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Recently the Biden Administration released an important Memo entitled “Interim Guidance to OPLA Attorneys Regarding Civil Immigration Enforcement and Removal Policies and Priorities”  This memo encourages Government (ICE or OPLA) attorneys to prioritize cases for removal or deportation and provides numerous ways for the Government to show leniency to a person in deportation proceedings.

This new memo states that the “exercise of prosecutorial discretion, where appropriate, and advance the Department’s mission of administering and enforcing the immigration laws of the United States in a smart and sensible way that promotes public confidence.

What cases should ICE or OPLA attorneys prioritize?

( most immigrants do not fall into these categories)

A) Noncitizens who are terrorists or suspected terrorists or whose apprehension is necessary to protect the national security of the United States. 

 B) Noncitizens who entered the US unlawfully AFTER November 1, 2020.

 C) Noncitizens convicted of an “aggravated felony” as defined in the INA, noncitizens guilty of being in a criminal street gang or transnational criminal organization and those who pose a threat to public safety.

What is Prosecutorial Discretion? 

Prosecutorial Discretion (“PD”) is the authority of the Government to decide whether to enforce, how to enforce, or how not to enforce the law against an individual.  PD is possible at any stage of the process because it is in the mutual interest of both the noncitizen in avoiding removal and the government itself in conserving its financial resources for priority cases.  

What can PD range do?

PD can range from ICE or OPLA: 

  1. Agreeing not to detain a noncitizen, 
  2. Declining to initiate removal proceedings
  3. Agreeing to dismiss removal proceedings
  4. Deciding not to appeal a case
  5. Grant deferred action status or parole. 

 What factors for OPLA are in consideration in deciding whether to

exercise prosecutorial discretion?

 Positive factors: 

A) Length of residence in US

 B) Service in the US military

 C) Family or community ties in the US

 D) Circumstances of arrival in the US and the manner of one’s entry

E) Prior immigration history

 F) Current immigration status (generally warranting greater consideration for LPR);

G) Work history in the US

 H) Pursuit or completion or education in the US

 I) Status as a victim, witness, or plaintiff in civil or criminal proceedings

J) Whether the individual has potential immigration relief available

K) Contributions to the community

 L) Compelling humanitarian factors which include poor health, age, pregnancy, status as a child, status as caregiver to seriously ill relative in the US.  

Negative factors:

A) Criminal history – with consideration of extensiveness, seriousness, and recency of the criminal activity, as well as any indicia of rehabilitation, extenuating circumstances involving the

offense or conviction; the time and length of sentence imposed and served, if any; the age of the noncitizen at the time the crime was committed; the length of time since the offense or conviction occurred; and whether subsequent criminal activity shows a threat to Public Safety.

 B) Participation in persecution or other human rights Violations

 C) Extensiveness and seriousness of prior immigration

violations (e.g., non-compliance with conditions of release, prior

illegal entries, removals by ICE)

D) Fraud or material misrepresentation.

Cancellation of Notices to Appear (NTA)

 The memo grants the authority to Government attorneys to not file the document necessary to initiate removal proceedings, the Notice to Appear (NTA).  In cases where an NTA was issued but not filed with the Immigration Court, the Government attorney can work with ICE

Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) to cancel the NTA.

Administrative Closure or Continuance

The ability to use administrative closure as a form of PD for ICE is limited to only three

circuits in the US: Third, Fourth and Seventh Circuits.  Fortunately, dismissal of a case without prejudice has replaced administrative closure and the effect of a dismissal is practically the same as, or even better, than administrative closure.  For motions to continue, the 05/27/21 Trasvina Memo states that “OPLA attorneys are authorized to take the general position that ‘good cause’ exists in cases in which noncitizens who fall outside the presumed priorities seek to have their cases continued to await the outcome of that comprehensive review.”

Authority to Dismiss Proceedings

As to the dismissal of removal proceedings without prejudice, the memo states that “OPLA will cover, at a later date and in a comprehensive fashion, how to address the potential dismissal of proceedings consistent with its limited resources and DHS and ICE guidance.” 

