Category Archives: Immigration Law

USCIS Releases New Form I-9 Dated July 17, 2017

USCIS_Sig_Rib_VertU.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a revised version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, on July 17, 2017. Instructions for how to download Form I-9 are available on the Form I-9 page. Employers can use this revised version or continue using Form I-9 with a revision date of 11/14/16 N through Sept. 17, 2017. On Sept. 18, employers must use the revised form with a revision date of 07/17/17 N. Employers must continue following existing storage and retention rules for any previously completed Form I-9.

Revisions to the Form I-9 instructions:

  • USCIS changed the name of the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices to its new name, Immigrant and Employee Rights Section.
  • USCIS removed “the end of” from the phrase “the first day of employment.”

Revisions related to the List of Acceptable Documents on Form I-9:

  • USCIS added the Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240) to List C. Employers completing Form I-9 on a computer will be able to select Form FS-240 from the drop-down menus available in List C of Sections 2 and 3. E-Verify users will also be able to select Form FS-240 when creating a case for an employee who has presented this document for Form I-9.
  • USCIS combined all the certifications of report of birth issued by the Department of State (Form FS-545, Form DS-1350, and Form FS-240) into selection C #2 in List C.
  • USCIS renumbered all List C documents except the Social Security card. For example, the employment authorization document issued by the Department of Homeland Security on List C changed from List C #8 to List C #7.

Desire more specific assistance regarding immigration matters, your business formation, agreements, intellectual property, trademarks, copyright, zoning, real estate law, cyber security, insurance, etc., contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices, P.C.

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First Step to Starting Your Business

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Prince Law Offices, P.C. attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin will be presenting at “First Step to Starting Your Business” in cooperation with the Kutztown University of Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center.  
First Step to Starting Your Business (Lancaster, PA)
Date: Nov 4, 2016 10:30am – 12:30pm
Registration Deadline: 11/4/2016 8:00 AM (EDT)
Point of Contact: Kutztown SBDC (877) 472-7232
Center: Kutztown SBDC
Fee: None
Location: 454 New Holland Ave Suite 300 Lancaster, PA 17602 , Lancaster PA 17602
 
This workshop covers a number of critical issues relevant to starting and operating a small business. Professional presenters include attorneys, insurance agents, accountants, financial specialists and zoning and codes staff. The workshop is designed for both entrepreneurs thinking about opening their first business and existing business owners looking for a “checkup”.
Desire more specific assistance regarding your business formation, agreements, intellectual property, trademarks, zoning, real estate law, cyber security, insurance, etc., contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices, P.C.

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United States v. Texas

Here at the Prince Law Blog, we have been committed to providing continued coverage of what is quickly proving to be among the most definitive cases of the SCOTUS’s current calendar year – United States v. Texas.

The last we blogged, the United States had promptly appealed the split decision of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which itself had upheld a U.S. district court injunction against the President’s executive action known as DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents and Lawful Permanent Residents).

SCOTUS granted certiorari, and oral arguments were heard yesterday…and the world waits with baited breath.

One thing is certain, the current post-Scalia dynamic of the Court will have an exceptionally large bearing on the result.  According to creditable accounts of yesterday’s arguments, there were many pointed exchanges between counsel and Justices all seeming to portend a stark split among the justices (the 4 liberal-moderates on one side; the 3 conservatives on the other).  Therefore, most of the pundits are especially fascinated with the line of questioning from the potential swing voter(s), Roberts and Kennedy.  Also, it should be noted that a 4-4 split decision would NOT result in a precedent, meaning the decision of the 5th Circuit would remain in place.

To briefly recap, the questions before the Court are as follows:

  • Do the (26 plaintiff) States have standing to challenge the Administration’s exercise of deferred action/prosecutorial discretion? More specifically, does the state-borne cost associated with providing drivers’ licenses to beneficiaries of deferred action qualify as an injury or harm under normative jurisprudential standards?

