Immigration Update

May 16, 2023 | Immigration Updates

In this edition, find the latest news on Title 42 ending, work authorization extensions, COVID-19 vaccine updates and more!

Uncertainty Reigns as Title 42 Ends; Mayorkas Announces New Rule, Other Measures

In response to reports of a potential surge of migrants at the southern U.S. border due to the end of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Title 42 restrictions on May 11, 2023, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas says the United States is ready. Planned actions include a rule to deter smugglers that Secretary Mayorkas says will be finalized and implemented by May 11, and efforts to derail misinformation about open borders peddled by smugglers. “The border is not open, it has not been open and it will not be open subsequent to May 11,” he said.

Mexico has also agreed to continue accepting Venezuelan, Haitian, Cuban, and Nicaraguan migrants turned away at the U.S. border, and to allow Hondurans, Guatemalans, and Salvadorans with family in the United States to live and work in Mexico. The United States is also opening migration centers in several countries, starting with Guatemala and Colombia, to allow would-be migrants to apply for a legal pathway to the United States, Canada, or Spain. The United States and Mexico issued a related joint statement on May 2, 2023.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recently launched updates to its app, CBP One, for those wishing to apply for a legal pathway to the United States, such as asylum. However, according to reports, there are problems with a lack of access to phones or internet service, technical issues, and difficulties in obtaining appointments. CBP announced that it will implement measures to mitigate those issues, for example, by expanding the number of available appointments and prioritizing those who have been waiting the longest after setting up their profiles in the app.

Critics of Title 42 restrictions note that unauthorized border crossings and repeat crossings actually increased while Title 42 restrictions were in place, so its purported deterrent effect seems overstated. Many have called for comprehensive immigration reform legislation, although passage is unlikely in the current divided Congress.

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Work Authorization Extended, Expanded for Hong Kong DED Residents; Student Relief Announced

On May 3, 2023, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the extension and expansion of employment authorization under Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for eligible Hong Kong residents present in the U.S.. Also, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced on May 4, 2023, that Hong Kong residents who were in lawful F-1 nonimmigrant student status as of January 26, 2023 may request employment authorization, work an increased number of hours while school is in session, and reduce their course loads while continuing to maintain their F-1 nonimmigrant student status. An F-1 nonimmigrant student who receives employment authorization by means of the notice will be deemed to be engaged in a ‘”full course of study’” for the duration of the employment authorization if the nonimmigrant student satisfies the minimum course load requirement described in this notice. 

The DED notice explains how eligible residents of Hong Kong in the U.S. may apply for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs). Eligible Hong Kong residents covered under DED as of January 26, 2023 may remain in the United States through February 5, 2025, and are eligible to work in the United States. 

Specifically, USCIS is automatically extending the validity of Hong Kong DED-based EADs through February 5, 2025, for those who already have an EAD with an A-11 category code on the card and an expiration date of February 5, 2023. These EADs remain valid even though the expiration date on the face of the card has passed. An individual does not need to apply for a new EAD to benefit from this automatic EAD extension. Individuals who want a new DED-based EAD showing an expiration date of February 5, 2025, must file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. 

There is no application for DED. Hong Kong residents are covered under DED based on the terms described in the President’s directive issued in January 2023.  

USCIS noted that the Department of Homeland Security may provide travel authorization at its discretion to those covered under DED for Hong Kong. Individuals who wish to travel outside of the United States based on DED must file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, to request advance parole.

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COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements Ending for International Travelers to United States

As of May 12, 2023, COVID-19 vaccines will no longer be required for international travelers entering the United States via air, land ports of entry, and ferry terminals. The Biden administration said the rescission of these travel restrictions were in alignment with the end of the Public Health Emergency scheduled for May 11, 2023. 

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CIS Ombudsman Releases Tips on Avoiding Delays for F-1 Students Seeking OPT

The Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) Ombudsman released tips on how F-1 students seeking Optional Practical Training (OPT) can avoid delays in processing the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. The tips include: 

  • Check USCIS’ website for updates before you submit Form I-765. 
  • Make sure Form I-20, Certification of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, is signed, dated, and endorsed for employment authorization. 
  • Apply online.  
  • Submit Form I-765 within 30 days or 60 days of the Date Issued by the Designated School Official on the Form I-20. 
  • Submit a properly completed Form I-20 together with Form I-765 at the same time. 
  • Update your mailing address with both USCIS and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS)

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