On Monday, July 13, 2020, the State Department announced that U.S. embassies will soon resume visa services, though it did not give details on when each location would reopen. Routine visa services have been suspended in all U.S. missions since March 20.
On July 14, 2020, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agreed to eliminate the rule demanding students to take in-person classes in the fall or depart the U.S. Multiple states and universities, including the University of California (UC) and the State of California, filed lawsuits against the government. The Federal government has rescinded the order which barred international students from residing in the United States if they have no in-person classes to attend. However, even though the new rule has been eliminated, international students are still being denied visas.
On July 22, House Democrats passed legislation to repeal President Trump’s travel ban. The ban, also known as the “Muslim ban,” barred entry into the U.S. from many people from majority Muslim countries. Although the Senate isn’t likely to consider the bill, it signals a key Democratic priority ahead of the presidential election should President Biden become elected.
A few weeks ago, the Supreme Court held that the Trump administration improperly ended the DACA program, and that the program could continue. On July 17, a federal judge ruled that DACA must be restored to its full, “pre-September 5, 2017 status.” Despite the order, USCIS has said that it is currently reviewing the decision. It is unclear whether USCIS will begin accepting new DACA applications soon or if it plans to appeal the ruling. On July 28, 2020, USCIS stated it would reject all new applications despite the federal order.
On June 18, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a landmark decision rejecting the Trump administration’s cancellation of an Obama-era program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). As a result, USCIS has resumed accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under DACA. But USCIS is not yet accepting requests from individuals who have never before been granted deferred action under DACA. President Trump has repeatedly vowed to end DACA, but because of the Supreme Court’s decision, the fate of the DACA recipients (often called “dreamers”) largely rests on the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
On June 26, 2020, a federal judge in California ordered that all children who have been in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for more than 20 days must be released by July 17. The judge stated that the Trump administration had failed to provide even the most basic health protections for children and their families amid the pandemic.
On June 22, President Trump signed an order, preventing foreigners from entering U.S. on H-1B visas. The restrictions do not affect those currently working in the U.S. on a valid H-1B visa or similar visas. Additionally, valid visa holders who are currently abroad will not be prevented from entering or reentering the U.S.
On June 22, President Trump signed an executive order enacting a temporary ban on many types of nonimmigrant visas, which prohibits the issuance of new visas to applicants of H-1B visas, H-2B visas for nonagricultural seasonal workers, J-1 visas, and L-1 visas. There will be exemptions for food processing workers as well as some healthcare workers. The new restrictions took effect on June 24, 2020.
The government agency charged with granting immigration benefits, processing visa applications and approving applications for citizenship is preparing to furlough more than half of its workforce unless Congress provides additional funding.
On June 22, the Trump administration published a new rule that would make it more difficult for asylum seekers to get work permits. The rule lengthens the waiting period before an asylum seeker may apply for the work permit. Before the rule, an asylum seeker could apply for a work permit 150 days after USCIS receives the application, and USCIS would have 30 days to process the work permit. The new rule eliminates this requirement and would require an asylum seeker to wait 365 days. Additionally, the rule bars asylum seekers who entered the U.S. outside a port of entry from obtaining work authorization whatsoever. The rule is slated to take effect on August 25, 2020.
Last year, the Trump Administration attempted to expand expedited removal to any alleged undocumented immigrant who had been present in the U.S. for less than two years. On June 23, the D.C. Circuit overturned an injunction that had blocked the policy from being implemented. This means that the Trump Administration may go forward with the policy and bypass immigration judges for many deportation cases. Part of the court’s reasoning was that the policy was not covered by the Administrative Procedure Act and therefore, the Department of Homeland Security had sole discretion in this area.
After the outbreak of COVID-19, the Trump Administration implemented a ban on green cards. The ban has now been extended to the end of the year. On June 23, a federal judge in Washington, D.C. denied a request for a temporary restraining order against the ban. The judge also denied class certification in the case, since two of the three plaintiffs have now been admitted to the U.S. and the third plaintiff’s case is not yet ripe for judicial review.