Cases meriting dismissal in the absence of serious aggravating factors: 

A) Military service members or immediate relatives thereof

 B) Individuals likely to be granted temporary or permanent relief (I-485, CP/601A, TPS, SIJS); C)Compelling humanitarian factors (serious health condition, elderly, pregnant, victim of domestic violence, serious illness of immediate family member)

 D) Significant law enforcement or other governmental interest (confidential informant, witness in proceeding, U-Visa)

 E)Long-term lawful permanent residents.


This memo signifies a positive change in the way that the government is approaching immigrants in removal proceedings. If you are in removal proceedings and would like more information on how you can benefit from this new policy memo, please contact us at 775-453-4451. 

USCIS Increases Fees for Certain Applications

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is facing the reality of financial crisis. 

USCIS, through a spokesperson, relayed to the United States Government that it would need $1.2 billion in the form of a cash bailout to continue operations. In addition to furloughs, the agency announced that it would increase fees.

On August 3, 2020, a final rule was posted in the Federal Register that will increase filing fees for certain types of immigration benefit filings.

When will the changes take effect?

The new fees will become effect 60 days after publishing the rule which means the new fees take effect starting October 2, 2020.

Biggest Changes:

Form 601A, Provisional waiver for unlawful presence is increasing by 52% from $725 (form with biometrics included) to $1010.

Form N400, Application for naturalization is increasing by 83% from $715 (including biometrics) to $1220.

Changes to some of the most commonly filed forms:

FormCurrent Cost  New Cost Change (%)Percent(%)
I90 Green Card Renewal – Online filing$455$405-$50-11%
I90 Green Card Renewal – Paper filing$455$415-$40-9%
I129F Petition for Fiancé$535$510-$25-%5
I130 Petition for Relative – online $535$550$153%
I130 Petition for Relative – paper$535$560$255%
I192 Advance Permission to enter as nonimmigrant$930$1400$470377%
I485 Application to Register Permanent Residency$1140$1130$-10-1%
I589 Application for asylum$0$50$50N/A
I601 Waiver$930$1010$809%
I601A Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver$630$960$33052%
I751 Removal of Conditions on Residency$595$760$16528%
I765 Work Permit- DACA only$410$410$00
I765 Work Permit -NON DACA$410$550$14034%
N400 Naturalization Application – online$640$1160$52081%
N400 Naturalization Application – paper$640$1170$53083%
Biometrics (except DACA)$85$50$-35-65%
Biometrics DACA$85$85$00

Questions? Please text or call 775.453.4451

Or, you can book a call here.

Schedule Appointment

Executive Order Update

President trump signed an executive order Wednesday, April 22, 2020 which temporarily suspends immigration into the United States for 60 days.  The stated goal of the measure is to protect the American job market. Understandably, this has caused a lot of stress and concern during a time that has already been challenging due to the Coronavirus.


  1. People who are outside the US on April 23, 2020;
  2. People who do not have an immigrant visa that is valid on April 23, 2020; and
  3. People who do not have an official travel document other than a visa (such as a transportation letter or an advance parole document).


  1. Lawful permanent residents (green card holders);
  2. Physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals (and their spouses and children) if they are coming to the US to aid in the COVID-19 outbreak.
  3. Spouses and unmarried children (but not parents) of US citizens;
  4. Any member of the US Armed Forces and their spouse and children;
  5. EB-5 Investors;
  6. Certain Special Immigrants and certain and
  7. “Any alien whose entry would be in the national interest or whose entry would further important United States law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees, based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee;”


The executive order will remain in effect for a minimum of 60 days and may be extended. Within 30 days of April 22, 2020, the Department of Labor, Department of Homeland of Security and the State Department will be reviewing current visa programs and making additional recommendations.


  1. It does not affect those who are applying for immigration benefits in the U.S. including extensions of stay, changes of status and adjustment of status. Meaning, it does not impact those who have cases pending with USCIS in the U.S. right now.
  2. It does not apply to those seeking asylum.
  3. If you need information on your particular case, the best thing to do is talk to an immigration attorney.
Schedule Appointment

What's happening with DACA? As of September 5, 2017

1) If You Do Not Have DACA or a DACA Application Pending. You cannot apply. The program has been terminated and new applications are no longer being accepted by USCIS.

