ICYMI (In Case You Missed It): Sharing Important Policy Updates

A lot has happened in the past week! We’ve compiled a short list of important updates to help you keep track. 

1. Expansion of Filing Flexibility: On December 18, USCIS announced that it would continue its policy of flexible deadlines for requests, notices or decisions issued between March 1, 2020, and Jan. 31, 2021, inclusive.  For more information, visit https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/uscis-response-to-covid-19 

2. Important Update on Blank Space Policy Litigation: Good news in Vangala v. USCIS, the lawsuit that the National Immigration Litigation Alliance, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and Van Der Hout LLP filed last month, challenging USCIS’ blank space/rejection policy. USCIS has agreed to pause implementation of the rejection policy starting December 24, 2020; the parties will enter into negotiations to resolve the claims. NILA, NWIRP, and VDH will be reaching out as they begin discussing proposals as to how to identify applications that were previously returned under the rejection policies, as we seek to ensure that those affected have a mechanism to restore the original filing dates. If you received a rejection notice dated after December 24, 2020, you can contact counsel for plaintiffs at bspolicy@nwirp.org  ASISTA is proud to support our partners in this important litigation.

3. Policy Manual Changes:  Last month, USCIS announced several changes to the Policy Manual, including changes to assessments of discretion in adjustment of status cases, and determinations of lawful admission for naturalization. Along with partner organizations, ASISTA submitted comments in opposition to these policy changes which you can review here:

4. EOIR Comment Opportunities-deadlines December 28th: EOIR announced two proposed rules that would threaten the safety of survivors – including immigrant survivors – of domestic and sexual violence, human trafficking, and other gender-based abuses by drastically limiting their ability to seek continuances in Immigration Court, and to reopen prior removal orders. The Alliance for Immigrant Survivors (AIS) developed a template on these proposed rules and compiled additional resources, available here. Please voice your opposition to these harmful rules today! 

5. Issuance of Final Regulations on Asylum, Admin Closure and more: DHS and DOJ announced they have finalized the exceedingly harmful asylum rule which will be effective next month. This new rule decimates asylum options for survivors of gender based violence.  Read AIS alert here.  Several lawsuits have recently been brought in response to this harmful rule, including those brought by Lamda Legal, Immigration Equality and Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP  and Human Rights First . In addition, four organizations-Pangea Legal Services, Dolores Street Community Services, Inc., Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), and Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition – filed a complaint in the Northern District of California challenging this sweeping new rule.  They are represented by the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program, and Sidley Austin LLP.  

In addition, DOJ finalized their harmful rule on administrative closure as well as the EOIR fee rule. ASISTA remains deeply opposed to these rules and will keep you informed of advocacy efforts as they develop. Read more here

From all of us at ASISTA to all of you, we wish you a happy and healthy start to 2021, and look forward to continuing our work together in the new year!

Our mailing address is:
PO Box 12, Suffield, CT, 06078

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