United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will temporarily suspend all in-person services at their field offices, application support centers, and asylum offices on January 19 and 20, 2021. The closures are an effort to protect the agency’s employees and individuals with appointments during presidential inauguration events.
United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will extend border restrictions which block all nonessential land and ferry travel across the United States borders with Mexico and Canada through February 21, 2021. Air travel is not affected by the restriction. Essential travel is permitted, and includes things like travel for work, school, medical treatment, and more. These restrictions have been renewed multiple times since being enacted on March 21, 2020 to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Airline passengers aged two and older must show either proof of a negative COVID-19 test or proof of recovery to enter the United States from any foreign country, effective January 26, 2021. Airlines will deny entry to individuals who fail to provide this proof when boarding their flight to the United States. Those who do not comply with the order are subject to criminal penalties.
The Department of Labor (DOL) has published an amended version of their October 2020 rule which will increase prevailing wage levels for employment-based visas including H-1B, H-1B1, E-3, and certain green cards. The rule is scheduled to go into effect on or around March 14, 2021. Under the amended rule, prevailing wages will increase for most occupations, but not as significantly as they did in the original rule.
During this prerecorded video presentation, immigration attorney Min Kim shares information about the Fiscal Year 2021 H-1B cap season and alternative visa options available. He also covers some common challenges facing employers during the COVID-19 pandemic, including what to do when an H-1B worker must work reduced hours.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has released a final rule that will replace the current randomized H-1B lottery selection process with a new H-1B selection process that prioritizes wages. Under the new rule, H-1B visas will be awarded based on prevailing wage levels, with priority given to workers that earn the highest salary based on their occupation and geographic area. The rule will be effective on March 9, 2021.
On December 31, 2020 President Trump extended the entry ban for prospective H-1B, H-2B, L-1, and certain J-1 visa holders through March 31, 2021. The ban impacts foreign nationals who were outside of the United States on the proclamation’s effective date of June 24, 2020 and did not already hold a valid US visa or travel document.