On December 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. Among other things, the new law extends several expiring immigration programs. The E-Verify, Conrad 30, and non-minister religious worker green card programs are reauthorized through September 30, 2021, and the EB-5 Regional Center Program is reauthorized through June 30, 2021. These programs had been set to expire on December 28.
The new law also allows stimulus checks to be issued to mixed status families, where at least one family member files taxes with a social security number. It also provides retroactive relief to mixed status families who did not receive such payments in the CARES Act last spring.
The law also extends the filing deadline for green cards available under the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness program until December 20, 2021. The law also grants the Secretary of Homeland Security the authority to issue additional H-2B visas beyond the statutory limit of 66,000. As in years past, the Department of Homeland Security will likely have to issue a new regulation to authorize the additional visas.
The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for January 2021, which was released before Congress passed the legislation, stated that with respect to the employment fourth preference Certain Religious Workers (SR) category, an extension means that “the December dates would continue to be applied, potentially for the remainder of the month. …If there is legislative action extending this category for January, the final action date would immediately become ‘Current’ for January for all countries except El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, which would be subject to a March 1, 2018 final action date, and for Mexico, which would be subject to a December 1, 2018 final action date.”
With respect to the employment fifth preference (I5 and R5) categories, the bulletin states that an extension means that “the December dates would continue to be applied, potentially for the remainder of the month. …If there is legislative action extending this category for January, the final action date would immediately become ‘Current’ for January for all countries except China-mainland born, which would be subject to an August 15, 2015 final action date, and for Vietnam, which would be subject to a September 15, 2017 final action date.”