2)If you have DACA and a work permit that expires on or before March 5, 2018, you can apply for a 2-year renewal, but your application must be received on or before October 5, 2017.

3) If your DACA and work permit expire after March 5, 2018, you are not eligible for an extension and your DACA, work authorization, and protection from deportation will expire on the date shown on your DACA approval notice and work permit.

4) If you have a DACA application that was received at USCIS on or before September 5, 2017, your application will continue to be processed.

5) If you have DACA and have a currently valid advance parole document, you may still use the document to travel and return to the U.S. as long as you return BEFORE the document expires. However, even with a valid travel document, CBP can still refuse
to let you in. Before you travel, speak to a qualified immigration lawyer.

6) Even with valid DACA and a valid work permit, the government can terminate your DACA and work permit at
any time if it believes you are no longer eligible or for any other reason.

7) Talk to a qualified immigration attorney as soon as possible. Members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) report that up to 30% of people screened for DACA were eligible for something better and more permanent. Before making any decisions which could impact your future status, speak to a lawyer.

Tips for Immigrants Pending New Executive Orders

Tips for Immigrants Pending New Executive Orders

Currently, we are waiting to see how the recent executive order from January 25, 2017 will be enforced.  A lot of people, understandably,  want to know what steps they can take know to protect themselves in case of the worst-case scenario.  Here are steps you can take now if you are a Naturalized U.S. Citizen, Lawful Permanent Resident, Visa Holder, or an Undocumented Immigrant.  

  1. Naturalized U.S. citizens. In particular if you are traveling within 100 miles of any US Border (including the oceans), it is recommended that you carry with you your US passport, or passport card, or a photocopy of your naturalization certificate. Because of the unpredictability of the current situation,  keep a photocopy of these documents in a safe place at your home, so that if necessary, someone will have access to them.  You may very well need to prove your US Citizenship.
  2.  Permanent residents. Federal law requires that anyone who is NOT a US Citizen carry with them at all times evidence of their lawful status.  So, carry your green card with you at all times!  As noted for US citizens, you should also keep a photocopy of your green card in a safe place at home so that it can be accessed by someone in case you lose your card and you need it to identify yourself.  You should also renew your green card a full 6 months before expiration. If your green card has expired, renew it now.  Consider starting the process to naturalize immediately!  If traveling back from a lengthy trip abroad, do not sign any documents at the border if it is alleged that you have abandoned your residency.  Only an immigration judge can take away your status as a permanent resident.
  3. Lawfully present nonimmigrants ( DACA, U Visa, EADs, Visitors, Students, H1Bs, etc.). Carry with you at all times your Employment Authorization Document (work permit), I-94 card, passport with entry stamp, or other proof of lawful presence (see the law above). Carry the original with you and keep a photocopy in a safe place at home, especially if you are within the 100 mile border area.
  4. Undocumented immigrants in the US for more than two years. Keep with you at all times evidence that you have been present for at least two years. Why?  Because President Trump just ordered DHS to examine activating a never used provision in immigration law that allows for the immediate removal from the US of anyone who cannot prove they have been here for two years (absent a claim for asylum).  We do not know when ICE or CBP might activate the change, but we need to be prepared.  Evidence that you might want with you are utility bills, receipts, Facebook posts, mail or any other documentation with your name going back two years. Again, keep this information at home so that it is accessible to someone who can help you.  And, make sure you have a family plan in place to call for legal assistance if you fail to return home as usual.
  5. Undocumented immigrants in the US for less than two years.  The bad news is that you need a plan in place on what will happen to your belongings and your family if you do not return home from work, shopping, or school.  Make sure your relatives know they can look for your name on the ICE detainee website.  We assume that ICE and CBP will not release you on bond, and that if you have a fear or returning home, you will need to communicate that clearly so that you may apply for asylum.
  6. Undocumented Immigrants with 10 years in the United States and United States Citizen children. Absent criminal convictions, you may be eligible for relief and release on bond.  Begin now to prepare the paperwork you will need to secure a bond and to prove your case.  Set aside copies of birth certificates of children and proof that you have been here for at least ten years. Don’t be caught unprepared!
  7. Non-US Citizens (Permanent Residents, Visa Holders, and Undocumented Immigrants) who have a criminal conviction OR are arrested.  If you have a criminal conviction, or are even arrested for a crime, you may be detained by ICE. If you have relief from removal, you may be eligible for bond.  Prepare for this by saving money for bond now and have the paperwork organized to help your attorney act quickly.  If you are arrested and charged with a criminal offense, work with attorneys to fight and avoid a conviction that will have immigration consequences.
  8. Undocumented Immigrants with prior deportation orders.  If you have a prior deportation order and have returned to the United States, you are subject to prosecution by the federal government for the crime of reentry after deportation. There may be an increase in the number of people charged with this crime. Depending on why you were deported you can spend many years in federal prison for reentering the US.  Again, start preparing a plan now to handle this situation. If you have a deportation order and never left, NOW is the time to speak to an immigration attorney, obtain a copy of your file from the government, and seek advice about your options to reopen your case.  Understand your immigration history!
  9. For those Arrested by ICE, especially for the undocumented–Have a plan in place. Decide now who picks up the kids from school/daycare, who will be authorized to do so with the school, who to contact first, have a power of attorney prepared for this. Put copies of documents in a secure place. Memorize the phone number of a relative or of an attorney.
  10. Remember: Don’t panic. Get informed, know your rights, know your options, and make a plan!

