Immigration Update

Oct 5, 2021 | Immigration Updates

In this edition, find information on how the resolution that avoided a government shutdown contained provisions to aid Afghans, a judge ordered the Biden administration to hold thousands of diversity visas past expiration, how the DHS proposed a new DACA rule, and more.

Continuing Resolution to Fund Government Until December 3 Includes Provisions to Aid Afghans at Risk

The good news this week is that the federal government did not shut down.  Congress passed, and President Biden signed, a continuing resolution to keep the federal government open until December 3, 2021. Among other things, the legislation provides about $6.3 billion to aid Afghans at risk. Selected highlights include:

  • $2.2 billion for overseas humanitarian, disaster, and civic aid until September 30, 2023, for the support of Operation Allies Welcome (evacuation/resettlement of Afghans) by the Department of Defense.
  • $21.5 million for CDC-wide activities and program support until September 30, 2022, for medical support, screening, and other related public health activities related to Afghan arrivals and refugees.
  • Afghans arriving with humanitarian parole are to receive the same services as refugees, including reception, placement, and other entitlement programs like food assistance. Services include healthcare, emergency housing, English language classes, job training, and case management. Eligible Afghans are those paroled into the United States between July 31, 2021, and September 30, 2022; those paroled into the United States after September 30, 2022; and either the spouse or child of such a parolee or the parent or legal guardian of an unaccompanied child paroled during that period.
  • $1.68 billion for refugee and entrant assistance until September 30, 2023, under Operation Allies Welcome for carrying out refugee and entrant assistance activities in support of citizens or nationals of Afghanistan paroled into the United States; for example, grants or contracts with qualified nonprofit organizations to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services during temporary housing and after resettlement, housing assistance, medical assistance, legal assistance, and case management. An additional $7.77 million for child and family service programs is available until September 30, 2022.
  • $415 million for migration and refugee assistance to address humanitarian needs in, and to assist refugees from, Afghanistan.
  • Within 45 days of enactment, the law directs the Secretaries of Health and Human Services, State, and Homeland Security to jointly submit a strategy on Afghan evacuee resettlement to Congress describing agency roles and responsibilities, vetting, the immigration status of each Afghan, and anticipated costs. “Afghan evacuee” is defined as a person whose evacuation from Afghanistan to the United States, or a location overseas controlled by the United States, was facilitated by the United States as part of Operation Allies Refuge.

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Federal Judge Orders Biden Administration to Hold Thousands of Diversity Visas Past Expiration

In more good news for a small number of people, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta ordered the Biden administration to hold 7,395 diversity visas for lottery winners who were still awaiting processing when fiscal year 2021 ended and the visas were set to expire. He issued the order in response to a lawsuit filed by 24,000 lottery winners and their families, and the order applies only to the litigants in the consolidated case, not to others who did not participate in the case. Days earlier, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan had ordered the Department of State to hold 966 diversity visas.

Judge Mehta said that the COVID-19 pandemic was “not the primary culprit. That would be the State Department’s complete cessation of adjudicating diversity visa applications for five months and its unlawful deprioritizing of those applications when adjudications resumed.”

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DHS Publishes Proposed DACA Rule

Responding to a Texas federal court ruling striking down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed a new DACA rule on September 28, 2021. The new rule includes the same eligibility requirements as in the past. Changes include modifications to the application process and filing fees, establishment of a specific category for DACA employment authorization documents, and clarification that DACA beneficiaries are “lawfully present” in the United States for purposes of Social Security.

Comments on the proposed rule are due in 60 days. Whether this rule would preserve DACA remains unclear – opponents of DACA are expected to say that only Congress has the power to enact such a program.

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Croatia Designated for Visa Waiver Program

The list of Visa Waiver countries has expanded to 40!  The Department of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Department of State, added Croatia to the list of countries eligible for participation in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

Eligible citizens, nationals, and passport holders from designated VWP countries may apply for admission to the United States at U.S. ports of entry as nonimmigrant noncitizens for a period of 90 days or fewer for business or pleasure without first obtaining a nonimmigrant visa.

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