On October 2, 2020, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a policy alert regarding inadmissibility based on membership or affiliation with the Communist Party or any other totalitarian party. A copy of the policy alert can be found here. While this new alert does not change existing immigration law, it requires U.S. immigration officers to exert stricter enforcement when determining whether an applicant for an immigration benefit such as a visa or lawful permanent residence is inadmissible based on this ground.
While the policy alert did not mention the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) by name, experts believe that this move is being imposed as “top Trump administration officials ramp up criticism of the CCP for its role in covering up the coronavirus outbreak.”
The inadmissibility ground for membership or affiliation with a Communist Party or other totalitarian party was created by Congress to ensure the safety and security of the United States and dates back to the 1950s. However, there are certain exceptions for involuntary membership, past membership, and for immigrants who are close family members of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents who do not pose a threat to the security of the United States.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, “There were 2.5 million Chinese immigrants in the United States in 2018, or about 5.5 per cent of its total foreign-born population.” Moreover, “Almost all Chinese government officials are members of the Communist Party, as are most executives of state-owned enterprises and officials at public institutions.”
In response to this policy alert, “Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of Chinese tabloid newspaper Global Times, took a positive view of the rule change, saying the immigration restriction would help “keep more talents in China.”
While it is clear that this policy alert is part of the Trump Administration’s continued effort to eliminate immigration to the U.S., it remains to be seen how much of an impact this new guidance will have on immigrants in the future.