News

Day 2 of Sessions Hearing Offers Conflicting Views

For a second day, the issue of racism was at the center of the confirmation hearing for attorney general designate Jeff Sessions, UPI reports. After questioning Sessions for more than 10 hours yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee today turned its attention to testimony from others – including three black lawmakers who all recommended against his confirmation. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Reps. John Lewis, D-Ga., and Cedric Richmond, D-La., questioned Sessions’ past views on race and whether he would aggressively pursue civil rights, equal rights and justice for all citizens. Representing a different perspective, Sessions’ former chief counsel, who also is black, told the committee, “I have not seen the slightest hint of racism because it does not exist.”

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Sessions’ Hearing Hits Hot Button Issues

Attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions went before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee today and mounted a full-scale response to what he has described as character attacks against him and false charges about his past. The hearing, which was interrupted from time to time by protestors, covered a range of “hot button” issues including civil rights, immigration, a border wall, same-sex marriage and abortion, with Sessions saying he will uphold the law even if he does not agree with it. Sessions also said he would recuse himself from any investigation of Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation given his past comments on those issues. The hearing continues tomorrow with unprecedented testimony by one sitting senator, Illinois’ Cory Booker, against another. Read Sessions’ opening statement.

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TBJ Covers Immigration, Child Sexual Abuse, Family Law, Humor

Companies’ hiring of employees using work visas is a tedious business, but Nashville lawyer Dan E. White details it in the January Tennessee Bar Journal. Since the printing of the issue, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) increased filing fees by an average of 21 percent. Read the article online, which now includes the specifics on the updated fees. Also in this issue, John Day writes about child sexual abuse victims, and Marlene Eskind Moses and Benjamin Russ explain the doctrine of “inconvenient forum.” Bill Haltom looks at the flip side of “absence of malice.” Read the January TBJ.

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California Dems Hire Holder to Fight Trump Policies

Democratic leaders in the California legislature have hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to advise them on a legal strategy as they prepare for a fight against President-elect Donald Trump and a number of his policies. The group will pay Holder $25,000 a month plus expenses for three months to develop strategies “regarding potential actions of the federal government that may be of concern to the state of California.” Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders have talked tough since Trump’s election, vowing to confront his campaign promises to repeal “Obamacare” and deport undocumented immigrants. WRCB-TV has the Associated Press story.

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Have You Heard About the TBA Mashup?

Interested in observing a legal hackathon or getting a hands-on demonstration of the new Fastcase 7 platform? Both will be part of the first TBA Mashup, a full-day of activities and free programming set for Feb. 17 at the Tennessee Bar Center in conjunction with the annual TBA Law Tech UnConference CLE program.

In addition to the hackathon and Fastcase 7 demo, the TBA Mashup will feature sessions on: 

  • Current State of Health Insurance for the Small Firms
  • Professional Liability Insurance - What to look for in YOUR Policy
  • A Demo of Fastcase TopForm, a powerful bankruptcy filing software
  • Retirement Planning Guidance from the ABA Retirement Funds
  • Pro Bono in Action: How to help with pro bono events and how to take part in online options

At the annual TBA Law Tech UnConference CLE program, you can take as many or as few hours as you need. Registration will be open all day. Payment will be determined at checkout based on the hours you need. Topics will include: 

  • Bill & Phil Tech Show
  • Ethical Considerations for Cyber Security in Law
  • Evolution of the Legal Marketplace
  • Making e-Discovery Affordable 
  • Drone Law
  • Encryption for Lawyers

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Turn Your Expertise into a Magazine Article

It’s no surprise that some of the best articles in the Tennessee Bar Journal have come from TBA section members. Your membership in this section shows that you have a keen interest in trends, developments and case law in this practice area. Sharing this knowledge with your colleagues is one of the best traits of the profession.
 
