March 8, 2021 – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that it will no longer pursue appellate review of judicial decisions invalidating the 2019 public charge final rule that required Form I-944 to be filed by immigrant beneficiaries to prove self-sufficiency. As a result, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a joint motion to dismiss the petition for certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as joint motions to dismiss appeals in various circuit courts, all of which have been granted.
As such, the district courts either enjoining the rule or permanently vacating the rule per the Cook County case, will become the law of the land. U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that, once the rule is permanently vacated, it will follow the 1999 interim field guidance on the public charge inadmissibility provision, at which time the Form I-944 will no longer be required.
March 8, 2021: The Department of Homeland Security today announced the designation of Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, effective March 9, 2021, through Sept. 9, 2022. Individuals desiring TPS must file an application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services within the 180-day registration period. They may also apply for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) and for travel authorization. All individuals applying for TPS undergo security and background checks as part of determining eligibility.
This designation is due to extraordinary and temporary conditions in Venezuela that prevent nationals from returning safely, including a complex humanitarian crisis marked by widespread hunger and malnutrition, a growing influence and presence of non-state armed groups, repression, and a crumbling infrastructure. TPS can be extended to a country with conditions that fall into one, or more, of the three statutory bases for designation: ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or extraordinary and temporary conditions.
“The living conditions in Venezuela reveal a country in turmoil, unable to protect its own citizens,” said Secretary Mayorkas. “It is in times of extraordinary and temporary circumstances like these that the United States steps forward to support eligible Venezuelan nationals already present here, while their home country seeks to right itself out of the current crises.”
Venezuelans given Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in U.S. for 18 months must demonstrate continuous residence in the United States as of March 8, 2021. For their own health and safety, individuals should not believe smugglers or others claiming the border is now open. Due to the pandemic, travel and admission restrictions at the border remain in place.
For more information on Venezuelans given Temporary Protected Status,
2/22/2021 – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced today it is reverting to the 2008 version of the naturalization civics test beginning March 1, 2021. CLICK VIDEO BELOW TO VIEW 2008 CITIZENSHIP TEST QUESTIONS
On Dec. 1, 2020, USCIS implemented a revised naturalization civics test (2020 civics test) as part of a decennial test review and update process. USCIS determined the 2020 civics test development process, content, testing procedures, and implementation schedule may inadvertently create potential barriers to the naturalization process. This action is consistent with the framework of the Executive Order on Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems, which directs a comprehensive review of the naturalization process to eliminate barriers and make the process more accessible to all eligible individuals.
The 2008 civics test was thoroughly developed over a multi-year period with the input of more than 150 organizations, which included English as a second language experts, educators, and historians, and was piloted before its implementation. USCIS aspires to make the process as accessible as possible as directed by President Biden’s request to review the process thoroughly.
The civics test is administered to applicants who apply for U.S. citizenship through naturalization and is one of the statutory requirements for naturalizing. Applicants must demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history, principles, and form of government of the United States. The decision to naturalize demonstrates an investment in and commitment to this country. USCIS is committed to administering a test that is an instrument of civic learning and fosters civic integration as part of the test preparation process.
Applicants who filed their application for naturalization on or after Dec. 1, 2020, and before March 1, 2021, likely have been studying for the 2020 test; therefore, USCIS will give these applicants the option to take either the 2020 civics test or the 2008 civics test. There will be a transition period where both tests are being offered. The 2020 test will be phased out on April 19, 2021, for initial test takers. Applicants filing on or after March 1, 2021, will take the 2008 civics test.
February 2, 2021 – President Biden signed several executive orders that begin to rectify some of the most devastating policies of the Trump administration such as children separated at the border from their parents.
Here is what you need to know about these executive orders:
1. The Family Reunification Task Force
Hundreds of children are still separated from their families in the aftermath of Trump’s zero tolerance policy. Government officials had no plan to keep track of families after the initial separations, making reunification efforts even more difficult.
Biden’s executive order establishes the Family Reunification Task Force, which will work to reunite families after years of unjust, cruel separation.
2. Addressing the Root Causes of Migration and Restoring the Asylum System
President Biden will implement a multi-pronged plan to ensure safe, lawful, and orderly migration to the United States. The administration will examine the root causes of migration to better understand what causes people to flee their homes.
It will also collaborate with foreign governments, international organizations, and nonprofits to build other countries’ capacity to provide asylum protections.
The Department of Homeland Security has been instructed to rescind multiple Trump administration policies that have effectively closed the U.S. asylum process. This will include a thorough review of the so-called Migrant Protection Protocols.
