IMMIGRATION UPDATE 9.16.2021
IMMIGRATION UPDATE – September 16, 2021
- DHS Continues TPS Designations for El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, Honduras, and Nepal – DHS announced the automatic extension of temporary protected status designations for El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, Honduras, and Nepal. The automatic extension of TPS-related documentation includes EADs through December 31, 2022.
- USCIS Is Expediting Afghan Petitions, Observers Say – According to anecdotal reports, USCIS has issued instructions to pull all files for Afghan nationals and expedite them, including backlogged petitions.
- USCIS Extends Evidence of Status for Conditional Permanent Residents to 24 Months With Pending Form I-751 or I-829 – USCIS is extending the time during which receipt notices can be used to show evidence of status from 18 months to 24 months for petitioners who properly file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, or Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status.
- DHS Increases Investment and Revenue Amount Requirements for International Entrepreneur Program – Effective October 1, 2021, DHS is increasing investment and revenue amount requirements for the international entrepreneur program.
- House Budget Reconciliation Bill Includes Immigration Provisions – The proposed House of Representatives’ budget reconciliation bill includes language that would allow eligible persons to pay a fee to be exempted from numerical limits, among other provisions.
- State Dept. Releases Guidance on Immigrant Visa Prioritization – DOS released guidance on how its embassies and consulates are prioritizing immigrant visa applications as they work to reduce the backlog resulting from travel restrictions and operational constraints caused by the global COVID pandemic.
- DHS Extends I-9 Flexibility to End of December – DHS announced an extension until December 31, 2021, of the flexibility in complying with certain requirements related to Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, due to continuing issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- COVID Vaccinations To Be Required for Many Green Card Applicants – Effective October 1, 2021, with few exceptions, those applying for permanent residence (green card) must be vaccinated against COVID-19, now classified as a “Class A inadmissible condition,” the CDC announced.
- Justice Dept. Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claims With Large Health Care Organization – DOJ reached a settlement related to immigration discrimination claims with Ascension Health Alliance, a Missouri-based health care organization with more than 2,600 sites—including 146 hospitals and more than 40 senior living facilities—in 19 states and the District of Columbia.
- DHS Releases Guidance for Immigration Processing of Afghan Citizens Fleeing Afghanistan – DHS released new guidance for the immigration processing of Afghan citizens during Operation Allies Refuge, under which many thousands are being evacuated from Afghanistan.
- Cap Reached for Remaining H-2B Visas for Returning Workers for FY 2021 – USCIS has received enough petitions for returning workers to reach the additional 22,000 H-2B visas made available under the FY 2021 H-2B supplemental visa temporary final rule.
- USCIS Extends Flexibilities Through October for Certain OPT Applicants Filing Work Authorization Applications – USCIS extended flexibilities through October 31, 2021, for certain applicants filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, for OPT and STEM OPT.
- Court Orders State Dept. to Adjudicate More Than 9,000 DV-2020 Visas – A federal court ordered the Department of State to adjudicate more than 9,000 DV-2020 cases that were not processed before the fiscal year deadline. The case concerned the Department’s suspension of the processing and issuance of diversity visas for certain classes of foreign nationals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- USCIS Expands Partnership With Social Security Administration – Applicants filing for lawful permanent resident status can now apply for a Social Security number or replacement card as part of the adjustment of status application process.
- USCIS Temporarily Extends Validity Period of Medical Exam and Vaccination Record Form – The agency temporarily extended the validity period for medical exams from two years to four years due to COVID-19 pandemic-related delays in processing.
1. DHS Continues TPS Designations for El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, Honduras and Nepal
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the automatic extension of temporary protected status (TPS) designations for El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, Honduras, and Nepal. The automatic extension of TPS-related documentation includes employment authorization documents (EADs) through December 31, 2022.
DHS also announced that under several court orders, beneficiaries under the TPS designations for those countries will retain their TPS while the court orders remain in effect, provided that their TPS is not withdrawn because of individual ineligibility. For Haiti, pursuant to the new TPS designation issued on August 3, 2021, eligible individuals must apply before the close of the registration period on February 3, 2023.
DHS strongly encourages eligible individuals under the Haiti TPS designation “to apply at the earliest practicable date, to ensure that their TPS continues beyond the court-ordered extensions and without any gaps in status.”
Beneficiaries who want a new EAD with the expiration date of December 31, 2022, displayed on the EAD must file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. A Federal Register notice explaining how TPS beneficiaries, their employers, and benefit-granting agencies may determine which EADs are automatically extended for those beneficiaries will be published soon, DHS said.