 

  • Does the DAPA program go beyond the powers conferred to the Executive by Congress? In other words, is DAPA merely an extension of the President’s right to enforce immigration law or is it indicative of the President purporting to create new law (therefore invading the Congressional province)? Relatedly, has the President violated the Take Care clause of the Constitution by abdicating his duty to “faithfully” carry out immigration law.

 

  • Must DAPA be considered void for not technically following the Notice and Comment requirements of the APA?

 

As this blogger sees it, the most unfortunate aspect of this case, as I mentioned previously, is that the outcome might yet be influenced (if not hijacked outright) by sheer bloody-minded politics.  Instead of a reasoned, purely legal and/or textual assessment of a) the powers of the Executive branch in the context of setting immigration policy; b) whether an administration’s immigration policy can even be challenged in court; c) the lengthy history of the Executive branch’s use of prosecutorial discretion and deferred action programs and other non-extraneous factors, the furor here seems more to be about conservative outrage that the current Administration has made a decision that they do not agree with in principle.

It is a pity that, when it’s all said and done, no points might be given to the Administration for taking initiative in tackling, as best it knows how, arguably the biggest socioeconomic and humanitarian issue in the United States today.  Is it realistic or even decent governance to expect the more than 4 million persons present without legal status can be expected to continue to live in the shadows perpetually?  Do we really imagine that we can simply deport all these people without enormous cost, both financial and social?   In this bloggers humble opinion, this case is about politics making an issue out of pragmatism, and attempting to coopt the law in that effort.  Where Congress has failed to act, the President apparently has.  Now leadership is branded as lawlessness.  Go figure.

The folks at Scotus Blog, typically thorough fashion, have done a wonderful job putting together a United States v. Texas “symposium” – a series of discussions having a diversity of learned viewpoints on the case.

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Join Us, 04/08/2016, for Live Immigration Law Video Seminar!!

On behalf of Prince Law Offices, P.C., I am pleased to announce that the firm’s attorneys will be utilizing new technology to host informative live video sessions devoted to the various areas of practice we cover: Firearms Law, Workers’ Compensation, Immigration, Civil Rights, Social Security, Corporate Law, Energy Law, Criminal Law, Wills Estates, Family Law, and Civil Litigation.

Please join us for the pilot launch of these sessions, next Friday, April 8th at 6PM, where I will be leading a 1/2 an hour discussion on Immigration Law issues related to Family Immigration benefits, including application requirements, filing fees, time-frames, and new developments in the law.

The program we shall use is called  JITSI,  a new open-source platform which will permit our participants’ full interaction with the seminar including video and voice access by which to share comments and questions.  There is no cost to attend.  Further, there are no limits on the number of possible participants so please, by all means, tell your friends, colleagues, family members, etc., about this exciting new program.

Please note in advance that the purpose of these seminars is to provide general information concerning the previously mentioned areas of law, and not to respond to or offer advice concerning individual legal issues.

At 5:45PM on April 8th, I will post the link for interested parties to join me in the Immigration Law seminar.

Stay tuned for the link and I hope to see you on the 8th.

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Filed under ATF, Business Law, Communications Law, Computer Law, Constitutional Law, Consumer Advocacy, Criminal Law, Energy Law, Equine Law, Family Law, Firearms Law, Immigration Law, Landlord/Tenant, Marijuana Law, News & Events, Real Estate, Social Security, Trademark and Copyright, Uncategorized, Wills and Estates, Workers' Compensation

The Other Crisis

The Situation

Previously on this blog we have brought you coverage of Europe’s deepening refugee crisis.  An unprecedented event, that Crisis will surely have lasting impact beyond Western and Southern Europe, where waves of humanity escaping the Syrian War and other destabilizing events of the Middle East and Northern Africa continue to seek entry.  Indeed, despite our geographical separation from that event, the people of the United States have nevertheless been keenly aware and interested in what has credibly been described as the worst displacement of people since World War II.  For good or bad, the European crisis has further been a hot-button topic this campaign year with fears abounding about the United States accepting a role in placing numbers of refugees from the affected regions.