How can you become a Journal author? Think of and refine your topic. It should be of interest to Tennessee lawyers, which is a broad criteria. This could mean you might explain a new state law, explain a complicated area of law, or take a larger issue and connect it to what it means for Tennessee attorneys and the justice system. Find a global issue within your particular experience or knowledge and tell about it and how it affects Tennessee law. Then take a look at the writer’s guidelines, which will tell you about length, notes and other details. Once it’s in the proper format, send it in! It goes to the editor, Suzanne Craig Robertson, who will then get it to the seven members of the Editorial Board for review.
 
If you are published, you may apply for CLE credit for your work under Supreme Court Rule 21 Section 4.07(b). For details on claiming the credit, check with the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education or access an Affidavit of Sole Authorship or an Affidavit of Joint Authorship from the Commission's website.

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Art Exhibit to Benefit Immigrant Legal Services

The #HereToStay: Art of Resilience art show and fundraiser will take place Jan. 13-27 at L. Ross Gallery, 5040 Sanderlin Ave., Suite 104 in Memphis. The show kicks off with a reception on Jan. 13 from 6 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 per person and are available online or at the door the night of the event. According to organizers, the event will feature works by local artists that express their support for the immigrant community. A percentage of all proceeds from artwork sold will be used to support a pro bono coordinator who will recruit and manage volunteer lawyers working for the Community Legal Center’s Immigrant Justice Program, Mid-South Immigration Advocates and the Derechos Immigration Program sponsored by Latino Memphis. For more information contact Jerri Green with the Community Legal Center at 901-543-3395.

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Immigration Activists Call for Unified Resistance

Immigration reformers must coordinate their efforts to combat threatening policies from the incoming administration, Democratic federal lawmakers told attendees at the National Immigrant Integration Conference in Nashville. Among those making the case was Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez and Pramila Jayapal, the first Indian-American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Nashville’s Rep. Jim Cooper also made an appearance, during which he called Tennessee a “special state” because both of its senators voted in favor of comprehensive immigration reform in 2013. That measure, which would have offered a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, was never taken up for a vote on the floor of the House. Read more from the Tennessean.

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REMINDER: Immigration Enforcement and Removal Seminar Set for Chattanooga

Attorney Terrence L. Olsen and Supervisory Detention and Deportation Officer John Bobo will present a seminar on immigration enforcement and removal processes on Jan. 18, 11 a.m. – noon. Bobo will discuss proposed, current and new policies for the apprehension, detention and removal of undocumented immigrants. The event will be held in Chattanooga at the Olsen Law Firm, located in The James Building, 735 Broad Street, Suite 708. Email Olsen by Jan. 10 if you plan to attend.

Here is information on the two speakers: 

• Terrence L. Olsen is an attorney in Chattanooga who practices immigration and nationality law exclusively. He is currently chair of the Immigration Section of the Tennessee Bar Association.

• Officer John Bobo of ICE-ERO-New Orleans Field Office is the Supervisory Detention and Deportation Officer for Chattanooga and Knoxville.

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National Immigration Conference Coming to Nashville

The Ninth Annual National Immigrant Integration Conference (NIIC) will take place in Nashville next week on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. The conference will feature leading voices on immigration and civil rights as well as those affected personally by immigration policies. Among those sharing personal stories will be Eddie Huang, who will speak at 2 p.m. Sunday on “Breaking Bread: Food, Culture and Immigration.” Widely known as the chef and owner of a popular Taiwanese restaurant in New York City, Huang also has produced several projects under the moniker "Fresh Off the Boat," including a memoir, a travelogue and a sitcom. Register for the full conference or RSVP for the complimentary Huang presentation.

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9th Annual National Immigrant Integration Conference (NIIC) to be Held in Nashville

Nashville will host the 9th annual National Immigrant Integration Conference (NIIC) Dec. 11-13. Leading voices on immigration policy and civil rights will speak, and you will have an opportunity to hear numerous stories of immigrants, refugees, and their families.  Find out more or register now.

