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.
CBP Extends Travel Restrictions for Nonessential Land and Ferry Travel Across US Borders with Canada and Mexico through February 21, 2021
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.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is experiencing delays in scheduling and rescheduling biometrics appointments at its application support centers (ASCs). USCIS is working to maximize ASC capacity and reuse previously collected biometrics where legally permissible. The agency has not rescheduled all cancelled appointments and wait times may vary based on geography.
The production of certain Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) remains delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through February 1, 2021, certain employees may use an EAD approval notice as a List C document for employment verification purposes during the Form I-9 process.
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.
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.
Court Rules that Department of Homeland Security May Resume Enforcement of the Public Charge Rule in Most States
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.
Executive Order Requires US Government to Assess their Hiring of Foreign Workers for Impact on US Workforce
On August 3, 2020 the United States government issued an Executive Order to assess whether the US government’s practice of hiring foreign workers negatively impacts US workers, especially in areas that heavily rely on government jobs, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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.
On July 20, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) extended its interim policy allowing employers to inspect Form I-9 documents remotely due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This temporary flexibility policy was first announced in March 2020.
On July 6, 2020, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that F and M student visa holders will no longer be eligible for valid nonimmigrant status if they are enrolled in fully online courses for the fall 2020 semester.
On June 4, 2020, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin reopening some field offices and application support centers (ASCs) to the public and resume non-emergency face-to-face services. USCIS offices were temporarily closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
USCIS will follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines. They will establish measures to protect their workforce and the public when facilities reopen.
Effective March 20, 2020, Premium Processing has been suspended for ALL types of Form I-129 petitions (H/L/O/R/TN etc.) and I-140 petitions, including H-1B cap petitions. This is a very important development affecting petitioners who use the premium program. The Premium Processing program is an important source of revenue for the USCIS as petitioners paid nearly $545 million in premium processing fees during FY-2019.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has provided guidance for nonimmigrants who have to unexpectedly remain in the US beyond their authorized period of stay as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Due to the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that there will be a delay in data entry and receipt notices for fiscal year (FY) 2021 H-1B cap petitions. Petitioners will not get their receipt notices until May 1, 2020 at the earliest.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has prompted the federal government to enact the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), to protect Americans against a significant economic impact. The FFCRA provides separate benefits to employers if they intend to maintain their workforce, or if they decide to reduce staff. Employees are protected if they are experiencing symptoms or need to care for another that has indications of COVID-19.
When facing mass reduction in workforce, employers need to comply with the Federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act ( and respective State WARN Acts.
The main objective of the WARN Act is to protect employees and their families and in a broader perspective the entire community by making it mandatory for employers to give a 60-day notice to those employees who will be effected by the plant closing and mass layoffs as also to state and local representatives, prior to the closing and layoffs.
What are an employer’s options for H-1B employees who do not have available projects? Can an employer reduce the work hours of H-1B employees?
Because H-1B workers have a mandatory salary requirement, employers cannot furlough or bench them. Employers should first consider whether there is a different position on any other project, either at an end-client site or in-house, that the beneficiary can perform.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) has disrupted normal business operations all over the world. As of March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus as a pandemic. In light of this pandemic, many businesses are unable to perform some of their contractual obligations. Some are stuck with suppliers who are unable to deliver due to factory closures, while others must cancel mass events due to curfews or limitations on group gatherings. In challenging times like these, a key contractual provision is the force majeure clause, which allows one or both parties to be relieved of their contractual obligations based on unforeseen events. Given the increase in international force majeure cases, it is a critical time for businesses to review all their contracts to understand the various force majeure clauses at play.
The global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is leading to a public crisis of domestic violence. Although stay-at-home orders are crucial to curbing the spread of COVID-19, they are also causing a spike in domestic violence cases since many victims are spending increased time with their oppressors. While courts are generally closed, states like California have enacted special emergency protections for people experiencing domestic violence.
The global pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 or Covid-19, known more commonly as the Coronavirus is affecting every aspect of everyday life for individuals all over the world. As if child custody exchanges were not an issue during normal times already, the Coronavirus, is here to add to our child custody exchanges. Coronavirus is now impacting the daily lives of families all over the country in unprecedented ways.