3. Repairing the Legal Immigration System
All recent regulations, policies, and guidance that have limited legal immigration will go through a full review, including the USCIS fee hike, public charge rule, and health insurance proclamation.
The executive order also reestablishes the Task Force on New Americans, which will focus on promoting immigrant integration and inclusion.
In less than two weeks, the Biden administration has signaled the arrival of a new era for immigrants.
A great deal of work remains to be done—but these recent actions represent a welcome shift away from the politics of division, racism, and xenophobia.
For more information on children separated at the border,
January 25, 2021 -President Biden travel ban is imposed on many non-U.S. citizens attempting to enter the country. The move is an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19 and contain new variants of the disease that have cropped up in several countries around the globe.
The Biden travel ban would prohibit travelers from the United Kingdom, Ireland and 26 countries in Europe that allow travel across open borders, called the Schengen Area, Brazil and South Africa.
Permanent U.S. residents and family members and some other non-U.S. citizens are permitted to return to the United States under the order. Under the Biden travel ban, non-U.S. citizens who have been in one of listed countries within the last 14 days are not eligible to travel to the United States.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director (CDC) implemented new rules take effect requiring all international air travelers age 2 and older to present a negative coronavirus test taken within three calendar days of travel or proof of recovery from COVID-19 to enter the United States.
January 21, 2021 – President Biden laid out his vision for long overdue immigration reform. If passed into law, the Biden Immigration Bill would finally provide channels for millions of people who call this country home to validate their status. It is one step toward a more fair and just immigration system.
In addition, President Biden signed several immigration executive orders preserving DACA, ending the Muslim travel ban, ending border wall construction, halting deportation for 100 days and including immigrants in consensus. These executive orders take effect immediately.
The Biden Immigration bill has not been introduced into Congress, has not been debated or voted on but is the step in the right direction. Here are four key components you should know about Biden Immigration Bill:
1. An eight-year pathway to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants.
The bill would provide a five-year path to permanent residence for all undocumented immigrants present in the United States on January 1, 2021, followed by a three-year wait for naturalization. Certain individuals with long-standing ties to the United States and previous vetting by the government would be expedited, including over 1 million people with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protected Status—in addition to agricultural workers.
2. Eliminating the three- and ten-year bars and expanding legal immigration.
Many immigrants who could have a chance to legalize their status may not be able to do so. This is because of penalties that prohibit green card applicants from returning to the U.S. for three or 10 years if they depart after being in the country unauthorized. And many of these people who qualify for green cards are required to apply from abroad.
The new bill will reverse these bars which prevent or delay many eligible family members from becoming lawful permanent residents—even if they are already in the United States.
3. Expanding existing immigration channels.
The bill will also make significant changes to the legal immigration system. It will recapture millions of previously unused visas to reduce green card backlogs, eliminate per-country caps on visas, and provide rapid paths to a green card for children and spouses of permanent residents. It will also prevent children of H-1B visa holders from “aging out” and being forced to leave the United States.
4. Untangling immigration enforcement from comprehensive solutions.
Since 2003, Congress has authorized over $330 billion on immigration enforcement—and the number of U.S. Border Patrol agents nearly doubled. Yet we have not seen Congress pass any measures to support immigrants in over 30 years despite having consistently expanded the enforcement system.
Biden Immigration Bill is different than previous efforts to pass a comprehensive bill because it is not directly tied to immigration enforcement measures, which have been the singular focus of immigration policy for years.
January 20, 2021 – In his first official act, President Biden signed executive orders that rolled back partially Trump’s attack on immigration and immigrants. Biden’s immigration executive orders ended the Trump era Muslim travel ban, preserve DACA, end the southern border wall construction, halt deportations for 100 days and expand census to include undocumented immigrants.
1. Preserve DACA
President Biden signed an executive order to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has shielded hundreds of thousands of people who came to the country as young children from deportation since it was introduced in 2012.
In his presidential proclamation, Biden is calling on Congress to adopt legislation that gives DACA recipients permanent legal status and a path to citizenship. There are currently about 700,000 people enrolled.
Biden Immigration Executive Order ends ban on Muslim travelers: Biden is ending what is variously known as the “travel ban” or the “Muslim ban,” one of the first acts of the Trump administration. Trump in January 2017 banned foreign nationals from seven mostly Muslim countries from entry into the country. After a lengthy court fight, a watered-down version of the rule was upheld by the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision in 2018. So, there is no longer a travel ban on visitors from Syria, Iran Libya, Somalia or Yemen.
