Embassies and consulates: Appointments, delays, and more

Pictured: A sign that says, “Expect Delays.” This image was used to demonstrate the delays we are seeing due to Covid-19 and other external factors at embassies and consulates around the world.


As many of you have probably realized, it has become nearly impossible to schedule appointment at local embassies and consulates around the US. Some have even outright closed during the pandemic onslaught, making appointment backlogs and service requests entirely unreasonable. Much of this is due to Trump’s stark inability to control the raging pandemic on US soil, and it is now on Biden’s shoulders to find a better way to reopen these institutions, add more staff, and begin allowing appointments for urgent cases once again.


The closure or inaccessibility of embassies and consulates have halted many cases that were already in-progress, and have outright disallowed for new cases to have a reasonable processing time. The reopening of these institutions needs to be a priority for this new administration. All Covid safety precautions and regulations applied, of course. Biden, in this case, will need to focus more on adjudication and less on enforcements. Hopefully, as time passes, and Biden’s Covid task force makes headway in curbing the spread of the devastating pandemic rampaging through the States, we will see some progress in the reopening of embassies and consulates across the country.


Thank you for taking the time to read our blog. Make sure to stay tuned for updates as our firm will be following the news on when embassies and consulates will begin reopening. If you or a loved one are experiencing difficulties because of embassy or consulate closures, please do not hesitate call our Pittsburgh office at 412.258.8080, our Philadelphia office at 215-982-2381, or schedule a free consultation on our site using this link.

H-1B Visas: What’s new? What’s next? Updates for 2021

Pictured: An animated image of a person holding a H-1B visa with the Statue of Liberty in the background


A large portion of our clientele rely on our services to aid them with their H-1B visas and applications for permanent residence through employment. You, reader, may in fact be one of them. So what has been happening regarding H-1Bs during Trump’s reign over America, and what differences will we see now that we have a new leader with Joe Biden? All good questions, and we’ll get to them here, in our latest blog on H-1Bs.


 As many of you know, the rate of denials and RFEs (Requests for Evidence) has been steadily increasing over the past four years. Not great news. But don’t worry, things are actually looking up. With the changeover to Biden’s administration, the White House staff is determined to work more diligently with US employers and companies in order to restore confidence back into our tattered immigration system. By doing so, we will see a stark decline in the rate of denials (good news for you), and generally more fair immigrations laws and policies when compared to the previous administration. With a streamlined process for H1-Bs, we may even see some of the caps being removed as well, allowing more foreigners to qualify.


There have also been huge changes to the lottery system that we’ll outline here. Although these changes were made during Trump’s rule, we highly doubt they will last long with Biden coming into the presidency. We’ll have to stay tuned into the wire for more news, but with Biden’s pro-immigration policies, his commitment to lifting the travel ban on Muslims, and his outline for immigration policy reform, it’s safe to say we are looking at a whole new ballgame for US immigration than what we’ve had in the past.


H-1B lottery system changes

H-1B season begins in March of 2021. A new rule was developed for this period, devised by Trump and his staff. It’s called Modification of Registration Requirement for Petitioners Seeking to File H-1B Cap Cases.


So what does this new rule do and what does it include? Continue reading

Biden’s shift on immigration: A positive force for the US

Pictured: President-Elect Joe Biden speaks on immigration matters in front of a crowd. He is standing next to a man and putting a hand on his shoulder. The other man is holding an anti-deportation sign that reads, “Not 1 more deportation. Moratorium on deportation on day 1.”


Everyone, including us, has been commenting on the fact that immigration will be much easier with the new administration taking over in 2021. You may read about why it might be better to apply for a visa or green card now that Trump is old news and Biden is now in the hot seat – but how are the current policies and laws going to shift exactly? What needs to be done in order for regular people to experience any changes in the US immigration process? Let’s walk through a few things that need to happen in order for us to see a difference between the policies of Trump’s reign, and the immigration regulations of this bright new year.


How it was done and how things will go moving forward

Trump used memos, executive orders, and proclamations to institute new regulations pertaining to US immigration. In order to see any type of change in these policies, Biden will need to work with his cabinet to address these policies head on.


Many regulations that were set to begin after inauguration day can be sidetracked by Biden in the upcoming weeks and months once he becomes president, giving his administration a 60-day period to decide which regulations should be withdrawn, and which can be reformulated to better fit the new admins policies. Additionally, Trump issued several proclamations in April and June, limiting immigrant visas from specific countries, but also limiting non-immigrant visas based on age of the immigrant, L-1s, etc., unless they meet a certain exception. These proclamations in particular, declared on New Years Eve of 2020, have been extended through March 2021. The good news is Biden won’t have to go through a lengthy process to rescind these proclamations. Instead, he’ll just need to show that the entry of the immigrants does not have a negative impact on the US economy and immigrants hoping to come to the States will be back in business.


