In this piece, I shall share some updates regarding developments as to resumption of routine visa services at US consular posts, worldwide and a ruling from the District Court in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland as to DACA. Things are changing very fast in immigration law, like the speed of a Michael Holding bouncer for those of you that are cricket fans.
The Department of State announced on or about July 14, 2020, that routine visa services, which were suspended in March 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic are going to be restored in a phased manner. The Department of State advises that the resumption of routine visa services will occur on a post by post basis in coordination with the “Department’s Diplomacy Strong framework for safely returning our workforce to Department facilities.” However, the Department of State is unable to provide a specific date when each consular post will resume specific visa services or when each consular post will return to processing at pre-COVID-19 workload levels. It is very important that individuals needing non-immigrant as well as immigrant visas to the United States consult each Embassy or consular post’s website for information as to operating status and what visa services that consular post is currently offering and will offer in the near future.
Please note that if you are permitted to travel under the visa waiver program, then your ability to travel has not been affected in any way. Those eligible for the visa waiver program do not need a visa to travel into the United States and therefore, do not have to worry about a visa expiring. Those who are eligible to participate in the visa waive program, however, are still required to obey all laws and regulations pertaining to the visa waiver program. In certain circumstances, consular posts will be providing travelers with urgent needs, especially F-1 students, M-1 vocational students and certain J-1 students, as well as certain family members of US citizens consistent with Presidential Proclamation 10014, with visas. If you have an emergency consult the website of the consular post for instructions how to proceed.
Please note those whose MRV expired while routine services were suspended should not worry. The MRV (Machine Readable Visa) fee is valid and may be used to schedule a visa appointment in the country where it was purchased within one year of the date of payment.
Recently, the US Supreme Court, in the case of Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California, 140 S. CT 1891 (2020), ruled that the rescission of DACA “was arbitrary and capricious in violation of the APA”. I discussed the recent Supreme Court decision in more detail in a previous article. In line with the reasoning of the Supreme Court, the US District Court of the District of Maryland issued an Order on the 17th of July 2020, as follows:
- The Court ADJUDGES AND DECLARES that the DACA rescission and actions taken by Defendants to rescind the DACA policy are arbitrary and capricious in violation of 5 U.S.C. § 706(2) (A).
- The rescission of the DACA policy is VACATED, and the policy is restored to its pre-September 5, 2017 status.
- Defendants and their agents, servants, employees, attorneys, and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them, are ENJOINED from implementation or enforcing the DACA rescission and from taking any other action to rescind DACA that is not in compliance with applicable law;
- Plaintiff’s estoppel claim and request for an injunction as it pertains to DACA’s information-sharing policies are DENIED.
- Nonetheless, because this Order restores DACA policy to its pre-September 5, 2017 status, the information-sharing policies announced on September 5, 2017 are VOID.
- Under the doctrine of constitutional avoidance and given that the information-sharing policies announced on September 5, 2017 are void, this Court does not address Plaintiffs’ constitutional claims and those claims are DISMISSED.
- The Clerk SHALL CLOSE this case.
This ruling is important because a Federal Court is now strictly enforcing the Supreme Court’s ruling. Therefore, those who are eligible to renew their DACA status should immediately do so. Please note that the Trump Administration initially took exception to the US Supreme Court ruling. The President himself said after the ruling the Administration would take steps to terminate DACA. More recently, the President has been more measured, and on July 10th at a political event in Miami the President indicated he may sign an Executive Order allowing DACA eligible members to obtain more permanent status in the US. But that could be election talk or propaganda to curry favor in Miami with a large immigration population. My advice, if you are eligible for DACA benefits, make sure you file for them. If you do not file, you will not be eligible for any DACA benefits. It is important that you consult with competent counsel regarding DACA applications and questions or concerns you may have.
If you have any questions regarding any immigration matter, including those discussed in this article, or need representation in an immigration matter, please feel free to contact me by either calling me at (305) 648 3909 or via e-mail at [email protected]
About the Author
Oliver J. Langstadt is a Jamaican American attorney admitted to practice law in the state of Florida. He was raised in St. Mary Jamaica, near Highgate. He completed his high school education at the Priory School in Kingston, Jamaica. He attended the University of Miami School of Law and graduated with his law degree in 1985. He has been practicing law and immigration law for over twenty-five years. He is well-seasoned in all aspects of immigration law, including family petitions, immigrant visas, non-immigrant visas, business visas, investor visas, waivers from removal and unlawful presence, naturalization applications, and removal defense. He may be contacted at 305 648 3909 or via e-mail, at [email protected] He welcomes the chance to be of service regarding your US immigration cases and matters.