U.S. Immigration Updates- Week of April 25, 2022

Homeland Security (DHS) Extends Form I-9 Requirement Flexibility (Effective May 1, 2022)

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced an extension of the flexibility in complying with requirements related to Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, due to COVID-19.

This temporary guidance was set to expire on April 30, 2022. Because of ongoing precautions related to COVID-19, DHS has extended the Form I-19 flexibilities until October 31, 2022.

Employers are encouraged to begin, at their discretion, the in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation for employees who were hired on or after March 20, 2020, and who presented such documents for remote inspection in reliance on the flexibilities first announced in March 2020.

Employers must monitor DHS’s and ICE’s Workforce Enforcement announcements about when the extensions end and normal operations resume.

E-Verify participants who meet the criteria and 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.

Source: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, April 25, 2022: ICE announces extension to I-9 compliance flexibility | ICE


Homeland Security (DHS) Extends COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements for Non-U.S. Travelers Entering the U.S. via Land Ports of Entry and Ferry Terminals

On Thursday, April 21, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it will extend temporary Title 19 requirements and continue to require non-U.S. travelers entering the United States via land ports of entry and ferry terminals at the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada borders to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and provide related proof of vaccination upon request. These requirements will continue to apply to non-U.S. travelers who are traveling both for essential and non-essential reasons, and do not apply to U.S. citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents, or U.S. nationals. These requirements were extended in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and several other federal agencies. According to CDC, vaccines remain the most effective public health measure to protect people from severe illness or death from COVID-19, slow the transmission of COVID-19, and reduce the likelihood of new COVID-19 variants emerging.

Non-U.S. travelers entering the United States via land ports of entry and ferry terminals, whether for essential or non-essential reasons, must continue to:

· verbally attest to their COVID-19 vaccination status;

· provide, upon request, proof of a CDC-approved COVID-19 vaccination, as outlined on the CDC website; · present a valid Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)-compliant document, such as a valid passport, Trusted Traveler Program card, or Enhanced Tribal Card; and,

· be prepared to present any other relevant documents requested by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer during a border inspection.

COVID-19 testing is not required to enter the United States via a land port of entry or ferry terminal.

The continuation of these requirements helps protect the health and safety of both the personnel at the border and other travelers, as well as U.S. destination communities, and ensures that public health measures governing land travel align with those that govern incoming international air travel. DHS will closely monitor all relevant circumstances, including the effect of these requirements, and may amend or rescind the requirements at any time. In determining whether and when to rescind this order, DHS anticipates that it will take account of whether the vaccination requirement for non-U.S. air travelers remains in place. This announcement does not affect requirements for entry into the United States by air.

To help reduce wait times and long lines, travelers arriving or departing from air, land, or sea ports of entry are encouraged to use the Simplified Arrival or Mobile Passport Control mobile applications, which use facial comparison technology for more expedient processing. Documented non-citizens may also apply for and manage their I-94s through the CBP OneTM mobile application, a single portal for accessing CBP mobile applications and services.

Source: Department of Homeland Security, April 21, 2022: DHS Extends COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements for Non-U.S. Travelers Entering the United States via Land Ports of Entry and Ferry Terminals | Homeland Security


Immigration Advocates Urge Changes to Proposed Public Charge Rule

Immigration advocates, medical groups, and local governments urged U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in comments due Monday to retool its proposed “public charge” rule to exclude more public benefits when analyzing whether immigrants are likely to become dependent on the government.

Some of the 127 commenters who made submissions ahead of the Monday deadline said the agency should clarify how state and local benefits factor into the public charge analysis, and recommended the agency remove Medicaid entirely from the evaluation. Several commenters also called on USCIS to do more to inform the public about the proposed changes.

The Biden administration’s proposal, unveiled in February, aims to undo a definition of public charge put in place under former President Donald Trump that made entering the U.S. or obtaining a green card harder for noncitizens who might use public benefits.

The Trump rule defined a public charge as a noncitizen who receives one or more public benefits, including food assistance and subsidized housing, for more than 12 months within a three-year period.

President Joe Biden’s proposal largely seeks to return to the pre-Trump definition, excluding noncash benefits like Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, and applying a “totality of circumstances” test to determine if someone is likely to become “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence.”

The mayors of Los Angeles and Denver generally supported the Biden administration’s proposal. But in separate comments they called on USCIS to exclude cash assistance provided by state and local governments from the public charge analysis.

Including state and local cash programs could discourage noncitizens from taking advantage of local benefits to which they are entitled due to fear about potential consequences for their immigration status, the mayors said.

“This ability on the part of state and local governments to exercise their discretion in making certain cash benefit programs available to their immigrant residents should not be undermined by the parameters articulated in any final public charge rule,” Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock said.

The American Medical Association, which represents doctors and medical students, suggested the Biden administration eliminate a provision that allows USCIS to include Medicaid in the public charge determination if a noncitizen uses the health care program for long-term institutionalization.

Including Medicaid at all threatens to create a “chilling effect” that could deter noncitizens from using the program for other care, while also unfairly discriminating against people with disabilities, the organization said.

“The vast majority of people with chronic conditions are able to live and work independently as contributing members of society,” the AMA said.

Several commenters urged USCIS to bolster its messaging to the public regarding the proposed changes to the public charge rule.

The National Immigration Forum recommended that USCIS work with local community organizations to develop and disseminate written materials explaining the criteria. The nonprofit Center for Law and Social Policy suggested including in the text of the regulation a list of examples of the kinds of public assistance that are not considered in the public charge analysis.

Critics have argued the Biden administration’s proposal will make it harder for the government to keep out immigrants who may become financial burdens on the government.

Source: Mike LaSusa, Law360.com, April 25, 2022: https://www.law360.com/immigration/articles/1487049/uscis-urged-to-tweak-proposed-public-charge-rule

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