On November 20, 2019, the Administration published the Fall 2019 regulatory agenda.
Twice per year, in the Spring and the Fall, all agencies must prepare a regulatory agenda that lists each regulatory action the agency expects to work on within the next 12 months. The agencies' regulatory agendas are then published in the Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions.
This NAFSA compilation is from the Fall 2019 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions, which was published on November 20, 2019. NAFSA first reported on many of the same changes, which had been included in the Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, and Spring 2019 regulatory agendas. The compilation includes immigration-related regulatory actions most relevant to institutions that invite international students and scholars to the United States. Refer to the Regulatory Agendas of each agency on Reginfo.gov for the full list of agency regulatory actions. Refer to NAFSA's Basics of Rulemaking Under the APA for background on the rulemaking process, where you will find, for example, an explanation of the difference between a proposed rule and a final rule.
Unlawful Presence Rulemaking
Proposed Rule Stage. Fall 2019 Agenda Target Date 09/00/2020. DHS/USCIS, RIN 1615-AC46. DHS/USCIS is publishing this item for the first time in the Fall 2019 regulatory agenda. It appears related to the agency's attempt to revise its unlawful presence policy via policy memo, which effort has been blocked in Federal court while litigation proceeds. See NAFSA's unlawful presence litigation page for background. As one element of the litigation involves the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), this proposed rule may be a tactic to resolve any APA issues by going through the public notice and comment rulemaking procedure.
Enhancing the Integrity of the Unlawful Presence Inadmissibility Provisions. Abstract: "The three- and ten-year bars to admissibility of section 212(a)(9)(B)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (the Act) and the permanent bar to admissibility of section 212(a)(9)(C)(i)(I) of the Act were added by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (Div. C of Pub. L. 104-208 (September 30, 1996) (IIRIRA)). The amendments enacting sections 212(a)(9)(B) and (C) became effective on April 1, 1997. To date, DHS has not implemented regulations describing how unlawful presence accrues for the purposes of 212(a)(9)(B)(i) and (C)(i)(I). DHS intends to propose regulations to this effect, which may include or expand upon certain current agency policies, including whether certain failures to abide by the conditions of admission as a nonimmigrant can result in accrual of unlawful presence. Further, DHS intends to address how aliens subject to inadmissibility under 212(a)(9)(B)(i) and (C)(i)(I) may be admitted to the United States after remaining outside the United States for the required period of time."
Tinkering with Duration of Status
Proposed Rule Stage. Fall 2019 Agenda Target Date 02/00/2020. RIN 1653-AA78. DHS added the following item in the Fall 2018 regulatory agenda, at the proposed rule stage with a target date of 09/00/2019. It continued to appear in the Spring 2019 agenda with a revised target date of 02/00/2020. It is retained in the Fall 2019 regulatory agenda, with the same target date of 02/00/2020.
Establishing a Maximum Period of Authorized Stay for Students, Exchange Visitors, and Media Representatives.
Abstract: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will propose to modify the period of authorized stay for certain categories of nonimmigrants traveling to the United States from "duration of status" (D/S) and to replace such with a maximum period of authorized stay, and options for extensions, for each applicable visa category.
Statement of Need: The failure to provide certain categories of nonimmigrants with specific dates for their authorized periods of stay can cause confusion over how long they may lawfully remain in the United States and has complicated the efforts to reduce overstay rates for nonimmigrant students. The clarity created by date-certain admissions will help reduce the overstay rate.