The September 10, 2021, Federal Register notice provides further information on the automatic extension of the validity of TPS-related EADs, Notices of Action, and Arrival/Departure Records.
- DHS announcement, Sept. 9, 2021, https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/dhs-continues-temporary-protected-status-designations-for-el-salvador-haiti-honduras-nepal-nicaragua
- DHS notice, 86 Fed. Reg. 50725 (Sept. 10, 2021), https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-09-10/pdf/2021-19617.pdf
2. USCIS Is Expediting Afghan Petitions, Observers Say
According to anecdotal reports, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued instructions to pull all files for Afghan nationals and expedite them, including backlogged petitions. Moreover, the agency has provided special instructions on issuing requests for evidence (RFEs) for documents from Afghanistan (considering that getting documents from within Afghanistan may not be available). Observers note that perhaps this means the agency may allow secondary evidence when adjudicating benefits.
- More information, “Operation Allies Welcome,” DHS, https://www.dhs.gov/allieswelcome
- Special Immigrant Visas for Afghans, Dept. of State, https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/immigrate/special-immg-visa-afghans-employed-us-gov.html
3. USCIS Extends Evidence of Status for Conditional Permanent Residents to 24 Months With Pending Form I-751 or I-829
As of September 4, 2021, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is extending the time during which receipt notices can be used to show evidence of status from 18 months to 24 months for petitioners who properly file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, or Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status. USCIS said it made the change to accommodate current processing times for the two forms, “which have increased over the past year.”
A conditional permanent resident who properly files either of the two forms will receive a receipt notice that can be presented with the Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card (green card), as evidence of continued status for up to 24 months past the expiration date on the green card, while the case remains pending with USCIS.
Additionally, USCIS said it will issue new receipt notices to eligible conditional permanent residents who properly filed their forms before September 4, 2021, and whose cases are still pending. Those receipt notices will also serve as evidence of continued status for 24 months past the expiration date on their green card, the agency said.
- USCIS alert, Sept. 3, 2021, https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-extends-evidence-of-status-for-conditional-permanent-residents-to-24-months-with-pending-form
4. DHS Increases Investment and Revenue Amount Requirements for International Entrepreneur Program
Effective October 1, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is increasing investment and revenue amount requirements for the international entrepreneur program.
DHS explained that on January 17, 2017, the agency published a final rule guiding the use of parole on a case-by-case basis with respect to “entrepreneurs of start-up entities who can demonstrate through evidence of substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid business growth and job creation that they would provide a significant public benefit to the United States.” The 2017 regulation provided that the investment and revenue amount requirements would automatically adjust every three years by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI–U). DHS issued the new final rule to inform the public of the increased amounts that will take effect at the start of fiscal year 2022 and to revise the regulations to accurately reflect the updated investment amounts.
The final rule states:
- An applicant may be considered for initial parole if he or she demonstrates that his or her entity has received, within 18 months immediately preceding the filing of an application for initial parole, either a qualified investment amount of at least $264,147 from one or more qualified investors or an amount of at least $105,659 through one or more qualified government awards or grants.
- In the alternative, an applicant who partially meets one or both of those criteria may still qualify for further consideration by providing other reliable and compelling evidence of the start-up entity’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.
- Similarly, an applicant may be considered for re-parole if he or she establishes that during the initial parole period, his or her entity:
-Received at least $528,293 in qualifying investments, qualified government grants or awards, or a combination of such funding, during the initial parole period;
-Created at least 5 qualified jobs with the start-up entity during the initial parole period; or
-Reached at least $528,293 in annual revenue in the United States and averaged 20 percent in annual revenue growth during the initial parole period.
- An applicant who partially meets one or more of the criteria may still qualify for consideration by providing other reliable and compelling evidence of the start-up entity’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.
- A qualified investor is defined as “an individual or investor who, among other requirements, has made investments in start-up entities comprising a total of no less than $633,952 in a 5-year period and at least two of those entities created at least 5 jobs or generated at least $528,293 in revenue with an average annualized revenue growth of at least 20 percent,” the rule states.
o DHS final rule; technical amendment, 86 Fed. Reg. 50839 (Sept. 13, 2021), https://bit.ly/3C5oZbw
5. House Budget Reconciliation Bill Includes Immigration Provisions
The proposed House of Representatives’ budget reconciliation bill includes language that would allow eligible persons to pay a fee to be exempted from numerical limits, among other provisions. Selected highlights include:
- Those in four categories who are eligible would be able to adjust status to permanent residence by paying a supplemental fee of $1,500 and passing security checks and a medical exam, including certain DREAMers, essential workers, temporary protected status beneficiaries, and deferred enforced departure beneficiaries.
