USCIS Provides Relief to Immigrant Workers
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced Tuesday that immigrant workers will be able to use the receipt notice for work permit renewal applications in lieu of their expired work permits for up to 18 month, in an effort to keep the estimated 1.5 million immigrant workers in the backlog working.
The extension of work authorization was published as a Temporary Final Rule that will go into effect on May 4, 2022, is part of a broader effort by the government to reduce the staggering backlog of 1.5 million work permit applications that has stymied USCIS in recent years.
Work permits, which are typically valid for 2 years, are automatically extended for 180 days to allow immigrants to legally work while they wait for renewals. The Temporary Final Rule will temporarily increase the extension period for certain work permits by an additional 360 days.
USCIS Announces Updated Processing Times Tool
USCIS announced this week improvements to its online processing times tool to help applicants find more accurate information about their case timelines.
The updated tool allows applicants to check how long USCIS is taking to process different forms, and also allows applicants to more narrowly focus their results to find wait times for specific forms.
The changes to the processing times tool are part of a larger effort by USCIS and the government as a whole to increase transparency and speed of efficiency and processing times as the agency struggles under a historic backlog of over 9.5 million cases.
Advocates Push for Immigration Reform to Address Farm Labor Shortages
A growing movement of farmers and farming advocates are calling for immigration reform to address a critical shortage of laborers on American farms.
U.S. farmers have historically relied on foreign workers to take on the labor-intensive work of planting, tending to, and harvesting crops. Of the 2.4 million employed farm workers in the United States, three-quarters are immigrants. But restrictive immigration policies have contributed to the dearth of farm laborers in recent years. According to some estimates, nearly half of all foreign farm workers are undocumented.
The H-2A visa program allows U.S. farmers to hire foreign workers on a temporary basis for no more than 10 months. But this leaves many farmers, particularly dairy and cattle farmers, without year-round labor. Nearly half of all farmers report feeling dissatisfied with the program.
A recent bill, known as the Workforce Modernization Act, proposes changes to the program, including granting legal status to undocumented laborers, establishing a path to citizenship, and extending the program beyond seasonal or temporary work to allow workers to stay in the country for longer.
The bill passed with bipartisan support in the House, but is currently stalled in the Senate. With just six months to go until the midterm elections, advocates view this as a critical moment to push through substantive immigration reform.
USCIS Receives Over 4,000 Applications to Sponsor Ukrainians in 48 Hours
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received over 4,000 applications in less than 48 hours after launching their “Uniting for Ukraine” program. The program allows U.S. citizens and non-profit organizations to sponsor Ukrainian refugees for temporary status in the country.
Ukrainians admitted to the program will be able to enter the United States for up to two years, as well as apply for employment authorization. Once the program launched on April 25, any Ukrainians arriving at a land border of the U.S. must have a valid visa or other permission to enter the U.S., or will be denied entry and directed to apply through the Uniting for Ukraine program.
White House Names New Press Secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, Daughter of Haitian Immigrants
President Joe Biden announced this week that Karine Jean-Pierre is his choice for new White House Press Secretary, the first Black and out LGBTQ+ person to hold the position, and the daughter of Haitian immigrants.
Jean-Pierre will replace current Press Secretary Jen Psaki. Born in Martinique to Haitian parents and raised in New York, Jean-Pierre’s father worked as a taxi driver and her mother worked as a home health aide.
“This is a historic moment, and it’s not lost on me,” Jean-Pierre said at Thursday’s press briefing. “I understand how important it is for so many people out there, so many different communities, that I stand on their shoulders and I have been throughout my career.”
Jean-Pierre will rise from deputy press secretary to chief press secretary on May 13, following Psaki’s last day.