November 2021 Newsletter
1. November 2021 Visa Bulletin: Advancement in EB-2 and Huge Retrogression in EB-3 Employment-based Categories; No Advancement in Family-based Categories
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) released the Visa Bulletin for November 2021, which shows advancement in EB-2 and huge retrogression in EB-3 employment-based categories, and no movement in family-based categories. The cutoff dates for issuance of employment-based immigrant visas are as follows:
EB-1: All countries are current.
EB-2: China advanced 4.5 months to November 15, 2018; India advanced 3 months to December 1, 2011. All other countries are current.
EB-3 Professional and Skilled Workers: China retrogressed 9.5 months to March 22, 2018; India retrogressed 23.5 months to January 15, 2012. All other countries are current.
USCIS will accept adjustment of status applications F2A Spouses and Minor Children of Green Card Holders based on the “Final Action Dates” charts, and all other family-based cases and all employment-based cases based on the “Dates for Filing” charts.
The November 2021 Visa Bulletin can be found here.
2. Regional Travel Bans to be Replaced with COVID Vaccination Requirement for Nonimmigrant International Air Travel Effective November 8, 2021
On October 25, 2021, President Biden issued a presidential proclamation that rescinds the current regional COVID-19 travel bans and imposes a new COVID-19 vaccination requirement on nonimmigrants traveling by air from any country into the U.S., effective November 8, 2021.
The vaccine requirement is in addition to the existing requirement for all international travelers to provide a negative COVID test taken within 3 days of travel. All unvaccinated travelers will be required to provide a negative COVID test taken within 1 day of travel, and all travelers will be required to provide contact information to airlines for contact tracing.
The Presidential Proclamation can be found here.
3. DOS Changes Vaccination Requirements for Immigrant Visa Applicants
On October 1, 2021, DOS announced that effective October 1, 2021, the CDC requires all immigrant visa applicants, all K Fiance Visa applicants, and nonimmigrant visa applicants who are referred to panel physicians, to receive a full COVID-19 vaccine series as part of their medical exam prior to being issued a visa.
The CDC requires the COVID-19 vaccine to be approved through either the World Health Organization (WHO) or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Blanket waivers for the COVID vaccination will be applied in countries where the vaccine is not routinely available or when the vaccine is not age appropriate.
DOS’ alert can be found here.
4. USCIS Implements Employment Authorization for Individuals Covered by Deferred Enforced Departure for Hong Kong Residents
On October 20, 2021, DHS published a Federal Register notice establishing procedures for eligible Hong Kong residents covered by Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) to apply for employment authorization.
DED is an administrative stay of removal ordered by the president under his constitutional powers to conduct foreign relations. On August 5, 2021, President Biden issued a memorandum directing the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security to take appropriate measures to defer the removal for 18 months of certain Hong Kong residents who are present in the United States and who have continuously resided here since August 5, 2021. This DED is for 18 months, through February 5, 2023.
USCIS’ alert can be found here.
OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS & UPDATES
US-Canada and US-Mexico Borders Open for Non-Essential Travel for Fully Vaccinated Travelers Beginning November 8, 2021
On October 20, 2021, DHS announced that starting November 8, 2021, travelers from Mexico and Canada who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 may enter the U.S. for non-essential travel via land and ferry ports of entry, as aligned with the new international air travel system.
Limitations on non-essential traveling across US-Canada and US-Mexico borders have been in place since March 21, 2020. These restrictions will continue to apply to non-essential travelers who are not fully vaccinated. “Non-essential” travel includes travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature.
DHS’ twitter update can be found here.