FGI News and Publications

October 19, 2021 Newsletter Powered by ABIL

State Dept. Announces Changes in Vaccination Requirements for Immigrants and Certain Nonimmigrants

The Department of State (DOS) announced that effective October 1, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Technical Instructions for panel physicians is requiring all immigrant visa applicants, all K fiancé(e) visa applicants, and nonimmigrant visa applicants who are referred to the panel physicians to receive a full COVID-19 vaccine series as part of their medical exam before being issued a visa. The vaccine must be approved through either the World Health Organization or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Blanket waivers for the COVID-19 vaccination will be applied in countries where the vaccine is not routinely available or when the vaccine is not age-appropriate, DOS said. DOS “encourages all immigrant visa applicants and others subject to a medical exam to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible to not experience delays in their visa processing.”


· Changes in Vaccination Requirements for Immigrant Visa Applicants, K Fiancé(e) Visa Applicants and Some Nonimmigrant Visa Applicants,” Dept. of State, Oct. 1, 2021, https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/changes-to-vaccination-requirements-for-immigrant-visa-applicants.htm

DHS Announces Fully Vaccinated Travelers From Canada and Mexico Will Be Allowed to Enter United States at Land Borders and Ferry Crossings

Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced on October 12, 2021, that the Department of Homeland Security will amend Title 19 regulations to allow nonessential travelers who have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and have appropriate documentation to enter the United States via land and ferry ports of entry (POEs) across U.S. borders.

The modifications will occur in two phases over the next few months:

  • First, in November 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will begin allowing fully vaccinated travelers from Mexico or Canada to enter the United States at land and ferry POEs for nonessential reasons. Travelers must have proof of vaccination.
  • Second, beginning in early January 2022, all inbound foreign national travelers crossing U.S. land or ferry POEs—whether for essential or non-essential reasons—must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and provide proof of vaccination.

Officials did not give an exact date for lifting the travel restrictions. People entering the United States at the borders with Mexico or Canada will be questioned by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers about their vaccination status before being allowed to cross. The officers will have the discretion to send travelers to secondary screenings for their documents to be checked, officials said. The administration will have limited exemptions for unvaccinated travelers from Mexico and Canada, including some children.


· DHS Press Release, Oct. 12, 2021, https://www.dhs.gov/news/2021/10/12/secretary-mayorkas-allow-fully-vaccinated-travelers-canada-and-mexico-enter-us-land

· “The U.S. Will Reopen Its Land Borders for Fully Vaccinated Travelers,” New York Times, Oct. 12, 2021 (updated Oct. 14, 2021), https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/12/us/politics/us-canada-mexico-borders-open.htm

India and China EB-3 Dates Retrogress in November 2021 Visa Bulletin

The Department of State’s (DOS) Visa Bulletin for November 2021 is causing consternation and raising queries from beneficiaries trapped in backlogs. For example, the employment-based third preference immigrant visa category for India and China final action dates retrogressed substantially.

DOS said the retrogressions were “a direct result of extraordinarily heavy applicant demand for [visa] numbers,” primarily by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offices for adjustment of status cases.


· Visa Bulletin for November 2021, Dept. of State, https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-bulletin/2022/visa-bulletin-for-november-2021.html

CIS Ombudsman Releases Tips on Communicating With USCIS Contact Center

The Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) Ombudsman released tips on making communications with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Contact Center more effective, in response to recent changes in Contact Center processes. The CIS Ombudsman explained that the changes were made “to reduce reliance on telephonic live assistance while promoting the use of online self-help tools and digital inquiry channels” as a result of “financial limitations and resource constraints.”

Tips include when to reach out to the USCIS Contact Center; where to check case status; when to use online tools; how to submit case inquiries and service requests; what constitutes an emergency; how to expedite a case; how biometrics appointments are scheduled; how to reschedule appointments and interviews; and other advice.


· “How to Make Your Communication With the USCIS Contact Center More Effective,” Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, Dept. of Homeland Security, Sept. 2021, https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/uscis_contact_center_tip_sheet_final.pdf

CIS Ombudsman Releases Readout and Q&As From Webinar on Filing for TPS and Concurrent Work Authorization

The Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) Ombudsman released a readout and Q&As from its public webinar discussing eligibility, required evidence, and account features for online filing of Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status, and concurrent filing of Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.


· DHS announcement, https://www.dhs.gov/publication/cis-ombudsmans-webinar-series-uscis-introduces-e-filing-initial-form-i-821

· DHS Engagement Readout, https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/engagement_readout_-_form_i-821_online_08.24.21.pdf · DHS Q&A, https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/questions_and_answers_-_form_i-821_online_filing_engagement_08.24.21_1.pdf

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