El Perdon: The unlawful presence provisional I601A waiver


What is the 601A Unlawful Presence Waiver?

It is a waiver to overcome “unlawful presence” which accrues when someone is not authorized to be in the United States. Depending on how long someone has been in the United States accruing unlawful presence (without documents), they risk having to spend three years or ten years in their home country.

How is this waiver different than the 601 Waiver?

The 601A, introduced in March 2013, applies ONLY to unlawful presence and it may be filed in the United States.  If the applicant as other grounds of inadmissibility, they will have to apply for the 601 waiver which covers additional ground of inadmissibility. Previously, everyone with unlawful presence had to return to their home country before submitting the waiver. Once abroad, the wait was 6 months to 2 years. Currently, the 601A provisional waiver may be filed while the applicant is still in the United States.


Who qualifies to submit a 601A waiver?

There are 3 main qualifications:

  1. You have a “Qualifying Relative” who would suffer extreme hardship if you are not granted a waiver.
  2. You must show that you deserve the waiver as a matter of discretion.
  3. Your only ground of inadmissibility is the unlawful presence.


Who is a “Qualifying Relative”? Do my children count?

Only certain relatives are officially qualifying relatives under current law:

  • -United States Citizen spouse or parents
  • -Lawful Permanent Resident spouse or parents **Update: As of August 29, 2016, these relatives will also be qualifying relatives for the 601A wiaver
  • -Children, United States Citizens included, are not qualifying relatives

What is Extreme Hardship?

For your waiver application to be granted, you need to show that your qualifying relative would experience hardship that is extreme compared to the hardship that is normally encountered when a family is separated. It is not enough to simply show that your family will experience financial hardship. It is also not enough to just show that you or your qualifying relative will be very upset and heartbroken if you are forced to live apart. You also have to demonstrate why your family cannot move to your home country. You must submit evidence that will document the hardship that your qualifying relative will experience.

Do I have to leave the country?

While the 601A waiver is processing you may remain in the United States. If your waiver is approved, you must return to your country to complete the processing of your case. You can expect to be out of the country for approximately 2 to 4 weeks.

Benefits to working with an Attorney: While it is possible to submit the waiver packet on your own, these are the benefits of working with an attorney:

  • An objective look at the hardship factors in your case.
  • Experience in gathering, preparing and submitting relevant documentation.
  • Someone to answer your specific questions and guide you through the process.

Cristina is experienced in waiver cases.  To schedule a consultation to discuss your case, please call (775) 453-4451 or e-mail