The U.S. State Department recently released its immigration regulatory agenda for the coming months. The agenda includes proposed rule changes for B-1/B-2 visas, processes for immigrant visa applicants and a request for public feedback on barriers to immigration benefits.

Key Points:

  • B-1/B-2 visas. The final rule would eliminate language from the regulations that allows consular officers to issue a B-1 business visitor visa to certain applicants who are classifiable as H-1B or H-3 nonimmigrants. These applicants would need to independently qualify for a B-1 visa for a reason other than the “B-1 in lieu of H” policy. For this change to take effect, DOS would also need to revise the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) for consular officers. The agency proposed this rule under the Trump administration in October 2020 and accepted comments for a 60-day period ending Dec. 21, 2020.
  • Immigrant visa applicants. An upcoming temporary final rule (TFR) will give consular officers the flexibility to waive in-person appearances for some repeat immigrant visa applicants who were previously approved for a visa in the same classification on or after September 2019. The agenda indicates that the rule is scheduled for September of this year and will be effective for 180 days after the COVID-19 National Emergency ends. A second rule, also scheduled for next month, intends to create a limited exception to the general requirement that immigrant visa applicants appear before a consular officer and take an in-person oath.
  • Request for comments. In line with Executive Order 14012Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans, the Department will seek the public’s comments on barriers that are impeding access to immigration benefits and fair adjudications; recommendations on how to remove these barriers; and agency actions that prevent access to the legal immigration system. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) completed its review on July 30. The next step will be for the agency to post it for public inspection before officially publishing the request for comments in the Federal Register.

Additional Information: The Department of Homeland Security also has multiple immigration regulations on its agenda regarding H-1B eligibility requirements, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services filing fees and premium processing. More information is available here.

BAL Analysis: The details of the regulatory agenda items remain unknown until their official publication. BAL will continue to monitor the progress of these regulations and will provide additional information as it becomes available.

This alert has been provided by BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact

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