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Senators Planning Bill to Give ‘DREAMers’ Legal Status

Two U.S. senators are working to give young undocumented immigrants legal status, possibly before President-elect Donald Trump takes office, Roll Call reports. Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Illinois, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, reportedly are drafting legislation to protect the so-called “DREAMERs” – undocumented immigrants who came to the states as children and meet the requirements of federal law. The pair decided to act after President Barack Obama said he would not pardon the young people.

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TBA Activates Disaster Legal Assistance for Wildfires

In response to the wildfire disasters in Gatlinburg and Sevier County, the TBA is partnering with the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS), Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) and the Supreme Court's Access to Justice Commission to help those affected with their legal needs. Attorneys who want to help can access training resources and other materials on the TBA's Disaster Legal Assistance page. Legal clinics and outreach related to losses from the fires are anticipated and volunteers will be needed. For more information or to volunteer in the area, contact Kathryn Ellis at Legal Aid of East Tennessee. Those who are not in the area but still want to help can volunteer to answer online questions at TN Free Legal Answers or respond to calls on the HELP4TN helpline. The TBA's Young Lawyers Division Disaster Relief Committee has also been activated and will be assisting with volunteer recruitment and coordination efforts. To volunteer, complete the Disaster Legal Assistance Volunteer Form. If you know someone in need of legal assistance, please have them call the legal helpline at 844-HELP4TN, or visit help4tn.org.

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Immigration Compliance News About I-9 Form

New I-9 Form

On November 14, 2016, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) finally issued the new I-9 form, effective January 22, 2017. The current I-9 form continues to be in effect; however, during the interim period before January 22, 2017, an employer may use either the current 2013 version or the 2017 version. The new I-9 form has an expiration date of August 31, 2019.

The most significant change is to make the downloadable I-9 form into a “smart” form. What does a “smart” form mean? It is not an electronic I-9 form. The downloadable I-9 form, using an Adobe reader, has been enhanced with error checking which is designed to prevent the most common mistakes. An example is if you fail to fully complete section 1 of the I-9 form, you will receive an alert that you did not enter data into all of the required fields.

Employers filling out the smart I-9 version must still print the form, obtain signatures, monitor reverifications and updates.  Second, if you use the smart form and make a mistake, your company will be held to the same standard of review when faced with an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) inspection.

With the addition of the “smart” form, there are three types of I-9 forms: paper, “smart”, and electronic.

Some of the other changes are:

(1)  Replacing the “Other Names Used” field in Section 1 with “Other Last Names Used.” This will avoid employees writing their nicknames in this field;

(2)  Modifying Section 1 to request certain employees to enter either their I-94 number or foreign passport information, rather than both;

(3)  Requiring you designate whether the employee’s number is an Alien (A) number or USCIS number, if using the smart form (however the numbers are the same though the more recent green cards refer to the number as USCIS);

(4)  Requiring “N/A” be entered instead of blanks in certain fields;

(5)  Replacing the word “date” to “today’s date”, next to signature boxes (this may help some people from entering their birthdate or from backdating the signature);

(6)  Providing a box for employees to check if they did not use a preparer or translator;

(7)  Modifying the I-9 form by adding a supplemental third page if using multiple preparers and/or translators;

(8)  Adding an area in Section 2 to enter additional information for TPS extensions, OPT STEM extensions and H-1B portability to avoid having to note this information in the margins of the I-9 form; and

(9)  Increasing the pages of instructions from 6 to 15.

USCIS and Pre-Population

In E-Verify Connection, Number 33, released in November 2016, the USCIS re-visited the issue of the “pre-population” or “auto-population” of employee data into section 1 of an electronic I-9 and offered clear guidance.

What is “pre-population” or “auto-population” of employee data? It is when portions of the I-9 form have already been filled out by a computer program before the employee or employer has started to complete the I-9 form.

