Religious Workers (R-1s) Now Permitted to ‘Recapture’ Time Outside of U.S.
A foreign national can enter the United States in R-1 religious worker status to work as a minister or in a qualifying religious occupation or vocation, but can only do so for a period not to exceed five years. Unlike H-1B and L nonimmigrant visa holders, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had previously not permitted the subtraction of time in which the R-1 religious worker was traveling or residing outside the United States following his or her initial admission in R-1 status when calculating that five-year period. This is referred to as “recapturing” time, which was not available to Rs. In a new memo, USCIS has finally extended its recapture policy to R-1 nonimmigrants. Now, any days an R-1 nonimmigrant spends outside of the United States during the validity period of his or her petition will not be counted toward the maximum five-year period of stay. Recapture is designed to permit a qualifying nonimmigrant to spend the maximum permitted time allowed by his or her classification in the United States before having to spend a specific period outside of the United States in order to file a new petition for the same status.
DHS-ICE Prosecutorial Discretion Policy Extended to 7 Additional Regions
As previously reported, in late 2011, DHS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced a new policy encouraging the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in appropriate cases and began piloting its plans in the Baltimore and Denver immigration courts. In the two pilot districts, 16 percent of cases were administratively closed, and individuals who were deemed not to pose security or public safety risks were permitted to remain in the United States, albeit without a change in their legal status. A 300,000 case review, also announced in 2011, remains ongoing.
On March 30, 2012, DHS announced the next phase of its case-by-case review and has agreed to temporarily and partially suspend non-detained dockets in seven additional immigration courts: Detroit, New Orleans, Orlando, and Seattle (April 23 to May 4); New York (May 7 to May 18); San Francisco (June 4 to June 15); and Los Angeles (July 9 to July 20).
Over 46,000 Parents of U.S. Citizen Children Removed in First Half of 2011
Many people, including many U.S. citizens, are unaware that the immigration laws do not confer lawful status to parents of U.S. citizen children simply by virtue of their parent-child relationship. So, while any child born in the United States is automatically granted U.S. citizenship, their parents must obtain lawful status in the United States to remain here. In an effort to better understand the scale of the issue, Congress in 2010 required ICE to begin to track the number of parents of U.S. citizen children deported and to report those figures semiannually. ICE recently released its semiannual report for the period between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2011, and reports that it removed 46,486 aliens who claimed at least one U.S. citizen child.
News in Brief
The following additional items may be of interest to our readers:
H-1B Visa Count as of May 18: As of May 18, USCIS received about 42,000 H-1B petitions counted toward the annual 65,000 cap and approximately 16,000 petitions toward the 20,000 cap exemption for those with advanced degrees.
Global Entry Program Now at 24 Airports: Twenty-four airports now participate in the Global Entry program, a voluntary program that allows for the expedited clearance of pre-approved, low-risk travelers arriving in the United States. According to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), the inspection and admission process takes only one minute at Global Entry kiosks. Travelers who wish to participate must apply via the CBP Global Entry Web site, www.globalentry.gov or through the Global On-Line Enrollment System (GOES) Web site, https://goes-app.cbp.dhs.gov Applications must be completed and submitted electronically.
Dilip Patel of Shutts & Bowen LLP, a Florida Bar board-certified expert on immigration law, can be reached at (813) 227-8178 or e-mail email@example.com