CBA Record March-April 2021

Employment-Based Applications in the New Year , explained that there is a cap on foreign workers who are brought into the United States to work in “specialty” areas. This number is limited to 60,000 visas each year, with an additional 20,000 for those with master’s degrees or a higher level of education. One change as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic is that the United States Citizenship and Immigra- tion Services (USCIS) registration process can now be done electronically instead of by filing physical documents. That may be one positive result of the current environ- ment, but the pandemic’s negative impacts include a lack of ability to keep the public access files up to date, especially if they are paper copies. International travel also presents enor- mous challenges to H1-B work authoriza- tion. The panelists explained that there are four non-immigrant visas: L- special- ized knowledge; E- trade and commerce between the U.S. and foreign jurisdic- tions; O- aliens of extraordinary ability; TN- derives from NAFTA and applies to Canada and Mexico and relates to aliens coming to the US for a particular job. All of the applicants for these visas are nega- tively impacted by Covid-19, general travel restrictions and regional travel bans. Those

seeking these visas face serious backlogs due to all of these combined factors includ- ing the pandemic, the political climate, and the ensuing last minute, “midnight” regulations impacting these visa processes. Panelists were Robert Krug, Partner, Hughes Socol Piers Resnick &Dym, Ltd.; and Emily Summers, Associate, Kempster, Corcoran, Quiceno & Lenz-Calvo. Covid-19 Representation The panel on representing clients during Covid-19 reported what could be expected, that the pandemic has resulted in serious backlogs of cases and processes. Attorneys are advised to try to keep in contact with their clients as the they struggle with uncer- tainty and anxiety produced by the delays. Even though it is beyond the attorney’s power to expedite the processes, clients are reassured if they know the attorney is keep- ing informed of the situation, are thinking of their case, and will contact them with any development. As one example of the delayed processes, biometric appointments, which are required for every applicant, have been cancelled extensively and are only slowly reopening. Estimates are that there are 1 million backlogged appointments. The USCIS is also extending deadlines sometimes for more than 30 days. The

panel suggested, however, that these exten- sions cause a certain amount of anxiety if the usual notices are not received and there is uncertainty whether the attorney can rely on the extension or should just prepare according to the original timeline. The panel clarified that stimulus checks are not counted under the existing “public charge” rules, which were mentioned in the first panel, and present a chilling effect on the immigrant communities’ willing- ness to apply for the public assistance for which they are qualified. The public charge rule, especially as modified under the last administration, indicates that any receipt of public assistance will be weighed negatively in applications for residence or citizenship in the United States. In Chicago, panelists mentioned that Master Calendar hearings are restarting in March 2021 telephonically. In addition, sample motions for removal defenses may be found at the Catholic Legal Immigra- tion Clinic, including rescheduling orders. Panelists were Margaret O’Donoghue, Supervisory Attorney, Law Office of Robert Ahlgren & Associates, member of the Chicago Chapter of the AILA; and Rocio Becerril, Law Office of RSB, Chair of the Immigration Section at the DuPage County Bar Association.

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