On September 11, 2020, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals put a “stay” on the prior injunction against the Trump Administration’s enforcement of the new public charge rule that was released on February 24, 2020. This means that USCIS is now free to require the new public charge application form to be used in all jurisdictions regardless of the Covid19 pandemic. At this time, however, USCIS has not announced what it will do with this court decision.
Currently the USCIS website still shows the notice that it will only enforce the 1999 standards, but it is expected that this will change in the near future. Following the good news last week relating to asylum interviews and work authorizations, this is just a reminder that immigration continues to be constantly changing and it is critical for people to stay informed and to seek assistance from qualified professionals for all immigration processes.
USCIS announced last week that they would extend the temporary policy started on March 30th offering flexibility to applicants in responding to various deadlines imposed by USCIS. The new policy will be in effect until January 1, 2021. The extension relates to a number of different situations, including: requests for evidence; Notices of Intent to Deny; Notices of Intent to Revoke a filing and for Motions to Reopen a N-400 denial. Essentially USCIS will automatically grant an additional 60 days to the assigned deadline on the original notice sent to the applicant.
The Trump Administration is also proposing new rules for the use and collection of biometrics data. The proposal will bring the number of people required to submit biometrics from almost 4 million to 6 million people. The biggest change in the proposal is to require children to submit biometrics. Currently, only children over the age of 14 are required to do so.
Immigration currently collects biometrics for the stated purpose of identity verification, conducting background checks and to help determine eligibility for immigration benefits. Currently, USCIS uses both biographic and traditional biometrics information such as passports, birth certificates, fingerprints and photographs of applicants to complete their processes. These practices are what most law enforcement agencies use across the country to administer their processes.
Under the new rule, however, immigration proposes to redefine biometrics to now include palm prints, facial recognition, voice prints, iris scans as well as DNA information. In support of these changes, the government claims that there are inherent inconsistencies in biographic information that could result in immigration benefits being granted to people who are ineligible for the immigration benefit being sought or for people trying to commit immigration fraud.
It is unclear whether these measures will actually be used by immigration since the new rule will mean a dramatic increase in costs to review processes at a time when immigration has already been experiencing somewhat of a crisis with funding for operations. For individual applicants and families, if this change is made, it will not only slow down the time it takes to receive a decision, but will create many other barriers and costs to a process that has become progressively more difficult in recent years. It seems likely that this proposed change is another example of the government’s desire to negatively impact people’s decision to immigrate to the US.