FOR THE WEEK OF MARCH 2, 2023
- The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023, on “The Biden Border Crisis: Part II.”The goal was to examine the Department of Homeland Security’s operations at the southwest border and allow the Committee to hear testimony about the effects of illegal immigration on the Yuma community.
- On Feb. 28, 2023, the House Committee on Homeland Security held a Full Committee hearing entitled “Every State is a Border State: Examining Secretary Mayorkas’ Border Crisis.”
Biden Administration Announces Crackdown on Immigrant Child Labor
- The Biden Administration said that it was creating a new taskforce to address the exploitation of migrant children for labor
- The New York Times recently published an investigation of 100 migrant children working in unsafe conditions throughout the U.S.
State Department Releases Annual Immigrant Visa Applicant Report
- The report provides data about immigrant visa applicants who have registered with the National Visa Center for family-based and employment-based applications, as of Nov. 1, 2022. This report does not contain data about adjustment of status applicants applying with USCIS.
- As of Nov. 1, 2022, there are 3,915,501 family-based immigrant visa applicants waiting for their visas. Over 2 million of those applicants are in the fourth-preference category, which are siblings of US citizens.
- As of Nov. 1, 2022, there are 168,148 employment-based immigrant visa applicants waiting for their visas. The report notes that 85% of all employment-based immigrants are processed as adjustment of status applicants by USCIS.
Bipartisan Letter from the Senate Urges DOS to Address Ongoing Visa Delays
- As of February 2023, 408,456 applicants are pending the scheduling of an interview (as of February 2023, according to a recent DOS National Visa Center Immigrant Visa Backlog Report.
- Senators Amy Klobuchar, Dan Sullivan, Jacky Rosen, John Cornyn, Cory Booker, and Jerry Moran stressed how these delays are severely impacting U.S. businesses and universities. While the letter acknowledges the administration’s effort to decrease these wait times, it still urges DOS to continue to take important steps to decrease the wait times even further and also requests that DOS respond to these concerns by March 10, 2023.
DHS and DOJ Propose Rule that Would Limit Asylum Eligibility
- The proposed rule introduces a rebuttable presumption of asylum ineligibility for migrants who travel through countries that are signatories of the UN Refugee Convention without seeking protection in those countries
- The Administration says its goal is to crack down on the migrant surge at the southern border and to encourage migrants to find a safe and lawful way to seek asylum, rather than rely on human smuggling networks.
FOR THE WEEK OF MARCH 10, 2023
- Representative J. Luis Corea (D-CA) introduced a bill that would update the registry date for individuals in the U.S. without lawful immigration status. The current registry date is Jan. 1, 1972, and it would be updated to 2015. See HR 8433 “Renewing Immigration Provisions of the Immigration Act of 1929.”
- The House Judiciary Committee is still working on its draft of a border security bill. We expect mark-up in the committee sometime in March 2023.
Federal judge finds “Alternatives to Detention Plus Parole” Violates the INA
- S. District Judge T. Kent Wetherell said the Biden administration had released noncitizens “en masse” in violation of mandatory detention statutes. The judgement is stayed for seven days. (Florida v. United States, 3/8/23)
USCIS Announces Premium Processing, Online Filing Procedures for OPT Applicants
- Starting March 6, 2023, USCIS will accept premium processing upgrades from F-1 students with pending pre-completion OPT, post-completion OPT and STEM OPT extension I-765 applications
- Beginning April 3, USCIS will accept premium processing requests filed together with I-765 applications from applicants in the above-mentioned categories.
DHS Announces Extension and Redesignation of TPS for Somalia
- DHS will publish a notice in the Federal Register on March 13, 2023 extending the designation of TPS for Somalia for 18 months from 8/18/2023 to 9/17/2024.
- DHS is also redesignating TPS for Somalia, which allows Somali nationals who have been living continuously in the U.S. since 1/11/2023 to apply for TPS.
- Through this Federal Register notice, DHS automatically extends through March 17, 2024 the validity of EADs previously issued under the TPS designation of Somalia that expire(d) on March 17, 2023 or Sept. 17, 2021.
FOR THE WEEK OF MARCH 16, 2023
- Texas Sen. John Cornyn said on FOX News on March 13, 2023, that he plans to introduce the Congressional Review Act to block the Biden administration’s parole program that would allow 30,000 Cuban, Venezuelan, Haitian, and Nicaraguan migrants into the U.S.