Summary of the Legal Basis: The Secretary of Homeland Security (Secretary) has broad authority to administer and enforce the nation’s immigration laws. See generally 6 U.S.C. 202; Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, as amended (INA), Sec. 103, 8 U.S.C. 1103. Section 101(a)(15)(F) of the INA establishes the F nonimmigrant classification for individuals who wish to come to the United States temporarily to enroll in a full course of study at an academic or language training school certified by ICE’s SEVP. 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(F)(i). INA Section 101(a)(15)(I) establishes the I nonimmigrant classification for bona fide representatives of foreign press, radio, film, or other information media seeking to enter the United States to engage in such vocation as well as the spouse and children of such nonimmigrant. 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(I). INA Section 101(a)(15)(J) establishes the J nonimmigrant classification for aliens who wish to engage in exchange visitor programs so designated by the Department of State as well as the spouse and minor children of such nonimmigrant. 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(J). Under section 214(a)(1) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1184(a)(1), the Secretary has broad authority to prescribe by regulation the time and conditions of admission of all nonimmigrants.
Anticipated Costs and Benefits: ICE is in the process of assessing the costs and benefits that would be incurred by regulated entities and individuals, as well as the costs and benefits to the public at large. ICE, SEVP certified schools, nonimmigrant students, and the employers of nonimmigrant students who participate in practical training would incur costs for increased requirements. This rule is intended to decrease the incidence of nonimmigrant student overstays and improve the integrity of the nonimmigrant student visa.
The Fall 2019 agenda clarified that the action is directed to the F, J, and I nonimmigrant categories. First, DHS changed the title of the action from "Establishing a Maximum Period of Authorized Stay for F-1 and Other Nonimmigrants" to "Establishing a Maximum Period of Authorized Stay for Students, Exchange Visitors, and Media Representatives;" Second, DHS added a Summary of the Legal Basis that further identifies the F, J, and I categories. No further details are available at this time.
Note: On March 24, 2020, DHS submitted a final rule for OMB review, entitled Period of Admission and Extensions of Stay for Representatives of Foreign Information Media Seeking to Enter the United States. It appears to deal only with I (foreign media) visas. There has been no submission to OMB regarding the proposed rule on periods of admission for F or J nonimmigrants, however.
For information updates, stay tuned to NAFSA's Proposal to Replace Duration of Status page.
F-1 and M-1 Students
Practical Training Reform
Proposed Rule Stage. Fall 2019 Agenda Target Date 08/00/2020. Agency: DHS/ICE. RIN 1653-AA76. The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) added reference to a proposed rule titled "Practical Training Reform" to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Fall 2017 Regulatory Agenda, with a projected publication date of 10/00/18. The item continued in the Spring 2018 regulatory agenda with the same target publication date. In the Fall 2018 agenda it was moved to Long-Term Actions with no projected date, and it remained as a long-term action in the Spring 2019 regulatory agenda. It was placed back in the proposed rule stage, however, in the Fall 2019 agenda, with a target date of 08/00/2020.
- The Spring 2018 agenda described a planned proposed rule this way: "ICE will prepare this rule to improve protections of U.S. workers who may be negatively impacted by employment of nonimmigrant students on F and M visas. The rule would implement new requirements that would reduce fraud and abuse in the practical training programs. The proposed provisions include increased oversight of the schools and students participating in the program to ensure compliance with requirements of the program."
- The Fall 2018 agenda described the long-term action this way: "ICE will propose this rule to improve protections of U.S. workers who may be negatively impacted by employment of nonimmigrant students on F and M visas. The rule is a comprehensive reform of practical training options intended to reduce fraud and abuse."
- The Spring 2019 agenda further reduced the description of the long-term action: "ICE will propose this rule to revise the practical training options available to nonimmigrant students on F and M visas."
- The Fall 2019 agenda describes the proposed rule stage item as: "ICE will amend existing regulations and revise the practical training options available to nonimmigrant students on F and M visas."
Also see NAFSA's Practical Training Reform page.
