Immigration Update

Oct 4, 2022 | Immigration Updates

In this edition, find the latest news on Hurricane Ian-related guidance from the DOL’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification and other related agencies, the lifting of COVID-related travel restrictions on the Canadian border, USCIS’ extension of Green Card validity to 24 Months for renewals, and more.  

Agencies Release Hurricane Ian-Related Guidance

The Department of Labor’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), released guidance related to the effects of Hurricane Ian.

OFLC

OFLC issued disaster guidance on September 29, 2022, regarding reasonable case accommodations in light of the damage done by Hurricane Ian.

Among other things, the guidance notes that the most effective means of communicating with OFLC is through the Foreign Labor Application Gateway (FLAG) or PERM Case Management System for each OFLC program. For employers or authorized attorneys or agents who are unable to communicate with OFLC through FLAG or the PERM system, the guidance provides alternative methods of contacting OFLC.

DHS

DHS issued guidance on September 28, 2022, reminding the public that ICE and CBP provide emergency assistance to individuals regardless of immigration status, and that DHS officials do not pose as individuals providing emergency-related information as part of any enforcement activity. Further, sites providing emergency response and relief are considered “protected areas.” DHS said that to the fullest extent possible, ICE and CBP “do not conduct immigration enforcement activities at protected areas such as along evacuation routes, sites used for sheltering or the distribution of emergency supplies, food or water, or registration sites for disaster-related assistance or the reunification of families and loved ones.”

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COVID-Related Restrictions Lifted at Canadian Border

As of October 1, Canada has lifted all COVID-19 related entry requirements for travelers. Previously, travelers were subject to vaccination, testing, and quarantine requirements, as well as the submission of health information through ArriveCAN. In addition, wearing a mask on planes and trains is now optional. Note, some provinces or individual businesses may continue to place COVID-19 related restrictions on discretionary activities, such as visits to restaurants, bars, gyms, and retail shops.

It is unclear whether the United States will also lift similar entry requirements. Presently, all nonimmigrant air or land travelers to the United States must be fully vaccinated and be able to provide proof of vaccination status, unless one of the limited exceptions apply.

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USCIS Extends Green Card Validity to 24 Months for Renewals

Effective September 26, 2022, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is automatically extending the validity of permanent resident cards (green cards) to 24 months for lawful permanent residents who file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card.

Lawful permanent residents who properly file Form I-90 to renew an expiring or expired green card may receive this extension. Form I-90 receipt notices had previously provided a 12-month extension of the validity of a green card. USCIS said it has updated the language on Form I-90 receipt notices to extend this validity to 24 months for individuals with a newly filed Form I-90.

On September 26, 2022, USCIS began printing amended receipt notices for individuals with a pending Form I-90. These receipt notices can be presented with an expired green card as evidence of continued status, USCIS said.

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Biden Plans Executive Action to Protect DACA Recipients

According to reports, President Biden plans to take executive action to protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) “Dreamers” from removal if the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rules against DACA, which appears imminent. Such an order may take the form of allowing DACA recipients to remain in the United States if they pose no public safety or security threat.

A longer-term solution would require Congress to pass legislation, which is unlikely in the near term. Almost 700,000 DACA recipients could lose their work authorization otherwise.

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USCIS Director, CIS Ombudsman Hold ‘Fireside Chat’

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Ur Jaddou and Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) Ombudsman Phyllis Coven held a “fireside chat” on September 21, 2022. They discussed challenges and accomplishments from fiscal year (FY) 2022 and looked ahead to FY 2023.

The conversation included discussion of processing times; backlog reduction efforts; customer service; funding and congressional appropriations; the Ombudsman’s 2022 Annual Report to Congress; recommendations on USCIS’s fee-for-service funding model; and types of assistance the Ombudsman’s office provides to the public.

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