Immigration News Briefs – December 2021

USCIS Changes Work Permit Rules for H4/L2 spouses

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and its litigation partners Wasden Banias and Steven Brown, made a settlement with DHS in Shergill, et al. v. Mayorkas, which provides structural changes for nonimmigrant H-4 and L-2 spouses suffering from long delayed processing times for the processing of applications for employment authorization. The litigation successfully achieved the reversal of USCIS policy that prohibited H-4 spouses from benefiting from automatic extension of their employment authorization during the pendency of standalone employment authorization document (EAD) applications. The parties’ agreement will further result in a massive change in position for USCIS, which now recognizes that L-2 spouses enjoy automatic work authorization incident to status, meaning these spouses of executive and managers will no longer have to apply for employment authorization prior to working in the United States.

Attorney Jon Wasden stated, “After years of outreach to the agency, it became clear that litigation was unfortunately necessary. Despite the plain statutory language, USCIS failed to grant employment authorization incident to status for L-2s. The other issue relates to H-4s whose work permits expire prior to their H-4 status; this is a group that always met the regulatory test for automatic extension of EADs, but the agency previously prohibited them from that benefit and forced them to wait for reauthorization. People were suffering. They were losing their high-paying jobs for absolutely no legitimate reason causing harm to them and U.S. businesses. So, while I’m glad the agency finally followed the law, it is frankly frustrating that an easily fixable issue took this long to address.”

US Imposes Vaccination Requirement and Lifts Travel Ban

Beginning November 8, the Biden Administration is rescinding the COVID-19 related travel restrictions and requiring nearly all nonimmigrant international air travelers to be fully vaccinated before being admitted to the United States.

Prior to boarding a flight bound for the United States, a foreign national will be required to provide proof of full vaccination against COVID. A nonimmigrant is considered fully vaccinated if any one of the following requirements is met:

  • 2 weeks (14 days) after a dose of an accepted single-dose COVID-19 vaccine
  • 2 weeks (14 days) after the second dose of an accepted 2-dose series COVID-19 vaccine
  • 2 weeks (14 days) after the full series of an “active” (not placebo) COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S.-based AstraZeneca or Novavax COVID-19 vaccine trials
  • 2 weeks (14 days) after 2 doses of any “mix-and-match” combination of accepted COVID-19 vaccines administered at least 17 days apart

Lawful permanent residents and those traveling on an immigrant visa are not covered by the presidential proclamation. There are also exceptions to this requirement.  However,

if an unvaccinated nonimmigrant is admitted to the United States under one of the exceptions, based on the exception, he/she may be subject to a number of additional requirements, including testing, self-quarantine, and self-isolation. Also, if the individual intends to remain in the United States for longer than 60 days, that person may be required to get vaccinated.

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