Eligibility Checks of Nominated and Current Designated School Officials of Schools That Enroll F and M Nonimmigrant Students and of Exchange Visitor Program-Designated Sponsors of J Nonimmigrants
Proposed Rule Stage. Fall 2019 Agenda Target Date 06/00/2020 (it was 03/00/2019 in the Fall 2018 agenda and 02/00/2020 in the Spring 2019 agenda). Agency: DHS/ICE. RIN 1653-AA71. "ICE's Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) protects national security by ensuring that DHS and Department of State (DOS) have essential data related to nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors. ICE proposes to vet all designated school officials (DSOs) and responsible officers (ROs), who ensure that ICE has access to accurate data on covered individuals via the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). By requiring DSOs and ROs to undergo an eligibility check, the rule would help DHS prevent potential criminal activities or threats to national security that may result from non-compliance by DSOs and SEVP-certified schools, or ROs and Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) sponsors. The rule would also ensure that SEVP has the necessary enforcement and accountability mechanisms built into the SEVIS to safeguard U.S. security interests."
Flight Training for Aliens and Other Designated Individuals; Security Awareness Training for Flight School Employees
Final Rule Stage. Fall 2019 Agenda Target Date 06/00/2020. Agency: DHS/TSA. RIN 1652-AA35. Abstract: "The Interim Final Rule (IFR) was published and effective on September 20, 2004. The IFR created a new part 1552, Flight Schools, in title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). This IFR applies to flight schools and to individuals who apply for or receive flight training. TSA subsequently issued exemptions and interpretations in response to comments on the IFR and questions raised during operation of the program since 2004. TSA also issued a fee notice on April 13, 2009. This regulation requires flight schools to notify TSA when aliens, and other individuals designated by TSA, apply for flight training or recurrent training. TSA is considering a final rule that would change the frequency of security threat assessments from a high-frequency event-based interval to a time-based interval, clarify the definitions and other provisions of the rule, and enable industry to use TSA-provided electronic recordkeeping systems for all documents required to demonstrate compliance with the rule."
Strengthening Oversight of Schools Certified to Enroll F and M Nonimmigrant Students
This item no longer appears in the DHS regulatory agenda. The Spring 2018 agenda had contained this item as a long-term action. "The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposes to improve the capability of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) to oversee designated school officials (DSOs) at schools certified to enroll F and M nonimmigrant students. To improve program oversight, DHS plans to institute new eligibility and training requirements for DSOs." It was removed in the Fall 2018 agenda and has not reappeared.
Also See Elsewhere on This Page
J Exchange Visitors
"Final-Final" Subpart A
Long-Term Actions. No target date. The Fall 2019 DOS agenda moved this final rule item from active items to long-term actions. It had been included as a final rule stage item with a target date of 08/00/2019 in the Spring 2019 DOS agenda (it was set at 01/00/19 in the Fall 2018 agenda). Agency: DOS. RIN 1400-AC36. Abstract: "Exchange Visitor Program-General Provisions- The Department of State is amending the general provisions (subpart A) of the existing Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) regulations. This section of the regulations establishes the procedures for designated program sponsors and addresses overall program administration. The regulations encompass technical changes to the General Provisions and address public diplomacy and foreign policy concerns, including the Department's ability to monitor program sponsors and to ensure the safety and well-being of foreign nationals who come to the United States as program participants. The final rule was effective on January 5, 2015, and this rulemaking incorporates any changes based on the Interim Final Rule's public comments."
INA 212(e) Waiver Standards and Procedures
Interim Final Rule Stage. Fall 2019 Agenda Target Date 03/00/2020. Agency: DOS. RIN 1400-AE48.
Visas: Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement.
Abstract: "The Department intends to revise 22 CFR 41.63 to change the standard and procedures for the Waiver Review Division's consideration of requests for a recommendation on waiver of the 'two year home-country physical presence requirement' for certain exchange visitors."
History of this item in the DOS regulatory agenda:
- First published in the Fall 2017 agenda with a 03/00/2018 target date and the following abstract: "The Department intends to revise 22 CFR 41.63(b) and (d) creating a presumption against recommending waivers of the INA 212(e) two year home-country presence requirement for no-objection and exceptional hardship cases."
- Spring 2018 agenda with a 07/00/2018 target date and revising the abstract to read: "The Department intends to revise 22 CFR 41.63 to change the standard and procedures for the Waiver Review Division’s consideration of requests for a recommendation on waiver of the "two year home-country physical presence requirement” for certain exchange visitors."