Crucially though, there is an equally serious, be it relatively lower-level, humanitarian crisis which has been underway for the better part of the last decade. Unlike the Syrian refugee crisis, this other crisis hits much closer to home and has affected all our lives in far more immediate ways. What I refer to is the sharp influx of migrants, especially women and/or unaccompanied children from Central America, seeking asylum in the United States. More specifically, the United States has seen a five-fold increase in the number of asylum seekers arriving from a handful of especially troubled Latin American countries. These countries consist of what is known as the “Northern Triangle” region of Central America: El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

According to the Council for Foreign Relations, nearly 10% of the residents of the Northern Triangle countries have left for the United States. In 2013 alone, some 2.7 million people born in either El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras were living in the United States. A number up from the estimated 1.5 million in 2000. Far and away, these migrants have cited continuous and systemic violence in their countries as the primary reason for seeking entry into the United States by unlawful means. And apparently so compelling are these abuses that some 82% of women arriving from this region pass the Credible Fear assessment utilized by USCIS/DHS to determine qualification for asylum

The identifiable causes of the rampant violence in each country are diverse, but common themes include gang activity, drugs, vestiges of civil war, and cultures of political corruption. Arrivals from the Northern Triangle invariably relate harrowing tales of torture, extortion, rape, domestic abuse and other maladies of societies gone horribly wrong. Honduras has long been considered the murder capital of the world with a reported murder rate of 91.6 murders per 100,000 people. In 2015, the reported homicide rate in El Salvador more than doubled making it, currently, the most violent country in the world not at a state of war.

 

Why do they come?

A part of my previous blog was dedicated to pointedly rebutting the notion that refugees leave their places of turmoil due to anything other than a last resort. What we discover when looking at the growing Latin American refugee crisis is much the same – becoming a refugee is virtually never perceived by such person as an option. That is similar to the statistical evidence available on the Syrian refugees, data overwhelming point to several confounding facts: i) refuges risk the trip to a foreign country forewarned of the dangers inherent in such a journey; ii) make the trip forewarned of a possibility of immediate deportation and/or detention and iii) with the foreknowledge that they may never see family and loved ones again. In the case of Latin American refugees from the Northern Triangle countries seeking safety in the United States, the foregoing awareness is especially well-founded. Beginning in January of this year, the DHS has stepped up immigration enforcement specifically against newly arrived (i.e. post-2014) members of Northern Triangle nationals present in the United States, including expediting the removal process. Thus the message from U.S. Immigration has been loud and clear – venture to the U.S. at your own risk.

What is strange though is that the evidence suggests that the intended recipients of the message have gotten it yet continue to seek out our borders – why?

Statistics from U.S. asylum interviews of women from the Northern Triangle countries reveal that more than ¾ stated they knew that overland journey to the U.S. would be dangerous or involve risk of life or bodily harm. A DHS study conducted on this refugee phenomenon in 2014 concluded “Salvadoran and Honduran children…come from extremely violent regions where they probably perceive the risk of traveling alone to the United States preferable to remaining at home.” A 2014 Latin American Population Opinion Project (LAPOP) of Hondurans stating an intention to risk undocumented immigration to the United State indicated that 86% believed that the journey would be more difficult than in previous years. 80% of that same reporting group indicated that they believed the chances of deportation upon arrival in the United States had increased in comparison to previous years.

What all this demonstrates is that there is an inverse relationship between policies of deterrence and undocumented migrant travel from the Northern Triangle countries to the U.S.. Put another way, the exodus continues irrespective of the clear and present dangers posed to refugees.

Solutions?

