- DHS has published its semi-annual regulatory agenda
- Employment-based immigration regulations will change in several key areas
- DHS will update H-1B program rules, USCIS fees, DACA program rules, and premium processing
- The agency will announce proposed rules and public comment periods as available
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has published its semi-annual regulatory agenda with updates to its employment-based immigration regulations in several key areas.
For the H-1B program, DHS will issue a proposed rule that updates H-1B requirements and provides more flexibility in the F-1 visa program. The rule, which is scheduled to be published in December 2021, will:
- Establish new guidelines for site visits
- Update regulations related to employer-employee relationships
- Settle “cap-gap” issues
- Grant start date flexibilities in limited situations
- Clarify requirements that a new or amended petition must be filed in instances of material changes
Additionally, DHS intends to adjust US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) fees for immigration services. The agency initially published regulations to increase its filing fees in August 2020. However, the fee increase was blocked by a court. Consequently, the agency now plans to rescind and replace the original proposed rule with a revised version. DHS expects to issue the rule in November 2021.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
In August 2021, DHS intends to publish a rule that strengthens the DACA program. The agency’s decision follows a memo issued by the Biden Administration in January 2021 to protect the DACA program. DHS intends to implement program changes through a rulemaking process.
Finally, DHS also plans to issue a final rule to expand premium processing to a broader range of benefit requests. Additionally, it will set premium processing fees for the new categories. The proposed final rule follows a short-term funding bill passed by Congress in October 2020 that gave USCIS authority to expand premium processing to more petition types. Additionally, the bill increased fees and made changes to premium processing.
Although the DHS regulatory agenda will significantly impact employment-based immigration programs, the policies have not yet been implemented. Updates will be provided as available when the agency issues proposed regulations and announce corresponding public comment periods.