- Fall 2018 agenda with an 11/00/2018 target date and the same abstract as the prior agenda.
- Spring 2019 agenda with a 12/00/2019 target date and the same abstract as the prior agenda.
- Fall 2019 agenda with a 03/00/2020 target date and the same abstract as the prior agenda.
Also See Elsewhere on This Page
H-1B Specialty Workers
Proposed Rule Stage. Fall 2019 Agenda Target Date 12/00/19 (it was 01/00/19 in the Fall 2018 agenda and 08/00/19 in the Spring 2019 agenda). Agency: DHS/USCIS. RIN 1615-AC13. Abstract: "The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will propose to revise the definition of specialty occupation to increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B program, and revise the definition of employment and employer-employee relationship to better protect U.S. workers and wages. In addition, DHS will propose additional requirements designed to ensure employers pay appropriate wages to H-1B visa holders." Statement of Need: "The purpose of these changes is to ensure that H-1B visas are awarded only to individuals who will be working in a job which meets the statutory definition of specialty occupation. In addition, these changes are intended to ensure that the H-1B program supplements the U.S. workforce and strengthens U.S. worker protections."
Removing H-4 Dependent Spouses from the Class of Aliens Eligible for Employment Authorization
Proposed Rule Stage. Fall 2019 Agenda Target Date 03/00/2020. Note: On February 20, 2019, DHS submitted this proposed rule for OMB review.Agency: DHS/USCIS. RIN 1615-AC15. Abstract: "... DHS is publishing this notice of proposed rulemaking to propose to remove from its regulations this class of aliens for eligibility for employment authorization."
DOS Fast-Tracks Rule to Provide That a B-2 Visa "Does Not Include Birth Tourism"
Final Rule. Added for the first time in the Fall 2019 regulatory agenda. Target Date 12/00/2019. RIN 1400-AE96. Title: Visas: Change to B Nonimmigrant Visa Provisions. Abstract: "The Department is amending its regulation on temporary visitors in the B nonimmigrant visa classification to provide that a temporary visit for pleasure does not include birth tourism."
- DOS submitted this final rule for OMB review on October 18, 2019. OMB completed its review on January 8, 2020.
Visas: Documentation of Nonimmigrants Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, as Amended
Proposed Rule Stage. Fall 2019 Agenda Target Date 03/00/2020 (was 10/00/2019 in Spring 2019 agenda). Agency: DOS. RIN 1400-AE79.
- Abstract from Spring 2019 agenda: "This notice of proposed rulemaking would amend regulations at 22 CFR 41.31 to clarify Department requirements for B nonimmigrant visas; to make requirements easy for the public to understand and comply with; and to clarify, improve upon, and consolidate into regulation numerous policies that have never been codified."
- Abstract from Fall 2019 agenda: "This notice of proposed rulemaking would amend regulations at 22 CFR 41.31 to ensure a more rigorous implementation of INA 101(a)(15)(B), consolidate in a regulation standards set out in current Department guidance, and improve the clarity and transparency of the Department's B visa-related standards. In some respects, this rule would change policies."
Visas: Temporary Visitors for Business or Pleasure
Proposed Rule Stage. Fall 2019 Agenda Target Date 12/00/2019. First time published, in the Fall 2019 regulatory agenda. RIN 1400-AE95. Abstract: "The Department proposes to eliminate two sentences from its regulation governing nonimmigrant visitors for business, 22 CFR 41.31(b)(1). The current regulation states that an alien seeking to enter for employment or labor pursuant to a contract or other prearrangement is required to qualify under the regulation governing H nonimmigrant temporary workers or trainees. The Department proposes to remove this language because the regulation states explicitly that permitted use of a B visa does not include local employment or labor for hire, so this narrower statement is confusing and potentially misleading. The Department also proposes to eliminate from the current regulation the statement that an alien of distinguished merit and ability seeking to enter the United States temporarily with the idea of performing temporary services of an exceptional nature, requiring such merit and ability, but having no contract or other pre-arranged employment, may be classified as a nonimmigrant temporary visitor for business."
