Resumption of Visa Processing and Clearing the Backlog of Cases in Waiver Processing
The Proclamation states the Secretary of State shall direct all Embassies and Consulates to resume visa processing in a manner consistent with the revocations listed. The Secretary of State will provide the President, within 45 days, with:
- Information about the number of people being considered for waivers under the bans and a plan for expeditiously adjudicating their pending visa applications.
- A proposal for reconsidering those individuals whose immigrant (permanent) visa applications were denied pursuant to the bans.
- A proposal to consider whether to reopen immigrant visa applications that were denied due to the bans and whether to charge additional fees.
- A plan for the Department of State to expedite consideration of those denied visa applications.
- A plan to ensure that visa applicants are not prejudiced as a result of a previous visa denial due to the bans.
Review of Information-Sharing Relationships and a Plan to Strengthen Partnerships
The Proclamation calls for the Secretaries of Homeland Security and State, in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence, to provide the following within 120 days:
- A description of the current screening and vetting procedures for immigrant and nonimmigrant entry in the United States, including an evaluation of the utility of form DS-5535.
- A review of practices for sharing information with foreign governments.
- Recommendations to improve screening and vetting activities, information sharing, and foreign assistance funds.
- A review of the social media identifiers used in the screening and vetting processes and a determination as to whether these identifiers have benefited these processes.
Steps to Take
While the Administration determines how it will address cases currently in queue and those that had been denied due to the Muslim and Africa Travel Bans, members can take several steps to prepare for the eventual processing of these cases:
- Assess which cases were denied due to the Muslim and Africa travel bans and not another ground such as prior military service or terrorism bars (212)(a)(3)(b) or public charge issues.
- Determine which cases are still in queue and pending adjudication due to administrative processing and Muslim and Africa Travel Ban consideration, and assess if biometrics, medical exams, police certificates, affidavits of support and other supporting documents are “stale.”
- Advise clients that it could be many months before any action can be taken due to an assessment period at government agencies and limited consular resources due to COVID-19.