More Good News On The Immigration Front

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Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP

We recently commented that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has been making changes that were consistent with the Biden Administration’s plans to make the operation of the immigration system more efficient and fair, and to increase access to those in need of services.

Now there is more good news from the USCIS and the U.S. Department of State.

Extended validity period of Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record accompanying “green card” applications

Because of COVID-19-related delays in processing, the USCIS has temporarily extended the period during which a Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, will be considered valid. The Form I-693 was previously good for two years, but now any such form accompanying a green card application that is filed on August 12 through September 30 will be valid for a period of four years.

An applicant seeking a “green card” must file a Form I-485 to adjust status to that of a permanent resident. In connection with this filing, the applicant must have a medical examination that shows that the applicant has no conditions that would preclude becoming a permanent resident for specified health-related grounds. The designated USCIS physician then issues Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, which is usually filed with the I-485 application.

The USCIS has informed the American Immigration Lawyers Association that it is trying to approve as many I-485 applications as possible before the end of the current fiscal year (September 30). To further that goal, the USCIS is giving notice to applicants that a Request for Evidence for an updated I-693 is coming. That will allow applicants to initiate or complete the new medical examination before the RFE arrives.

For any Form I-693, the civil surgeon’s signature must be dated no more than 60 days before the filing of the Form I-485. This same rule must be followed for the extended validity period to apply. The USCIS encourages applicants, for efficiency reasons, to file the Form I-693 and the Form I-485 together, rather than requiring the USCIS to request the Form I-693 as part of the adjudication process.

The USCIS website has been updated to state as follows: “If we sent you a Request for Evidence (RFE) because your I-693 had expired after two years, but it is valid under the temporary extension to four years and you meet the requirements, please respond to the RFE by citing, printing out or otherwise mentioning this policy alert.”

USCIS will let green card applicants apply for new SSN, replacement card when filing Form I-485

A revised Form I-485 is now available that allows green card applicants to apply for a new Social Security Number or a replacement card when applying for adjustment of status.

The revised Form is dated March 29, but it has been available publicly only since August 9. Beginning October 13, the USCIS will no longer accept applications using the older Form I-485.

In the past, applying for a Social Security Number after the Form I-485 is approved and the green card obtained has been a tedious process, requiring the applicant to visit the Social Security Administration office. That will no longer be necessary for applicants using the new Form.

The USCIS has described the streamlined process as follows: “After approving Form I-485, in most cases USCIS will electronically transmit the data to the Social Security Administration. Upon receiving the data, the Social Security Administration will automatically assign an original SSN or issue a replacement card, as appropriate.”

National Interest Exceptions now good for 12 months and multiple entries into United States

The U.S. Department of State has announced that National Interest Exceptions are now valid for 12 months from the date of approval and for multiple entries for the purposes indicated in the approved NIE. This new policy applies not only to newly approved NIEs, but also to those issued within the past 12 months.

Because of COVID-19, Presidential Proclamations have imposed restrictions on travelers entering the United States from certain countries (Brazil, China, India, Iran, Ireland, the Schengen countries, South Africa, and the United Kingdom). Individuals could be barred from entry into the United States if they had been in one of these countries 14 days or less before the requested date of entry. However, if an individual is not exempted from the restrictions in the applicable Proclamation, he or she can apply for a National Interest Exception that allows entry into the United States for certain specified purposes. Until recently, an NIE was valid for only one entry into the United States, and the entry had to be completed within a relatively short period of time.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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