Nonimmigrant Classes: Temporary Visitors to the United States for Business or Pleasure
Proposed Rule Stage. Fall 2019 Agenda Target Date 08/00/2020. This item appeared in the Fall 2018 regulatory agenda at the proposed rule stage with a 09/00/2019 target date, but was moved to DHS Long-Term Actions in the Spring 2019 agenda. DHS moved it back to active regulatory actions in the Fall 2019 agenda. Agency: DHS/USCIS. RIN 1651-AA99. Abstract: "This is a proposal to amend the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations pertaining to nonimmigrants admitted to the United States as temporary visitors for business (B-1) or pleasure (B-2). The proposed amendments will clarify the criteria for according B-1 or B-2 nonimmigrant classification to applicants for admission to the United States. Such clarification is necessary to ensure fair and consistent adjudication and enforcement, as well as to make the criteria more transparent." But see the similar DOS regulatory agenda item described above.
Visas, Entry, Exit, Biometrics
Collection of Biometric Data From Aliens Upon Entry To and Exit From the United States
Final Rule Stage. Fall 2019 Agenda Target Date 12/00/2019. Note: On April 23, 2019, CBP sent this interim final rule for OMB review. RIN 1651-AB22. Agency: DHS/CBP. Abstract: "The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is required by statute to develop and implement an integrated, automated entry and exit data system to match records, including biographic data and biometrics of aliens entering and departing the United States. In addition, Executive Order 13780, Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, published in the Federal Register at 82 FR 13209, states that DHS is to expedite the completion and implementation of a biometric entry-exit tracking system. Although the current regulations provide that DHS may require certain aliens to provide biometrics when entering and departing the United States, they only authorize DHS to collect biometrics from certain aliens upon departure under pilot programs at land ports and at up to 15 airports and seaports. To provide the legal framework for CBP to begin a comprehensive biometric entry-exit system, DHS is amending the regulations to remove the references to pilot programs and the port limitation. In addition, to enable CBP to make the process for verifying the identity of aliens more efficient, accurate, and secure by using facial recognition technology, DHS is amending the regulations to provide that all aliens may be required to be photographed upon entry and/or departure."
Collection and Use of Biometrics by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Proposed Rule Stage. Fall 2019 Agenda Target Date 01/00/2020 (was 12/00/2019 in the Spring 2019 agenda). Agency: DHS/USCIS. RIN 1615-AC14. Abstract: "The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will propose to update its regulations to eliminate multiple references to specific biometric types, and to allow for the expansion of the types of biometrics required to establish and verify an identity. DHS will also propose to modify age restrictions where they exist to detect, deter, or prevent human trafficking of children; establish consistent identity enrollment and verification policies and processes; and align U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) biometric collection with other immigration operations. The DHS proposal will provide a definition to the public on the term biometric and how biometrics will be used in the immigration process."
DOS withdrew this rulemaking item on 09/16/2019. The Spring 2019 regulatory agenda had reset the target date to 10/00/2019 (it was set at 12/00/2018 in the Fall 2018 agenda). Agency: DOS. RIN 1400-AE14. Abstract: "Visas: Documentation of Nonimmigrants Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, as Amended. This regulation change allows the Department to authorize an immediate family member of an alien properly classified as an A-1, A-2, G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-4 principal nonimmigrant to obtain a different nonimmigrant visa, maintain current nonimmigrant visa status, or change to a different nonimmigrant visa status without being restricted to the principal's A-1, A-2, G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-4 nonimmigrant visa category. Recent cases involving changes of status have led to increased interest in revising the A/G required rule to provide the Department discretion in its application, with the goal of avoiding potential bilateral irritants."