The E-Verify Connection raised the following question: can Section 1 be auto-populated in the case of an electronically prepared Form I-9? The USCIS answered “Form I-9, Section 1, cannot be auto-populated by an electronic system that collects information during the on-boarding process for a new hire.” However, it also stated the following fields can be auto-populated in Section 2: Employer’s Business or Organization Name, Employer’s Business or Organization Address (Street Number and Name), City or Town, State, and Zip Code.

USCIS’s Positions on Pre-Population

USCIS first addressed the issue in August 2012 and stated they were “not opposed to auto-filling Section 1 of Form I-9 by a company’s human resources system, provided the employee and employer review and complete the attestation. Additionally, if Section 1 of Form I-9 is being completed on behalf of the employee, then the Preparer-Translator section must be completed.”

However, six months later, USCIS said that employers should not electronically pre-populate section 1, even if the employee could review the information before signing. Then, later, the USCIS stated it was not taking a position on the issue. 

ICE’s Positions on Pre-Population

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) originally stated section 1 pre-population in an electronic I-9 was permissible if the employer also completed the preparer and/or translator section.In early 2013, ICE changed its position to that it was never permissible regardless of whether the preparer and/or translator section was used and regardless of whether the employee inputted the information that is pre-populated into the system. But in October 2013, ICE stated it had no specific position on the issue and advised employers to simply follow the “regulations.” However, the regulations currently do not address the specific issue of pre-population in Section 1. Additionally, it stated it would evaluate the matter on a case by case basis.

Why is the Issue of Pre-Population Important?

In a Notice of Inspection, ICE analyzes an employer’s I-9 forms. If it deems the pre-population of section 1 to be a substantive violation, the employer is subject to a penalty. If all the employer’s I-9 forms were pre-populated, then that would be subject to a penalty of about $2000 (under new increased penalties) per I-9 form in error.

_________________________

* Bruce E. Buchanan is a founding partner of Sebelist Buchanan Law PLLC located in Nashville and Atlanta. He is also “Of Counsel” to Siskind Susser PC on employer immigration compliance matters. Bruce is a graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Law. He is editor of this newsletter and past-chair of the TBA’s Immigration Law Section. Bruce writes a blog on employer immigration compliance located at www.EmployerImmigration.com and is a monthly contributor to HR Professionals Magazine. He may be reached at bbuchanan@sblimmigration.com or (615) 345-0266.

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U Visas, Waivers and IJ Authority in Light of Matter of Khan

On September 8, 2016, the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) issued a precedent decision in Matter of Khan, 26 I&N Dec. 797 (BIA 2016), addressing a circuit split about waivers of inadmissibility for petitioners for U nonimmigrant status (“U visa applicants”)[1]. At issue was whether an Immigration Judge (“IJ”) has the authority to adjudicate a request for a waiver of inadmissibility made by U visa applicants under section 212(d)(3)(A)(ii) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”).

Background

Respondent Khan, a lawful permanent resident since 1992, was placed into removal proceedings following his 2008 conviction for an aggravated felony.[2] He did not request relief from removal and conceded removability. Khan also filed applications for a U visa and waiver of inadmissibility with the USCIS, and his removal proceedings were administratively closed in 2013 pending the adjudication of those applications. The USCIS denied his applications in 2014, and his case was subsequently re-calendared with the immigration court. Khan filed a request with the IJ seeking a different type of waiver of inadmissibility under section 212(d)(3)(A)(ii) of the INA. The IJ denied the waiver request as a matter of discretion. Khan appealed the IJ's decision, and the BIA dismissed his claims, holding that the IJ lacked authority to adjudicate the waiver.

