The Health Insurance Proclamation is gone, and more news for Immigrants

Immigrant News and the Health Insurance Proclamation

Health insurance proclamation

Health insurance proclamation revoked. EOIR will start hearing cases again in July for non-detained individuals. Green card holders are being kept out of the US and may lose their green cards. A win for one of our clients and more — in immigration news. Keep reading to find out how you and your immigration journey might be affected by everything that is going on in immigration in the US today.

What is the Health Insurance Proclamation?

A while back, I talked about that you needed health insurance as an immigrant. It was very expensive. There was a 2019 proclamation issued that required immigrants to prove they would get qualifying health insurance within 30 days of coming to America or have the resources to cover medical costs. Former President Donald Trump’s White House had said the proclamation was aimed at “protecting health care benefits for American citizens.” 

Biden has now reversed that proclamation. For those who will be screaming that “We don’t want people coming to the US who are only going to take take take,” keep in mind that this in no way removes the requirements that people are able to afford to take care of themselves here or that their sponsor will if they get government help.

President Biden said: “My administration is committed to expanding access to quality, affordable healthcare. We can achieve that objective, however, without barring the entry of noncitizens who seek to immigrate lawfully to this country but who lack significant financial means or have not purchased health insurance coverage from a restrictive list of qualifying plans.”

The Devos Rule

There is another Trump proclamation that Biden recently ended that I think is important to mention.

This one doesn’t impact as many people, but it still was concerning (as are the over 400 policy changes Trump made to immigration that need to be reversed)

A Trump-era policy – put in place by Besty DeVos – kept undocumented college students from receiving federal relief grants meant to help pay for expenses like food, housing, and childcare during the coronavirus pandemic. The DeVos rule said that colleges could provide federal Covid relief funding only to students who qualify for federal financial aid. That definition excluded undocumented and international students studying in the U.S.

Three federal judges in different parts of the country struck down DeVos’ restrictions on the funding, but these court rulings applied only to colleges in Massachusetts, Washington state, and community colleges in California.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona finalized this new regulation that now allows colleges to distribute tens of billions in federal pandemic relief grants to all students, regardless of their immigration status or whether they qualify for federal student aid.

Secretary Cardona said: “The pandemic didn’t discriminate which students got Covid, so the final rule allows for all students to access the funding. The goal is to make sure that all students have an opportunity to have access to the funds to help them get back on track.”

Presidential Memorandum for Access to Legal Representation

I was recently interviewed by Straight Arrow news, where I discussed the heart-breaking news stories of children as young as two going to immigration court by themselves. Not speaking the language. Not understanding what was going on. Not having an attorney to help them. 

On May 18, 2021, the President signed a Presidential Memorandum to expand access to legal representation and the courts.

The proclamation says: The federal government has a critical role to play in expanding access to the nation’s legal system and supporting the work of civil legal aid providers and public defenders.  Today, President Biden’s executive action will reinvigorate the federal government’s role in advancing access to justice and help ensure that the administration’s policies and recovery efforts can reach as many individuals as possible.

This is supposed to include access to attorneys for those in immigration court. Keep in mind this is not saying there will be attorneys for everyone in immigration court but that there will be studies of how this can happen as well as increased funds for public defenders and other justice agencies around the country. 

I, for one, hope that it is used to help immigrants, especially children. 

Other Immigration News

Now let’s talk about more immigration news.

H1B Visa Regulations

H1B holders got great news from USCIS on May 18, 2021. It vacated the final rule regarding H1B specialty wages. DHS tried to put this new rule into effect back in October 2020, but a California court said they couldn’t. Now DHS agrees. 

The government has formally removed the regulation that would have redefined H1B specialty occupations, restricted the off-site replacement of H1B employees, and increased employer compliance requirements.

This most recent rule removes the regulatory text that the DHS published in the vacated October 2020 IFR and restores the regulatory text to appear as before the October 2020 IFR was issued.

Military Troops at the Border

In mixed news, the Department of Homeland Security wants military members to stay at the U.S.-Mexico border past the Sept. 30 date they were expected to return home.

About 4,000 National Guard troops are currently at the southern border as part of a mission that began in late 2018 and was meant to end by the start of October.  

But on May 12, DHS requested that the Defense Department “extend DoD support to Customs and Border Protection into the fiscal year 2022. The Department is currently considering that request,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell said in a statement.

Past Presidents (not just Trump) have sent troops to the border. This is nothing new. What was unusual was that President Trump declared a state of emergency to get funding for his wall and sent troops there. Biden has ended that emergency, so the troops should return home. It will be interesting to see how this plays out and impacts the processing of immigrants at the border.

Immigrant Detention Centers

County jails are being shut down as immigrant detention centers, and their practices are being reviewed due to allegations of abuse and neglect

In a memo to ICE directing the changes, Mayorkas said his “foundational principle” is that “we will not tolerate the mistreatment of individuals in civil immigration detention or substandard conditions of detention.”

“We have an obligation to make lasting improvements to our civil immigration detention system,” Mayorkas said in a statement. “This marks an important first step to realizing that goal. DHS detention facilities and the treatment of individuals in those facilities will be held to our health and safety standards. Where we discover they fall short, we will continue to take action as we are doing today.”