Implementation of the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) at U.S. Land Borders--Automation of CBP Form I-94W
Interim Final Rule Stage. Fall 2019 Agenda Target Date 12/00/2019 (was 12/00/2018 in Fall 2018 agenda then 10/00/2019 in the Spring 2019 agenda). Agency: DHS/CBP. RIN 1651-AB14. Abstract: "This rule amends Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations to implement the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) requirements under section 711 of the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, for aliens who intend to enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) at land ports of entry. Currently, aliens from VWP countries must provide certain biographic information to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at land ports of entry on a paper I-94W Nonimmigrant Visa Waiver Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94W). Under this rule, these VWP travelers will instead provide this information to CBP electronically through ESTA prior to application for admission to the United States. DHS has already implemented the ESTA requirements for aliens who intend to enter the United States under the VWP at air or sea ports of entry."
- DHS submitted this interim final rule to OMB for review on December 5, 2019.
Visas: Priority Date of a Preference Visa Applicant
Proposed Rule Stage. Fall 2019 Agenda Target Date 03/00/2020 (was 10/00/2010 in the Spring 2019 agenda). Agency: DOS. RIN 1400-AE80. Spring 2019 Abstract: "This notice of proposed rulemaking would amend regulations at 22 CFR 42.53 to provide that a spouse or child of a principal applicant is entitled to the priority date of the principal alien only if acquired prior to the issuance of an immigrant visa to the principal alien, with certain exceptions."
Visas: Nonimmigrant Visa Medical Exam
Interim Final Rule Stage. Fall 2019 Agenda Target Date 04/00/2020. Agency: DOS. RIN: 1400-AE47. Fall 2019 Abstract: "This notice of proposed rulemaking would amend regulations at 22 CFR 42.53 regarding use of a principal applicant's priority date by a spouse or child." The Department is revising 22 CFR 41.108 to reflect that all K visa applicants undergo medical examinations. Further amendments would allow State and CDC to identify groups of nonimmigrant visa applicants that require medical examinations via separate public notice."
- DOS submitted this interim final rule to OMB for review on December 9, 2019.
Fees, Filing, and Processing
Proposed Rule Stage. Fall 2019 Agenda Target Date 11/00/2019 (it was 07/00/2019 in the Spring 2019 agenda, and 12/00/2018 in the Fall 2018 agenda). Agency: DOS. RIN 1400-AE15. Abstract: "The Department of State amends the Schedule of Fees for Consular Services (Schedule) for certain nonimmigrant visas, certain immigrant visas, special visa services fees, and certain citizenship services fees. This rule amends the fees for passport books and cards. The rule also amends the security surcharge for immigrant visa services and the fees for certain immigrant visa services. The Department of State is adjusting the fees in light of the findings of the most recently approved update to the Cost of Service Model to ensure that the fees for consular services better align with the costs of providing those services." DOS submitted this rule to OMB for review on 08/22/2019.
Visa Security Program Fee
Proposed Rule Stage. Fall 2019 Agenda Target Date 04/00/2020. Agency: DHS. RIN 1653-AA77. Abstract: "ICE seeks to enable the expansion of the Visa Security Program (VSP) by proposing to move it to a user-fee funded model (as opposed to relying on appropriations). The VSP leverages resources in the National Capital Region (NCR) and at U.S. diplomatic posts overseas to vet and screen visa applicants; identifies and prevents the travel of those who constitute potential national security and/or public safety threats; and launches investigations into criminal and/or terrorist affiliated networks operating in the U.S. and abroad. The fees collected as a result of this rule would fund an expansion of the VSP, enabling ICE to extend visa security screening and vetting operations and investigative efforts to more visa-issuing posts overseas, and in turn, enhance the U.S. government's ability to prevent travel to the United States by illicit actors." Statement of Need: "Collecting a Visa Security User Fee from all non-exempt non-immigrant visa applicants at the time of application submission will shift the Visa Security Program from a Congressionally-appropriated funding stream to a fee funded structure. This change will strengthen national security, help to facilitate long-term budget planning, and shift the burden of funding the program away from the U.S. taxpayers."
