Connecticut, US

Mar 19 2020

Weekly Immigration Update: March 13-19, 2020

Angola, Argentina, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belgium, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Curaçao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, European Union, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Montenegro, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal , Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea (South Korea), Republic of the Philippines, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia , Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia

In immigration news this week:

  • Worldwide: Many jurisdictions around the world have expanded their coronavirus-related travel restrictions and quarantine measures outside of the original areas subject to such policies. Visit Fragomen’s coronavirus-related news page for the latest immigration updates.
  • United States/Canada: The United States-Canada border will close to non-essential traffic in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Details of the agreement are not yet public, but exceptions for travel related to essential trade and for those with close ties to the destination country are expected.
  • European Union/Schengen Area: Most non-EU nationals are banned from entering Schengen Area member countries or Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania. The ban is in place for a 30-day period and may be extended. Ireland and the United Kingdom are not covered by the EU ban, but may decide to join the EU with similar measures.
  • United States: As part of the U.S. government’s COVID-19 response, President Trump has added the United Kingdom and Ireland to its COVID-19 travel ban. The government has also suspended visa services at most U.S. consulates abroad and in-person interviews and biometrics appointments at USCIS field offices and Application Support Centers. In H-1B cap related news, employers and their immigration counsel have until Friday, March 20 at noon EDT to submit registrations for the FY 2021 H-1B cap lottery. Premium processing will not initially be available for FY2021 H-1B cap filings, but will be phased in two phases, the first starting no later than May 27, and the second phase will begin no earlier than June 29.

 

These items follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, March 18, 2020

U.S. and Canada to Close Border to Non-Essential Traffic

  • U.S. President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today that the United States-Canada border will close to non-essential traffic by agreement between the two countries in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Details of the agreement  are not yet public, but exceptions for travel related to essential trade and for those with close ties to the destination country are expected.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, March 18, 2020

April Visa Bulletin Update: USCIS to Honor Final Action Dates for Employment-Based Categories Next Month

In a change from recent months, USCIS will accept employment-based adjustment applications in April from foreign nationals with a priority date that is earlier than the Final Action Dates listed in the State Department's April Visa Bulletin.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, March 17, 2020

USCIS Offices Suspend In-Person Services Until At Least April 1

  • As part of its COVID-19 response, USCIS will suspend in-person interviews and biometrics appointments at local offices for the next several weeks at least.
  • Foreign nationals with green card interviews, naturalization interviews or naturalization ceremonies scheduled for the coming weeks will receive notices that their appointments are cancelled. Appointments will be rescheduled after USCIS local offices resume operations.
  • Foreign nationals with biometrics appointments at USCIS Application Support Centers will receive cancellation notices. Their appointments will be automatically rescheduled.



To view entire article, click here.

 

European Union, Schengen Area, March 17, 2020

European Union Imposes 30-Day Entry Ban for Schengen Area

  • Effective immediately, most non-EU nationals are banned from entering Schengen Area member countries or Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania. The ban is in place for a 30-day period and may be extended. Ireland and the United Kingdom are not covered by the EU ban, but may decide to join the EU with similar measures.
  • Entry remains permitted for EU nationals, UK nationals, nationals of Schengen-associated countries (Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland) and their family members.
  • Entry remains permitted for EU long-term residence permit holders, those holding other types of EU or national residence permits or long-term visas. This applies both to the principal applicant and their family members.
  • Cross-border workers, medical staff, researchers, diplomats, passengers in transit, those travelling for imperative family reasons or in need of international protection or for other humanitarian reasons are exempt from the ban.
  • There may be some variances on the implementation of these measures among EU countries.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, March 16, 2020

Premium Processing for FY2021 H-1B Cap Initially Suspended, Then Available in Stages

  • Premium processing will not be available for FY2021 H-1B cap petitions when employers begin filing on April 1.
  • USCIS will resume premium processing in two phases, the first starting no later than May 27, 2020 when it will accept premium processing requests for petitions requesting a change of status from F-1.
  • The second phase will include all other cap-subject H-1B petitions and will begin no earlier than June 29, 2020.
  • Premium processing remains available and unchanged for H-1B extensions, changes of employer and other filings that are not subject to the cap.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, March 16, 2020

