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.

Details:

  • Original Federal Register notice,

    https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-04-19/pdf/2021-07987.pdf

    · Advance copy of correction,

    https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-04-26/pdf/C1-2021-07987.pdf

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.

Details:

  • “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, https://bit.ly/3356kNO

  • “Biden Administration to Restrict Travel From India

    Starting Tuesday,” CNN, Apr. 30, 2021,

    https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/30/politics/us-india-travel-restrictions/index.html

    · Announcement, U.S. Embassy and Consulates in India,

    https://in.usembassy.gov/visas/

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.”

Details:

  • “Deference to Prior Determinations of Eligibility in

    Requests for Extensions of Petition Validity,” USCIS Policy

    Alert, Apr. 27, 2021,

    https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/policy-manual-updates/20210427-Deference.pdf

  • “USCIS Issues Policy Guidance on Deference to Previous

    Decisions,” USCIS Release, Apr. 27, 2021,

    https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-issues-policy-guidance-on-deference-to-previous-decisions

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

Details:

  • “Immigrant Visa Prioritization,” DOS, Apr. 30, 2021,

    https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/immigrant-visa-prioritization.html

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”

Details:

  • “U.S. Under Biden Will No Longer Call Migrants

    'Illegal Aliens',” U.S. News, Apr. 19, 2021,

    https://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2021-04-19/us-under-biden-will-no-longer-call-migrants-illegal-aliens

  • “Under Joe Biden, United States Will No Longer Use the

    Term 'Illegal Aliens' to Describe Migrants,” South

    China Morning Post, Apr. 20, 2021,

    https://www.scmp.com/news/world/united-states-canada/article/3130203/under-joe-biden-united-states-will-no-longer-use

  • “ICE to Stop Using the Term 'Illegal Alien'

    Referring to Immigrants,” ABC News, Apr. 19, 2021,

    https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/ice-stop-term-illegal-alien-referring-immigrants/story?id=77165043&cid=clicksource_4380645_5_three_posts_card_hed

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