In a memo released on January 20, 2021, the Biden administration requested the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to review all United States immigration enforcement policies. In addition to freezing previous deportation policy and putting a pause on most removals for 100 days, the memo also rescinded six immigration policies from the previous administration. Most notable among these is the cancellation of 2017 Notices to Appear (NTA) policy, which expanded the scope of which foreign nationals were placed in removal proceedings.
The United States Department of State has released its February 2021 Visa Bulletin. Cutoff dates advance moderately in most employment-based categories. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that it will honor the Final Action Dates chart for employment-based adjustment of status applications.
President Joe Biden signed six immigration executive orders and memoranda during his first day in office on January 20, 2021. These orders overturn numerous Trump-era immigration policies, including ending the travel ban for nationals of certain countries, construction of the US-Mexico border wall, protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, and more.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will temporarily suspend all in-person services at their field offices, application support centers, and asylum offices on January 19 and 20, 2021. The closures are an effort to protect the agency’s employees and individuals with appointments during presidential inauguration events.
United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will extend border restrictions which block all nonessential land and ferry travel across the United States borders with Mexico and Canada through February 21, 2021. Air travel is not affected by the restriction. Essential travel is permitted, and includes things like travel for work, school, medical treatment, and more. These restrictions have been renewed multiple times since being enacted on March 21, 2020 to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has released a final rule that will replace the current randomized H-1B lottery selection process with a new H-1B selection process that prioritizes wages. Under the new rule, H-1B visas will be awarded based on prevailing wage levels, with priority given to workers that earn the highest salary based on their occupation and geographic area. The rule will be effective on March 9, 2021.
On December 31, 2020 President Trump extended the entry ban for prospective H-1B, H-2B, L-1, and certain J-1 visa holders through March 31, 2021. The ban impacts foreign nationals who were outside of the United States on the proclamation’s effective date of June 24, 2020 and did not already hold a valid US visa or travel document.
The New Jersey Wage Theft Act (WTA), effective since August 2019, has transformed New Jersey’s wage and hour claims laws into some of the most stringent in the country. The WTA expands employer liability and provides enhanced legal remedies for employees. Employers should meet with their attorneys to protect against WTA-related litigation.