DHS Proposes Major Expansion of Biometrics for Immigration 

Logging identities and tracing individuals in the U.S. immigration system may be entering a new phase of technology with greater emphasis on biometrics.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a proposed rule on September 11, 2020, to expand the collection and use of biometrics by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Of note is that the rule also touches on the good moral character stipulation of immigration. This change hinges on the idea that police confirmation of moral character will be available through biometric data, reducing the need for some applicants to submit documentation. It also extends the good moral character and biometrics requirements to applicants under the age of 14.

The proposed rule includes:

  • That any applicant, petitioner, sponsor, beneficiary, or individual filing or associated with an immigration benefit or request, including U.S. citizens, must appear for biometrics collection without regard to age unless DHS waives or exempts the biometrics requirement.
  • To authorize biometrics collection, without regard to age, upon arrest, for purposes of processing, care, custody, and initiation of removal proceedings.
  • To increase the biometric modalities that DHS collects, to include iris images, palm prints, and voice prints.
  • That DHS may require, request, or accept DNA test results, including a partial DNA profile, to prove the existence of a claimed genetic relationship, and that DHS may use and store DNA test results for the relevant adjudications or to perform any other functions necessary for administering and enforcing immigration and naturalization laws.
  • To further clarify the purposes for which biometrics are collected from individuals filing immigration applications or petitions to include criminal history and national security background checks; identity enrollment, verification, and management; secure document production; and administering and enforcing immigration and naturalization laws.

State Dept. Adapts to Remote Realities, Waives In-person Interviews for Certain Nonimmigrants  

There has been much uncertainty about how in-person requirements for visa holders would be addressed during the pandemic. For months, we saw little flexibility from the administration. It is somewhat of a relief, then, to see the Department of State (DOS) loosen its policies through year-end.

DOS has temporarily expanded the ability of consular officers to waive the in-person interview requirement for individuals applying for nonimmigrant visas in the same classification. Previously, only those applicants whose nonimmigrant visas expired within 12 months were eligible for interview waivers. DOS has temporarily extended the expiration period to 24 months. This policy is in effect until December 31, 2020. DOS said this change “will allow consular officers to continue processing certain nonimmigrant visa applications while limiting the number of applicants who must appear at a consular section, thereby reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission to other applicants and consular staff.”  

Slow and Steady: State Department Takes Steps for Family Immigration

While many families and workers await next steps for their visas, there is slow but steady progress coming out of the Department of State (DOS).

According to the DOS’ Visa Bulletin in September, there was modest forward movement in the family-based immigration categories. There was no movement in the employment-based preference categories, with the exception of a slight move forward for India and China in the EB-1 category. September’s bulletin includes the following information:

  • The employment preference numerical limit for fiscal year (FY) 2020 is 156,253. For FY 2020, the per-country limit is 26,758. The dependent area annual limit is 7,645.
  • The Kentucky Consular Center in Williamsburg, Kentucky, has registered and notified the winners of the DV-2021 diversity visa lottery. Approximately 132,404 applicants have been registered and notified and may now make an application for an immigrant visa from among the 55,000 permanent resident visas available under this program for the fiscal year. Selected applicants who do not receive visas by September 30, 2021, will derive no further benefit from their DV-2021 registration. The bulletin also includes a country-by-country breakdown of those registered for the DV-2021 program.
  • Dates for the DV-2022 program registration period will be widely publicized in the coming months.

Chin & Curtis Partners Honored as “Best Lawyers” 

We are honored to announce the inclusion of five attorneys in the 2021 Best Lawyers. Leslie Ditrani, Phil Curtis, and Lorie Lunn were recognized as Best Lawyers for their excellence in immigration law, and Miki Matrician and Amanda Brown were named as Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch, for their profound impact in the field.

New Blog Posts

The Chin & Curtis team authored several new blog posts over the past month. This month, we examined stimulus check qualifications, national interest exceptions to the travel ban, and immigration issues impacting workforce strategy.