October 2020 Newsletter
1. October 2020 Visa Bulletin: Advancement in Most Employment-based Categories; No Movement in Family-based Categories
The U.S. Department of State’s (DOS) released the Visa Bulletin for October 2020, which shows advancement in most 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: China and India advanced 3 months to June 1, 2018. All other countries are current.
EB-2: China advanced 6 weeks to March 1, 2016; India advanced almost 2 months to September 1, 2009. All other countries are current.
EB-3 Professional and Skilled Workers: China advanced 4.5 months to July 1, 2017; India advanced 3.5 months to January 15, 2010. All other countries are current.
USCIS will accept adjustment of status applications for 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 October 2020 Visa Bulletin can be found here.
2. USCIS Resumes Public Charge Final Rule Nationwide
On September 11, 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that a lower court did not have the authority to enjoin DHS from enforcing its public charge rule during the COVID-19 national emergency, pursuant to a recent Supreme Court decision.
Although lawsuits against the DHS public charge rule are ongoing, the Supreme Court ruled that DHS may enforce the rule throughout the U.S. while those cases continue.
On September 22, 2020, following this Second Circuit decision, USCIS announced that it will resume applying the public charge final rule nationwide, including in New York, Connecticut and Vermont, to all applications and petitions postmarked (or submitted electronically) on or after February 24, 2020.
USCIS will request any missing forms and evidence for Forms I-485 received before October 13, 2020. After October 13, 2020, USCIS will reject all Forms I-485 that do not include the required forms and evidence with Form I-485 at time of filing.
USCIS’ alert can be found here.
3. Federal District Court Blocks DHS Fee Increase Rule Enforcement
On September 29, 2020, a federal district court issued a nationwide preliminary injunction that prohibits DHS from enforcing a rule that was set to increase USCIS filing fees beginning October 2, 2020. In his decision, the judge noted that the plaintiffs had raised serious questions about the validity of the fee hike because both the previous and current acting secretaries of DHS were unlawfully appointed to their posts. The judge also said the rule would put low-income immigrants at a severe disadvantage.
If implemented, the rule would have significantly increased costs for most employment-based petitions, as well as adjustment of status and naturalization applications; increased the premium processing timeline from 15 calendar days to 15 business days; and imposed a fee for asylum seekers.
This means that until further notice, petitioners and applicants will not be subject to the higher fees or forms outlined in the regulation, nor will they be subject to the extended premium processing timeline.
The court order can be found here.
4. DHS Proposes Broad Expansion of Biometrics Collection and Use
On September 11, 2020, DHS formally proposed a regulation in the Federal Register to expand its current biometrics collection policies to include palm prints, iris images, voice recognition, and DNA (in certain circumstances), among other techniques.
The rule is open for public feedback for 32 days. If finalized as proposed, foreign nationals who are granted an immigration benefit would become subject to continuous biometrics screening and vetting throughout their stay in the U.S., until they naturalize to become U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens who are involved in an immigration filing would also be subject to biometrics collection.
DHS’ proposed regulation can be found here.
OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS & UPDATES
Further Extension of Restrictions on US-Canada and US-Mexico Borders Until October 21, 2020
In order to limit the further spread of the coronavirus, on March 21, 2020, the U.S. reached agreements with both Canada and Mexico to limit all non-essential travel across borders. These joint initiatives were originally set to be in place for 30 days, subject to reevaluation and further extension in light of coronavirus pandemic developments. “Non-essential” travel includes travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature.
On September 18, 2020, these measures were further extended until October 21, 2020, which marks the sixth extension since implementation. These restrictions do not apply to entry through U.S. airports.
DHS’ alert can be found here.
CBP Reopened Trusted Traveler Programs Enrollment Centers on September 8, 2020
On September 8, 2020, Trusted Traveler Programs enrollment centers reopened to the public. Global Entry applicants are able to complete in-person interviews at most Trusted Traveler Programs enrollment centers in the U.S. by scheduling interviews in advance. Please wear face masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines when visiting enrollment centers.
Due to temporary restrictions on non-essential travel at U.S. land borders, NEXUS and U.S.-Canada FAST interviews at U.S. and Canadian enrollment centers will remain suspended until further notice; SENTRI and FAST-South enrollments on the southern border may also be limited.
CBP’s alert can be found here.