The facilities being closed and reviewed are in Georgia and Massachusetts, but it is expected that this review will expand to other states as time goes on.

In New Jersey, Essex Country jail has decided to terminate its agreement with ICE. All immigrants will be moved by the end of August from this location. This jail is the largest immigrant detention center in the state.  

Although I agree in principle with the closure, the practical effect is that ICE will move detainees to other parts of the country where their families will not have access to see them, and they are less likely to have access to attorneys. 

The move that we are seeing nationwide is attacking the symptom, immigrant detention rather than the cause, the lack of viable immigration reform of the courts, and a path for legal status for undocumented immigrants in the US.

Resumption of Calendar Hearings

EOIR is re-starting hearings for non-detained individuals. 

On July 6, 2021, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) plans to resume non-detained individual (merits) and master calendar hearings in limited numbers at the following immigration courts and consistent with applicable health and safety protocols: 

  • Dallas 
  • El Paso 
  • Ft. Snelling 
  • Harlingen 
  • Houston 
  • Houston – Greenspoint Park Drive 
  • Houston – S. Gessner Road 
  • Kansas City 
  • Memphis 
  • New York – Broadway 
  • New York – Federal Plaza 
  • New York – Varick 
  • Portland 
  • San Antonio
  • San Juan 

For cases scheduled from July 6 through July 30, parties (or their representatives who have entered an appearance with the court in a case) who have not received notice of a reset hearing by June 22 should plan to attend their hearing as scheduled. All parties, including those with cases scheduled after July 30, should continue to rely on official notices from the immigration court as the best source for information regarding their hearings.

Please note that the option to file by email at the mentioned courts will end on Sept. 4, 2021. Emails sent to those courts after that date will not be reviewed, and emailed filings will not be accepted without specific permission and instruction from the immigration court. Contact information for immigration courts nationwide is available on EOIR’s website.

Re-entry for Green Card Holders

Green Card holders being kept out of the US.

If you have watched my videos on my Youtube channel at all, I have told you do not stay outside the US for longer than a year if you are a green card holder. 

Why? Because if you do, USCIS thinks you don’t want to keep your green card or be a permanent resident. 

Then the pandemic happened, and people couldn’t travel.

So now hundreds of thousands of green card holders have been outside the US for over a year. If they didn’t apply for a re-entry permit before leaving and can’t apply for a returning resident visa because the consulate/embassy isn’t open, they may lose their green card. 

What should you do if you are one of these green card holders outside the US? I recommend you still try to travel back to the US ASAP and have LOTS of evidence why you could NOT re-enter the US sooner. Be sure it shows that you tried, but there were circumstances beyond your control, such as canceled flights. 

Some airlines aren’t letting green card holders fly, saying they violated their status. If that happens to you, you need to contact a supervisor of the airline and the CBP liaison and get a written letter from CPB to allow you to board the flight. 

There’s actually a related issue to this for US Citizens who are overseas. 

How many times have I given you an update on embassy and consulate openings? Well, unfortunately, if they aren’t open for immigrants except for emergencies, they aren’t open for US citizens either. 

That means that US citizens who have a passport that is expiring and/or is expired aren’t able to get an appointment either. 

This might seem like a little issue, but it’s impacting over 100,000 people. There are 9 million US citizens living abroad. 

As of April 2021, 75% of embassies and consulates are still closed. 

  • In Jerusalem, there are over 15,000 passport applications backlogged.
  • In Mexico, which has the largest number of American expats in the world, they are NOT scheduling ANY appointments at the US embassy in Mexico City. 

This also impacts people who have a child and want to register them as US citizens.

If you are trying to renew a passport within the US, send it in, and know it will take about 10-12 weeks. I recently had to renew mine, and even with expedited processing, it took me over 5 weeks.  I came close to missing my flight. 

What can you do If you are a US citizen outside the US and your passport is about to expire? Travel to the US before it expires. 

Every US embassy has an online system. Check it daily. They might have an appointment open, but you must check it every day. 

There are broker services in foreign countries that may be able to help you get an appointment. They may be able to help though there is no guarantee, of course.

A Successful Immigration Experience

To conclude, I want to talk about a win for one of our clients. 

She entered the United States as a child under her father’s I-130 approval petition.  In other words, someone applied for her father, and she was included as his dependent.  

The petition took many years for approval and for a visa to become available.  Unfortunately, during those years, the petitioner (the person who applied for her father) had died.  Her father failed to notify USCIS and the Department of State of the death of the petitioner.  The petition should have ended with the death of the petitioner.  But because that fact wasn’t disclosed, her father and the rest of her family were allowed to enter the US.  

Her father and family should never have received their Permanent Resident Cards. But it wasn’t her fault.  She was a minor.  Now years later, she filed for U.S. citizenship, and this fact came out.  She didn’t know, but the government considered putting her in removal proceedings.  

I am happy to share with you that we were able to help her get her US Citizenship, and now we hope to help the rest of her family.

If you need help getting legal status or U.S. citizenship, call us to schedule a consultation with our New Jersey immigration attorney. If we can’t help you, we won’t take your money.

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