Positive News for Extensions
Positive news on two fronts with regards to nonimmigrant status extensions:
- From 2004-2017, USCIS had a policy of deference for extension filings. This meant that extensions were to generally be approved, with the adjudicating officer deferring to the officer that approved the initial petition, barring any major changes in circumstances. In 2017, the Trump Administration formally revoked this policy and directed USCIS to adjudicate extensions de novo, treating them no differently than initial petitions, granting no deference to the prior approval. Fortunately, the Biden Administration had now reinstated the prior deference policy for extensions as announced here. More details here.
- On May 3, 2021, USCIS announced, through a declaration submitted in the Edakunni v. Mayorkas litigation, that it will suspend the biometrics requirements for certain I-539 applicants for a two-year period beginning on May 17, 2021. The biometrics suspension will apply to the H-4, L-2, and E-1, E-2, and E-3 categories of Form I-539 applications if they are 1) pending on May 17, 2021, and have not yet received a biometric services appointment notice, and 2) are new applications received by USCIS from May 17, 2021, through May 23, 2022. This will hopefully speed up the processing time for these application types.
New India Travel Ban
Effective April 30, 2021, India has unfortunately been added
to the list of countries/regions currently subject to a COVID-related travel ban. The list now includes UK, Ireland, Schengen area, China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, and India.
Update on National Interest Exception (NIE) Guidelines
We previously reported
regarding changes to the National Interest Exception (NIE) guidelines for travelers from UK, Ireland, and Schengen area. On April 26, 2021, the U.S. Department of State announced
that these guidelines would now also apply to the other countries subject to a COVID-related travel ban (China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, and now India).
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