H-1B Cap Registration Period Closes March 20

  • Employers and their immigration counsel have until Friday, March 20 at noon EDT to submit registrations for the FY 2021 H-1B cap lottery.
  • Employers should complete their review and approval of draft registrations as soon as possible.
  • USCIS is expected to receive a very large number of online registrations in the final hours of the registration period. Technical slowdowns are possible as a result. Early completion and submission can help minimize problems.
  • To date, USCIS has not announced any changes to registration timelines or procedures in light of COVID-19.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, March 16, 2020

Coronavirus Update: More U.S. Consulates Suspend Services; USCIS Local Offices May Suspend Interviews and Appointments

  • As part of the U.S. government’s COVID-19 response, U.S. consulates worldwide continue to cancel nonimmigrant and immigrant visa appointments, including those in Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom, among others.
  • Further cancellations and reductions in services are expected in the coming days.
  • Because the situation is very fluid, those with upcoming U.S. visa appointments should monitor the relevant consulate’s website for the latest information on consular services. Emergency appointments may be available in very limited circumstances.
  • Local USCIS offices may suspend green card interviews, as well as biometrics appointments at Application Support Centers.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, March 14, 2020

President Trump Adds Ireland and the United Kingdom to the COVID-19 Travel Ban, Effective 11:59 PM EDT on Monday, March 16

  • With limited exceptions, foreign nationals who have been physically present in the United Kingdom or Ireland within 14 days before seeking admission to the United States will be denied entry starting at 11:59 PM EDT on Monday, March 16.
  • U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, their spouses and children under 21, and certain other family members are not subject to the travel restrictions, among other exemptions.
  • The travel restrictions will remain in effect until terminated by President Trump.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Ireland/United Kingdom, March 14, 2020

Guidance for Travellers Following Expanded U.S. Travel Ban

  • In a White House press conference today, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence stated that the United Kingdom and Ireland will be added to the U.S. COVID-19 travel ban as of Monday at midnight.
  • As of 6:00pm EDT on March 14, the White House had not provided details on implementation of the ban, but it is likely to track the related bans, meaning that it will likely apply to foreign nationals who have been physically present in the United Kingdom or Ireland within 14 days before seeking admission to the United States.
  • The same exceptions as applied in related bans are likely to apply, including U.S. nationals, U.S. permanent residents and certain family members, among others.
  • After the ban takes effect, impacted travellers may need to make arrangements to prolong their stay, or to travel to another country of residence. Affected travellers should check local rules to identify options to extend their stay, including extension of their visa if applicable.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, March 13, 2020

Coronavirus Update: Travel Instructions for U.S. Citizens and Others Returning from the Schengen Area, China and Iran; U.S. Consular Service Suspensions in India and Elsewhere

  • DHS has announced that starting at 11:59 ET on March 13, 2020, U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents and certain foreign nationals entering the United States within 14 days of physical presence in China, Iran, or the European Schengen countries will be subject to arrival restrictions, including a requirement to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
  • Some U.S. consulates worldwide are cancelling nonimmigrant and immigrant visa appointments beginning March 16, including consulates in India, Paris, Dublin, and Madrid. Further cancellations and reductions in visa services are possible in the coming days.



To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, March 13, 2020

April 2020 Visa Bulletin: Modest Employment-Based Cut-Off Date Advancement in Most Categories

  • All EB-1 countries except for China and India will advance by three months to June 1, 2019. EB-1 China will advance by one week to June 8, 2017, while EB-1 India will advance by two months to May 1, 2015. 
  • EB-2 China will advance by two weeks to September 1, 2015, and EB-2 India will advance by three days to May 25, 2009. 
  • EB-3 Worldwide will remain retrogressed at January 1, 2017, while EB-3 China will advance by three weeks to April 15, 2016 and EB-3 India will advance by one week to January 22, 2009.
  • EB-5 China will remain at May 15, 2015, while EB-5 India and EB-5 Vietnam will advance to January 1, 2019 and February 8, 2017, respectively.



To view entire article, click here.

 

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen.