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President Biden Actions for Immigrants in His First 100 Days
Positive Immigration Changes
A new Supreme Court decision that could help cancel your Order of Removal. USCIS says you can call them to reschedule biometric appointments. Foreign entrepreneurs got some excellent news from Biden. We’re a little over 100 days into the Biden Administration – what has he done to change US Immigration for the better in that time? I’ll talk about that and more in US immigration – keep watching.
April 30, 2021, marked the first 100 days of President Biden being in office. Before he was sworn in, I talked several times about the number of policy changes he would need to overturn from the previous administration regarding immigration: over 400.
Not only does he need to change those, but I’m hoping he does it the right way – through legislative changes, not just presidential proclamations – because then it is more likely to be lasting change rather than based on the whims of the current President.
So far, most of what he has done has been through proclamations. Unfortunately, this may continue as the Republicans in Congress seem to be intent on fighting him and immigration changes every step of the way.
He started his first day by signing a proclamation ending the Muslim ban, and for the most part. There HAS been better news for immigrants than the prior four years, combined, I’d say. That doesn’t mean there still isn’t a long way to go, and unfortunately, many people are still experiencing slow processing times, but let’s focus on the good news.
How about the top 5 things Biden has done for positive immigration change since getting into office?
Ending the Muslim Ban
As I mentioned, President Biden had rescinded the Muslim Ban. I wholeheartedly support this change. Our country was founded on allowing for religious freedom, and frankly, it was an embarrassment that the former President and so many supported keeping people out of the US due to their religion.
Ending the Refugee Ban
The refugee ban has been rescinded. Again, the US has welcomed those escaping war and danger in their home country for a long time. I hope that never ends.
He increased the number of visas for refugees from 15,000 to 62,500. This is huge. I was hoping he would increase it even more, but this is a good start.
Public Charge No Longer in Effect
The Public Charge rule has been rescinded. To remind everyone, there has been a requirement that people who come to the US support themselves for a long time. If something changes while they are here, they have a sponsor who has agreed to pay the government back for any assistance they receive. This is not giving anyone a free ride, so they come to the US to take advantage and get government assistance when we have citizens who are homeless and starving. Fewer immigrants get public assistance than US citizens, and this is how it will continue to be.
Non-Immigrant Ban Revoked
President Biden repealed the proclamation banning nonimmigrants and allowed the nonimmigrant ban to expire.
There are also three things that he is working on that haven’t been completed:
Asylum Ban Termination
He has not yet terminated the asylum ban.
He has appointed a variety of individuals with diverse backgrounds to head DHS, ICE, and CBP. I’ve talked about several of them in previous videos. However, many top positions in these agencies remain open.
He extended country-specific bans due to covid, but he also increased the categories that are not subject to these bans, hopefully helping families to be united once again.
There are several other changes I think we would all like to see to immigration in the US, including a path to citizenship for DACA and TPS holders.
I know that it is an uphill battle having to move through Congress (and the many republicans still trying to make Trump happy with policies of exclusion and hate), but I think there is a lot of support for positive changes to be made that direction. And we all would LOVE for more money to go toward immigration to help hire more USCIS and embassy workers and get the backlog of cases taken care of, right?
If you are wondering if you qualify for legal status in 1 of the nine ways that people could be eligible, call my office. We offer free consultations to those who meet specific criteria, and we can help you figure out the next best steps in your immigration journey.
USCIS Policy Changes
Talking about USCIS, I’d like to mention a few changes they announced on their website recently that I think anyone trying to get a legal status will want to know about.
Rescheduling of Biometrics Appointment
The most important, I think, was announced on 5/11/21.USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) announced on 5/11/21 that applicants, petitioners, requestors, and beneficiaries may now call the USCIS Contact Center (800-375-5283) to reschedule their biometric services appointments scheduled at a USCIS Application Support Center.
Before, you would have to submit requests in writing to reschedule your biometrics appointments. USCIS says they made this change to help eliminate unnecessary paperwork and allow USCIS to track the request through a more efficient process.
Be aware that USCIS says on their website: applicants must establish good cause for rescheduling and must call before the date and time of their original appointment to reschedule. If an applicant fails to call before the scheduled meeting or fails to establish good cause, USCIS may consider the application, petition, or request abandoned and, as a result, it may be denied.
