Visa Interview waiver
The U.S. consulates are given discretion through December 31, 2022, to waive in-person visa interviews in case of the following nonimmigrant visa category: F, H1, H4, H3, non-blanket L, O, P, Q, academic J, and M, when the applicant requests the U.S. consulate in the home country and was not previously denied a visa or when the previous denial was waived or overcome.
Interview can also be waived for any visa renewal requests when made within 48 months of visa expiry.
An interview waiver is discretionary, and the consular officer may still require an interview.
An interview is also waived for those from Visa Waiver Program countries who traveled to the U.S. before on ESTA.
The migrant Protection Program (MPP) gets additional funding to help with emergency assistance due to the increase in the Afghan refugee crisis.
Administrative closure is restored!
Administrative closure is revived as Attorney General Garland Vacates the decision of the previous attorney general Sessions in the Matter of Castro-Tum.
Admin. closure is a way to prevent unnecessary crowding of the immigration court dockets. It suspends the removal/deportation process of certain foreign nationals who are not priority candidates for deportation.
There are too many deportation cases pending before the immigration courts than the system can reasonably handle. Reviving administrative closure allows the court system to direct its focus to more serious cases.
Many individuals who warrant humanitarian considerations or are eligible to obtain permanent residence could not be removed if their applications are approved. The irony is that the applications they had filed are waiting for their turn in the processing line. Removal of such individuals would be unfair, and administrative processing is used for such individuals in the removal process.
The new public charge rule has finally come to an end as the Department of Justice is no longer defending the public charge Rule. Soon Form I-944 will no longer be required, and as of now, USCIS is still requiring this form.
Visa Services resume at U.S. Consulates
Consulates resume Visa services! Visa services were suspended since March 2020 due to COVID-19 providing only citizenship services and some emergency visa assistance.
Resumption of routine visa services largely depends upon the local conditions. Those who have already paid the visa fee but were unable to schedule the appointment would be able to use it till September 30, 2022.
E-verify relaxed: remote verification
Employers allowing remote operation due to COVID-19 may verify identity and employment authorization documents remotely by visual conferencing. This relaxation in rules was initially permitted for 60 days starting March 20th or 3 days after the COVID national emergency is over. The relaxation was set to expire on May 19th and is further extended.
On May 14th DHS announced the rule is extended for 30 days, and the physical presence requirement is deferred for employment verification. This rule is, however, only applied to establishments operating remotely.
Response Relaxation due to COVID-19:
COVID19 crisis allows for delayed filing up to 60 days from the date of the decision in case of responses to requests for evidence etc., when the notice or decision is issued between March 1, 2020, through March 26, 2022.
The request for consideration of delayed filing of responses includes the following:
response to the request for evidence (RFE);
notice of intent to deny (NOID);
notice of intent to revoke (NOIR);
notice of intent to rescind;
notice of intent to terminate (NOIT) regional centers and
motions to reopen denial of Naturalization applications in the wake of derogatory information;
Motions and appeals under Form I-290 B and I-336 can be filed within 90 days from the decision date when the decision is issued between Movember 1, 2021, and March 26, 2022.
Investor green card EB-5 limits increase
The EB-5 investment minimum limit, starting November 21, 2019, increases to $1.8 million, and for the targeted employment area (TEA), $900,000. USCIS will determine TEAs.
Removal (deportation): New Policy
Denial of petitions to obtain immigration benefits for lawful status will, starting October 1, 2018, be followed by a notice to appear (NTA) letter from USCIS, effective October 1, 2018. Petitions include I-485 adjustment of status and I-539 change of status applications. NTA starts the removal proceeding.
The policy is being widely publicized. USCIS claims it will be implemented gradually (perhaps to prevent a sudden flood of cases) with NTA priority for cases involving national security concerns, criminals, and fraud issues.
NTA letter initiates the removal (deportation) proceeding in the immigration court. This policy does not change applications seeking humanitarian relief or employment-based adjustment of status.
Central American Minor (CAM) Parole Program reopened
Under CAM, qualified children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are eligible to seek refugee status or apply for parole to come to the U.S. The minor could obtain work authorization, and parents, guardians, and siblings are eligible to receive immigration benefits.
Parole under the CAM program ended on August 16, 2017. This program allowed special consideration for parole to minors and certain accompanying individuals from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras who were denied refugee status. However, like others, these individuals could have still qualified for parole and re-parole under general provisions for humanitarian parole. It did not end the Central American Minor refugee program.
Following Northern District of California, S.A. v. Trump, 18-cv-03539, and related settlement, CAM parole was reopened.
EAD Validity increased to two years for Asylum applicants
Asylum applicants would now get employment authorization with validity not expiring until 2 yrs., starting October 5, 2016. This policy change includes all pending I-765.
H-2A approval to be transmitted to Consulates electronically
Starting May 11th, USCIS proposes to send an e-notice to the DOS. This speeds up the processing of H-2A visas for agricultural workers because the U.S. farm business has its own urgency and can not wait for the government processing times.
This is Great! It should become the standard USCIS practice for every case where the foreign national applies for a visa at a U.S. Consulates abroad.
STEM OPT: rule change
This regulation's new STEM extension period is 24 months, replacing the old OPT period of 17 mos. Students with STEM OPT before the rule takes effect can safely transition into the extended period OPT under the new rule that takes into effect on May 10, 2016.
The progressive regulation allows for another STEM OPT extension based upon an additional qualifying degree. This rule creates a greater oversight over the students, prescribes a training plan, and allows them to participate in entrepreneurial ventures.