Proposed Rule Stage. On November 14, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) proposed changing application and petition filing fees and making other forms processing changes. USCIS accepted public comments on the proposals until February 10, 2020. See NAFSA's page for details.
Electronic Processing of Immigration Benefit Requests
Proposed Rule Stage. Fall 2019 Agenda Target Date 12/00/2019 (same target as in the Spring 2019 agenda). Agency: DHS/USCIS. RIN 1615-AC20. Abstract: "The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will propose to: (1) Set requirements for online submission for immigration benefit requests and explain the requirements associated with electronic processing; and (2) make changes to existing regulations to allow end-to-end digital processing." Statement of Need: "To address the inefficiency of relying on paper, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is transitioning to a digital environment for processing immigration benefit requests. Agency experience demonstrates that the electronic processing of benefit requests is more efficient and effective than the traditional paper processes, during the immediate request, throughout the immigration life cycle, and beyond. Electronic processing will largely eliminate the enormous cost of paper intake, shipping and storage, strengthen information security, and reduce redundancy and the potential for error in adjudication processes. For requestors, electronic processing will improve the experience of applying for immigration benefits at each stage of the process." Related information:
- On May 22, 2019, USCIS announced a strategy it calls eProcessing "to accelerate USCIS' transition to a digital business model. eProcessing will be a complete digital experience, from applying for a benefit, to communicating with USCIS, through receiving a decision on a case... As a first step, certain visitors for business, visitors for pleasure, and vocational students can now apply online to extend their stay in the United States. Additional classifications are coming soon."
- On May 7, 2019, USCIS updated its CLAIMS3 Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) "to provide notice of system changes in support of the USCIS eProcessing initiative. Upon publication of this PIA, CLAIMS 3 will (1) support the acceptance of certain electronically filed immigration benefits; (2) include a new icon enabling users to retrieve and view immigration content in support of the benefit adjudication; and, (3) communicate with RAILS (not an acronym) to identify the location of the immigration file. This PIA update evaluates the privacy risks and mitigations associated with these updates including the collection, use, and maintenance of personally identifiable information (PII)."
Updating Adjustment of Status Procedures for More Efficient Processing and Immigrant Visa Usage
Proposed Rule Stage. Fall 2019 Agenda Target Date 04/00/2020 (was 09/00/2019 in the Spring 2019 agenda). Agency: DHS/USCIS. RIN 1615-AC22. Abstract: "The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will propose regulatory provisions designed to: improve the efficiency in the processing of Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485), reduce processing times, improve the quality of inventory data provided to partner agencies, reduce the potential for visa retrogression, promote efficient usage of available immigrant visas, and discourage fraudulent or frivolous filings. DHS proposes to eliminate the concurrent filing of visa petitions and Form I-485 for all applicants seeking an immigrant visa in a preference category, and proposes to make further changes to the appropriate dates when applicants can file Form I- 485 and for ancillary benefits."
Implementing a Known Employer Program for Certain Employment-Based Nonimmigrant and Immigrant Visa Classification
Long-Term Action, no target date specified. First published in the Spring 2019 regulatory agenda, continues as a long-term action in the Fall 2019 agenda. Agency: DHS/USCIS. RIN 1615-AC35. Abstract: "The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will propose regulations to amend the filing process for certain employers seeking to hire certain workers through employment-based visa categories. Specifically, eligible employers may be able to request that USCIS pre-adjudicate certain eligibility requirements of petitions relating to certain employment-based nonimmigrant and immigrant visa classifications. This change would promote simplicity and efficiency in the benefit application process for employers, while allowing USCIS to further protect benefit integrity and ensure consistency with respect to adjudications. In addition, this initiative would reduce paper work for all parties. This NPRM would propose to codify the USCIS' Known Employer Pilot Program, which has been in effect since March 2016 and runs through May 2020."
