On October 2, 2020, USCIS issued important new guidance on when a person’s membership or affiliation with a totalitarian party rises to the level of inadmissibility. This has a direct impact on all immigrants from countries under Communist rule, including China and Vietnam.
Mere Past or Current Membership Does Not Trigger Inadmissibility
The good news is the USCIS has confirmed that simply being a past or current member of a totalitarian party does not automatically make an immigrant inadmissible. The key issue for USCIS is whether a person’s membership in the party rises to the level of “meaningful” activities that may jeopardize national security or may potentially have violated human rights or laws. Thus, USCIS will examine a person’s underlying role and activities before determining that an immigrant is inadmissible.
This is welcome news for many immigrants who may be citizens of countries that are currently under totalitarian or communist rule — China and Vietnam being two prominent examples. USCIS is taking the sensible viewpoint that many immigrants may have been forced to join through birth, law, or circumstances out of their control. USCIS also understands that membership in such groups to obtain essentials such as employment or rations will not automatically make a person inadmissible.
However: Members of the Military, State-Owned Businesses, or Government Agencies
While USCIS has adopted a more sensible stance, beware that there may be circumstances where a client’s activities may need to be analyzed further before making a determination. For example, some clients may run for local government or office, head government agencies, or work for state-owned or quasi-government institutions such as banks. It’s advisable to seek a full consultation with an experienced U.S. immigration attorney to ascertain your risks and whether a waiver will be necessary or applicable.
Contact us today if you have questions about this new guidance.