- Unused immigrant visa numbers from certain date ranges would be recaptured, including family and employment visas that went unused and diversity visas if a person was refused a visa solely due to a Trump visa ban or slowdowns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Adjustment applications may be submitted without regard to visa availability with a fee of $1,500 plus $250 for each derivative beneficiary.
- Adjustment applicants would be exempted from family numerical limits if they have a priority date more than two years old and are:
-Applying for FA-1, FA-3, or FA-4 immigrant visa categories and pay a fee of $2,500
-Applying for EB-1, EB-2, or EB-3 categories and pay $5,000
-Applying for EB-5 and pay $50,000
- House bill, https://judiciary.house.gov/uploadedfiles/judiciary_committee_print.pdf
- Siskind Summary, House Reconciliation Bill Immigration Language (as of 9/11/2021), https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/review?uri=urn:aaid:scds:US:62f5de78-38e0-42b8-8d70-18ccb238e006#pageNum=1
6. State Dept. Releases Guidance on Immigrant Visa Prioritization
The Department of State (DOS) released guidance on how its embassies and consulates are prioritizing immigrant visa applications and making “difficult decisions” as they work to reduce the backlog “resulting from travel restrictions and operational constraints caused by the global COVID pandemic.”
DOS said the guiding principle is family reunification: “Specifically, the Department’s prioritization relie[s] on clear direction from Congress that the Department must adopt a policy of prioritizing immediate relative visa applicants and K-1 [fiancé(e)s] of U.S. citizens, followed by family preference immigrant visa applicants.”
Immigrant visas are prioritized over nonimmigrant visas. U.S. embassies and consulates are using a “tiered approach to triage immigrant visa applications based on the category of immigrant visa as they resume and expand processing.” Consular sections are scheduling some appointments within all four priority tiers every month. The following lists the main categories of immigrant visas in priority order:
- Tier One: Immediate relative intercountry adoption visas, age-out cases (cases where the applicant will soon no longer qualify due to their age), certain Special Immigrant Visas (SQ and SI for Afghan and Iraqi nationals working with the U.S. government), and emergency cases as determined on a case-by-case basis.
- Tier Two: Immediate relative visas; fiancé(e) visas; and returning resident visas
- Tier Three: Family preference immigrant visas and SE Special Immigrant Visas for certain employees of the U.S. government abroad
- Tier Four: All other immigrant visas, including employment preference and diversity visas
Also, U.S. embassies and consulates were instructed that they may “prioritize as emergencies on a case-by-case basis the immigrant visa cases of certain healthcare professionals who will work at a facility engaged in pandemic response,” the guidance states.
- “Immigrant Visa Prioritization,” Dept. of State, Aug. 30, 2021, https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/immigrant-visa-prioritization.html
7. DHS Extends I-9 Flexibility to End of December
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced an extension until December 31, 2021, of the flexibility in complying with certain requirements related to Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, due to continuing issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The temporary guidance previously was set to expire August 31, 2021.
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) release from March 2020 provides information on how to obtain, remotely inspect, and retain copies of the identity and employment eligibility documents to complete Section 2 of Form I-9. DHS said employers must monitor DHS’s and ICE’s Workforce Enforcement announcements for information on when the extensions will end and normal operations will resume. E-Verify participants who choose the remote inspection option “should continue to follow current guidance and create cases for their new hires within three business days from the date of hire,” DHS said.
- ICE announcement, Aug. 31, 2021, https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/ice-announces-extension-new-employee-guidance-i-9-compliance-flexibility-1
- ICE news release, Mar. 31, 2021, https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/dhs-announces-flexibility-requirements-related-form-i-9-compliance
- DHS releases, https://www.dhs.gov/
- ICE releases, https://bit.ly/2Ycd6Sw
- Temporary policies related to COVID-19, USCIS, Aug. 31, 2021, https://www.uscis.gov/i-9-central/covid-19-form-i-9-related-news/temporary-policies-related-to-covid-19
8. COVID Vaccinations To Be Required for Many Green Card Applicants
Effective October 1, 2021, with few exceptions, those applying for permanent residence (green card) must be vaccinated against COVID-19, now classified as a “Class A inadmissible condition,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced. The CDC explained that the COVID-19 vaccination meets the criteria for required vaccinations and is a requirement for applicants eligible for the vaccine regardless of evidence of immunity, a negative COVID-19 test, or prior COVID-19 infection. The new vaccine requirements apply to a foreign national filing an I-485 application for adjustment of status and completing the I-693 medical examination with a designated U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) civil surgeon or to a foreign national applying for an immigrant visa or refugee status at a U.S. consulate and undergoing a medical examination with a panel physician.
