This week has seen many changes made to U.S. immigration rules and processes. David Hirson & Partners, LLP (DHP) is committed to keeping all of our clients and partners informed of important U.S. immigration issues. If you have any questions about these changes, the expert attorneys and staff at DHP are ready to help you and your family with all of your corporate and family immigration plans.
Prohibition on “Birth Tourism”
On January 24, 2020 the U.S. Department of State issued a final rule (effective immediately) that now explicitly excludes travel to the U.S. under a B visa for the purpose of “birth tourism.” “Birth tourism” is the act of coming into the country in order to give birth to a child. Giving birth to a child in the U.S. allows the child to become a U.S. citizen through birth. When being interviewed for a B visa to come into the U.S., it is now up to any pregnant applicant to prove that she is not intending to come to the U.S. to give birth.
The B-1/B-2 visa is a widely used visa that allows people to temporarily enter the U.S. for business, pleasure, or both. People will still be able to come into the U.S. on a B visa for medical purposes, but the applicant will have to prove that a medical practitioner or facility in the U.S. has agreed to provide treatment and that the applicant has the means to pay for all treatment, living, and incidental costs associated with coming into the U.S. for a legitimate medical reason.
It is still unclear what will happen to those individuals who already have a B visa in their passports but still need to apply for admission into the U.S.
USCIS Adjusts Process for Managing EB-5 Visa Petition Inventory
On January 29, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will no longer process Form I-526 petitions on a first-in, first-out basis. USCIS will now process Form I-526 petitions based upon visa availability, depending on the applicant’s country of birth and whether or not that country has (or will soon have) visas available. The reason for this change is an effort to make USCIS more efficient and allow USCIS operations to be more consistent. This change now makes Form I-526 processing consistent with that of Form I-130 processing. USCIS will implement this change in process on March 31, 2020.
Implementation of the Public Charge Inadmissibility Rule
This is an update to the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Final Rule that was stopped from being implemented in October 2019. On January 30, 2020, USCIS announced that it will now implement the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Final Rule beginning on February 24, 2020. (There is an exception for the State of Illinois.) New guidance, instructions, and forms required under the final rule are scheduled to be released the first week of February 2020. When this final rule starts being enforced in February 2020, it will not be retroactively applied to applicants who applied after the original implementation date in 2019. USCIS will only consider receipt of public benefits from February 24, 2020 forward. Applications submitted with a postmark date of February 23, 2020 or before will be adjudicated based upon the current standards. All applications with a postmark date of February 24, 2020 or later will be adjudicated based upon the final rule.
USCIS Updates Process for Accepting Form I-130 Petitions for Relatives Abroad
On January 31, 2020, USCIS announced that beginning February 1, 2020, Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, will only be processed within the U.S. by USCIS or internationally by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) for certain circumstances. Only eligible active-duty U.S. service members assigned overseas and certain non-military petitioners who meet specific criteria for consular processing will be allowed to file Form I-130 with the DOS overseas. DOS will process Form I-130 overseas only if the petition: a) involves instances of prolonged or severe civil strife or natural disaster or b) for U.S. service members assigned to military bases abroad.
New Travel/Visa Restrictions for Six Countries
On January 31, 2020, President Trump signed a proclamation that places new visa restrictions on 6 countries for not meeting the U.S. standards for identity management, information sharing, national, security, and public safety assessment criteria related to foreigners entering the U.S. This proclamation is based upon the standards and policies set forth in Executive Order 13780 in 2017 that is meant to establish stronger security standards for allowing people into the U.S.
The 6 countries facing new visa restrictions starting on February 21, 2020 are:
- Burma (Myanmar)
It is important to note that President Trump did not impose a blanket ban on these 6 countries, but a tailored ban:
- Burma, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, and Nigeria: suspension of entry for immigrants, except Special Immigrants whose eligibility is based on having provided assistance to the U.S. Government.
- Sudan and Tanzania: suspension of entry for Diversity Immigrants.
The U.S. government is hopeful that these 6 countries will work to improve their security and information sharing standards such that they will no longer face visa restrictions. As part of Executive Order 13780, every 180 days, the U.S. government systematically reviews all countries to see how they meet the established criteria.
This new proclamation applies to intending immigrants from these 6 nations who have not yet received an immigrant visa. Those immigrants who already received a valid U.S. visa will still be able to enter the U.S. while legal permanent residents may continue to reside in the U.S. Everyone must continue to meet all terms and conditions of their U.S. visa.
Travel Ban on Foreign Nationals and Quarantine for U.S. Citizens Who Have Been in China
On January 31, 2020, the U.S. government announced a travel ban on foreign nationals who have been in China within their last 14 days from coming into the U.S. (This travel ban does not apply to immediate family members of U.S. citizens.) Additionally, any U.S. citizen who has been in China’s Hubei Province within their last 14 days will be placed in mandatory quarantine for up to 14 days after entering the U.S. Any U.S. citizen who has been anywhere else in China within their last 14 days will be screened at U.S. ports of entry and have up to 14 days of self-monitoring.
These temporary measures will go into effect starting Sunday, February 2, 2020 at 5 p.m. Eastern Time.
Furthermore, the U.S. Department of State advises that no one travel to China at this time.
If you or any of your family and friends are affected by any of these new U.S. immigration and travel rules, we urge you to work with a licensed immigration attorney to plan how and when to best come to the U.S. Contact our team of attorneys today for advice.
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