Proposed Rule Stage. Fall 2019 Agenda Target Date 12/00/2019 (same as the Spring 2019 agenda; it was 04/00/2019 in the Fall 2018 agenda). Agency: DHS/USCIS. RIN 1615-AB98. Abstract: "This rule proposes to revise the requirements and procedures for the filing of motions and appeals before the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and its Administrative Appeals Office (AAO). The proposed changes are intended to streamline the existing processes for filing motions and appeals and will reduce delays in the review and appellate process. This rule also proposes additional changes necessitated by the establishment of DHS and its components. The proposed changes are intended to promote simplicity, accessibility, and efficiency in the administration of USCIS appeals and motions. The Department also solicits public comment on proposed changes to the AAO's appellate jurisdiction"
Updated English Language Proficiency Requirements for Certain Foreign Health Workers
Long-Term Action, no target date. Interim Final Rule stage. Agency: DHS/USCIS. RIN 1615-AC16. Abstract: "The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is amending its regulations at 8 CFR 212.15 governing certificates for foreign healthcare workers to update the English language requirements applicable to certain foreign nationals seeking admission to the United States for the purposes of performing labor as healthcare workers in one of seven covered non-physician healthcare professions. The Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretary of Education, is tasked with setting standards for the English language requirements for foreign healthcare workers under the authority of section 343 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(5)(C) and 1182(r), and 8 CFR 212.15(g), including identifying appropriate standardized tests and minimum scores. Updated DHS regulations for English language competency are important for ensuring transparency so that that those seeking to enter the United States as healthcare workers are competent to communicate with an interdisciplinary team of providers and the patients and families they serve. Consistent with the statute and governing regulations, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has notified DHS of additions and deletions to the approved list of testing agencies, tests, and minimum scores. Therefore, this rule updates DHS regulations to reflect updated English language proficiency requirements set by HHS."
- Executive Order (EO) 13771 ("Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs," January 30, 2017), President Trump directed agencies to eliminate two regulations for each new one and to reduce net regulatory costs to zero in Fiscal Year 2017. Agencies appointed new regulatory reform officers and regulatory reform taskforces to help implement these changes (Executive Order 13777, "Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda," February 24, 2017).
- From the Introduction to the Fall 2017 Regulatory Plan. "Moreover, the Administration has reinforced the importance of fair notice and due process. In particular, this means agencies should closely examine their use of sub-regulatory actions, such as guidance documents, enforcement manuals, interpretive rules, "FAQs," and the like. Such documents can serve an important role in explaining existing statutory or regulatory requirements; however, they should not be used to impose new or additional legal obligations or requirements. Accordingly, this Administration has encouraged agencies to take a close look at existing guidance documents to assess whether some of them should be withdrawn or modified, or whether their requirements should go through a process of notice and comment rulemaking. Limiting guidance to its intended purpose of clarifying existing law rather than making new law will provide greater transparency about the regulatory process and ensure that regulated entities and the public have notice and an opportunity to comment on significant changes in regulatory requirements."
- "The activities included in individual agency agendas are primarily those currently planned to have an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM), a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), or a Final Rule issued within the next 12 months. However, to keep users better informed of opportunities for participation in the rulemaking process, an agency may list in the "Long-Term Actions" section of its agenda those rules it expects will have the next regulatory action more than 12 months after publication of the agenda. When an agency subsequently schedules a regulatory action on one of these rules within a 12-month timeframe, the item will reappear in the appropriate section of the agency's next agenda."
- Reginfo.gov describes Long-Term Actions: "Long-Term Actions are items under development but for which the agency does not expect to have a regulatory action within the 12 months after publication of this edition of the Unified Agenda."
- Reginfo.gov also describes what "RIN" stands for: "Every entry appearing in the Unified Agenda or Regulatory Plan is assigned a Regulation Identifier Number (RIN), in accordance with the requirements for the Unified Agenda set forth in section 4 of Executive Order 12866."