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Business Immigration in a Minute by Honigman LLP

May 10, 2021
  • The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced on May 3, 2021 through a declaration that it plans to suspend biometrics requirements for certain I-539 applicants in the H-4, L-2, E-1, E-2, and E-3 categories for a two-year period from May 17, 2021 to May 17, 2023. The biometrics suspension will apply to applications that are pending as of May 17, 2021 if the applicant has not yet received a biometric services appointment notice and to applications filed after the effective date of May 17, 2021. As of the date of this newsletter, USCIS has not issued official guidance on this suspension.

  • Last week, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) withdrew a proposed rule that would have expanded DHS’ authority and requirements for collecting biometrics by removing age restrictions, requiring submission of biometrics for every individual who is filing or is associated with any immigration or naturalization benefit or request unless DHS waives or exempts the biometrics requirement, codifying the authority to use DNA test results, and authorizing the use of additional types of biometric modalities. This withdrawal is consistent with President Biden’s recent executive order that instructs federal agencies to conduct a review of all regulations, policies, and guidance that affect legal immigration in the United States and make a plan within 90 days to more effectively and efficiently deliver immigration benefits.

  • The U.S. Embassy in Moscow announced that it will sharply curtail its consular activities due to a Russian ban on the Embassy’s ability to hire local staff. Starting May 12, 2021, the Embassy will only provide emergency U.S. citizen services and a very limited number of immigrant visas for age-out cases and life-or-death emergencies. Non-immigrant visa processing for non-diplomatic travel will cease, and the Embassy will stop offering routine notarial services, consular reports of birth abroad, or passport renewal services for the foreseeable future.

  • The U.S. Social Security Administration (“SSA”) recently announced that it will no longer be sending Social Security No-Match letters to employers who had at least one name and Social Security Number combination submitted on Form W-2 that did not match SSA’s records. These letters were previously used by SSA to advise employers that corrections were needed so SSA could properly post the employee’s earnings to the correct record and educate employers about the tools available on Business Services Online. However, the letters also were used at times by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to investigate whether an employer knowingly hired an unauthorized worker. The SSA stated that it discontinued the letters to provide a better educational experience and an easier, more convenient way for employers to report wages electronically.

  • The U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) recently announced that U.S. embassies and consulates are using a tiered approach to triage immigrant visa applications and address the backlog in the processing of immigrant visas due to the COVID-19 shutdown and restrictions. DOS identified four priority tiers listing the main categories of immigrant visas: (1) Tier One: immediate relative intercountry adoption visas, age-out cases, and certain Special Immigrant Visas; (2) Tier Two: immediate relative visas, fiancé(e) visas, and returning resident visas; (3) Tier Three: family preference immigrant visas and SE Special Immigrant Visas for certain employees of the U.S. government abroad; and (4) Tier Four: all other immigrant visas, including employment preference and diversity visas.

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