Waiver Under INA § 212(d)(14)

When Congress created the U visa, it also created a waiver of inadmissibility specifically for U visa applicants codified in section 212(d)(14) of the INA. As part of the U visa adjudication process, the USCIS determines if an applicant has any grounds of inadmissibility (e.g., unlawful presence, certain criminal convictions).[3] Thus, applicants who will trigger a ground of inadmissibility may submit a section 212(d)(14) waiver application in conjunction with their U visa application. USCIS then determines whether it is “in the public or national interest” to grant the requested waiver, subject to certain exceptions.[4] By regulation, the USCIS has exclusive jurisdiction over U visa applications.[5]

Waiver Under INA § 212(d)(3)(A)(ii)

A broader waiver of inadmissibility for nonimmigrants, not limited to U visa applicants, is available under section 212(d)(3)(A)(ii) of the INA. Generally, this waiver is requested by inadmissible aliens seeking admission without a visa at the port of entry. It is granted at the discretion of the Attorney General which has the authority to waive nearly all grounds of inadmissibility, subject to certain exceptions.[6] When determining whether to grant this type of waiver, the adjudicator also weighs the balancing factors set forth in Matter of Hranka, 16 I&N Dec. 491 (BIA 1978).

Circuit Split

In 2014, the practice of USCIS exclusively handling waivers of inadmissibility for U visa applicants was successfully challenged in L.D.G. v. Holder, 744 F.3d 1022 (7th Cir. 2014)Petitioner L.D.G. was a U visa applicant in removal proceedings, and argued the IJ had concurrent jurisdiction to adjudicate her application for a waiver of inadmissibility under section 212(d)(3)(A) of the INA. The Court agreed, holding that the plain language of the section grants the Attorney General, as well as IJs, the authority to waive the inadmissibility of U visa applicants, subject only to the statute’s unwaivable grounds which were not applicable in L.D.G.’s case.[7] In short, the Court found that the two statutory schemes can coexist and the fact that only the USCIS may grant waivers under section 212(d)(14) does not make it the only means by which an applicant can obtain a waiver.

In August 2016, however, the Third Circuit took the opposite position in Sunday v. Att’y Gen. of U.S., No. 15-1232, 2016 WL 4073270 (3d Cir. 2016). Petitioner Sunday was a U visa applicant in removal proceedings, and argued the IJ had authority to issue him a waiver of inadmissibility under section 212(d)(3)(A)(ii) of the INA. The Court disagreed, holding that an IJ’s authority to consider a section 212(d)(3)(A)(ii) waiver is limited by regulation[8] “to aliens seeking admission” and only to “those instances where the alien has applied [for admission] to a district director prior to entry”.[9]

BIA Decision in Khan

The BIA addressed the two circuit opinions in Khan’s appeal. Siding with the Third Circuit in Sunday, the BIA reiterated its longstanding position that IJs’ authority to grant a section 212(d)(3)(A)(ii) waiver is “limited to when an inadmissible nonimmigrant alien seeking admission at a port of entry has been denied a waiver and has been placed in exclusion or removal proceedings where a waiver request has been renewed” before the IJ.[10] It further explained that IJs “only address matters falling within the scope of their jurisdiction to resolve contested issues in removal proceedings—not collateral matters”.[11] Thus, the BIA reasoned, even if the IJ had granted Khan’s waiver request using the Seventh Circuit’s rationale in L.D.G., it would not have allowed the IJ to resolve the issue of his removability. Khan still “would have been required to re-file a U visa application with the USCIS and await its adjudication”.[12] For these reasons, the BIA concluded that IJs do not have the authority to adjudicate waivers of inadmissibility for U visa applicants.

Takeaway

Had the BIA followed the Seventh Circuit in L.D.G., it could have given IJs nationwide the discretion to grant requests for 212(d)(3)(A) waivers of inadmissibility for U visa applicants. For now, the BIA has ensured that the adjudication of waivers of inadmissibility for U visa applicants remains with the USCIS, not in the immigration courts.


Charles A. “Chad” Graves is the founder of his own immigration law practice, Graves Law PLLC, located in Brentwood. He is a graduate of the Nashville School of Law, and has worked in the field of immigration since 2009. He may be reached at cgraves@gravesimmigration.com or (615) 861-1015.


