In this edition, find the latest news on the USCIS’s policy alert for returning to the U.S., the salvaging of unused visas, Tribal Cards for entering the U.S., and more!
USCIS Issues Policy Alert on Effect of Returning to United States During 3- or 10-Year Period After Departure or Removal
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a policy alert on June 24, 2022, on inadmissibility under § 212(a)(9)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), specifically, the effect of returning to the United States during the statutory 3- or 10-year period after departure or removal (if applicable). Under the policy guidance, a noncitizen who again seeks admission more than 3 or 10 years after the relevant departure or removal “is not inadmissible under INA § 212(a)(9)(B) even if the noncitizen returned to the United States, with or without authorization, during the statutory 3-year or 10-year period.” A noncitizen’s location during the statutory 3- or 10-year period and the noncitizen’s manner of return to the United States during the statutory period are “irrelevant” for purposes of determining inadmissibility under INA § 212(a)(9)(B), USCIS said.
The alert also notes that some noncitizens may be able to file a motion to reopen their previously denied applications with USCIS using Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.
- USCIS Policy Alert (PA-2022-15), June 24, 2022, https://bit.ly/3OoB1TV
Amendment to Salvage Unused Immigrant Visa Numbers Advances in House
The House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee passed an amendment, introduced by Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations for fiscal year 2023 that would recapture unused, expired family- and employment-based immigrant visa numbers lost for various reasons since 1992. The amendment would also provide visa relief for immigrants banned from traveling to the United States during the Trump administration.
Several previous attempts in Congress to restore unused visa numbers have been unsuccessful. It is unclear whether this amendment will ultimately succeed.
- “Amendment to the Homeland Security Appropriations Bill Offered by Ms. Meng of New York,” https://aboutbgov.com/3EM
- “Decades’ Worth of Unused Immigrant Visas Salvaged in House Bill,” Bloomberg Government, June 24, 2022, https://bit.ly/3xOTCBE
Tribal Card Acceptable for Entry Into United States
Effective June 24, 2022, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has designated an approved Native American tribal card issued by the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas to U.S. citizen tribal members as an acceptable travel document for purposes of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. The approved card may be used to denote identity and citizenship of Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas members entering the United States from contiguous territory or adjacent islands at land and sea ports of entry.
- CBP notice, 87 Fed. Reg. 37879 (June 24, 2022), https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2022-06-24/pdf/2022-13537.pdf
DHS, DOS Announce Exemptions Allowing Eligible Afghans to Qualify for Protection and Immigration Benefits
The Secretaries of Homeland Security and State, in consultation with the Attorney General, announced three new exemptions that can be applied on a case-by-case basis to ensure that Afghans who would otherwise be eligible for the benefit or protection they are seeking are not automatically denied. Among other things, the exemptions will “ensure that individuals who have lived under Taliban rule, such as former civil servants, those required to pay service fees to the Taliban to do things like pass through a checkpoint or obtain a passport, and those who fought against the Taliban are not mistakenly barred because of overly broad applications of terrorism-related inadmissibility grounds (TRIG) in our immigration law,” a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) media release said.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that “[d]octors, teachers, engineers, and other Afghans, including those who bravely and loyally supported U.S. forces on the ground in Afghanistan at great risk to their safety, should not be denied humanitarian protection and other immigration benefits due to their inescapable proximity to war or their work as civil servants.” He said the exemptions will “allow eligible individuals who pose no national security or public safety risk to receive asylum, refugee status, or other legal immigration status, demonstrating the United States’ continued commitment to our Afghan allies and their family members.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Department of State remains “committed to our Afghan allies and processing Special Immigrant Visa applications as expeditiously as possible, while always protecting our national security.”
DHS said the new exemptions “may” apply to:
- Afghans who supported U.S. military interests, specifically Afghan allies who fought or otherwise supported those who fought in the resistance movement against the Taliban and Afghans who took part in the conflict against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
- Individuals employed as civil servants in Afghanistan at any time from September 27, 1996, to December 22, 2001, or after August 15, 2021. This could include teachers, professors, postal workers, doctors, and engineers, among others. It does not include individuals who held high-level positions, worked for certain ministries, or directly assisted violent Taliban activities or activities in which the individual’s civil service was motivated by an allegiance to the Taliban.
- Individuals who provided insignificant or certain limited material support to a designated terrorist organization. This could apply in limited circumstances where the support is incidental to a routine social or commercial transaction; incidental to certain humanitarian assistance; provided in response to a reasonably perceived threat of physical or economic harm, restraint, or serious harassment; and where the support provided is considered minimal and inconsequential. Due to the Taliban’s presence and control of entities, roads, and utilities, many individuals who lived in Afghanistan needed to interact with the Taliban in ways that, absent such an exemption, render them inadmissible to the United States under U.S. law, DHS said.
- DHS news release, June 14, 2022, https://www.uscis.gov/newsroom/all-news/dhs-and-dos-announce-exemptions-allowing-eligible-afghans-to-qualify-for-protection-and-immigration