Immigration Quick Takes – January 2022

COVID-19 Testing Requirements for U.S. Entry

Immigration COVID US EntryCurrently, there are no region- or country-based travel restrictions in place for individuals seeking to enter the U.S. Instead, all air travelers to the United States are subject to the same testing and vaccination requirements, regardless of their point of origin or foreign/U.S. citizenship status. For now, these testing requirements have replaced the regional travel bans that were in place throughout 2020 and 2021. 

Beginning on December 6, 2021, air tavelers aged two and older, regardless of nationality of vaccination status, are required to show documentation of a negative COVID-19 test taken within one day of their flight’s departure to the United States. Test results must be shown before a traveler can be permitted to board a U.S.-bound flight.

As of January 22, 2022, all travelers who are not U.S. citizens or Green Card holders and who seek entry  to the U.S. at a land Port of Entry must provide U.S. Customs and Border Protection with proof of COVID-19 vaccination. U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s implementation of the vaccine requirement has replaced the ban on non-essential travel that was in place from March 2020 to November 2021. Now, non-citizens may enter the U.S. via land borders and ferry ports for any essential or nonessential purpose, with proof of vaccination.

Note that while U.S. citizens and Green Card holders traveling to the U.S. do not need to show evidence of COVID-19 vaccination when entering the U.S., they still must provide either a negative COVID-19 test result taken no more than 1 day prior to travel or evidence of recovery from COVID-19 within the last 90 days when traveling to the U.S. by air. 

U.S. Department of State Expands Interview Waiver Eligibility for Visa Processing

Foreign nationals applying for individual petition-based H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q visas may now be eligible for visa processing without an interview at U.S. Consulates and Embassies abroad. The waiver of a visa interview, sometimes called dropbox processing, is at the discretion of each consular post, and may be available to foreign national visa applicants in each of the following circumstances:

  • An applicant is applying for a visa in their country of nationality or residence, has previously been issued a U.S. visa in any category, has never been refused a visa (unless the refusal was overcome or waived), and has no apparent ineligibility.
  • A first-time applicant is applying for a visa in their country of nationality or residence, is a citizen of a Visa Waiver Program country, has previously traveled to the U.S. with ESTA, and has no apparent ineligibility.

Generally, applicants renewing any visa within 48 months of expiration remain eligible for interview waivers. Additionally, the U.S. Department of State has previously authorized interview waivers for certain F, M, and academic J visa applicants. To qualify for an interview waiver, an applicant in one of these categories must meet the same conditions listed above.

Implementation of this policy is dependent on consular resources and local government restrictions, so visa applicants must check with the relevant U.S. Consulate or Embassy to determine the current status of visa processing. In most cases, to schedule visa stamping, including appointments for document drop off when an interview is waived, applicants should complete Form DS-160 online.  If an applicant is determined by the Consulate or Embassy to be qualified  for interview waiver, they will be directed to schedule a dropbox appointment as appropriate when completing the DS-160.

EB-2 Advancement in the February 2022 Visa Bulletin

The February 2022 Visa Bulletin significantly advances the Final Action Date for EB-2 India, which moves forward six months from July 8, 2012 to January 1, 2013. EB-2 China is also advancing modestly, from January 22, 2019 to March 1, 2019. Final Action Dates for the EB-1 category remain current for all countries and in the EB-2 / EB-3 categories for all countries except China and India. USCIS has announced that they will continue to accept Adjustment of Status applications based on the Dates for Filing.

As Final Action Dates continue to advance for EB-2 India, individuals with a pending Adjustment of Status based on a downgraded EB-3 I-140 may want to consider options for interfiling the EB-2 I-140 or filing a second Adjustment of Status application. Consult with your Parker Gallini attorney if you have any questions about these options.

USCIS Extends RFE Response Flexibility Through March 26, 2022

USCIS has again extended flexibility for applicants and petitioners responding to Requests for Evidence, Notices of Intent to Deny or Revoke, and certain other requests and notices issued between March 1, 2020 and March 26, 2022, inclusive. This allows response to a USCIS request, notice, or decision up to 60 calendar days after the due date listed on the notice. USCIS has also clarified that a Motion to Reopen, Motion to Reconsider, or Appeal may be filed up to 90 days from the date USCIS issued a denial decision if USCIS denied the matter between November 1, 2021 and March 26, 2022, inclusive. 

Please reach out to a Parker Gallini immigration attorney for more information any of these topics. 

Posted in Immigration Law

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