[1]Generally, a U visa offers protection from deportation and a path to lawful permanent residence to victims of qualifying crimes (e.g., rape, domestic violence) who have suffered mental or physical abuse, and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity. See 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101(a)(15)(U), 1184(p).

[2] As defined in INA § 101(a)(43)(A).

[3]See INA § 212(a) et seq.

[4]Unwaivable grounds are defined in INA § 212(a)(3)(E).

[5]8 C.F.R. § 214.14(c)(1).

[6]Unwaivable grounds are defined in INA §§ 212(a)(3)(A)(i)(I), (3)(A)(ii), (3)(A)(iii), (3)(C), (3)(E)(i), and (3)(E)(ii).

[7]L.D.G., 744 F.3d at 1030.

[8]Sunday, slip op. at 6-8 (citing 8 C.F.R. §§ 1212.4(b), 1235.2(d)).

[9]  Sunday, slip op. at 11.

[10]Matter of Khan at 801-802 (citing Matter of Kazemi, 19 I&N Dec. 49, 52 (BIA 1984);Matter of Fueyo, 20 I&N Dec. 84, 86−87 (BIA 1989)).

[11]Id. at 804 (citing Matter of Yauri, 25 I&N Dec. 103, 110 (BIA 2009); Matter of Aceijas-Quiroz, 26 I&N Dec. 294, 299 (BIA 2014).

[12]Id.

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New Policy Guidance on Extreme Hardship

On October 29, 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published its new policy guidance in the Policy Manual, Volume 9, on determining extreme hardship to a qualifying relative. [1] The publication offers guidance to the adjudicator regarding the “extreme hardship” standard and how to interpret it when adjudicating certain discretionary waivers of inadmissibility.

The applicants need to show that the refusal of their admission would result in “extreme hardship” to their U.S. citizen or LPR qualifying family member. For the hardship to be considered extreme it must exceed that which is usual or expected if the applicant’s waiver application is denied. Since extreme hardship is neither defined in the immigration statute nor the regulations, the new policy guidance was greatly anticipated, especially by immigration attorneys. The 43-page policy guidance does, however, not define “extreme hardship.” Rather, it clarifies how the adjudicator should determine whether the qualifying relative will experience “extreme hardship” if the applicant is denied admission to the United States.

The Policy Manual includes a new policy on the separation and relocation requirement. The current standard is to show that the qualifying relative would suffer extreme hardship if there were a separation and if he or she had to relocate to the applicant’s home country. The new policy uses an either-or scenario. The qualifying relative would suffer extreme hardship if he/she had to either remain in the United States separated from the applicant or if the qualifying relative had to relocate abroad with the applicant. Thus, an applicant is no longer required to show extreme hardship under both scenarios.

The qualifying relative should submit a detailed, sworn statement conveying to the adjudicator why either a separation or a relocation would occur if the waiver application is denied. Such statement should include the factors involved with the ultimate decision such as in a separation scenario involving the decline in emotional support and affection between spouses; in a relocation scenario having to leave behind family and friends in the United States, job and career opportunities, educational opportunities, available medical care, and safety and security. In other words, the ultimate decision involves weighing and comparing personal factors in both situations. The sworn statement regarding a separation or relocation will generally be enough to show the qualifying relative’s intent in case of a denial of the waiver application. In addition to the sworn statement, the applicant should submit documentation supporting the statement.     

The applicant must show that it is more likely than not that the qualifying relative would suffer extreme hardship if the waiver application is denied. Furthermore, the adjudicator must weigh all factors individually and cumulatively. Common consequences such as family separation; economic detriment; difficulties readjusting to life in the new country; the quality of educational opportunities abroad; inferior quality of medical services and facilities; and ability to pursue a chosen employment abroad may not on their own constitute extreme hardship, but when taken together with all other possible hardship factors, may add up to extreme hardship.