Many of you are probably wondering what will happen to the Travel Ban (effecting many countries, especially in the Schengen area), as well as the ban against majority-Muslim countries, once Trump is kicked to the curb. Our prediction is that Biden will rescind these policies immediately, unless they are connected to specific COVID-related travel restrictions, and we will see what comes in place of those specific policies.


With the highly awaited inauguration already out of the way, there’s much to look forward to with Biden’s new control over immigration in the US. Please let us know if you have any interest in providing topics for us to dive into on our blog, we would love to hear what’s important to you and what questions or concerns you may have. As always, if you would like to get in touch with our offices, please do not hesitate to call our Pittsburgh office at 412.258.8080, our PHiladelphia office at 215-982-2381, or schedule a free consultation on our site using this link.


What now? A presidential transition

President-Elect Joe Biden smiles at a crowd while onstage in front of a large American flag.


With the Trump Administration on its way out of the White House, and the Biden Administration coming into a strained, but hopeful democracy, there’s a lot for us to imagine in terms of immigration in the United States for the coming 2021 year. Along with increased travel, once vaccinations have had a chance to roll through our world’s population, America will soon see a tremendous growth in immigrant numbers. Those seeking to establish roots in the States will have more opportunities to do so, in addition to litigation steadily decreasing as the country moves towards immigration-friendly leadership.


What the Biden Administration will need to focus on, amongst other pressing issues, will be encouraging US companies to hire more foreign talent. They can influence this by establishing new policies, changing specific anti-immigration regulations, and adding more confidence into the system itself. Luckily, more foreign families and individuals will be back to trying their luck with US immigration now that Trump is out of power – many of whom held off on beginning the application processes due to his unyielding efforts to keep the number of immigrants to a minimum while in office.


Trump will no longer be president, but many of his policies, especially surrounding immigration, will still be in play unless Biden steps up to the plate and makes revoking these policies a priority in his admin from the get-go. It is our hope, and in the best interest of the United States, that Biden’s administration will push America to be pro-immigration and once again welcome foreigners into our country.


There’s a lot to look forward to as far as Biden’s immigration policies go. Keep your eyes on our blog for more updates as we learn more about the regulation turnarounds and big changes in immigration law during these first few months with Biden in the oval office. If you have any questions regarding any points from the text above, or if you need to speak with an attorney, please feel free to contact our Pittsburgh office at 412.258.8080, our Philadelphia office at 215-982-2381, or schedule a free consultation with one of our immigration attorneys on our site using this link.

How Central Americans are Affected by Obama’s Immigration Raids


In May, the Obama administration announced the beginning of a series of immigration raids of Central American migrants to be carried out by ICE officers. Since the raids began, there have been 40 cases reported of women and children being mistreated by ICE officers. The arrests largely to place in homes, schools, and workplaces; some arrests included aggressive and inappropriate conduct according to CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project. Of these cases, more than half have valid asylum claims that have not yet been heard in immigration court and some didn’t even have deportation orders. It is clear that the Obama Administration is approaching this influx of Central American refugees as an illegal immigration problem rather than a humanitarian crisis.

It has been reported that gang-related violence, drug trafficking, and corrupt criminal justice systems have plagued Central American countries such as Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. As a result, families have fled from these countries to seek asylum in the U.S. despite women and children being the least mobile group-they don’t leave unless there is no other choice. While these migrants may have valid asylum claims, it has become clear that these immigrants have not had the chance to be heard in court. In fact, many did not have legal counsel or even receive a notice to appear in court.

Immigrants in removal proceedings are afforded all appropriate due process under the law. The number of migrants who are being denied this right in our nation’s immigration courts is growing rapidly. The Obama Administration’s response to this surge in Central American migrants is inappropriate and devastating to the immigrant community while ignoring basic humanitarian decency.

Goldstein & Associates urges anyone who is unsure of their status to contact us immediately online or via phone at 412-258-8080.

Obama Immigration Raids

13260226_557612724413200_2879551303306558359_nOn Thursday, May 12th, the Obama administration announced their intent to begin a “30-day surge of immigration raids”. The target of the raid will be families who did not show up for court appearances of who have defied orders for removal. The raids are in response to the doubling of the Central American family units apprehended at our borders with the hope that other Central Americans will be deterred from illegally entering the U.S.