DHS Announces Parole Extension for Certain Ukrainians
- Ukrainian nationals who were paroled into the U.S. between Feb. 24, 2022, and April 25, 2022, will be considered for an extension of their parole and work authorization to align with the two-year parole period granted to United with Ukraine
- Affected parolees do not need to file an extension; DHS will proactively make available a new online I-94 with the extended parole period. DHS will also mail notices to affected parolees extending their work authorization
- The DHS announcement includes email addresses for affected parolees who do not see an updated I-94 or receive a notification extending their work authorization
COVID Test Requirement for Travelers from China Ends
- Effective March 10, 2023, the CDC rescinded its negative COVID test requirement for travelers who had been in China within the 10 days prior to their arrival in the U.S.
- The requirement had been in effect since Dec. 22, 2022
FOR THE WEEK OF MARCH 24, 2023
- The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration held a Hearing on March 22, 2023, on Refugee Admissions. The border issue and the need to perform border policies were also discussed.
- The House Judiciary Committee is still working through drafts of its Immigration Reform bill, to include border reform, asylum reform and internal enforcement. We expect a mark-up of this legislation in the committee in the next month.
April Visa Bulletin: Retrogression for Employment-based Second-Preference, Spouses of Permanent Residents
- Pursuant to warnings included in the March 2023 Visa Bulletin, EB-2 final action dates for Rest of World, India, Mexico, and the Philippines retrogressed in the April 2023 Visa Bulletin
- The Rest of World, Mexico, and Philippines EB-2 final action dates retrogressed to July 1, 2022 and the India EB-2 final action date retrogressed to Jan. 1, 2011. China EB-2 final action date remains at June 8, 2019.
- Spouses of permanent residents (F2A) for Rest of World, China, India and the Philippines also retrogressed to Sept. 8, 2020. Mexico F2A retrogressed to Nov. 1, 2018.
Temporary Extension of Waiver of 60-day Rule for Immigration Medicals Ends March 31, 2023
- USCIS’s temporary waiver of the requirement that immigration medicals be submitted within 60 days after the date of the physician’s signature on the I-693 form is set to end on March 31, 2023
Changes in Immigrant Visa Processing for Salvadoran, Guatemala and Honduran Nationals
- Beginning in the April 2023 Visa Bulletin, the State Department is correcting an error in its interpretation of employment-based immigrant visa availability for nationals from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras (collectively NCA Countries)
- None of the NCA Countries is expected to exceed the per-country limit and so the Visa Bulletin will no longer set country-specific final action dates and dates for filing for the employment-based categories for the NCA Countries.
USCIS Ends COVID-Related Grace Periods for Notices and Requests
- USCIS says notices or requests from USCIS dated after March 23, 2023 by the deadlines listed in the notice or request.
FOR THE WEEK OF MARCH 31, 2023
USCIS Gets Rid of 60-day Validity Requirement for Immigration Medical Exams
- USCIS removed the requirement that immigration medical exams (Form I-693) be submitted within 60 days of being signed by the civil surgeon.
- Forms I-693 can be filed with USCIS for up to two years after the date the civil surgeon signs the form.
- Similarly, USCIS will consider Forms I-693 to be acceptable for adjudicative purposes for up to two years after the date the civil surgeon signs the form.
USCIS Updates Its Guidance on Timely Paper-Based Filings
- Effective March 29, 2023, USCIS clarifies that when a due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or federal holiday, it will consider the filing timely if it is received by the end of the next business day.
- This guidance replaces the “three-day mail rule,” which had been the previous policy.
State Dept Raises Many Visa Application Fees
- Several non-immigrant visa (NIV) application filing fees are now higher pursuant to a rule change, effective March 30, 2023
- Non-petition based NIV application fees (i.e., B-1/B-2 and Border Crossing Cards for Mexican citizens ages 15 and up) increased from $160 to $185
- H, L, O, P, Q and R visa application fees increased from $190 to $205
- E visa application fees increased from $205 to $315
USCIS Completes the Initial Electronic Registration Selection Process
- USCIS announced on March 27, 2023 that it had completed its random selection from the registrations properly submitted to reach the annual H-1B cap, and had notified all prospective petitioners with selected registrations.
- As in past years, USCIS may initiate another selection round for FY2024 if the numerical allocation is not reached based on the filings submitted as a result of the initial selection.