International Law and Immigration

Immigration Update: January 2023

A monthly publication of the International Law and Immigration Section of the California Lawyers Association.

Editor-in-Chief, Payal Sinha
*Contributions by Radhika Balaji

U.S. Department of State extended Consular Interview Waivers*

On December 23, 2022, U.S. Department of State, announced that the Secretary of State has decided to extend the authority of consular officers to waive in-person visa interviews for certain nonimmigrant visa categories (F, H-1, H-2, H-3, H-4, J, L, M, O, P, and Q) through December 31, 2023 on a case-by-case basis. The interview waiver expansion was first announced in August 2020 due to the impact of visa wait times due to COVID-19. It has been annually updated since, in recognition of the positive impact of travel to the United States.

Visa Services at the U.S. Mission in China Suspended Due to COVID-19 Surge*

On December 15, 2022, the U.S. Mission in China published an alert about the temporary suspension of all routine visa services at the U.S. Consulates in China due to the surge in the COVID-19 infections across the country. Only passport and emergency citizen services are currently operational.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued Policy Guidance on Public Charge Rule*

On December 19, 2022, USCIS issued a Policy Alert on the Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility under INA § 212(a)(4) following the Department of State’s final rule issued on September 9, 2022, which was implemented on December 23, 2022.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides information with options for nonimmigrant workers following employment termination*

On December 19, 2022, USCIS released information with options to remain in the U.S., for nonimmigrant workers whose employment was terminated either voluntarily or involuntarily. These options were based on existing rules and regulations and included, the 60-day grace period, portability to a new employer, changing the nonimmigrant status, change in employer, adjustment of status, compelling circumstances, expedite criteria, and departure from the U.S..    

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to Conduct a Trial for Updates to the Naturalization Test*

On December 14, 2022, USCIS announced a nationwide Trial for updates to the current naturalization test. A notice of this announcement was published by the Department of Homeland Security in the Federal Register. The trial will test an updated civics component and a newly developed English-speaking component that could become standard. However, the trial will not affect any naturalization application that may be submitted to USCIS during the trial period.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced Replacement of the Lincoln Visa Foil*

On November 21, 2022, the CBP through its Carrier Liaison Program announced that the U.S. has begun issuance of the new and redesigned “Bridge” visa foil that will replace the “Lincoln” visa foil.  The consular posts have started issuing Bridge visa foil which depicts the Golden Gate Bridge. According to CBP’s Carrier Liaison Program, “All Lincoln Visas will remain valid until the printed expiration date unless otherwise revoked or canceled.”

Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) Loss of Recognition May Affect Two Immigration-Related Student Programs*

As of August 19, 2022 the U.S. Department of Education no longer recognizes the ACICS as an accrediting agency. In its recent news alert, USCIS noted that this loss of recognition affects certain students applying for English language study and 24-month STEM OPT Extension Programs in addition to H-1B and I-140 applicants.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Announces Registration Process for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti

On January 25, 2023, DHS posted a Federal Register notice on TPS for Haiti. The notice provides redesignation for an additional 18 months, from February 4, 2023 through August 3, 2024. The registration process begins on January 26, 2023. All individuals who want to request TPS under the designation of Haiti must file an application.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Announces Registration Process for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Yemen

On December 30, 2022, DHS announced an extension of TPS for Yemen for 18 months, from March 4, 2023 through Sept. 3, 2024, due to ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions that prevent Yemeni nationals from safely returning to their country. In addition, DHS announced a redesignation of Yemen for TPS for the same reasons, allowing Yemeni nationals (and individuals having no nationality who last habitually resided in Yemen) residing in the United States as of December 29, 2022 to be eligible for TPS.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Announced to Change Filing Location for I-730

On January 4, 2023, USCIS published that it is changing the filing location for Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition, to streamline workloads in an ever-increasing electronic environment. Previously, this petition was filed either at the Texas Service Center or the Nebraska Service Center depending on the state where the petitioner resides. With this change, all Form I-730 petitions should be filed at the Texas Service Center.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a NEW EDITION of Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status

On December 23, 2022, USCIS released a new edition of Form I-485, the application to register permanent residence or adjust status. Starting December 23, 2022,USCIS will only accept the new, 12/12/2022 edition.  

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will Accept Reproduced Signatures Permanently

In addition to announcing the extension of response deadlines, in the same update, USCIS announced that the reproduced signature policy announced in March 2020 became permanent USCIS policy on July 25, 2022. For forms that require an original “wet” signature, USCIS will accept electronically reproduced original signatures such as photocopies or scans of the original signature and the individuals submitting the form must retain copies of the original documents containing the “wet” signature. 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced online filing for Affirmative Asylum Applications

On November 19, 2022, USCIS announced that Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, is available to file online for certain affirmative asylum applicants. USCIS continues to accept the latest paper version of this form by mail.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced that Asylum Applicants can now File Form I-765 Online

Effective January 23, 2023, USCIS published applicants for Employment Authorization under category (c)(8), Pending Asylum and Withholding of Removal Applicants and Applicants for Pending Asylum under the ABC Settlement Agreement, may file Form I-765 online.

To apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) based on the pending asylum application under the (c)(8) eligibility category, an applicant may file Form I-765 150 days after the filing of the asylum application. The filing date is the date USCIS receives a properly filed Form I-589, Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal, and can be found on the receipt notice issued.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) updated its Policy to Automatically Extend  Green Cards for Naturalization Applicants

Effective December 12, 2022, USCIS updated its Policy Manual to allow USCIS to automatically extend the validity of Permanent Resident Cards (commonly called “Green Cards”) for lawful permanent residents who have applied for naturalization.

This update is expected to help naturalization applicants who experience longer processing times, because they will receive an extension of lawful permanent resident (LPR) status and may not need to file Form I-90. LPRs who properly file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, may receive this extension without regard to whether they filed Form I-90. USCIS will update the language on Form N-400 receipt notices to extend Green Cards for up to 24 months for these applicants. The receipt notice can be presented with the expired Green Card as evidence of continued status as well as identity and employment authorization under List A of Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9), if presented before the expiration of the 24-month extension period provided in the notice.

Department of Homeland Securities (DHS) announces New Border Enforcement Policies  

On January 5, 2023, DHS announced new immigration policies to be carried out at the southern border and new processes for nationals of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. The announcement stated that the government would be releasing a notice of proposed rulemaking addressing asylum eligibility and other related immigration processes, but the proposed rule has not been published yet, so there are no immediate changes to the asylum process for unaccompanied children. There will be a comment period prior to any final rule going into effect. There is also the chance that litigation may impact any final rule.

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