These raids sound like something out of Trump’s immigration reform plan, but have actually been initiated by the Obama administration. Leading Democrats, including Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, have staunchly opposed the raids. Rightfully so, as it appears that the raids will not have the intended effect on immigrants coming to the U.S.

The undocumented migrants that the raids are targeted toward are not coming here to work or conduct illegal business, but are simply fleeing from their home countries riddled with brutal violence and persecution. The targets are chiefly from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador; it has been reported that eighty-three U.S. deportees back to these countries have already been murdered in their homelands. For that reason, it is hard to believe that this immigration raid will have the desired deterrence effect- “nothing will change people’s minds when they are literally fleeing for their lives” according to White House spokesman, Josh Earnest.

The lack of access to legal representation is a big reason that these Central Americans get placed in removal proceedings. In 2014, 86% of asylum cases from Central America lacked legal representation. An overwhelming majority of these detainees have a reasonable fear of returning home. This fear will be heightened as the immigration raids ensue. The Obama administration should reevaluate the proposed raids and take a more humanitarian approach to the immigration crisis in the United States.

Goldstein & Associates would be happy to discuss legal options for individuals and family units who may be affected by the proposed immigration raids. Please do not hesitate to contact our firm online or call us at 412-258-8080.

Implications of Trump Immigration Reform

trump-627166Living in the United States during a presidential election can present alarming issues for the international community. As it remains possible that Donald Trump could be elected our next president, anyone with immigration concerns should try to resolve their immigration status as soon as possible. If there is an available remedy for your immigration concerns, please take care of your situation sooner rather than later.

Donald Trump has several big ideas to “make America great again” that have severe implications on immigration in the United States. The American dream that so many immigrants strive for would become much harder to achieve if Trump’s immigration reforms were to be implemented.

According to Trump’s plan, there are several steps that should be taken in order to enact “real immigration reform”. The first is to triple the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers. Essentially, increased ICE officers would increase deportations of immigrants in the U.S. Trump insists that ICE officers should be required to detain “every illegal alien they encounter, in jails and prisons.” A mass-deportation mission for ICE forces would lead to roundups of the undocumented people in the U.S. The plan also outlines a proposal to end birthright citizenship. All around, these initiatives would have serious consequences for the immigrant population of the United States.

Recognizing the problems with this plan, the Boston Globe posted a satirical front page dated April 9, 2017 featuring mock articles on Trump’s potential presidency. The main article discusses the mass-deportation initiative after tripling ICE officers. While the front page was simply satire, representatives from the Boston Globe say it is “an exercise in taking a man at his word.” The editorial outlined the concerns of Trump’s candidacy and aimed to fabricate a prospective reality for the future of the United States. It is important for both immigrants and non-immigrants to understand the implications of a Trump administration and ensuing immigration reform plan.

It is important to uncover immigration solutions when they are available under the law and Goldstein & Associates would be happy to assist anyone seeking to obtain more information on this matter. For those interested in how their immigration status may be affected, please do not hesitate to contact our firm for a free consultation online or at (412) 258-8080

Bipartisan Plan for Immigration Reform

A new plan created by a group of bipartisan senators focuses on border control, job protection, and other issues in immigration reform.

In January, a document was released by bipartisan Senators Michael Bennet, Dick Durbin, Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Robert Menendez and Marco Rubio. This document laid out the foundation for updates to the United States’ immigration laws, including laws pertaining to illegal immigrants already living in the U.S.

Four Basic Legislative Pillars

  • Create a tough but fair path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States that is contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country when required;
  • Reform  our  legal  immigration  system  to  better  recognize  the importance  of characteristics  that  will  help  build  the  American economy  and  strengthen American families;
  • Create an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers; and,
  • Establish an improved process for admitting future workers to serve our nation’s workforce needs, while simultaneously protecting all workers.

The plan also includes improved technology for the Border Control and steps to reduce racial profiling and violence.

Updates for Immigrants in the U.S.

What does this mean for immigrants currently living in the U.S.? Illegal immigrants are asked to register with the government for probationary legal status, dependent on a background check and including a fine. The plan aims to continue to welcome the “best and brightest” to the U.S., awarding green cards to those who hold Ph.D. or Master’s degree in science, technology, engineering, or math from an American University.

To read the entire transcript, visit the ABC news website. As you search for answers on citizenship, our goal is to arm you with the knowledge you need to know. If you have any questions on how the latest updates on immigration reform affect you or your family, contact us at mgoldstein@mglaw.com or 1-412-258-8080.