In this edition, find the latest news on DHS’ announcement on DACA policy, the latest guidance for diversity visa selectees, USCIS’ updated guidance for religious workers, and more.
DHS Announces Final Rule to ‘Preserve and Fortify’ DACA Policy
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a final rule to “preserve and fortify” the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy for certain eligible noncitizens who arrived in the United States as children. DACA allows beneficiaries an opportunity to receive a renewable, two-year work permit. DHS said that DACA has allowed more than 800,000 young people, dubbed “Dreamers,” to remain in the United States.
The rule, effective October 31, 2022, was published in the Federal Register on August 30, 2022. It continues the DACA policy announced in a 2012 memorandum from Janet Napolitano, then-Secretary of Homeland Security, that DACA recipients should not be a priority for removal. DHS received more than 16,000 comments during the public comment period. The final review codifies existing DACA policy, with limited changes, and replaces the DACA policy guidance set forth in the 2012 Napolitano memorandum. The final rule:
- Maintains the existing threshold criteria for DACA;
- Retains the existing process for DACA requestors to seek work authorization; and
- Affirms the longstanding policy that DACA is not a form of lawful status but that DACA recipients, like other deferred action recipients, are considered “lawfully present” for certain purposes.
DHS noted that it may grant DACA renewal requests under the final rule but cannot grant initial DACA requests and related employment authorization due to a court injunction that remains in partial effect.
Advocates, including representatives from the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the American Immigration Council, hailed the Biden administration’s “positive step” but called for Congress to act to pass legislation to provide permanent protection and a path to citizenship.
- Final rule, DHS, https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/08/30/2022-18401/deferred-action-for-childhood-arrivals
- “DHS Issues Regulation to Preserve and Fortify DACA,” DHS news release, Aug. 24, 2022, https://www.dhs.gov/news/2022/08/24/dhs-issues-regulation-preserve-and-fortify-daca
- “Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children” (Napolitano memorandum), June 15, 2012, https://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/s1-exercising-prosecutorial-discretion-individuals-who-came-to-us-as-children.pdf
- Order of injunction, State of Texas v. United States, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, July 16, 2021, https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/legal-docs/Texas%20II%20Dkt.%20576%20Injunction.pdf
- “Biden Administration Moves to Shore Up DACA Protections But Congress Needs to Act,” press release, American Immigration Lawyers Association, Aug. 24, 2022, https://www.aila.org/advo-media/press-releases/2022/daca-press-release
DV-2023 Selectees Only Need to Submit Application Form to Kentucky Consular Center, Not Supporting Documents, DOS Says
The Department of State (DOS) announced on August 25, 2022, that for the Diversity Visa (DV) program for fiscal year 2023 (DV-2023), selectees only need to submit to the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC) the DS-260 immigrant visa application form for themselves and any accompanying family members. Once a DS-260 is received from the selectee, KCC will next review it for completeness, after which the case will be eligible to be scheduled for a visa interview if the selectee’s visa case number is current as reflected in the Visa Bulletin, DOS said. The agency noted that this continues the practice that began during the last program year, and said a “data-driven decision” would be made later for future program years.
DOS said that selectees should not submit to the KCC any other required supporting documents; instead, “all supporting documents for DV-2023 selectees will be collected and evaluated in connection with the interview at the embassy or consulate where the visa application is made.”
- “Diversity Visa 2023 Update: Document Submission to KCC for DV-2023,” Dept. of State, Aug. 25, 2022, https://bit.ly/3KpsKxQ
USCIS Updates Guidance on Religious Workers
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued policy guidance to reorganize and expand on existing guidance related to special immigrant and nonimmigrant religious workers.
For both special immigrant and R-1 nonimmigrant religious worker petitions, the update clarifies the circumstances under which certain related petitioners may meet compensation requirements even if the attesting employer will not directly compensate the religious worker.
The update also reorganizes the special immigrant religious worker guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual for clarity and provides more comprehensive information about the special immigrant religious worker filing process, verification of evidence, and site inspection process.
- USCIS alert, Aug. 30, 2022, https://www.uscis.gov/newsroom/alerts/uscis-updates-guidance-related-to-religious-workers
OFLC Receives Labor Dept. Award to Modernize Permanent Labor Certification Program
The Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) announced that it was awarded an investment from the DOL’s Technology Modernization Fund (TMF). The $7.2 million TMF investment “will improve DOL’s permanent labor certification services, helping to increase efficiency, improve customer experience, and address fraud and security risks overall,” TMF said.
Brian Pasternak, Administrator, Office of Foreign Labor Certification, said, “By integrating the permanent labor certification process into the Foreign Labor Application Gateway, which uses GSA’s [the General Services Administration’s] Login.gov, we will make it easier, faster, and cheaper for employers to access permanent labor certification services and create a more seamless immigrant visa processing experience.” Gundeep Ahluwalia, DOL’s Chief Information Officer, said, “The Department has developed a close working relationship with the TMF with past TMF awards and appreciates the opportunity to build technologies that ease the burden on U.S. employers.”
- OFLC notice, Aug. 24, 2022, https://www.dol.gov/agencies/eta/foreign-labor
- “TMF Invests in Improving Public-Facing Services, Bolstering Cybersecurity,” General Services Administration, Aug. 3, 2022, https://bit.ly/3xhJMcf