U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Final Fiscal Year 2019 Agency Statistics

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency committed to administering the nation’s immigration system and adjudicating the applications of those seeking lawful status in the United States, released statistics on the most popular and widely-used benefits and programs administered by the agency for final fiscal year 2019. The agency released statistics relating to benefits and programs such as naturalizations, green cards, employment authorizations and protected populations, among other categories.  Among the highlights for fiscal year 2019, USCIS naturalized 834,000 new citizens, which is an 11-year high. USCIS also granted lawful permanent residence to nearly 577,000 individuals. The number of applications pending for green cards and naturalizations was reduced by 14 percent and 12 percent respectively. The agency received nearly 2.2 million employment authorization applications. Further, USCIS approved more than 500,000 petitions for non-immigrant workers, including specialty occupation, temporary agricultural and non-agricultural, and other workers. USCIS also processed more than 40 million cases through E-Verify.  USCIS granted immigration relief to more than 25,000 individuals, including victims of trafficking, crime, and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) recipients, which is an eight percent increase from fiscal year 2018.  Along with its release, USCIS announced that it has been working to achieve many […]
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New Executive Order Suspends Entry of Certain Persons Connected with Certain Industries in Iran

The President has issued an executive order imposing sanctions against certain persons connected with the construction, mining, manufacturing, or textiles industries in Iran. This executive order includes the suspension of the immigrant or nonimmigrant entry of such persons into the United States. The entry of Iranian immigrants and nonimmigrants in these fields is hereby suspended, except when the Secretary of State determines that the person’s entry would not be contrary to the interests of the United States. This includes when the Secretary determines, based on a recommendation of the Attorney General, that the person’s entry would further United States law enforcement objectives.  In furtherance of the government’s foreign policy objectives towards Iran, the United States is seeking to deny Iranian government revenues, including revenues derived from the export of products from key sectors of Iran’s economy that may be used to fund and support its nuclear program, missile development, terrorism and terrorist proxy networks, and malign regional influence. In his executive order, the President stated that this new policy is based on a finding that Iran continues to be “the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism” and Iran “has threatened United States military assets and civilians through the use of military […]
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CBP Begins Pilot Program to Collect DNA from Some Migrants

On January 6, 2020, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) initiated a pilot program to assess the operational impact of proposed regulatory changes that would require the collection of DNA samples from certain individuals in CBP custody.  This “limited, small-scale pilot program” will last 90-days in only two locations: the U.S. Border Patrol in the Detroit Sector and the Office of Field Operations at the Eagle Pass Port of Entry in Southwestern Texas.   In late October 2019, the Department of Justice (DOJ) sought to amend regulations to mandate DNA collection for almost anyone detained, even temporarily, while crossing at official entry points.  This proposed amendment would significantly expand CBP officials’ power to collect DNA samples, which was previously only permitted for migrants prosecuted in federal court for criminal offenses.  Additionally, this proposed amendment would remove a provision that authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to exempt certain aliens from whom the collection of DNA samples was previously not feasible due to operational exigencies or resource limitations.  Further, it restores the Attorney General’s absolute legal authority to authorize and direct all relevant federal agencies to collect DNA samples from individuals who are arrested, facing charges, or convicted, and from non-U.S. persons who are detained under […]
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Iranian Nationals Undergoing Increased Scrutiny at Ports of Entry

Iranian nationals are increasingly hesitant to travel after dozens of Iranian citizens were held by U.S. immigration agents at the Canadian border in Washington state this past weekend.  On Saturday, January 4, 2020, dozens of Iranians and Iranian-Americans were held for hours in secondary screening at the Peace Arch Border Crossing in Blaine, Washington.  It is estimated upwards of 60 travelers, many returning home to the United State from work trips or vacations, were held for additional questioning about their political views and allegiances.  Most of the detained travelers were released following the extra scrutiny, however some were denied entry into the United States.  Many of the detained travelers, who wish to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, said that after checking their documents, border officials would bring them inside the port to a room filled with other Iranians and Iranian-Americans.  Many also faced similar questions regarding their background, citizenship, military experience, travel history to Iran, and details about their parents and siblings, including dates of birth and employment.  Matt Leas, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection (CBP), disputed the accounts from advocacy groups that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a directive to detain those with Iranian heritage entering the […]
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Meet Nichole & Jennifer!

In preparation for the new year, our team is growing!  We are so excited to welcome new Chief Financial Officer, Nichole Herr, and new Administrative Assistant, Jennifer. To learn a bit more about who they are, we interviewed them on their careers, home, and things they love. Nichole What led you to finance?  I fell in love with finance at my first job out of college. My desk was located right outside the CFO’s office, so I got to listen to him work and learn from him.  This triggered my passion for finance, and I decided to go back to school to take a few accounting classes. Then we I moved back to Buffalo, I was an Office Manager for Altus Management, LLC, where I oversaw the establishment of the accounting and human resources departments. Plus, I reported to the CFOs of each hospital in our network.  This is where I really got my hands-on training.  What is something you love about where you live? I am originally from Cuba, New York which is about an hour and a half southeast of Buffalo in the Southern Tier, Allegany County. We are known for Cuba Cheese, not Cuban cigars—which seems to disappoint some people. It is […]
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Meet Lucrecia!

We are so excited to have new attorney Lucrecia Knapp join our team! Lucrecia brings years of immigration experience and is already fitting in with our team atmosphere. To learn a bit more about who she is, we interviewed Lucrecia on food, home, and what it’s like being an immigration attorney...
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New EB-5 Rule Nearly Doubles Minimum Investment

USCIS has recently published a final regulation changing the EB-5 Program that awards permanent resident status to certain investors who create at least ten new jobs for U.S. workers. This new EB-5 rule will be effective for I-526 filings arriving at USCIS on or after November 21, 2019. The new EB-5 investments must be at least $900,000...
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