The updated Policy Manual includes a non-exhaustive list of hardship factors that may support a finding of extreme hardship. These factors include family ties and impact, social and cultural impact, economic impact, health conditions and care and country conditions. In addition, the Policy Manual lists five factors that weigh heavily in support of finding extreme hardship:  

1. Qualifying relative previously granted Iraqi or Afghan Special Immigrant status, T Nonimmigrant status, or Asylum or Refugee status;

              2. Qualifying relative or related family member’s disability;

              3.  Qualifying relative’s military service;

              4. Department of State travel warnings; and

              5. Substantial displacement of care of applicant’s children.
 

The DOS travel warning factor will only be applicable in a few cases as the Policy Manual lists what type of travel warnings falls under this category. The travel warning needs to advise against all but essential travel to the country and/or advises U.S. citizens in the country or region to depart. Yemen is such a country that currently could fall under this category.  

The new Policy Manual now includes eight different case scenarios with detailed fact patterns. Each case is analyzed and suggests whether the fact patterns in each case would rise to the level of extreme hardship. These case scenarios do not bring anything new but provides good guidance especially for first time filers.

The final chapter in the updated Policy Manual stresses the fact that a finding of extreme hardship does not automatically mean an approval of the case. The adjudicator will weigh the positive and negative factors and decide whether USCIS should grant the waiver as a matter of discretion. If the positive factors outweigh the negative factors, the adjudicator should approve the waiver.

Even if the Policy Manual gives guidance on the determination of extreme hardship on the qualifying relative, attorneys might need guidance on how to find those hardship factors in a client’s case. Waiver applications are tedious and complicated.  One can easily miss the hardship by not spending enough time with a client. My advice is to take time to interview the client, gain his/her trust and show that you are genuinely interested in his/her life. This usually reveals any hardship factors that will bring success to your client’s waiver application.  


[1] https://www.uscis.gov/policymanual/HTML/PolicyManual-Volume9.html


— Katja Hedding is a solo practitioner in Murfreesboro. She practices exclusively in the area of immigration law. Katja was born and raised in Finland. She earned her law degrees from Helsinki University, Finland, Uppsala University, Sweden and Vanderbilt Law School. She may be reached at katja@katjaheddinglaw.com or 615-962-7441

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Letter from the Editor

I would like to thank Katja Hedding and Chad Graves for their contributions in this issue. I am always looking for writers, so if you would like to write an article, please feel free to contact me at bbuchanan@sblimmigration.com or 615-345-0266.

— Bruce Buchanan

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Community Legal Center (CLC) in Memphis Seeks Joint Immigration Pro Bono Coordinator

The Community Legal Center (CLC) in Memphis is seeking a Joint Immigration Pro Bono Coordinator who will work under the direction of the Executive Director to recruit, train, mentor and supervise volunteer attorneys in Memphis and throughout the State of Tennessee.  To learn more about this job opportunity, see the TBA Joblink posting

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Group Seeks Immigration Lawyer in Memphis

The Community Legal Center (CLC) in Memphis is seeking a Joint Immigration Pro Bono Coordinator with at least three years of experience as a practicing attorney and at least two years working in the field of immigration. The attorney will work with Memphis-area nonprofit immigration legal service providers (including the CLC, Latino Memphis and Mid-South Immigration Advocates) in recruiting, training, mentoring and supervising volunteer attorneys handling immigration cases in Tennessee, Arkansas and North Mississippi. For additional details and information on applying see the group's JobLink listing.

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Juvenile Law Annual Forum Coming Soon

The TBA will host its annual Juvenile Law CLE on Dec. 1 at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville. Speakers will include representatives from Vanderbilt’s Center of Excellence for Children in State Custody and the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS). Sessions will cover case law updates, immigration issues in juvenile court, and using medical evidence in severe abuse cases. A panel on DCS administrative hearings and policies and a session on ethical issues in juvenile courts will round out the day. Learn more or register online.