With respect to I-485 adjustment applicants, the CDC has stated that the applicant “must complete the COVID-19 vaccine series and provide documentation of vaccination to the civil surgeon in person before completion of the medical examination.” The COVID-19 vaccination requirement differs from previous requirements in that “the entire vaccine series (1 or 2 doses depending on formulation) must be completed in addition to the other routinely required vaccines. COVID-19 vaccinations can now be given at any time, without regard to the timing of other vaccinations.” Acceptable vaccines include Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson).
Panel physicians in countries outside the United States may accept vaccines authorized for emergency use or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or vaccines listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO). In addition to the three vaccines used in the United States, WHO lists many other vaccines used outside the United States, such as AstraZeneca, Covishield and Covaxin, Sputnik, Sinopharm and Sinovac, among others.
Waivers are available for applicants under both circumstances if the vaccine is not age-appropriate, the vaccine is medically contraindicated, or the applicant does not have access to one of the approved vaccines in their home country. Applicants may also apply for an individual waiver on religious or moral grounds.
According to reports, the Biden administration also is developing plans for a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for almost all foreign visitors to the United States, with some exceptions. As there is a great disparity in COVID-19 vaccination programs across the world, the mandating of vaccines for green card applicants and visitors may hinder the ability of people to easily come to the United States. According to the New York Times vaccine tracker, the United Arab Emirates has the highest percentage of fully vaccinated people within its population (76%), while the percentage of fully vaccinated people in countries such as India (10%), Senegal (3.5%), and Haiti (<0.1%) is abysmally low.
- “CDC Requirements for Immigrant Medical Examinations: COVID-19 Technical Instructions for Civil Surgeons,” Aug. 17, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/immigrantrefugeehealth/civil-surgeons/covid-19-technical-instructions.html
- “CDC Requirements for Immigrant Medical Examinations: COVID-19 Technical Instructions for Panel Physicians,” Aug. 17, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/immigrantrefugeehealth/panel-physicians/covid-19-technical-instructions.html
- “COVID-19 Vaccinations Required for Most Green Card Applicants,” Roll Call, Aug. 26, 2021, https://www.rollcall.com/2021/08/26/covid-19-vaccinations-required-for-most-green-card-applicants/
- “Biden Administration Developing Plan to Require Almost All Foreign Visitors to be Vaccinated,” Aug. 4, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/08/04/politics/vaccines-foreign-visitors-to-us/index.html
- New COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement for Green Card Applicants,” JDSupra, Aug. 26, 2021, https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/new-covid-19-vaccination-requirement-7487840/
9. Justice Dept. Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claims With Large Health Care Organization
The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on August 25, 2021, that it reached a settlement related to immigration discrimination claims with Ascension Health Alliance, a Missouri-based health care organization with more than 2,600 sites—including 146 hospitals and more than 40 senior living facilities—in 19 states and the District of Columbia.
The settlement resolves DOJ’s claims that Ascension violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) when it discriminated against work-authorized non-U.S. citizens because of their citizenship status. Based on its investigation, DOJ determined that Ascension told its non-U.S. citizen employees to present new documents to prove their continued work authorization even when it was not required. The investigation found that Ascension improperly programmed customized software to send automated emails requesting proof of continued work authorization to all non-U.S. citizen employees, including U.S. nationals, lawful permanent residents, asylees and refugees, close to the expiration date of the documents they provided when completing the Form I-9. These non-U.S. citizen employees often presented documents that did not require reverification of employment eligibility. In some instances after sending the emails, Ascension further required non-U.S. citizen employees to present new documents to continue working. In contrast, Ascension did not program the software to send emails to U.S. citizens and therefore did not notify U.S. citizens near the expiration of their documents.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Ascension will pay the United States a civil penalty of $84,832.00. Additionally, Ascension will train its employees on the requirements and be subject to monitoring for a three-year period.
