backlog isn’t just an immigration USCIS problem, it’s the Department of State, is the consulate, the embassies. They are struggling with it, and it’s not just an “immigration issue” because it’s health issue: Covid-19. How are things going to get back to normal? And so, even if the US gets back to normal, all the consulates abroad, NVC, they might not get back to normal any time soon. So what are we going to do? There were a lot of predictions about priority dates, India, China, EB-5 program. What are we do about students who are OPT status but working remotely abroad because that’s permitted for the first time in the US, but how are they going to get back in the country or documents we need? There are so many things covered. Please download this presentation from AILA Agora, and you will find out all the things that they talk about.
[10:03] CBP at the airport, Immigration officers at the airport, immigration officers at the land borders, the Surpreme Court, the asylum system, litigation against USCIS. These are words, but they’re not just words. These are all crazy topics that they dived into and rapped about and taught the key updates. So I can’t give all the gems that they talked about, but they’re so good. The key takeaway, well, the key takeaway number one is you need to go download this from AILA Agora right now because this is such a good session. You can see a preview of all the major things every agency has done and is going to do. But it is just a preview.
[10:40] The amazing thing about AILA conference is that in later events, we’re going to sit down with each one of these agencys and their senior officers, and we get to directly ask them questions about the changes and what they’re going to do. And we get to have full hour, just for with that agency. So good, so good, and of course, we are going to cover that here on this channel as well. And so just like what Ben Johnson did in the previous session when he interviewed and moderated the keynote speaker Alejandro Mayorkas, we get to do that with each agency: with the Department of State, with USCIS, with CBP. And that is going to be so key for us practitioners to find out what the future of immigration law is going to be like. It’s absolutely incredible. We are in the state of change, not in a state of flux because it’s a positive change that we’re making America better. I can’t wait, and that’s the positive energy that all of these amazing Avenger AILA presidents are leaving with all of us.
Change is coming. Be ready.