• Filip Kobylecki

Immigration Day Recap: Public Charge Rule Placed Under Review While Visa Bans Remain In Place

It was Immigration Day yesterday at the White House, with the Biden administration taking a variety of steps to roll back, rescind, and review policies instituted by the previous executive. Among these actions was an announcement that the Department of Homeland Security would undertake an "immediate review of agency actions on public charge inadmissibility". This is welcome news for thousands of aspiring immigrants applying for non-immigrant and immigrant benefits alike, as it could potentially result in the removal of burdensome financial reporting requirements (including the Form I-944). For now, applicants should still regularly review the USCIS website for the form(s) they plan to submit before including or omitting any additional financial materials as it is still unclear when, or even if, the USCIS will change its official policies.

Other highlights from Immigration Day include the creation of a Taskforce to reunite families separated during the previous administration, a plan to increase cooperation between Central American countries and the United States, and a directive to review/streamline the N-400 Naturalization process. Over the coming months, the Department of Homeland Security will be working with the USCIS and other internal agencies to determine how best to implement this Executive guidance, with additional information and specific actions to come in the next 2-3 months.

Conspicuously absent from these announcements was the lack of action being taken on the ongoing non-immigrant and immigrant visa bans in place through March 31, 2021. The Biden administration has indicated that lifting these bans is not currently in their plans, which is a tremendous disappointment to those individuals selected in the Diversity Visa Lottery or waiting for the issuance of their visas by the Department of State. It is likely that the current administration is not rescinding these ongoing bans to avoid the accusation that they purposely lifted travel restrictions in the midst of a global pandemic. Whether or not these restrictions will be extended or allowed to expire on March 31, 2021 is currently unclear, and will be critical to the 380,000 individuals currently waiting for consular interviews and issuance of their visas.

Our office will keep you updated regarding any additional changes or material updates that may occur. Please feel free to reach out for additional information regarding these policy updates as the regulatory climate continues to improve for prospective immigrants.