- Press release, Dept. of Justice, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-settles-large-health-care-organization-resolve-software-based-immigration
- Settlement agreement, https://www.justice.gov/opa/press-release/file/1427891/download
10. DHS Releases Guidance for Immigration Processing of Afghan Citizens Fleeing Afghanistan
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released new guidance for the immigration processing of Afghan citizens during Operation Allies Refuge, under which many thousands are being evacuated from Afghanistan.
The memo states that some of these individuals were in various stages of processing for immigration status in the United States, and through various paths based on family relationships, Special Immigrant Visas, or refugee programs, for example. Many were not able to complete these processes because of the current situation in Afghanistan. The memo notes that others, despite likely eligibility, never applied because they had not previously sought to leave Afghanistan and relocate to the United States. DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is therefore authorizing U.S. Customs and Border Protection [CBP] officers to parole certain Afghan nationals into the United States, “on a case-by-case basis, for a period of two years and subsequent to appropriate vetting, provided their movement to the United States is being carried out pursuant to Operation Allies Refuge.”
Once paroled into the United States by CBP, Afghan nationals may be eligible to apply for status through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. “Afghan nationals paroled by CBP may also have conditions placed on their parole, to include medical screening and reporting requirements. Failure to follow these conditions may be cause for termination of the parole and initiation of detention and removal,” the memo notes.
- “Guidance for the Immigration Processing of Afghan Citizens During Operation Allies Refuge,” DHS memorandum, Aug. 23, 2021.
11. Cap Reached for Remaining H-2B Visas for Returning Workers for FY 2021
As of August 13, 2021, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has received enough petitions for returning workers to reach the additional 22,000 H-2B visas made available under the fiscal year (FY) 2021 H-2B supplemental visa temporary final rule. USCIS said it will reject and return any cap-subject petitions for H-2B returning workers received after August 13, along with any accompanying fees.
USCIS said it will continue to accept H-2B petitions for workers who are exempt from the congressionally mandated cap, including petitions for:
- Current H-2B workers in the United States who extend their stay, change employers, or change the terms and conditions of their employment;
- Fish roe processors, fish roe technicians, or supervisors of fish roe processing; and
- Workers performing labor or services in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands or Guam from November 28, 2009, until Dec. 31, 2029.
USCIS is also currently accepting cap-subject petitions for the first half of FY 2022 for employment start dates on or after October 1, 2021, and before April 1, 2022.
- USCIS alert, Aug. 19, 2021, https://www.uscis.gov/working-in-the-united-states/temporary-workers/h-2b-non-agricultural-workers/temporary-increase-in-h-2b-nonimmigrant-visas-for-fy-2021
12. USCIS Extends Flexibilities Through October for Certain OPT Applicants Filing Work Authorization Applications
Pursuant to a court order, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) extended flexibilities through October 31, 2021, for certain applicants filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, for optional practical training (OPT) and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) OPT.
For applicants who timely filed Form I-765 for OPT and STEM OPT and whose applications were later rejected, USCIS will accept a refiled Form I-765 as filed on the original filing date if:
- The original, timely filed application was received on or after October 1, 2020, through October 31, 2021, inclusive; and
- USCIS subsequently rejected it.
USCIS said refiled applications must be received by November 30, 3021, for USCIS to treat the application as though filed on the original received date. Additionally, for applications received through October 31, 2021, applicants can file Form I-765 up to 120 days before the program end date.
- USCIS alert, July 29, 2021, https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-extends-flexibilities-to-certain-applicants-filing-form-i-765-for-opt
13. Court Orders State Dept. to Adjudicate More Than 9,000 DV-2020 Visas
A federal court ordered the Department of State to adjudicate more than 9,000 DV-2020 cases that were not processed before the fiscal year deadline. The case concerned the Department’s suspension of the processing and issuance of diversity visas for certain classes of foreign nationals during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly selectees of the diversity visa lottery during the fiscal year that ended September 30, 2020.
The court ordered the Department to process the DV-2020 applications in a random order until all of the reserved diversity visas have been granted. “The parties shall notify the court by August 25, 2021, whether they have agreed to a time within which to process the reserved visas. The court will issue a final order once that question is resolved,” the court said, finding that the defendants acted arbitrarily and capriciously in excluding diversity visas from mission-critical processing, and that the defendants unreasonably delayed and unlawfully withheld adjudication of their diversity visas.
- Gomez v. Biden, order filed Aug. 17, 2021, https://innovationlawlab.org/media/Gomez_Order-SJ_08.17.21.pdf
14. USCIS Expands Partnership With Social Security Administration
Applicants filing for lawful permanent resident status can now apply for a Social Security number (SSN) or replacement card as part of the adjustment of status application process, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced. Previously, such an individual had to apply for the SSN at a Social Security office.