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REMINDER: Join Us for the TBA Immigration Law Section USCIS Teleconference

The TBA immigration Law Section will hold its annual teleconference call with USCIS Memphis and USCIS New Orleans on Nov. 15 at 3 p.m. CST/4 p.m. EST.

Lynuel Dennis, USCIS Field Office Director in Memphis and USCIS District Director Cindy Gomez in New Orleans will join the call to provide the latest updates and answer your questions. If you would like to participate in the teleconference, please RSVP by noon CST/1 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Nov. 15. Use this teleconference dial-in information to listen to the presentation on Nov. 15:

• Dial in to (855) 795-9620
• At the prompt, enter this conference ID number 4424167 #

VERY IMPORTANT:  Please place your phone on mute by hitting *6 to prevent any distractions during the presentation. 

No questions will be taken during the teleconference as all previously requested questions have already been submitted to the USCIS. If you have problems during the teleconference or questions beforehand on how it will work, please email me.

We look forward to you joining us for this very informative presentation.

— Christy Gibson, TBA Immigration Law Section Coordinator

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Reminder to Submit Questions for the Annual Teleconference Call with USCIS Memphis, USCIS New Orleans

On Nov. 15 at 3 p.m. CST/4 p.m. EST, the TBA immigration Law Section will hold its annual teleconference call with USCIS Memphis and USCIS New Orleans. Lynuel Dennis, USCIS Field Office Director in Memphis and USCIS District Director Cindy Gomez in New Orleans will join us providing the latest updates and answering your questions. If you have questions for either director, please submit your questions by noon CST/1 p.m. EST on Friday to cgibson@tnbar.org. All questions will then be submitted to them to answer on the Nov. 15 call.

— Christy Gibson, TBA Immigration Law Section Coordinator

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Tennessee Hosting 4 Equal Justice Works Fellows

Tennessee is benefiting from the services of four Equal Justice Works fellows. It is the first time in more than 10 years that the state has had any fellows, according to the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS). That group is hosting Kirsten Jacobson in its office. Elder Justice Fellow Matt Schwimmer is serving with West Tennessee Legal Services in Jackson. Elder Justice Fellow Sara Dodson is serving with the Tennessee Justice Center in Nashville. And Immigrant Defense Fellow Valeria Gomez is working with Justice AmeriCorps and VIDA in Knoxville. TALS credits the work of the state Supreme Court, which has made pro bono a strategic priority, and the support of the state’s legal aid providers in making these fellowships a reality.

Photo from left: Jacobson, Gomez, Schwimmer, Dodson

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2 Clinics Planned for Oct. 22 in Memphis

Two legal clinics will take place in Memphis Oct. 22. The Midtown Legal Clinic, sponsored by Memphis Area Legal Services, will be held from 10 a.m. to noon at Idlewild Presbyterian Church, 1750 Union Ave. To volunteer or for questions, email midtownlegalclinic@gmail.com. From noon to 4 p.m., the Community Legal Center, Latino Memphis, Mid-South Immigration Advocates, Catholic Charities of West Tennessee and World Relief team up to host a “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” clinic to help children and young adults apply for the federal program. The clinic will be held at Latino Memphis, 6041 Mt. Moriah Rd. Spanish language skills are not required. Come at noon for a volunteer training session and lunch. Contact Emily Stotts with any questions.

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Senate Hires Michigan Legal Group for Refugee Lawsuit

The Tennessee Senate has hired the conservative Christian Thomas More Law Center to represent it in a federal lawsuit attempting to block refugee resettlement in the state after state Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III declined to take the case. The House is likely to approve the hire, but nothing has been formalized yet, the Tennessean reports. The Michigan-based legal group will represent the state for free in the nation’s first lawsuit to challenge the federal government for noncompliance with the Refugee Act of 1980 based on the 10th Amendment. The move comes after lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a resolution earlier this year in support of a lawsuit.

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