Public Policy Roundup: Travel Restrictions on India, REAL ID Enforcement Delay, and More

From travel restrictions on India to the delay of REAL ID enforcement and Worldwide ERC® pursuits on improving business immigration and reinstating the moving tax deduction, here’s the public policy updates you need to know.

While great strides in containing the COVID-19 pandemic have been made around the world, the past few weeks have seen India struggle with a high number of outbreaks. As a result, the U.S. announced travel restrictions on individuals who have been present in India before traveling to the U.S. In other news, India has also signed a bilateral agreement with the U.K. to strengthen talent mobility between the two countries. Here are the public policy updates you need to know, including updates from the Department of Homeland Security, and our most recent public policy advocacy efforts.

United States Announces Ban on Travelers from India Following High COVID Rates

In response to devastating COVID outbreaks in India over the past couple of weeks, President Biden announced restrictions on travel from India going into effect 5 May. Under the terms of the proclamation, most nonimmigrant foreign nationals who have been physically present in India in the 14 days prior to travel to the U.S. will be barred from entry. The ban does not apply to foreign nationals holding unused or unexpired immigrant visas; U.S. citizens; and lawful permanent residents or their immediate family.

Currently, the U.S. has barred entry to most foreign nationals who have been present in Brazil, China, Iran, Ireland, South Africa, the U.K. and the Schengen area in the 14 days prior to travel. Additionally, those who wish to travel to the U.S. must provide documentation of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of travel, or evidence of recovery from a recent COVID-19 infection.

India and United Kingdom Sign Talent and Mobility Agreement

Despite the restrictions India is currently facing, on 5 May it was announced that India and the U.K. have signed an agreement that will allow talent to more easily live and work in both countries. The Migration and Mobility Partnership agreement is a pledge to encourage regular short stays of nationals in each country who are seen as active and sustainable contributors to the countries’ economies. While encouraging short-stay visas for these individuals, the agreement is also intended to accelerate the process to return Indian nationals who have no legal right to stay in the U.K. and vice versa.

DHS Announces Extension of REAL ID Full Enforcement Deadline and Withdraws Proposed Biometrics Rule

On 27 April, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the extension of the REAL ID full enforcement date by 19 months (from 1 October, 2021 to 3 May, 2023). A REAL ID is issued by a state motor vehicle agency as a more secure driver’s license. The United States Congress passed the REAL ID Act on 20 December 2003 in alignment with recommendations by the 9/11 Commission on setting minimum security standards for state-issued identification to access facilities and transportation secured by the Federal Government. However, citing states’ limited ability to issue REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards due to COVID-19’s impact on licensing agencies, the enforcement date was extended to 3 May 2023.

DHS also announced that it has withdrawn a proposed rule that would have expanded department authorities and requirements for collecting biometrics. Biometrics are physical or behavioral characteristics used to identify an individual and are commonly used as a standard security screening at airports in most countries. The proposed rule would have removed age restrictions; codified the authority to use DNA test results; authorized the use of additional types of biometric modalities; and required submission of biometrics for every applicant, petitioner, sponsor, beneficiary, or other individual filing for or associated with any immigration or naturalization benefit or request unless waived by DHS.

Worldwide ERC® Submits Comment on House Hearing on Barriers to Legal Immigration

At a 28 April hearing on “Why Don’t They Just Get in Line? Barriers to Legal Immigration” by the House Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship, Worldwide ERC® submitted a statement on behalf of the workforce mobility industry. In calling for a fair, predictable, and reliable system for immigrants and nonimmigrants, Worldwide ERC® presented three key recommendations: Modernize the nonimmigrant and immigrant employment-based system with E-Filing; pass key provisions of the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigration Act; and increase certainty and save resources with Trusted Employer program.

Worldwide ERC®, ATA and IAM Ask Congress for Key Tax Relief

On 6 May, Worldwide ERC® sent a joint letter to Congress with the American Trucking Association (ATA) and the International Association of Movers (IAM) advocating for the reinstatement of the moving tax expense deduction and exclusion. The letter urges Congress to restore this tax relief tool that is vital to making work relocation affordable while supporting workforce mobility. The letter also asks that, as our country rebuilds from the economic slowdown, Congress ensure that the corporate and individual tax rates remain competitive with the rest of the world. We ask you to please join us in advocating for this relief by sending letters to your Senators and Representatives in Congress today.

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How This Impacts Mobility

The new restrictions on travel for individuals coming to the U.S. from India is likely to impact those traveling to the U.S. for employment. However, the new partnership between India and the U.K. for talent mobility is a promising development that will strengthen opportunities for talent mobility between those two countries. The requirements of using REAL ID will have a direct but likely minimal impact on workforce mobility. However, transferees and business travelers who fail to obtain a REAL ID by the 2023 enforcement date will not be able to board a U.S. domestic commercial flight or access a federal facility. Should any member have questions, please reach out to our Vice President of Member Engagement and Public Policy Rebecca Peters, rpeters@worldwideerc.org.

Join Us for the Virtual Spring Conference!

For more public policy information for the world of workforce mobility, join us between 24 and 26 May for our virtual Spring Conference, where we’ll have sessions on cross-border policy insights, preparing for where public policy is going, and more. Register now and join us!