Reuse Biometrics Notices from USCIS

In an effort to overcome huge delays in capturing biometrics of applicants, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will reuse biometrics previously submitted by applicants in order to process pending immigration applications.  Applicants who receive a notice stating that USCIS will reuse biometrics will NOT receive an appointment for fingerprints or photos.

Some applicants are waiting 8-9 months for a biometrics appointment post-COVID when the timeframe was 2-3 months pre-COVID.  The delay in scheduling appointments for biometrics (fingerprints and digital photo) is resulting in a delay in issuing work permits and other documents that require background checks.

Thousands of biometrics appointments were canceled during the coronavirus pandemic and USCIS said it would reschedule them once it normalized operations. But many applicants have yet to receive their rescheduled or new appointment, and their immigration processes have thus been delayed.

Approximately 1.3 million applications for immigration benefits are awaiting biometrics appointments as of mid-December 2020, the Department of Homeland Security agency said.  Roughly 280,000 immigrants saw their appointments canceled between March 2020 and June 2020.

The good news, though, is that given these challenges, when authorized by law, USCIS will reuse biometrics previously collected biometric data to conduct background and security checks — therefore some immigrants will be able to skip the biometrics appointment.

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India Travel Ban to U.S. and Options Entering & Leaving India

Effective May 4the entry into the United States of certain nonimmigrant travelers who have been physically present in India is suspended.  U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents (LPR), and immigrants are not subject to the proclamation.  The suspension of entry also does not apply to non-U.S. citizen spouses or unmarried children under the age of 21 of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.

** We encourage U.S. citizens who wish to depart India to take advantage of currently available commercial flights.  Airlines continue to operate multiple direct flights weekly from India to the United States.  Additional flight options remain available via transfers in Paris, Frankfurt, and Doha.  In general, the U.S. embassy and consulates in India may not assist U.S. citizens in finding commercial flights.  If your first choice of travel date is not available, please expand your search options.

*** Effective January 26, all incoming airline passengers to the United States aged two years and older must provide results of a negative COVID-19 viral test taken within three calendar days of travel.  Alternatively, travelers to the United States may provide documentation from a licensed healthcare provider of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel.

Country-Specific Information


All Immigrants (legal or illegal) can get COVID vaccine


All persons, regardless of immigration status should and can get the COVID vaccine.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) made this clear in a statement released on February 1, just as vaccine production was beginning to ramp up:

“DHS and its Federal government partners fully support equal access to the COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine distribution sites for undocumented immigrants. …DHS encourages all individuals, regardless of immigration status, to receive the COVID-19 vaccine once eligible under local distribution guidelines.”

Though there have been some disinformation campaigns designed to scare undocumented immigrants out of getting the vaccine, people don’t need to be concerned. DHS went on to say that no enforcement operations would be conducted at or near vaccination distribution sites or clinics, consistent with the “sensitive locations” policy.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines prohibits vaccination workers from turning people away for failure to produce specific identification documents or inquire about immigration status.  Also, the CDC has made the vaccine available to all people at no cost, meaning you can still get the COVID vaccine if you are uninsured or have no health insurance.

Ensuring immigrants get vaccinated is a priority—over 4 million work in essential services like health care and social service industries. And vaccinating the greatest amount of people will make everyone safer.

Getting the immigrant population vaccinated must be a priority, especially since many were left out of previous COVID-19 relief but were still relied upon to keep our economy moving. We have both a public health and moral obligation to ensure that everyone who wants a vaccine can get one safely and easily.

For more information on COVID vaccine for all immigrants,

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Copyright © 2021, Law Offices of Gail S. Seeram. All Rights Reserved.

Form I-944 Public Charge No Longer Required

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.

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Venezuelans Given Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in U.S. for 18 Months

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.

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2020 Citizenship Test REVOKED/CANCELED – Revert to 2008 Citizenship Test

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.

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Biden Order for Family Reunification for Children Separated at Border & Repairing Immigration System

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.

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Biden Travel Ban

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.

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Biden Immigration Bill

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.

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