Immigration Quick Takes – March 2021

> USCIS Reverts to Naturalization Civics Test Used Since 2008

Immigration law requires that most foreign nationals seeking to naturalize as U.S. citizens demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the history, and of the principles and form of government, of the United States by passing a Civics test as part of the naturalization interview process.  In the waning days of the Trump Presidency, USCIS announced that it was implementing a new test that was longer and more difficult than the test that had been used since 2008.  On February 23, 2021, the Biden Administration announced that it was shelving the 2020 Civics test and that anyone who filed to naturalize between December 1, 2020 and February 28, 2021 would have the option of utilizing either the 2020 or 2008 test as an accommodation for those who may have started studying the new material.  Any naturalization applicant who filed from March 1, 2021 onward will be required to take the 2008 Civics test, which is comprised of 100 possible questions, and the applicant must correctly answer six out of 10 questions asked in order to pass.  More information can be found here.

> CDC Now Requires Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test or Recovery for Air Passengers Arriving in U.S.

Effective January 26, 2021 the CDC has ordered that all air passengers who are arriving in the United States from a foreign country must have been tested for COVID-19 no more than 72 hours before the flight departs the foreign territory and present the negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the airline before boarding the flight.  More information about the requirements and exemptions can be found in the Order.  To date, the Order has not been updated to allow passengers to present evidence of vaccination in lieu of a negative test or proof of recovery. It is also important to note that while the CDC states that the COVID-19 test must have been taken within 72 hours of the flight departing the foreign territory, some states (e.g. Massachusetts) require that any person arriving from another state have been tested within 72 hours of entering the state in order to avoid quarantine requirements.  As a result, anyone who is returning from international travel should be sure to review not only the CDC guidance, but also the guidance of any state that they will be entering to ensure that they remain compliant with all quarantine or notice requirements.

> Visa Bulletin Updates: March

Each month, the State Department publishes the Visa Bulletin, which informs foreign nationals who are seeking a Green Card (an immigrant visa) who is or is not eligible to file that month.   Currently, only individuals who were born in India or Mainland-China are subjected to backlogs.  Over the past several months, we have seen slow, but steady, forward movement of the “Final Action” date for the EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 categories, indicating that Green Cards are currently available for applicants whose priority dates are current:

> 2019 Public Charge Rule Vacated Nationwide

On March 9th the Department of Homeland Security announced that the federal government will stop defending the 2019 public charge rule, including dismissing pending appeals of judicial decisions that invalidated or enjoined the rule over the last year. Following dismissals of the ongoing lawsuits, the 2019 Public Charge rule is vacated nationwide, and the US Citizenship and Immigration Services will return to earlier field guidance policy on public charge inadmissibility, which narrowly limits the scope of public charge findings and allows for the receipt of important non-cash benefits as needed.

For more information on any of these issues, please contact a Parker Gallini immigration attorney.

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Posted in Immigration Law

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