By Felicia J. Persaud
News Americas, FORT LAUDERDALE, Fl, Fri. Aug. 25, 2023: As is customary, this week brings a wealth of immigration-related news, with five prominent headlines commanding attention. Here are my top 3 picks.
1: TPS FOR UKRAINIANS/SUDANESE
On Friday, August 18th, the Biden administration took significant strides to expand an immigration relief initiative targeted at individuals from Ukraine and Sudan who are residing in the United States. This expansion was motivated by the ongoing conflicts in both of these countries.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) made clear its intention to extend an additional opportunity to 166,700 Ukrainian individuals in the U.S. to apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). TPS serves as an immigration relief mechanism that allows individuals from countries grappling with crises to obtain work permits and protection against deportation.
Originally introduced in the spring of 2022 in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the TPS program for Ukrainians has been prolonged by the Biden administration. Around 26,000 Ukrainian individuals who have already applied for and received TPS will be granted the ability to maintain their enrollment in the program until April 2025. Additionally, the administration has modified the program’s eligibility criteria, shifting the cut-off date from April 11, 2022, to August 16, 2023. This alteration permits recently arrived Ukrainian individuals to also qualify for TPS protection.
In a parallel move, the Department of Homeland Security announced an 18-month extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Sudanese nationals. This extension, effective from October 20, 2023, through April 19, 2025, is attributed to the extraordinary and temporary conditions prevailing in Sudan, which render the safe return of individuals implausible. Furthermore, DHS disclosed the redesignation of TPS for Sudan under the same premise. This allows Sudanese nationals (and individuals without a nationality who last habitually resided in Sudan) who were residing in the United States as of August 16, 2023, to become eligible for TPS.
Accompanying this announcement is a Special Student Relief notice aimed at F-1 nonimmigrant students hailing from Sudan. This provision enables these students to request employment authorization, work increased hours during the school term, and reduce their course load while maintaining F-1 status throughout the TPS designation period.
The extension facilitates the retention of TPS for approximately 1,200 current beneficiaries through April 19, 2025, provided they continue to meet TPS eligibility criteria. An estimated 2,750 additional individuals may qualify for TPS under the Sudan redesignation. This group encompasses Sudanese nationals (and individuals without a nationality who last habitually resided in Sudan) currently in the United States under nonimmigrant status or without lawful immigration status.
Beneficiaries looking to extend their temporary protected status must ensure timely re-registration during the 60-day re-registration window, spanning from August 21, 2023, to October 20, 2023. This process guarantees the continuity of TPS and employment authorization without any interruptions.
Individuals with a pending Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status, or a related Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, do not need to file either application again. If USCIS approves a pending Form I-821 or Form I-765 filed under the previous designation of TPS for Ukraine or Sudan, USCIS will grant the individual TPS through April 19, 2025, and issue an EAD valid through the same date.
Initial, first-time applicants for TPS under the redesignation of Sudan and Ukraine must submit Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status, during the initial registration period that runs from August 21, 2023, through April 19, 2025. Applicants may file Form I-821 online. When filing a TPS application, applicants can also request an EAD by submitting a completed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with their Form I-821, or separately at a later date. Applicants may also submit Form I-765 online.
2: Immigrants Entering At Southern Border Spikes Again
Once again, there has been a surge in the number of migrants entering the United States unlawfully through the southern border. Government statistics unveiled on August 18th reveal that US Border Patrol agents registered 132,652 instances of apprehensions for migrants who crossed into the U.S. without authorization between designated entry points during July. This marked a substantial 33 percent increase in illegal crossings. This escalation followed a dip to a two-year low in June, when around 100,000 such apprehensions were recorded.
The most notable surge in unauthorized border crossings transpired within the Border Patrol’s Tucson sector, an expansive and remote area encompassing a significant portion of Arizona’s border with Mexico and segments of the Sonoran Desert. In this region, where temperatures have consistently reached 110 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the summer, nearly 40,000 apprehensions were documented in July. This figure stands as a sector record.
Additionally, U.S. immigration authorities reported an unprecedented high of 50,851 migrants processed at official ports of entry. This increase is primarily attributed to a system that enables asylum-seekers in Mexico to utilize a mobile app for requesting appointments to legally enter the United States.
3: Backlogs Continue
The US State Department has just unveiled the September Visa Bulletin, and notably, the F2A category is no longer categorized as current. This signifies a departure from the trend of recent years, indicating that the spouses and minor children of green card holders will now encounter extended waiting periods for the approval of their green card applications.
Concurrently, the latest data provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reveals prolonged processing times for U visas. These visas are designed for individuals who have been victims of crimes and have aided law enforcement, allowing them to remain in the United States.
The current situation highlights increasingly protracted processing periods. The backlog for U visa applications has now exceeded 300,000, leaving those caught in this backlog in a state of limbo without legal status or the authorization to work within the U.S. as they await resolution.
The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow.com – The Black Immigrant Daily News. She can be reached at fe*****@ca*****.com