New DHS Public Charge Rule

On August 14, 2019, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a final rule governing the public charge grounds of inadmissibility, found at section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Unless litigation halts implementation of the rule, it will go into effect after 60 days, on October 15, 2019. Here is a summary provided by the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association (AILA).

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USCIS Partial Retreat: Some International Field Offices, including Beijing and Guangzhou, Will Remain Open

Aug. 9 Update: USCIS announced in a news release today that they have cancelled plans to close operations at 7 international field offices: Beijing, Guangzhou, Nairobi, New Delhi, Mexico City, San Salvador, and Guatemala City. The news release calls these operations “cost-effective and high value”: they will continue to “adjudicate complex immigration petitions that require in-person interviews, to enhance integrity through fraud detection and national security activities, and to liaise with U.S. and foreign government entities to improve migration management capacity.” The news release gives no reason for the partial retreat in plans to axe all international offices.

The agency is moving ahead with plans to close the remaining 13 international field offices, beginning with Seoul and Monterrey at the end of Sept. 2019, and completing in Aug. 2020.

July 3 Update: USCIS closed its Ciudad Juarez field office on June 30. The Manila field office will close on July 5.

Apr. 23 Update: BuzzFeed is reporting that “In September, the Monterrey, Mexico, office is projected to close, as well as the station in Seoul, South Korea. By the end of January 2020, the majority of the offices, including those in Mexico City, London, Athens, and Guatemala City, are slated to cease operations. All offices, including the main district offices for the separate regions, are scheduled to close by March 10, 2020.”

Mar. 12 Original Article: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced plans to close its international field offices, according stories by NPR and Reuters, among others.

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Findream LLC Operator Indicted for OPT-Related Scam

The below July 26, 2019, press release is from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Huang Weiyun has been indicted on allegations that, among other things, she sold letters falsely verifying that F-1 students were eligible for optional practical training (OPT) based on employment with her company, Findream LLC.

CHICAGO — A Chinese businesswoman was indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday on fraud charges for allegedly providing false verifications of employment for Chinese nationals seeking to stay in the United States on student and work visas.

This indictment was announced by the following agency heads: U.S. Attorney John R. Lausch Jr., Northern District of Illinois; Special Agent in Charge James M. Gibbons, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey S. Sallet, FBI Chicago. 

Weiyun Huang, also known as “Kelly Huang,” 30, of Beijing, China, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud and five counts of visa fraud, according to an indictment returned July 25 in U.S. District Court in Chicago. 

Huang has been in federal custody since March after her arrest in the Northern District of California.  Her arraignment in federal court in Chicago has not yet been scheduled.

An F-1 visa permits a foreign national to study in the United States at a university or other academic institution.  An F-1 visa holder could extend the visa by participating in a program that required the student to obtain temporary employment in their area of study. 

An H-1B visa permits U.S.-based employers to temporarily employ foreign nationals in specialty occupations.  Foreign nationals with an H-1B visa are permitted to stay in the U.S. for three years, with the possibility of extending their stay to six years.

According to the indictment, Huang founded two companies — Findream LLC and Sinocontech LLC — for the purpose of employing foreign nationals in the United States. 

Huang advertised Findream as a “startup company in technology services and consulting,” with clients in China and the U.S. 

Huang used a China-based website, “Chinese Looking for Job,” and a China-based WeChat platform, “Job Hunters of North America,” to advertise Findream and Sinocontech to F-1 visa holders in the U.S. seeking employment and H-1B visas.

In reality, the companies did not deliver any technology or consulting services, nor did they employ any of the individuals who responded to the ads, the indictment states.  In exchange for a fee, Huang and the companies provided written proof of employment to their customers, knowing that the companies did not actually employ them, the charges allege. 

Huang, Findream and Sinocontech also provided false offer letters and verification of employment letters as purported evidence of employment, knowing the forms were bogus, the indictment states.

The fraud scheme allowed at least 2,685 customers to list Findream or Sinocontech as their employer to stay in the U.S. on the visas, according to the indictment.  Huang and her two companies received at least $2 million from customers for whom they agreed to falsely certify employment, the indictment states.

Findream and Sinocontech, which were incorporated in California and Delaware, respectively, are also charged in the indictment. 

Findream is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud and four counts of visa fraud; Sinocontech is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud and one count of visa fraud.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt.  The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Each count of visa fraud is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, while the conspiracy count carries a maximum sentence of five years.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Shoba Pillay, Northern District of Illinois, prosecuted this case.

Green Card Holders Staying Abroad Over 6 Months Risk Abandonment

What do you need to do to preserve your status as a lawful permanent resident (LPR)? If you are abroad for 6 months or more per year, you risk “abandoning” your green card. This is especially true after multiple prolonged absences or after a prior warning by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the airport. Continue reading “Green Card Holders Staying Abroad Over 6 Months Risk Abandonment”

Job Opening: Bilingual Paralegal (Shenyang)

Our firm is growing!

The paralegal will work under lawyer supervision to manage all steps of U.S. immigration cases before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the State Department, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. This includes nonimmigrant visas (e.g., B, H, L, O), permanent residence (e.g., through family, investment, or employment), and naturalization. Specialized training provided. Continue reading “Job Opening: Bilingual Paralegal (Shenyang)”

U.S.-China Dual Nationals

Looking for U.S.-China dual nationals who have recently flown China > Bangkok on a PRC passport and then transferred to a Bangkok > U.S. flight on a U.S. passport. Contact me if willing to discuss briefly, confidentially.

U.S. State Department Appeals to Ninth Circuit a Ruling That Same-Sex Couple’s Child Acquired Citizenship Upon Birth Abroad

Andrew and Elad Dvash-Banks have twin sons, born four minutes apart. The U.S. State Department has maintained that one is a U.S. citizen and one is not. The same-sex couple has been fighting the U.S. government in federal court for citizenship rights for their young child.

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Students and Exchange Visitors Face Harsh New “Unlawful Presence” Rule from Trump Administration

May 3, 2019 Update: The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina today issued a nationwide preliminary injunction that temporarily prevents the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from enforcing the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) August 8, 2018 policy memo that sought to change how days of unlawful presence are counted following a violation of F, M, or J nonimmigrant status. The preliminary injunction temporarily halts enforcement of the 2018 policy while the underlying case, Guilford College v. McAleenan, is resolved.

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USCIS Processing of I-751s in Disarray

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ processing of Forms I-751, Petitions to Remove Conditional Resident Status is in a state of disarray.

Sandra Feist writes for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) that USCIS has been adding new procedural delays and hurdles to I-751s, like brick after brick in an “invisible wall” making life difficult for spouses of U.S. citizens.

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