USCIS revised Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, to include the additional questions needed to apply for an SSN or a replacement card.
- USCIS news release, Aug. 9, 2021, https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-expands-partnership-with-social-security-administration
- Form I-485 (see Social Security questions #14-17 on page 2), https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/forms/i-485.pdf
15. USCIS Temporarily Extends Validity Period of Medical Exam and Vaccination Record Form
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) temporarily extended the validity period for Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, from two years to four years due to COVID-19 pandemic-related delays in processing. USCIS said it may consider a completed Form I-693 as valid if:
- The civil surgeon’s signature is dated no more than 60 days before the applicant filed Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status;
- No more than four years have passed since the date of the civil surgeon’s signature; and
- A decision on the applicant’s Form I-485 is issued on or before September 30, 2021.
- USCIS also stated that it is on track to approve more employment-based adjustment of status applications than it has since FY 2005. “We have prioritized employment-based adjustment of status applications during every step of its processing and adjudication during this fiscal year. We continue to make processing and resource allocation decisions to increase the pace of adjudications and limit the potential for employment-based visa numbers to go unused.”
- USCIS alert, Aug. 12, 2021, https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-temporarily-extending-validity-period-of-form-i-693
Immigrant and employee rights webinars. The Department of Justice’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER), of the Civil Rights Division, is offering a number of free webinars for workers, employers, and advocates. For more information, see https://www.justice.gov/crt/webinars.
E-Verify webinar schedule. E-Verify has released its calendar of webinars at https://www.e-verify.gov/calendar-field_date_and_time/month.
AGENCY PROCESSING TIMES
USCIS case processing times: https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/
US Department of Labor: https://flag.dol.gov/processingtimes
Department of State Visa Bulletin: https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/law-and-policy/bulletin.html
COVID-19 resources. The response of the U.S. immigration agencies to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is constantly evolving, making it difficult to report relevant information that is not rendered immediately obsolete. The list of online resources below is intended to serve as a quick reference to the most current available agency information.
Coronavirus.gov: Primary federal site for general coronavirus information
USA.gov/coronavirus: Catalog of U.S. government’s response to coronavirus
CDC.gov/coronavirus: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information
American Immigration Lawyers Association: (links to practice alerts on this site are restricted to members)
Immigration Agency Information
Department of Homeland Security: DHS.gov/coronavirus
– Overview and FAQs: https://www.ice.gov/coronavirus
– Requirements for ICE Detention Facilities: https://www.ice.gov/doclib/coronavirus/eroCOVID19response
– Updates and Announcements: https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/coronavirus
– Accessing I-94 Information: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home
Department of Labor:
– OFLC Announcements (COVID-19 announcements included here): https://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/
– COVID-19 FAQs:
Round 1 (Mar. 20, 2020): https://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/pdf/DOL-OFLC_COVID-19_FAQs_Round%201_03.20.2020.pdf
Round 2 (Apr. 1, 2020): https://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/pdf/DOL-OFLC_COVID-19_FAQs_Round%202_04.01.2020.pdf
Round 3 (Apr. 9, 2020): https://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/pdf/DOL-OFLC_COVID-19_FAQs_Round%203.pdf
State Department: https://www.state.gov/coronavirus/
Country-specific information: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/COVID-19-Country-Specific-Information.html
J-1 exchange visitor information: https://j1visa.state.gov/covid-19/
Executive Office for Immigration Review: https://www.justice.gov/eoir/eoir-operational-status-during-coronavirus-pandemic
AGENCY TWITTER ACCOUNTS
Study in the States: @StudyinStates
I-9 AND E-VERIFY WEBINARS
USCIS and Immigrant and employee rights webinars. The Department of Justice’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section, Civil Rights Division,has joined with USCIS to present webinars on employee rights during the E-Verify and Form I-9 employment eligibility verification processes. For more information or to register, see: https://www.justice.gov/crt/webinars.
E-Verify webinar schedule: https://www.e-verify.gov/calendar-field_date_and_time/month/202004.
This newsletter was prepared in collaboration with ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, comprised of twenty U.S. immigration lawyers who head some of the top immigration practices in the country. Larrabee Albi Coker LLP is an active member of ABIL.
Legal Disclaimer: This newsletter is provided for informational purposes only and does not substitute for legal advice based on the circumstances of a specific matter.