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WEEKLY IMMIGRATION UPDATE 5.03.2021

22:27 03 May in News Updates
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WEEKLY IMMIGRATION UPDATE – May 3, 2021

HEADLINES

  1. President Biden Suspends Entry of Noncitizens/Non-LPRs Traveling From India; U.S. Mission in India Announces Limits on Visa Services – President Biden has issued a proclamation suspending the entry of non-U.S. citizens who were physically present within India during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States, with some exceptions. The proclamation takes effect May 4, 2021.
  2. State Dept. Announces Tiered Immigrant Visa Prioritization – On April 30, 2021, the Department of State announced a tiered prioritization approach to “triage” immigrant visa applications in light of reduced operating capacity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. State Dept. Announces Global National Interest Exceptions to COVID-19 Travel Restrictions – Students seeking to start studies in the fall, certain academics, journalists, and individuals who provide critical infrastructure support in countries affected by a geographic COVID-19 restriction may now qualify for a national interest exception.
  4. USCIS Reverses Trump Policy, Instructs Adjudicators to Resume Granting Deference to Prior Determinations in Petition Validity Extension Requests – Effective immediately, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services updated its policy guidance to generally restore its 2004 instructions directing officers to defer to prior determinations of eligibility when adjudicating petition extensions involving the same parties and facts as the initial petition.
DETAILS

 

1. President Biden Suspends Entry of Noncitizens/Non-LPRs Traveling From India; U.S. Mission in India Announces Limits on Visa Services

President Biden has issued a proclamation suspending the entry of non-U.S. citizens who were physically present within India during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States, with some exceptions. The proclamation takes effect May 4, 2021, and will remain in effect until terminated by the President.

The proclamation states that India “is experiencing widespread, ongoing person-to-person transmission of the virus” that causes COVID-19 and its variants. The proclamation cites the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has concluded that proactive measures are required to protect U.S. “public health from travelers entering the United States from that jurisdiction.”

The ban on entry does not apply to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs), noncitizen nationals of the United States, noncitizen spouses of U.S. citizens or LPRs, noncitizen members of the U.S. armed forces, noncitizens whose entry is in the national interest; noncitizens traveling at the invitation of the U.S. government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the coronavirus, and several other categories.

The White House has alerted U.S. airlines and Congress. Also, the U.S. embassy and consulates in India announced significant temporary limitations on visa and other services.

2. State Dept. Announces Tiered Immigrant Visa Prioritization

On April 30, 2021, the Department of State (DOS) announced a tiered prioritization approach to “triage” immigrant visa applications in light of reduced operating capacity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The main categories of immigrant visas in priority order are:

  • Tier One: Immediate relative intercountry adoption visas, age-out cases (cases where the applicant will soon no longer qualify due to their age), and certain Special Immigrant Visas (SQ and SI for Afghan and Iraqi nationals working with the U.S. government)
  • 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

     -“Immigrant Visa Prioritization,” DOS, Apr. 30, 2021, https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/immigrant-visa-prioritization.html

3. State Dept. Announces Global National Interest Exceptions to COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

On April 27, 2021, the Department of State (DOS) announced national interest exceptions to all regional travel restrictions currently in effect as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

DOS said that students seeking to start studies in the fall, certain academics, journalists, and individuals who provide critical infrastructure support in countries affected by a geographic COVID-19 restriction may now qualify for a national interest exception. This includes qualified applicants who have been in Brazil, China, Iran, or South Africa.

DOS also said that the pandemic “continues to limit the number of visas our embassies and consulates abroad are able to process,” and that visa applicants should check the website of their nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for the latest information about visa appointment availability.

4. USCIS Reverses Trump Policy, Instructs Adjudicators to Resume Granting Deference to Prior Determinations in Petition Validity Extension Requests

Effective immediately, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated its policy guidance on April 27, 2021, to generally restore its 2004 instructions directing officers to defer to prior determinations of eligibility when adjudicating petition extensions involving the same parties and facts as the initial petition. USCIS had rescinded the 2004 guidance in 2017.

The updated policy clarifies that USCIS will once again give deference unless there was a material error, material change in circumstances or eligibility, or new material information that adversely impacts the petitioner’s, applicant’s, or beneficiary’s eligibility. The updated policy also affirms that USCIS “considers, but does not defer to, previous eligibility determinations on petitions or applications made by other U.S. government agencies,” and that “officers make determinations on the evidence of record in the petition or application under adjudication.”

 


I-94/E-VERIFY WEBINARS

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

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.

General 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)

NAFSA

Immigration Agency Information

Department of Homeland Security: DHS.gov/coronavirus

–        https://www.dhs.gov/coronavirus-news-updates

–        https://www.dhs.gov/news/2020/03/17/fact-sheet-dhs-notice-arrival-restrictions-china-iran-and-certain-countries-europe

USCIS: USCIS.gov/coronavirus

ICE:

–        Overview and FAQs: https://www.ice.gov/coronavirus

–       Requirements for ICE Detention Facilities: https://www.ice.gov/doclib/coronavirus/eroCOVID19response

ReqsCleanFacilities.pdf

CBP:

–        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/

Travel advisories: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/covid-19-information.html

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/

Justice Department

Executive Office for Immigration Review: https://www.justice.gov/eoir/eoir-operational-status-during-coronavirus-pandemic

AGENCY TWITTER ACCOUNTS

EOIR: @DOJ_EOIR

ICE: @ICEgov

Study in the States: @StudyinStates

USCIS: @USCIS

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.

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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.

 

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