This month, our law firm, together with Co-Counsel Louis A Gordon, won a major victory in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The case impacts many immigrants who have suffered from bad or ineffective advice from prior Counsel. The Court in its published decision, Flores v Barr, overturned a Board of Immigration Appeals ruling which denied our client, the Petitioner, the opportunity to have his case reopened because of ineffective assistance of his prior immigration lawyer. Our client’s former counsel had failed to advise the Petitioner of several alternative forms of immigration relief and had also failed to provide the Immigration Court with material evidence regarding country conditions. The Ninth Circuit Court held that the BIA erred by applying the incorrect legal standard to determine whether ineffective assistance of counsel caused prejudice. The question which needs to be determined is whether counsel's deficient performance may have affected the outcome of the proceedings. The Court held that it was only necessary to show that there were plausible grounds for possible relief which the prior lawyer could have made. His failure do so was ineffective assistance of counsel which, in this case, supported reopening proceedings.
The Government is now focusing on increasing its efforts to enforce removal of persons with prior final orders. It is important for anyone who has a prior deportation or removal order to review their cases again with experienced immigration law counsel.
USCIS has announced the formal implementation of the new rule which requires H-1B petitioners to pre-register electronically in order to be eligible to file a petition for the immigration fiscal year which commences October 01, 2020. The earliest date for filing H-1B petitions in April 01, 2020, however the pre-registration period commences March 01, 2020.
Investors and EB5 industry professionals have been anxiously waiting for the publication of a final regulation regarding the EB5 Program. USCIS has now published the final regulation which modifies the proposed rule which was announced in February this year.
New Zealand citizens can now obtain E-1 and E-2 treaty trader and investor visas to work in the U.S. These categories, which allow up to 2 years’ renewable stay, are determined by trade treaties secured between the U.S. and the foreign country or by Congressional legislation.
Citizens of New Zealand who are already inside the U.S. may file Form I-129 to change status – a spouse or child of such an applicant should file Form I-539 to change status to match the E-category applicant.
The latest Visa Bulletin, published by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) earlier this month, confirms industry predictions of a waiting list for Indian-born EB-5 investors. Starting in July 2019, EB-5 visas will be available only to those Indian-born investors who filed their petitions before 05/01/2017. This cut-off date creates a waiting list of approximately two years, which is significantly shorter than the waiting list currently facing mainland Chinese-born investors, which currently stretches back to 10/01/2014.
Starting June 10, 2019, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will resume Premium Processing for all remaining H-1B petitions. This completes a trial arrangement whereby USCIS allowed limited Premium Processing starting May 20 for H-1B petitions with a Change of Status. The approach was introduced after recent years eliminated Premium Processing altogether, resulting in lengthy delays, with some H-1B petitions remaining under adjudication even after the usual annual start date of October 1.