May 5, 2021 Newsletter Powered by ABIL

DHS Corrects Deadline for Comments on How USCIS Can Reduce Barriers/Burdens in Regulations and Policies
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a correction to its notice seeking comments from the public on how U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can reduce administrative and other barriers and burdens within its regulations and policies, including those that prevent foreign citizens from easily obtaining access to immigration services and benefits. The notice had said comments were due April 19, 2021, but the correction says comments are due May 19, 2021.
DHS said the effort “will help DHS identify process improvements for USCIS, with benefits for state, local, and tribal governments, for businesses (including small businesses and startups), for educational institutions of all kinds, for nonprofits, and for individuals.”
The correction was scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on April 26, 2021. The original notice was published on April 19, 2021.
  • Original Federal Register notice, · Advance copy of correction,
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.
  • “A Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting Coronavirus Disease 2019,” White House, Apr. 30, 2021,
  • “Biden Administration to Restrict Travel From India Starting Tuesday,” CNN, Apr. 30, 2021, · Announcement, U.S. Embassy and Consulates in India,
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.”
  • “Deference to Prior Determinations of Eligibility in Requests for Extensions of Petition Validity,” USCIS Policy Alert, Apr. 27, 2021,
  • “USCIS Issues Policy Guidance on Deference to Previous Decisions,” USCIS Release, Apr. 27, 2021,
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,
President Biden Orders CBP, ICE to Change Terminology
According to reports, under orders of the Biden administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued memoranda to their employees to stop using certain terms and replace them with others.
Examples include:
  • “alien”—use “noncitizen” or “migrant”
  • “alienage—use “noncitizenship”
  • “illegal alien”—use “undocumented noncitizen,” “undocumented individual,” or “migrant”
  • “unaccompanied alien children”—use “noncitizen unaccompanied children”
  • “assimilation”— use “integration” or “civic integration”
  • “immigrant assimilation”— use “immigrant integration”
  • “U.S. Under Biden Will No Longer Call Migrants ‘Illegal Aliens’,” U.S. News, Apr. 19, 2021,
  • “Under Joe Biden, United States Will No Longer Use the Term ‘Illegal Aliens’ to Describe Migrants,” South China Morning Post, Apr. 20, 2021,
  • “ICE to Stop Using the Term ‘Illegal Alien’ Referring to Immigrants,” ABC News, Apr. 19, 2021,

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