This week was momentous for immigrants awaiting good news. A few tidbits include registry date reforms, extensions to already-expired green cards, signature waivers for people who need medical exams for their immigration status adjustments, a new research center in New York state, a call for increased worker protections, and more DACA news. The U.S. Department of State also published the November 2022 Visa Bulletin.
A full recap of these is below.
November 2022 Visa Bulletin Published
The U.S. Department of State published its November 2022 Visa Bulletin last week. It shows few changes in cut-off dates for family green cards for applicants from most countries. The one exception is a slight decrease in several preference categories for those applying for family green cards from Mexico. There are no changes in cut-off dates for employment-based green cards in any preference category since last month's visa bulletin.
To see the new cut-off dates and learn more, check out our November 2022 Visa Bulletin write-up.
Registry Date Reform Could Impact Up to 8 Million Immigrants
Senators Dick Durbin and Alex Padilla recently proposed updating the registry date in immigration law. If passed, the legislation would give immigrants who have lived in the U.S. continually for at least last seven years a path to permanent residency. This could allow up to 8 million immigrants to apply for a green card regardless of their status when they entered the U.S. The bill was first proposed in the House and is now making its rounds in the Senate.
The registry provision in immigration law has allowed immigrants to apply for legal permanent residency (a green card) if they can prove they’ve been in the country continuously since January 1, 1972. If the proposed bill passes, it would be the first time the registry has changed since 1986.
It’s important to be prepared for any changes that may happen as a result of changing immigration law. Our free tool can help immigrants apply for permanent residence and connect with an attorney if they need help.
USCIS Extends Green Card Validity to 24 Months for Renewal Applications
Green cards are typically valid for 10 years. After that, legal permanent residents (LPRs) may renew their LPR status or appy for citizenship. Renewals previously lasted for 12 months, but effective September 26, 2022, USCIS has extended the validity period to 24 months when LPRs file for status renewal with Form I-90.
This important change allows green card holders to maintain their legal status along with any potential benefits. Our nonprofit has a free tool that helps green hard holders renew their status, apply for citizenship, or connect with an attorney.
5th Circuit Court Rules Against DACA — The Program Is Still Available
In 2017, President Trump tried to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) but was unsuccessful after a judge ruled his attempts were illegal. After the ruling, seven states sued the federal government in an effort to end the program. This began a legal battle over whether DACA should continue, with passionate views on both sides.
In 2021, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen ruled that DACA was an illegal program. USCIS stopped accepting new DACA applications after this ruling, but people who already had DACA were able to renew their status.
On August 24, 2022, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced a new “final rule” that would safeguard DACA. The new rule goes into effect on October 31, 2022, and acknowledges the importance of DACA, a policy that has remained in effect throughout three presidential administrations. Rules set out in 2012 were replaced with the following final rule, which:
- Keeps the criteria for applying/reapplying for DACA the same
- Keeps the process of applying for DACA the same
- Restates that DACA isn’t necessarily a legal immigration status, but that people who benefit from the program are “lawfully present” for certain motives.
After Judge Hanen’s ruling, the case was sent to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which sided with Judge Hanen. According to NPR, the new ruling will still prevent first-time applicants from applying. The case will once again be sent back to Judge Hanen. For now, only current DACA recipients can continue to reapply for the program. New applicants may not apply for DACA.
USCIS Extends Temporary 60-Day Waiver for Civil Surgeon Signatures for Form I-693
USCIS announced on September 29, 2022, that it’s extending a temporary 60-day waiver for civil surgeon signatures on Form I-693. The previous deadline for this waiver was September 30, 2022. The new waiver is in effect until March 31, 2023.
The waiver was initially granted to address issues arising from COVID-19. This included an application backlog due to USCIS processing delays. It also addressed the difficulty some immigrants were facing in getting the required medical exam in the required timeframe. USCIS is extending the waiver to “further ease processing delays and associated difficulties in timely completing the immigration medical examination.”
New York Governor Kathy Hochul Announces the Upcoming New York State Institute for Immigration Integration, Research & Policy
On September 30, 2022, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul announced the upcoming New York State Institute for Immigration, Integration, Research & Policy. The institute is set to receive funding during New York’s 2023 fiscal year and will help new immigrants by conducting research and making policy recommendations.
The hope is that the institute can study obstacles to immigrant integration, such as language barriers and employment and housing issues and use any data they find to recommend policies that will make life easier for immigrants and refugees. The NYS Institute for Immigration, Integration, Research & Policy will be housed in the Rockefeller Institute of Government, operated by SUNY and located in Albany, New York.
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal Calls for Better Immigrant Worker Protections
Immigrants are often unaware of their rights as workers once they arrive in the United States. This can make it intimidating to report safety matters, ask for time off, or negotiate a fair salary. For undocumented immigrants, the workplace can present additional challenges.
Recently the Department of Labor (DOL) explained the processes immigrants can use to claim their rights at work. In response, Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) wrote a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas asking him to produce guidance for immigrant workers to get help if their workplace rights are threatened. The letter includes a list of requests to ensure immigrant workers who report workplace rights violations are protected. Rep. Jayapal obtained signatures from other members of Congress.
Immigrants who are looking for help submitting an application for immigration benefits including a work permit or DACA renewal can use our free tool to file their case. If they need help better understanding their case, our nonprofit can also refer them to a qualified attorney for further assistance.