US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has extended its remote Form I-9 document verification policy through September 19, 2020 to help employers cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Under this policy, employers do not have to verify new Form I-9- employment eligibility documentation in the employee’s physical presence until September 19, 2020, or within three days of the COVID-19 national emergency’s end, whichever comes sooner.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced how it will implement Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. USCIS will reject all applications from foreign nationals who have never received DACA and return their application fees. These individuals may reapply for DACA without prejudice if this policy is overturned in the future. USCIS will continue to accept DACA applications from people who have received DACA before.
The production of certain Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) is delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through December 1, 2020, certain employees may use an EAD approval notice as a List C document for employment verification purposes during the Form I-9 process. This Form I-797, Notice of Action for Form I-765 can only be used for employment verification purposes if it indicates that the EAD application has been approved and the notice date is between December 1, 2019 and August 20, 2020. After December 1, 2020, employers may no longer accept Form I-797 for employment verification.
At the beginning of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, F and M students could take classes remotely. This allowed schools to maintain social distancing protocols while students could continuously maintain their immigration status in the US. On July 26, 2020, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) enacted policy requiring international students to leave the United States if their courses were fully online for the fall 2020 semester. After multiple lawsuits, DHS rescinded the policy for existing students only on July 14, 2020.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a recent suspension of the Department of Homeland Security’s public charge rule during the COVID-19 pandemic only applies within the Second Circuit, which includes the states of Vermont, Connecticut, and New York. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may still enforce the public charge rule in every other US state and the District of Columbia. This ruling does not impact the Department of State (DOS), which is still barred from implementing their public charge rule nationwide based on a separate lawsuit, Make the Road New York, et a. v. DOS. While each agency’s public charge rule varies, both penalize foreign nationals who use certain public benefits.
Under the Trump Administration, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is closely scrutinizing visa petitions and issuing Requests for Evidence (RFEs) that can seem templated and randomized. L-1 intracompany transferee visas are targeted the most, with high rates of denial and over 60% of L-1 petitions receiving RFEs. Work with an experienced immigration attorney to overcome these barriers and effectively sponsor your L-1 employees.
The Department of State (DOS) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are temporarily restrained from enforcing public charge rules during the COVID-19 national health emergency, based on a ruling by Judge George Daniels of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York on July 29, 2020. This order is effective nationwide, at any time when there is a national health emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Department of Homeland Security has clarified that new or initial F and M students may not engage in fully online learning for Fall 2020. The US Department of State will not issue new visas to these students, and US Customs and Border Protection will not admit them into the country. Foreign nationals who have been granted a change of status to an F or M visa may not be permitted to engage in fully online studies and may violate their status if they do so in Fall 2020.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Acting Director Joseph Edlow has confirmed that the agency will postpone furloughs of more than 13,000 of its workers through August 31, 2020. Previously, the furlough was set for August 3. USCIS is hoping that this delay will give Congress enough time to approve the additional funding needed to help the agency avoid furloughing their staff.