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Lawyers’ group helps ease path to citizenship for low-income New Yorkers with interest-free loans

Jose M. Leon, a supervising attorney with the Naturalization Program in the Immigration Unit at Catholic Migration Services was recently interviewed by the American Bar Association Journal about the Citizenship Loan Program, a partnership with New York Lawyers for Public Interest (NYPLI) and Hebrew Free Loan Society. The new initiative offers interest-free loans to permanent residents who live in one of New York City’s five boroughs, Westchester or Long Island.

Jose says most of his clients are low income. Whenever he gets a new client, he determines if they are eligible for a fee waiver. If they are not, he tells them about the loan program. “I don’t think these people would be able to become U.S. citizens unless a program like this existed,” Leon says.

Read the full story in the ABA Journal: Lawyers’ group helps ease path to citizenship for low-income New Yorkers with interest-free loans

The Citizenship Loan Program is a collaboration between the Hebrew Free Loan Society, Catholic Migration Services, and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest. Lean more here. 

Immigration Update Pertaining to Venezuela and the Designation for Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

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On March 9, 2021 the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designated Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, until September 9, 2022.

Catholic Migration Services urges anyone who may be eligible to receive TPS for Venezuela to call our office and schedule an appointment for a free legal consultation.

What is Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?
The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may designate a foreign country for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may grant TPS to eligible nationals of certain countries (or parts of countries), who are already in the United States. Eligible individuals without nationality who last resided in the designated country may also be granted TPS.

What does this announcement mean?
This new designation of TPS for Venezuela allows Venezuelan nationals (and individuals without nationality who last resided in Venezuela) currently in the United States to file an initial application for TPS, as long as they meet eligibility requirements. Individuals who are TPS beneficiaries or eligible for TPS are not removable from the United States, can obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) or work permit, Social Security Number, and may be granted travel authorizations. TPS may be renewed as long as Venezuela is designated a Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) country.

When can I apply for TPS?
Eligible individuals can apply now. The TPS registration period for Venezuelan nationals (and individuals without nationality who last resided in Venezuela) began March 9, 2021 and will remain in effect through September 5, 2021. Individuals should file applications in time to have it received by USCIS before that date.

How do I apply?
We recommend consulting a lawyer to determine if you are eligible to apply for TPS and to learn more about what documents you may need to include in your application.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call Catholic Migration Services in Brooklyn at (718) 236-3000 or in Queens at (347) 472-3500 between 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. from Monday through Friday.

For additional information, you can also contact Action NYC at (800) 354-0365 – Monday through Friday, between 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. – to connect with City-funded, free and safe immigration legal help.

Download this update as a PDF.

What Happens When a New York City Landlord Threatens to Call ICE?

Many New York tenants have questions about losing their homes during the pandemic. The same is true for undocumented New Yorkers. Recently, The City teamed up with Documented to answer questions submitted by readers in these situations and the Tenant Advocacy Program of Catholic Migration Services explained tenant rights in the middle of a health crisis.

Know Your Rights – DACA Update

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Peze la pou tradui nan Kreyol Ayisyen

On Friday December 4, 2020, a Federal Judge in New York issued an order restoring the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program to its status before the Trump administration attempted to end it in 2017.

This means that the government now must accept first-time requests for DACA from individuals eligible to enroll into the program, accept applications for advance parole, and restore the two-year renewal period for DACA protection and work permits.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ME?
Current DACA Recipients
• Current DACA Recipients can continue to apply to renew their DACA. It is recommended that you submit your renewal between 150 and 120 days of the expiration date of your current DACA.
• DACA protections and benefits continue (e.g. deportation protection and work permits)
• Renewal period has been restored from one to two years
• Renewal fee remains $495

NEW DACA APPLICANTS
USCIS will accept initial applications for individuals who meet the following eligibility criteria:
• Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
• Came to the United States before reaching their 16th birthday;
• Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
• Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making their request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
• Had no lawful immigration status on June 15, 2012;
• Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate (or other State-authorized exam in the United States), or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
• Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

ADVANCE PAROLE
• Advance Parole applications for humanitarian or education travel outside of the United States will be accepted.
• IMPORTANT: Being granted Advance Parole does not guarantee that you will be allowed to reenter the U.S. It is important that you speak with an immigration attorney or Department of Justice Accredited Representative to understand your situation BEFORE traveling outside of the U.S.

