Patricia Gannon, Marcela Bermudez, and Ruijie “Jessica” Zhang
USCIS to Suspend Biometrics in Key Cases
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is
extending its suspension of the biometrics requirement for those seeking H-4, L-2 and E derivative changes of status and extensions of stay in the United States. The suspension will remain in place through September 30, 2023. During this time, applicants filing Form I-539 for H-4; L-2; or E-1, E-2, or E-3 derivative status will not be required to attend a USCIS biometrics appointment for the capture of their fingerprints and photo. However, USCIS reserves the right to require biometrics on a case-by-case basis if deemed necessary. In the announcement, USCIS also confirmed its plan to permanently eliminate the biometrics requirement for all Form I-539 applicants.
EB-3 Retrogression and Other Projections
May Visa Bulletin, the State Department projects that as early as June, retrogression will be necessary in the EB-2 India and EB-5 India categories due to high demand. According to the agency, every effort will be made in October 2023 to return Final Action Dates for these categories to at least their April dates.
The May Bulletin also states that Final Action Dates for EB-1 India and China will most likely need to be retrogressed in the coming months as a result of increased EB-1 use from other countries, and that that there will likely need to be retrogression in the EB-3 Other Worker category for all countries except China and India.
DOS Publishes Notice on Ukrainian J-1 Student Relief
Exchange Visitor Program regulations, the Department of State’s (DOS) Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs published a notice on April 5, 2023, waiving and modifying certain regulatory requirements with respect to a temporary educational and cultural exchange program established for Ukrainian J-1 students in the U.S. DOS said it is extending Special Student Relief to eligible Ukrainian students in the U.S. on J-1 visas “to help mitigate the adverse impact on them resulting from the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine that began on February 24, 2022.”
DOS explained that many exchange visitors from Ukraine dependent upon financial support originating in their home country have limited or no access to funds, and others may have difficulty returning home. The agency said it took this action “to ameliorate hardship arising from lack of financial support and to facilitate these students’ continued studies in the U.S.”
USCIS is Accepting Self-Identified Gender Markers for Immigration Benefits
USCIS recently announced that it is accepting a self-identified gender marker for individuals requesting immigration benefits. The gender marker they select does not need to match the gender marker indicated on their supporting documentation.
The update also clarifies that people requesting benefits do not need to submit proof of their gender identity when submitting a request to change their gender marker, except for those submitting an application for a replacement naturalization/citizenship document.
Currently, the only gender markers available are “Male” (M) or “Female” (F). The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is working on options to include an additional gender marker (“X”) for another or unspecified gender identity. USCIS said it will update its forms and its
Policy Manual accordingly.
USCIS Clarifies Guidance on Citizenship and Naturalization for Adopted Children
Starting immediately, the USCIS is updating Volumes 5 and 12 of the Policy Manual to provide clear guidance on how U.S. citizenship and naturalization
provisions apply to adopted children. This update aims to consolidate and clarify existing information in Volume 5 and supplement policy in Volume 12 on citizenship and naturalization.
The updated guidance outlines the requirements for adopted children to meet the definition of a child for citizenship and naturalization purposes, including having a full, final, and complete adoption for immigration purposes. Additionally, it explains the eligibility for U.S. citizenship for adopted children residing both inside and outside the U.S., and the steps for obtaining a Certificate of Citizenship.
Furthermore, the guidance provides information on the acquisition of citizenship and naturalization when an adoption is disrupted or dissolved. It is important to note that this update does not alter the requirements for adopted children to become U.S. citizens. Rather, it aims to assist adoptive families and adoptees in understanding the requirements, allowing adoptees to secure U.S. citizenship and documentation if eligible.
It is important to recognize that while some children immigrating through adoption automatically acquire U.S. citizenship upon admission as lawful permanent residents, others do not. For the latter group, adoptive parents must take additional steps before the child turns 18 years of age for the child to obtain U.S. citizenship through an adoptive parent. Adoptees who do not obtain citizenship through their adoptive parents before turning 18 may still be eligible to apply for naturalization after reaching the age of 18.
USCIS Removes 60-Day Rule for Civil Surgeon Signatures on Form I-693
The USCIS has announced a
policy update related to Form I-693, which eliminates the requirement that civil surgeons sign the form no more than 60 days before an individual applies for an underlying immigration benefit. This will enable the USCIS to adjudicate cases with immigration medical examinations that were previously considered invalid. The USCIS will now accept Forms I-693 for adjudicative purposes for up to two years after the date the civil surgeon signed the form, instead of issuing Requests for Evidence for Forms I-693 signed more than 60 days before the I-485 filing. This policy update is intended to streamline the immigration process and reduce unnecessary delays and confusion for all stakeholders involved.
Please reach out to your Greenspoon Marder LLP Immigration & Naturalization Practice Group for any further questions or concerns.