Immigration Update

Jun 13, 2022 | Immigration Updates

In this edition, find the latest news on Biden’s immigration enforcement memorandum, COVID-19 vaccine requirements for travelers to Canada and Mexico, CDC rescinding the order requiring negative COVID-19 test before a flight to United States, and more!

Federal Judge Vacates Biden Immigration Enforcement Memorandum

On June 10, 2022, a U.S. district judge in the Southern District of Texas vacated the Biden administration’s September 2021 memorandum on immigration enforcement, which, in an effort to reduce arrests, called for a targeted enforcement or “prioritization” on removal for those who pose a “current threat to public safety”. The District judge stated that the memo’s prioritization was “arbitrary and capricious, contrary to law, and failing to observe procedure under the Administrative Procedure Act.” Judge Drew Tipton said the core of the dispute was “whether the Executive Branch may require its officials to act in a manner that conflicts with a statutory mandate imposed by Congress. It may not.”

The states of Texas and Louisiana argued that the memorandum conflicted with detention mandates under federal law. The judge noted that in the 1990s, Congress reined in the Executive Branch’s discretion by mandating detention of criminal aliens or those with final orders of removal: “The wisdom of the statute passed by Congress and signed into law by the President has no bearing here. The passions of the present sometimes conflict with the views of the past. But the law remains unless it is repealed or replaced. And the two statutes at issue in this case are still the law of the land.” Although the Executive Branch has “case-by-case discretion to abandon immigration enforcement as to a particular individual,” the judge said, this case “does not involve individualized decision making. Instead, this case is about a rule that binds Department of Homeland Security officials in a generalized, prospective manner” in contravention of Congress’s detention mandate. Further, although it is true that the Executive Branch “may prioritize its resources,” it “must do so within the bounds set by Congress.” Accepting the Executive Branch’s position invoking “discretion” and “prioritization” would have “profound consequences for the separation of powers,” the judge said.

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COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements for Travelers to Mexico and Canada: An Overview

This section provides an overview of COVID-19 vaccine documentation and requirements for travelers to Mexico or Canada countries.

Canada

As with many other countries, Canada relaxed its entry requirement in the spring of 2022. Since April 1, 2022, Canada allows travelers to enter without a pre-arrival test if they are fully vaccinated.

Foreign nationals can enter Canada if they have been vaccinated with two doses of a recognized vaccine* (both doses of the same vaccine or a mix of two different shots) or one dose of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The last shot must be received at least 14 days before arrival in Canada. The foreign proof of vaccination to be shown at the Canadian border must be an official certificate, pass, card, receipt, or confirmation, in English or French, that shows any first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine received. It cannot be only a QR code. The name of the traveler, the authority who administered the vaccine, and the dates and brand(s) of the shots must be in writing.

Unvaccinated foreign nationals who come to Canada to spend time at a seasonal home or cottage; visit an immediate or extended family member, if age 18 or over; attend a Canadian educational institution as an international student if age 18 or over; provide child care for relatives; visit for personal or casual reasons; perform work for an air or rail crew, a medical occupation, transportation, or sports; or enter for tourism, fishing, entertainment, or leisure cannot enter Canada, even if they have tested negative for COVID-19. Few exceptions exist for unvaccinated foreign nationals; see https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid/travel-restrictions/exemptions.

As of May 19, 2022, a third booster dose is not mandatory, and there is no limit of time between the last dose received and the travel date. The government of Canada prohibits anyone from entering Canada by any means of transportation if the person presents any symptoms of COVID-19.

As part of the structured plan to move COVID-19 testing out of airports, from June 11 at 12:01 a.m. (EDT) to June 30, 2022, the Government of Canada is temporarily suspending mandatory random arrival testing at all airports for travelers who qualify as fully vaccinated.

There are no changes to:

  • Mandatory random arrival testing at land borders
  • Arrival testing for travelers who don’t qualify as fully vaccinated and are allowed entry into Canada

All travelers must fill out the ArriveCan app within 72 hours of a direct flight to Canada with their proof of vaccination and travel plans.

* Vaccines recognized by Canada as of May 2022 include AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD (ChAdOx1-S, Vaxzevria, AZD1222), Bharat Biotech (Covaxin, BBV152 A, B, C), Medicago Covifenz, Moderna (Spikevax, mRNA-1273) including for children aged 6 to 11 years, Novavax (NVX-COV2373, Nuvaxovid, Covovax), Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty/tozinameran, BNT162b2) including for children aged 5 to 11 years, Sinopharm BIBP (BBIBP-CorV), and Sinovac (CoronaVac, PiCoVacc).

Mexico

There are no restrictions related to COVID-19 to enter Mexican National Territory. Specifically, there is:

  • No vaccination card requirement
  • No entry or exit ban
  • No quarantine requirement
  • No mandatory proof of vaccination or COVID-19 testing

Mexico grants an online proof of vaccination to travel abroad.

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CDC Rescinds Order Requiring Negative COVID-19 Test Before Flight to United States

As of June 12, 2022, air travelers to the United States no longer need to show a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery before boarding, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced.

CDC continues to recommend that travelers boarding a flight to the United States get tested for current infection with a viral test as close to the time of departure as possible (no more than 3 days) and not travel if they are sick. CDC said it “continues to evaluate the latest science and state of the pandemic and will reassess the need for a testing requirement if the situation changes.”

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State Dept. Removes Required DV Entry Form Passport-Related Details in Response to Court Order

Those applying for a green card through the diversity visa “lottery” will no longer need to submit certain passport information when making an entry in this program. In response to a U.S. district court ruling, the Department of State is removing from the Code of Federal Regulations amendments published in an interim final rule on June 5, 2019, requiring principal entrants submitting an electronic diversity visa entry form to provide certain information, including the entrant’s unique serial or issuance number associated with the principal entrant’s valid unexpired passport, or claim an exemption to the passport requirement. In E.B. v. U.S. Department of State, No. 19–2856 (D.D.C. Feb. 4, 2022), the court vacated the rule.

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Visa Bulletin Includes Diversity Immigrant Visa Availability

The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for July 2022 includes information on diversity visa availability for the months of July and August.

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