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DHS Announces Preliminary Plan to Review Outdated, Unnecessary, Unduly Burdensome Regulations

Posted by Ivan K. Fong, General Counsel

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plays an important and essential role in the life of American businesses and consumers.  Whether preventing terrorism and enhancing security, securing and managing our borders, enforcing and administering our immigration laws, safeguarding and securing cyberspace, or responding to and ensuring resilience to disasters of all kinds, DHS has a challenging set of missions that requires us to balance our responsibilities to ensure safety and resilience while expediting and streamlining security processes, travel, and commerce whenever possible.

As part of that commitment, DHS was pleased to join President Obama’s call this year to create a 21st-century regulatory system that is simpler and smarter.  DHS continues to increase efficiency, transparency, and accountability in the regulatory process, and we remain committed to seeking public input, identifying what works and what doesn’t, and ensuring the use of the best science in our regulatory activities.

Today, DHS is releasing its Preliminary Plan for Retrospective Review of Existing Regulations.  The Preliminary Plan results from significant public input.  The goal of our Preliminary Plan is to identify obsolete, unnecessary, or inefficient regulations and to eliminate or fix them as appropriate.   We look forward to continued public feedback during the 30-day comment period on our Preliminary Plan.

Here are some examples of the types of regulations and other actions where improvements are in process, or that are candidates for retrospective review:

  • Employers that seek to petition for H-1B workers often expend considerable effort and resources to prepare a complete petition and supporting documentation, only to learn later that the statutory cap for such workers had been reached.  DHS has proposed a rule to remedy this situation that, if made final, would require such employers to first file an electronic registration with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to be informed whether the numerical limitation has been reached, resulting in a significant reduction in unnecessary work and associated costs for both the petitioner and USCIS.   
  • DHS recently replaced the paper version of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection form for non-immigrant visa waiver arrivals and departures with an electronic system, thereby substantially reducing the burden for air travelers arriving in the U.S.  DHS also reduced the burden on U.S. and international aircraft operators by assuming responsibility for checking passengers against government watchlists through the Transportation Security Administration’s Secure Flight program, fulfilling a key 9/11 Commission recommendation.  We estimate that these actions, both of which were taken after substantial public input, will reduce paperwork reporting burdens by over 1 million hours each.
  • USCIS’s broad Transformation Initiative includes immigration regulations that will restructure the way USCIS operates and modernize its IT systems to, among other things, reduce reliance on paper forms and streamline immigration processes. 

We look forward to continued feedback from the traveling public, businesses, and other stakeholders about regulations that may have outlived their usefulness, do not work as intended, or simply don’t make sense.  We remain fully committed to our mission to ensure the safety and resilience of the American people, while doing so in a smart, efficient, and cost-effective way.

Please visit to view DHS’s plan, as well as other plans from around the federal government.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
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