Anyone who proposes to have the singular answer to the question of how to humanely yet effectively stem the tide of a major refugee crisis should, in my opinion, be handed the Nobel Peace Prize, head some internationally renowned think tank, or both. What I’m saying is, I don’t purport to hold any definite answers. However, in light of what is increasingly becoming obvious of the United States’ failing and misguided strategy of aggressive deterrence, I think it may be time to turn our efforts towards supporting elements of stability and prosperity within the countries spawning the crisis. Refugees simply don’t come from places with working democratic systems of government, effective branches of law and justice, or from places with respectable standards of living. To put this point in context, according to this instructive CNBC article, the cost of building just 1 mile of fencing at the U.S. Southern border averages between 2.8 and 3.9 million dollars. If the United States funneled that same money into, say, nonprofit organizations working within many of the Northern Triangle countries, committed to improving the lives of women, children or towards supporting progressive political reform, wouldn’t that be tax payer dollars better spent?

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EB-5 Investor Program Shake-up?

Last week Tuesday and Wednesday, February 2nd and 3rd, Congress held hearings on proposed changes to the United States’ Visa-Investor program, EB-5.

The popular program was launched by Congress in 1990, as part of the omnibus Immigration Act of that year. Essentially, the program’s purpose is intended to stimulate and strengthen the economy by giving foreign businesspeople a pathway to permanent residency and eventual citizenship in exchange for a significant investment, in the form of a business venture. The program has grown in the ensuing decades but not without controversy, including numerous allegations of fraud and other impropriety – leading to several overhauls in that time, in the 1990s and 2000s. The last set of official changes made to the program were in 2009 where processing of applications were centralized in the California Service. It should be underlined that the program is not permanent; however, it has consistently been reauthorized.

Nevertheless, a number of important players in the making of U.S. Immigration policy, including the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and several members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, have refocused our collective attention on persistent problems with the program.

The Congressional hearings discussed changes intended by the “EB-5 Integrity Act of 2015”, which include scrutiny and modification of: Investment Amounts, Targeted Employment Area Definitions, Job Creation Requirements, Processing Changes, Documentation Requirements, Source of Fund Criteria, and Regional Center Oversight and Compliance. A possible counter-point though – in exchange for many of these prospective changes aimed at reigning-in ongoing problems with the program, the proposed Senate Bill would actually make the program permanent, eliminating the Congressional reauthorization.

The current iteration of the authorized EB-5 program has the following general requirements:

1) $500,000 for investments in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) – either rural or high employment.

2) $1,000,000 for non-TEA investments.

3) Creation and maintenance of at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers within 2 years.

As a practical matter, the vast majority (some 90%) of EB-5 investors utilize intermediaries designated as Regional Centers. To make a rough (and I hope not too crude) an analogy, these Regional Centers are like hedge fund managers or investment bankers, who work with the prospective investor to fine-tune and submit a proposed business plan or prospectus.

The proposed changes are widely considered to implicate significant and impactful changes to the program, including the number of interested and/or successful applicants. The application process is long, complex, and document-intensive. Persons considering the program are invariably advised to consult and utilize qualified attorneys.  This would especially be the case if any of the proposed changes are legislated.

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The Syrian Refugee Crisis – Actual Facts

In the wake of the truly terrible acts of terrorism wrought upon the communities of Paris and San Bernadino, we the people of a free, open, and democratic world, find ourselves facing certain dangerous paradigms –

First, is the realization that smaller and smaller cells of the demented, hell bent on visiting death and carnage on innocent persons continue operating more or less independent of larger terrorist networks and with greater frequency. Thus,they have become exponentially more lethal; their twisted machinations become more and more difficult to track or predict. This is a problem.