FREE LEGAL HELP MAY BE AVAILABLE
All DACA eligible individuals should consult with a legal service provider for information about applying for DACA, renewing their existing DACA and/or getting screened for eligibility for other, more permanent immigration benefits. To make an appointment with Catholic Migration Services for free legal assistance, please call our office Monday through Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at (718) 236-3000 (Brooklyn office) or (347) 472-3500 (Queens office). For additional information, visit our website at www.catholicmigration.org and follow us on social media via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @CMSBQ. You can also obtain free legal advice by calling 311 and asking for “Action NYC.”

Download the Know Your Rights – DACA Update as a PDF.

December 10, 2020

Important Information Regarding Potential Immigration Policy Changes from Biden’s Administration

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This November, a majority of American voters selected Joe Biden as this country’s next President, and Catholic Migration Services expects President-Elect Biden to be inaugurated on January 20, 2021. After four years of near constant attacks leveled on our immigrant communities by the Trump administration, we are finally looking towards a future brimming with hope for immigrant communities. Although the Biden administration cannot officially make any policy changes until after the inauguration, we are anticipating that the new administration could make several important policy changes to aid immigrants.

In recent statements, President-Elect Biden has stated that he will seek to quickly reverse some of the Trump administration’s most controversial policies on immigration, including:

  • ending the travel ban on immigrants from majority Muslim countries;
  • ending the forced separation of children from their parents at the Southern border;
  • ending the detention of child asylum-seekers;
  • reversing the Trump administration attempts to dismantle protections for asylees;
  • continuing protections for Dreamers through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program; and
  • reviewing Trump administration decisions to eliminate Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) designations for citizens from several countries.

Although some of President-Elect Biden’s policy changes can be made quickly by Executive Order, it is important to keep in mind that the Trump administration implemented more than 400 immigration policy changes, and it will take the Biden administration some time and effort to undo them. In addition to changes the Biden administration can make without legislative action, there remains an opportunity for our legislative branches to work together to pass new laws that will provide longer lasting benefits to immigrant communities. Catholic Migration Services is hopeful that the next four years will prove to be the re-introduction of the U.S. as a nation that welcomes immigrants.

It is important for immigrants to stay informed of policy changes that take place after President-Elect Biden takes office. For additional information and ongoing updates, please visit our website at www.catholicmigration.org and follow us on social media via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @CMSBQ.

In addition, consult with a trusted legal service provided to understand your rights and your options. Call Catholic Migration Services in Brooklyn at (718) 236-3000 or in Queens at (347) 472-3500 for free legal advice. You can also obtain free legal advice by calling 311 and asking for “Action NYC.”

Download Important Information Regarding Potential Immigration Policy Changes from Biden’s Administration as a PDF.

Employment authorization for TPS holders from Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Nepal, and Sudan has been automatically extended through January 4, 2021.

On September 14, 2020, an earlier court order temporarily stopping USCIS from terminating Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador was lifted. The lifting of this order does not allow the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to immediately revoke TPS for these countries; however, it may make it possible for USCIS to terminate TPS in the future. There is a separate lawsuit in which a court order has temporarily halted the termination of TPS for Haiti, and another lawsuit has temporarily blocked USCIS from terminating TPS for Honduras and Nepal. These orders related to Haiti, Honduras, and Nepal remain in effect at the moment.

The developments in these lawsuits do not require current TPS holders to take any action to maintain their status. These developments do not allow USCIS to immediately revoke TPS. All current TPS holders from Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, and El Salvador should continue to have TPS and employment authorization until at least January 4, 2021. You do not need to apply for a new work authorization document if you do not want to. However, if you choose to, you will be able to by filing the proper application form with the appropriate fee.

We will continue to update our website with more information as it becomes available. If you have any questions, concerns, or to make an appointment, please call Catholic Migration Services Monday through Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at (718) 236-3000 (Brooklyn Office) or at (347) 472-3500 (Queens Office).

Download this update as a PDF.