The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) announced today that both the Philadelphia and York Immigration Courts will be closed tomorrow due to the snow storm. Other closed immigration courts on account of the storm include Arlington, Baltimore, Elizabeth, Fishkill, Hartford, Broadway (NY), Federal Plaza (NY), Varick, Newark, and Ulster.
The Third Circuit released two immigration decisions today, as far as I can tell: Paul v. Att'y Gen., No-20-1979, (3d Cir. 2021) (unpublished) and Patel v. Att'y Gen., No. 20-2018 (3d Cir. 2021) (unpublished). Focusing on Paul, a panel of Greenaway, Krause, and Bibas denied, per curiam, Paul's petition for review. The opinion reasons that Immigration Judge John B. Carle did not err in finding that Paul's proposed particular social group, "Haitian homeless," did not meet the "particularity requirement to be a cognizable social group because it was vast, diffuse, and amorphous." Id. at 4. Further, the panel found that the IJ Carle did not err in finding that Paul's experiences in Haiti did not amount to torture where he had once been involved in a violent robbery." Id. at 5.
On January 28, 2021, USCIS extended the flexibility is has allowed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic with regards to certain agency requests such as requests for evidence, notices of intent to deny/rescind, motions to reopen, and the like. The flexibility applies to eligible requests issued between March 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021.
It seems it is back to normal at the USCIS Philadelphia Field Office even though COVID persists. A few months ago, the Field Office was efficiently staggering appointments and there were no waiting times between passing through security and one's interview. Now, waiting for an hour after getting through security has returned.
Before heading to your naturalization (or citizenship) interview at the USCIS Philadelphia Field Office, make sure to thoroughly read over the interview notice that was mailed to you. Normally, the notice will ask you to bring the following documents with you to your interview: the notice itself, identification such as a driver's license, your Form I-551 (green card), your passports (expired and unexpired), IRS tax transcripts for the past five years and any original documents that you provided copies of when you submitted your naturalization application (Form N-400).
If you have ever been arrested, then you must bring complete arrest report(s), certified court disposition(s), and probation report(s) (if applicable). If your record has been sealed or expunged, you must still provide this information. If a record is no longer available, you must provide original documentation from the corresponding agency to that effect.
If you are a male between the ages of 18 and 31, you must bring proof that you registered with the Selective Service System between the ages of 18 and 26.
If for some reason you are not able of taking the full oath of allegiance to the United States, you should be able to document how your beliefs stop you from fully taking the oath.
If you have minor children whom do not live with you, you must bring evidence that you are financially supporting them.
There are other requirements if you are seeking to naturalize based on being in marital union with a U.S. citizen for the past three years.
It is possible to be exempted to varying degrees from the testing requirements if you meet certain qualifications or have certain medical/psychological disabilities.
Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, you must wear a mask while at USCIS and USCIS recommends that you bring your own pen.
The Board issued a precedential decision today in Matter of Viera-Garcia and Ordonez-Viera, 28 I&N Dec. 223 (BIA 2021). The summary of the case is as follows: Where a notice to appear fails to specify the time or place of a respondent’s initial removal hearing, the subsequent service of a notice of hearing specifying this information perfects the notice to appear and ends the accrual of physical presence for purposes of voluntary departure at the conclusion of removal proceedings pursuant to section 240B(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1229c(b) (2018). It is noteworthy that this decision does not apply in apply in the Third or the Tenth Circuits.
"We recognize that the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and Tenth Circuit have not adopted the two-step notice process we outlined in Mendoza-Hernandez and Capula-Cortes. See Banuelos v. Barr, 953 F.3d 1176, 1178–79 (10th Cir. 2020); Guadalupe v. Att’y Gen. U.S., 951 F.3d 161, 165 (3d Cir. 2020). In those circuits only, a notice to appear must comply with all the statutory requirements of section 239(a) of the Act before its service will end the period of physical presence under section 240B(b)(1)(A) of the Act." Id. at 226 fn 2.
EOIR has this list for pro bono legal service providers in the Philadelphia area. The CLINIC BIA Pro Bono Project can help you with appeals to the Board of Immigration Appeals. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit also has a pro bono program.
CRS produces generally useful legal sidebars on a range of topics including immigration. Here's one from last year on "Immigration Laws Regulating the Admission and Exclusion of Aliens at the Border." Of note, President Biden seeks to replace the legal term of art "alien" with the term "noncitizen" as part of his proposed "U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021."
President Biden, on January 20, 2021, proposed the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021. This proposed Act would create a pathway to American citizenship for approximately 11 million migrants living in the country without permanent status. For DACA holders and farmworkers, an expedited avenue to citizenship would be created. The proposed Act's future remains uncertain as it currently contains highly aspirational goals without significant countermeasures such as deterrence and enhanced security.