DHS Withdraws Proposed Biometrics Rule
Going along with biometrics news from USCIS on May 7th, USCIS announced that the Department of Homeland Security had withdrawn a proposed rule that would have expanded department authorities and requirements for collecting biometrics.
Requiring submission of biometrics for every applicant, petitioner, sponsor, beneficiary, or other individual filings for or associated with any immigration or naturalization benefit or request unless DHS waives or exempts the biometrics requirement.
It would have also codified (that means made into law) the authority to use DNA test results, and authorized the use of additional types of biometric methods.
DHS announced its decision to withdraw the proposed rule, originally published on Sept. 11, 2020, in a Federal Register notice. The withdrawal is consistent with Executive Order 14012, Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans, plus other administration priorities to reduce barriers and undue burdens in the immigration system.
DHS will continue to require submission of biometrics where appropriate and remains committed to national security, identity management, fraud prevention, and program integrity.
International Entrepreneur Parole Program Remains Open
And the last update from USCIS in this video, on May 10th USCIS announced today that the Department of Homeland Security is withdrawing a 2018 notice of proposed rulemaking to remove the International Entrepreneur program from DHS regulations.
The International Entrepreneur (IE) parole program, first introduced in 2017, will remain a viable program for foreign entrepreneurs to create and develop start-up entities with high growth potential in the United States.
USCIS said the program would help to strengthen and grow our nation’s economy through increased capital spending, innovation, and job creation.
Executive Order 14012
The May 10th announcement is consistent with President Biden’s Executive Order 14012: “Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans.”
The executive order requires the secretary of homeland security to “identify any agency actions that fail to promote access to the legal immigration system.”
“Immigrants in the United States have a long history of entrepreneurship, hard work, and creativity, and their contributions to this nation are precious,” said Acting USCIS Director Tracy Renaud. “The International Entrepreneur parole program goes hand-in-hand with our nation’s spirit of welcoming entrepreneurship, and USCIS encourages those who are eligible to take advantage of the program.”
History of the International Entrepreneur Parole Program
A little history: The initial IE final rule was published on Jan. 17, 2017, and was scheduled to take effect on July 17, 2017. This final rule guided DHS in the use of its parole authority to grant a period of authorized stay, on a case-by-case basis, to foreign entrepreneurs who demonstrate that their stay in the United States would provide a significant public benefit through the potential rapid business growth and job creation.
Before the effective date, DHS published a final rule to delay the implementation date of the IE final rule to March 14, 2018.
This allowed DHS additional time to draft and seek public comments on a proposal to rescind the IE final rule. However, in December 2017, a federal court vacated the delay, requiring USCIS to accept international entrepreneur parole applications consistent with the IE final rule. Since then, the program has been up and running, and USCIS continues to accept and adjudicate applications consistent with existing DHS regulations.
Who Is Granted Parole Under the IE Program?
Under the IE program, parole may be granted to up to three entrepreneurs per start-up entity, as well as their spouses and children. Entrepreneurs granted parole are eligible to work only for their start-up business. Their spouses may apply for employment authorization in the United States, but their children do not qualify for work authorization based on this parole. USCIS said they would plan information sessions and other outreach activities to help foreign entrepreneurs know this opportunity and pursue it.
Notice to Appear
Now, let’s talk about the Supreme Court decision I mentioned at the beginning of this video.
This decision is significant for many people.
First, let’s talk about a Notice to Appear (NTA) or I-862. This notice is supposed to be sent to the address you have on file with USCIS. (Remember, if you move, you are supposed to notify USCIS within ten days of moving). Sometimes you DO update USCIS with your address change, and they don’t update your record. That’s why IF you notify USCIS, I always recommend that you keep a record of having done this. If you do it online, keep a copy with the date showing that you notified them.
It’s also another reason why having an immigration attorney can help – they will get any notice for you, and you shouldn’t have to worry that USCIS sent an important notice to the wrong address.
Unfortunately, people have gotten an NTA for a long time (decades, really), and it is not filled out. There are ten required bits of information that USCIS is supposed to include on this notice. But, often, they would send an NTA without the date or time or place of hearing, they would only say: TBD (to be determined), and then later, sometimes, they would send another notice with that information. Occasionally they wouldn’t update you, and you’d be frantic calling the court asking over and over if your hearing had been scheduled.