The new administration says it will improve the screening of visitors by strengthening information sharing with foreign governments and other measures.
3. End to Border wall construction
Biden Immigration Executive Order ends the national emergency that Trump declared on the border in February 2018 to divert billions of dollars from the Defense Department to wall construction. He also is halting construction to review contracts and how wall money might be redirected.
The Supreme Court has scheduled arguments Feb. 22 on the legality of Trump’s diverting Defense Department funds for counter-narcotics efforts and military construction projects to wall construction.
4. Halt Deportations for 100 Days
Biden is revoking one of Trump’s first executive orders, which declared that all of the roughly 11 million people in the country illegally are considered priorities for deportation. The Department of Homeland Security will conduct a review of enforcement priorities. Biden’s campaign site says deportations will focus on national security and public safety threats.
The Department of Homeland Security published a memo stating all deportation are halted for 100 days starting January 22, 2021 to ensure resources are directed to the highest priorities and review immigration and asylum processing.
5. Expand Census
Biden Immigration Executive Order reverses a Trump plan to exclude people in the country illegally from being counted in the 2020 Census. The once-a-decade census is used to determine how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state gets, as well as the distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal spending each year.
Biden’s team says the new administration will ensure the Census Bureau has time to complete an accurate count for each state and that the apportionment is “fair and accurate.”
For more information on Biden Immigration Executive Order,
On day one of his presidency, President-elect Joe Biden is hoping to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. Many Latinos voted for Biden on Immigration issues with the hope he would restore and rebuild the immigration system that was further broken by the Trump administration.
Under the proposed legislation, those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfill other basic requirements. From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalization, if they decide to pursue citizenship.
For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements.
President-elect Joe Biden is expected to take swift action on immigration to reverse much of the damage done by the Trump presidency. Attorney Gail Seeram will provide updated #immigrationINFO on GailLaw.com and youtube.com/c/ImmigrationLawyerOrlandoGailSeeram.
The COVID-19 global pandemic has been ongoing for close to one year and many countries have implemented inbound and outbound travel restrictions. U.S. permanent residents and conditional permanent residents caught outside the United States due to COVID-19 are experiencing significant challenges in making return travel plans home to the United States. Certain period of absences from the United States can interrupt eligibility for U.S. citizenship as well as the ability to retain a permanent resident card (“green card”).
When a permanent resident or green card holder is seeking to return to the U.S. after a prolonged trip outside the U.S., they should not depend on the sympathy of a U.S. Custom and Border Protection officer to allow entry amid the global COVID-19 pandemic. Our office recommends all green card holder outside the U.S. seeking re-entry to the U.S. to gather and present the following (if available and applicable) to a U.S. Custom and Border Protection officer:
proof of filing U.S. income tax returns;
proof of job or employment in the U.S.;
proof of bank account in the U.S.;
proof of lease ot home ownership in the U.S.;
proof of spouse or children living in the U.S.;
proof that departure from U.S. was temporary and had a returning ticket;
proof that returning flight to the U.S. was canceled by airline;
proof could not get outbound flight to the U.S.;
proof that tested positive for COVID-19 and could not enter the U.S.; and
any proof to rebut the presumption that might have abandoned their residence.
In the end, a permanent resident or green card holder is applying for admission to the United States and the officer has the power to confiscate a green card at the airport/point of entry and referred the green card holder to a hearing before an immigration judge. If the green card holder outside the U.S. has been absent from the U.S. for greater than one year, then they have abandoned their residency under the law and may have to seek permission to the return to the U.S. through the U.S. Embassy abroad.
For more information on green card holder outside the U.S.,
UPDATED: 7th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an administrative stay of the decision of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (noted below) meaning adjustment of status applications MUST be filed with the Form I-944. We will continue to monitor the situation.
On November 1, 2020, the U.S. District Court in Cook County, Illinois, et al v. Wolf et. al., (19-cv-6334), granted summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs on their claim that the Department of Homeland Security’s Public Charge Rule, 84 Fed. Reg. 41,292 (Aug. 14, 2019) violates the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”), 5 U.S.C. § 701 et. seq. The district court specifically ruled that (1) the public charge exceeds DHS’s authority under the public charge provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”), 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(4)(A); (2) is not in accordance with law; and (3) is arbitrary and capricious.
Therefore, the court immediately set aside the DHS Public Charge Rule nationwide without staying its decision pending appeal, meaning that DHS may not apply the public charge rule as of today, which includes the submission of Form I-944 and the information contained therein.