However, we are also left with another dangerous paradigm – the rise of racial and political reactionaries here in the U.S. who now propagate xenophobia, isolationism and other byproducts of fear. This is not new, per se. Such “blowback” is perhaps to be expected as a proximate result of shocking geopolitical events (enter the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII here or even the ostracism of German Americans during the First World War). On the campaign stump, a number of aspiring future leaders of the free world, best situated to redress the popular neuroses of mob mentality, have actually doubled-down on the hateful rhetoric. Beyond espousing support for the building of some Great Wall of Mexico, or the wholesale deportation of women and children who have come to the United States to escape persecution, a number of presidential nominees have officially poured fuel on fire, taking an even darker turn in recent weeks in response to the terrorist attacks.

Specifically, a number of governors, post-attacks, have vowed to reject the federal government’s resettlement of Syrian refugees in their states. Never mind the fact that the matter of refugees (and immigration law and policy in general) is defined by the federal government, governors and other members of Congress have championed a series of discriminatory measures (including proposed legislation) aiming to bar refugee resettlement solely on the basis of nationality and/or religious identification (does that sound un-American to anyone else?).

Fact-checking the putative “reasoning” behind much of this recent anti-refugee rancor reveals numerous flaws, inconsistencies and outright untruths. The point of this blog entry is a simple riposte, setting the record straight as it regards Syrian refugees. What simple research of the solid numbers show is that Syrian refugees cannot, credibly, be classified as a class of people who are generally dangerous so as to pose risk to the national security of the United States if permitted to resettle here. What this blog entry is NOT interested in supporting are other polar extremes – the notion that resettlement or any other form of immigration should take a front seat to our government’s obligation to secure its citizenry, the notion that the threat of global terrorism is somehow not real, or the notion that persons arriving at our shores should not first be scrutinized and vetted in accordance with the U.S. government’s national security prerogatives.

FACT 1: They Syrian Refugee crisis can credibly be described as the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War.

FACT 2: Syrian refugees have NOT been resettling in the United States by the droves. Rather, to date, the United States has resettled only approximately 2,000 Syrians. Of course, this number is immensely smaller than the numbers resettled (or to be resettled) by any major Western country (e.g. Germany: approximately 99,000; Italy: approximately 1000,000; France: has pledged to take 24,000; Britain has pledge to take 20,000).

FACT 3: The U.S. vetting process is far more rigorous than any other country which has taken or has pledged to take significant numbers of refugees. Before approving any refugee for resettlement, the U.S. conducts a collaborative, multi-agency review including involvement by, among others, the U.S. State Department, the F.B.I.’s Terrorist Screening Center, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Homeland Security. The vetting process is so intensive that each review takes somewhere in the order of 18 to 24 months to complete before approval. Only 50% of the vetted refugees are accepted for resettlement in the U.S.

FACT 4: Syrian refugees are not seeking a “free ride”. Much of the distortion spewed recently by less than responsible politicians has to do with portraying refugees as “free riders”, more interested in obtaining the material benefits of U.S. residency or citizenry than escaping warfare or persecution. However, there is substantial proof that Syrians are not particularly excited about leaving Syria and only seek to do so as a legitimate last resort to preserve their lives and that of their families. Nor is there much substance behind the allegation that the United States’ accepting refugees will result in an excessive strain on the U.S. taxpayer base. A study released by the Center for Immigration Studies indicates i) refugee or asylee use of welfare and other public benefits are generally no higher than among other immigrant classes and ii) refugees or asylees make up only about 13% of the total number of immigrants admitted into the U.S. Further, the same study shows that among immigrants, there is a direct correlation between extended use of welfare and low education, a truism that can of course be applied to the U.S. population at large.

These are just a few of the facts to be considered amidst the many misguided rumors now circulating about Syrian refugees. As stated, the writer in no way endorses downplaying either the importance of reasonably maintaining U.S. security or the threat of terrorism, global or domestic. It is hoped, however, that the reader will gain a fuller, perhaps more nuanced appreciation of the Syrian refugee crisis and also remember that among the many values which make the U.S. a great nation is an ornery refusal to succumb to the baser instincts of fear and intolerance.

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