And sometimes, they would send a notice with the wrong date/time, and you’d go to court, and your hearing wouldn’t take place. This new decision says that USCIS must send out a complete information notice or it is not valid. And they can’t try to fix it later by sending out a new notice with the information updated.
That means that if you got an NTA in the past that was not complete AND you got an Order of Removal OR are in removal proceedings, you may have a solid argument to reverse that.
I highly recommend that you talk to a New Jersey immigration attorney if you have an Order of Removal or are in removal proceedings. Time is of the essence, and you don’t want to put off finding out how this decision might impact you and your immigration goals.
For those in the 3rd Circuit, that’s people in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and the US Virgin Islands; you are even luckier because a court decision there said that a judge in that court (not an immigration judge only) could close the case if you had a faulty NTA.
Our main offices are located in New Jersey, so we can help those who would benefit from this new decision. Call us today to find out if you, or someone you love, would be able to take advantage of this.
To finish today’s blog, I want to update you on embassy openings that I’m aware of in May 2021.
Remember, this changes frequently. The State Department has told each embassy that they should update their website with openings/information, so I would check that for the most current updates.
Unfortunately, routine visa services are limited or stopped in most US embassies due to COVID restrictions. Most immigrant visa services in the embassies are ONLY for:
- Cases for applicants previously interviewed and refused under INA 221(g) for additional document submission or processing.
- Interviews for any cases with a derivative applicant turning 21 years old and risks using eligibility as a child or derivative.
As capacity allows, interviews for IR-1-5(families of USC), IW-1 (spouses of deceased USC), CR-1&2 (conditional green cards), I-H 3-4 (adopted children), K 1-2 (fiancé visa), SB 1 (Returning residents), and I-131A (travel document for Green Card holders) are allowed as long as their case is already at the embassy/post for processing.
Approved Expedited Cases
Unfortunately, all other visa categories are only being interviewed as capacity allows. We know it is slow, and there isn’t a way to speed it up unless you qualify for an approved, expedited case.
To give you an idea of the backlog (which makes you a little sick to hear probably), At the beginning of April 2021, 75% of US embassies remained partially closed. We know that in February 2021, the backlog for immigrant visa applications had risen to 475,000 from a backlog of 75,000 in January 2020.
In January 2020, there were 22,856 family-preference visa interviews scheduled by the State Department at all the embassies and consulates worldwide. In January 2021, there were 262. That’s a decrease of 99%.
There is a backlog of 2.6 million visa applications at USCIS, NVC, and embassies. That includes almost 500,000 documentarily qualified (DQ) applicants. That means people who have submitted everything are all approved, but they are waiting for an interview.
So, it’s going to be a long wait.
US Embassy Updates
I’m going to talk about a few embassy updates we know about when this was filmed in Mid-May 2021
- Pakistan. The government has declared a national holiday from May 10 – 15th, so consular sessions are only open for emergency services during that time and closed from the 13th through the 15th. Otherwise, routine immigrant and visa services are going forward there.
- Philippines – specific non-immigrant visa categories have resumed, including F+ M (student visas), and specific J categories, C1/D (transit visas), E (temporary workers from treaty nations), I (members of foreign media), O (people with extraordinary ability), and P (temporary employment for athletes, artists, and entertainers) as well as immigrant visas including IR1 & 2 (USC families), CR 1 & 2 (conditional green cards), and Eb3 employment visas for nurses.
- Mexico – there are limited visa services that vary by city. Most are open and are conducting immigration visa interviews.
- The US Embassy in Belfast is open for emergency services only.
- In the Dominican Republic, the Santo Domingo embassy offers limited routine services and student visa services. Unfortunately, tourist visa services remain suspended.
I know this is only a handful of locations. Please check your local embassy for up-to-date information.
Talk to a New Jersey Immigration Attorney
If you have immigration concerns that we can help you with, don’t hesitate to contact our New Jersey immigration law firm. Our competent immigration attorneys can help get legal status. Call our law firm today to schedule your appointment.Share This Post!