Updated Pre-Departure Testing Requirements for Air Travelers to the U.S.
Starting December 17, 2021, air travelers aged two and older, regardless of nationality or vaccination status, will be required to submit a negative COVID test taken within one calendar day of travel to the United States, or provide documentation of recent COVID recovery, in order to board their flight. That includes all travelers – U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents (LPRs), and foreign nationals.
If you have recently recovered from COVID-19, you may instead travel with documentation of recovery from COVID-19 (i.e., your positive COVID-19 viral test result on a sample taken no more than 90 days before the flight’s departure from a foreign country, and a letter from a licensed healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel). USCIS needs to specify the date for validity of the doctor’s letter for clearance to travel.
Exemptions will be considered on an extremely limited basis. Please visit the
CDC, for more information about exemptions and the requirement for proof of negative COVID-19 test or recovery from COVID-19, including types of accepted tests for all air passengers arriving in the United States.
Updated Pre-departure CDC Recommendations for Air Travelers from the U.S.
The CDC recommends that you do not travel internationally until you are fully vaccinated. International travel poses additional risks, and even fully vaccinated travelers might be at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading some COVID-19 variants. Delay travel and stay home to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. If you do travel, follow all CDC recommendations before, during, and after travel.
Check with your airlines, cruise lines, or travel operators regarding any updated information about your travel plans and/or restrictions, including potential COVID vaccine or testing requirements for countries you are transiting through.
USCIS Waives 60-Day Rule for Civil Surgeon Signatures until September 2022
Up to December 9, 2021, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) required the Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record Form I-693 be dated no more than 60 days before an applicant filed the application for the underlying immigration benefit, including Form I-485 Adjustment of Status.
On December 9, 2021, USCIS has enacted a temporary waiver to assist applicants adversely affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent processing delays. This waiver now permits more flexibility for the applicant to submit the application, even if the medical examination form is executed more than 60 days prior to filing for the immigration benefit.
Prior to December 9, 2021, Announcement, medical examination reports that were signed more than 60 days before filing were deemed expired by USCIS, and the applicants had to pay for and obtain another examination report. This is a welcome change for applicants who may have needed to incur additional charges or delays in the processing of their cases.
It is the applicant’s responsibility to make sure that the civil surgeon issuing the medical report is listed on the
USCIS “Find a Doctor” Webpage.
In addition, effective October 1, 2021, applicants must complete the COVID-19 vaccine series and provide documentation of vaccination to the civil surgeon in person before the civil surgeon can complete the Form I-693.
The temporary waiver also provides benefit to Afghan nationals evacuated under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) effort, Operation Allies Welcome. The evacuated Afghan nationals faced similar difficulty in having completed immigration medical examinations at government-run facilities within the stipulated 60-day time period and, hence, were unable to apply for adjustment of status.
USCIS Expands Interviews for Refugees and Asylees Petitioning for Family Members
On December 10, 2021, USCIS rescinded November 2020 policy memorandum requiring interviews of all petitioners filing Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition. Effective immediately, USCIS will return to its prior long-standing practice of making case-by-case determinations on whether to interview Form I-730 petitioners.
According to the Policy, an individual admitted to the United States as a principal refugee or granted asylum as a principal asylee may file a Form I-730 petition on behalf of a spouse or child. Eligible spouses or unmarried children may receive derivative refugee or asylee status as Form I-730 beneficiaries. They do not have to qualify independently as principal asylees or refugees, but they must meet the requirements for the relationship to the petitioner and must qualify under all other applicable eligibility criteria, including those related to criminal- and security-related grounds.
USCIS can perform robust fraud and security screenings and maintain strong program integrity without this blanket interview policy. In addition, USCIS reserves its authority to interview any petitioner where USCIS determines there is a need to do so.
Transitional Parole for CNMI Long-Term Resident Status Applicants Extended
On December 8, 2021, USCIS announced that it will automatically extend parole and employment authorization, if applicable, for parolees who timely applied for Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) long term resident status.
The CNMI long-term resident status was created by the Northern Mariana Islands Long-Term Legal Residents Relief Act (Public Law 116-24), signed into law on June 25, 2019. The law specifically gave the Department of Homeland Security the discretion to authorize parole, with work authorization, for these individuals during the time period needed to implement the new law. USCIS previously extended this parole four times, on June 17, 2020, August 11, 2020, December 30, 2020, and June 16, 2021.
Eligible individuals had 180 days, until August 17, 2020, to apply for CNMI long-term resident status. USCIS announced the August 17 deadline when it opened the application period on Feb. 19, 2020. If USCIS denies a parolee’s Form I-955 and Form I-765, their parole (and employment authorization, if applicable) will end and they must depart the CNMI.
This specific extension of parole applies only to current parolees who timely filed Form I-955, Application for CNMI Long-Term Resident Status, and Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and whose applications remain pending on December 30, 2021. USCIS will automatically extend their parole (and employment authorization, if applicable) without interruption through June 30, 2022, or the date that we make a final decision on their Form I-955 and Form I-765, whichever is earlier.
For eligible parolees whose timely filed Form I-955 and Form I-765 remain pending on December 30, 2021, the following documentation will serve as evidence of identity and work authorization for purposes of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, until June 30, 2022 (or the date that we make a final decision on their long-term resident status application, whichever is earlier):
A copy of this web alert;
Form I-766, Employment Authorization Document, bearing category code “C-11” with an expiration date on or before June 29, 2020; and
Evidence that they filed Form I-955 and Form I-765 on or before August 17, 2020. This may be a copy of Form I-797C, Notice of Action, reflecting that they have filed Form I-765 requesting the classification (“class”) code of (c)(37), or if unavailable, a copy of their Form I-955 and Form I-765 with a mail receipt.
Please reach out to your Greenspoon Marder LLP Immigration & Naturalization Practice Group attorney for any questions or concerns. Click here to stay updated on our weekly alerts.