US

Mar 26 2020

Weekly Immigration Update: March 20-26, 2020

Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Curaçao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guyana, Honduras, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Latvia, Lesotho, Macau, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malta, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea (South Korea), Republic of the Philippines, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, The Bahamas, Tunisia , Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam

In immigration news this week:

  • Worldwide: Jurisdictions around the world continue to expand their coronavirus-related travel restrictions and quarantine measures. Visit Fragomen’s coronavirus-related news page for the latest immigration updates.
  • United States/Canada/Mexico: Under new border travel restrictions, only essential travel is permitted across the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada borders until at least April 20. “Non-essential travel” at land borders is not permitted, which includes travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature.
  • United States: USCIS is expected to soon conduct the FY 2021 H-1B cap lotteries to select enough registrations to meet the quota of 85,000. The agency will notify employers of lottery results by March 31 and begin accepting H-1B cap petitions on behalf of selected beneficiaries for 90 days, beginning April 1. As part of its COVID-19 response, USCIS will extend its suspension of in-person interviews and biometrics appointments at local offices until at least April 7; and will not accept requests for premium processing on I-129 and I-140 petitions until further notice. The Department of Homeland Security has relaxed I-9 verification requirements where an employee is working remotely because of the COVID-19 emergency, and E-Verify has issued COVID-19 guidance for employers. The Department of Labor will relax some of its labor condition application and PERM requirements.
  • United Kingdom: Due to the COVID-19 emergency, foreign nationals holding visas that expire January 24-May 31, 2020 and who are currently unable to return to their home country due to travel restrictions or self-isolation will be able to extend their visas to May 31, 2020.

 

These items and other news from Egypt, Qatar, and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, March 25, 2020

USCIS Offices Extend Suspension of In-Person Services Until At Least April 7

  • As part of its COVID-19 response, USCIS will extend its suspension of in-person interviews and biometrics appointments at local offices until at least April 7.
  • Foreign nationals with green card interviews, naturalization interviews or naturalization ceremonies scheduled for the coming weeks will continue to 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.

 

United Kingdom, March 24, 2020

Relaxed Visa Extension Process Due to Covid-19

  • Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the U.K. government announced that foreign nationals holding visas that expire between January 24, 2020 and May 31, 2020 and who are currently unable to return to their home country due to travel restrictions or self-isolation will be able to extend their visas to May 31, 2020.
  • Employers should consider whether to utilise the new extension policy or extend their employees’ visas through normal processes if their employee will remain in the United Kingdom after May 30, 2020.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, March 23, 2020

Essential Travel Only Across the Mexican and Canadian Land Borders Until At Least April 20

  • Under new CBP border travel restrictions, only essential travel is permitted across the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada borders, which includes travel by U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, foreign nationals traveling to work in the United States, and those using the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) for business travel, among others. 
  • VWP and other business travelers could face additional scrutiny at the border.
  • “Non-essential travel” at land borders is not permitted, which includes travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature.
  • The bar on non-essential land border travel will remain in effect until at least April 20. 

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, March 23, 2020

E-Verify Issues COVID-19 Guidance for Employers

  • E-Verify is not relaxing the three-day deadline for initiating an E-Verify case. Participating employers are still required to create E-Verify cases for their new hires within three business dates from the date of hire as indicated on the employee’s I-9 form.
  • Where an E-Verify query is delayed due to the COVID-19 crisis, employers are instructed to write in “COVID-19” as the basis for the delay in the system.
  • E-Verify is extending the timeframe for affected employees to resolve Tentative Nonconfirmation responses.
  • Employers may not take adverse action against an employee whose E-Verify case is in interim status.



To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, March 20, 2020

DOL Relaxes Some of its LCA and PERM Requirements in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

  • Employers have until May 12, 2020 to respond to DOL inquiries with deadlines falling between March 13, 2020 and May 12, 2020.
  • Where an H-1B, H-1B1 or E-3 worker changes work locations in the same area of intended employment, employers will have up to 30 days from the move to post the Notice of Filing.
  • The 180 window for PERM recruitment and Notices of Filing will be extended by 60 days, provided that recruitment began between September 15, 2019 and March 13, 2020, and the PERM filing occurs by May 12, 2020.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, March 20, 2020

U.S. to Close Canadian and Mexican Borders to Tourism and Recreational Travel Starting March 21 For At Least 30 Days

  • U.S. President Donald Trump and Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard announced today that the United States-Mexico border will close to non-essential travel by agreement between the two countries in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. 
  • The move follows a similar announcement from U.S. and Canadian leaders earlier this week about restrictions for travel across the northern border.
  • “Non-essential travel” is defined by DHS as travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature.
  • U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, business travelers, and those with valid U.S. travel documents are exempt from the border restrictions. However, it is possible business travelers could face additional scrutiny at the border while the new policy is being rolled-out.
  • The bar on non-essential travel becomes effective March 21 and will remain in effect for at least 30 days. 



To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, March 20, 2020

DHS Announces Flexibility in I-9 Verification Requirements

  • Where an employee is working remotely because of the COVID-19 emergency, the employer may inspect the employee’s identity and employment authorization documents virtually using remote technology when completing Section 2 of Form I-9, or when completing Section 3 for I-9 reverifications.
  • When normal operations resume, employers will need to physically inspect documents for any employee whose original documents were not physically examined by the Section 2 or Section 3 signer.
  • The interim COVID-19 measures may not be used where some employees are physically present at the work location.



To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, March 20, 2020

USCIS Immediately Suspends Premium Processing for All I-129 and I-140 Petitions Due to COVID-19

  • USCIS will not accept requests for premium processing on I-129 and I-140 petitions, effective today March 20, 2020. 
  • The agency states that the suspension of 15-day premium processing services is necessary due to the COVID-19 crisis; USCIS will notify the public when premium processing resumes.
  • Today’s announcement applies to FY 2021 H-1B cap filings and supersedes the agency’s earlier announced plan to implement H-1B cap premium processing in two phases.   



To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, March 20, 2020

H-1B Registration Period Closes; USCIS Expected to Conduct Selection Lotteries and Notify Employers By March 31

  • The H-1B cap registration period for FY 2021 closed today at noon EDT. No further registrations are being accepted.
  • In the coming days, USCIS is expected to conduct lotteries to select enough registrations to meet the FY 2021 quota of 85,000.
  • USCIS has said that it expects to notify employers of lottery results by March 31.
  • The agency will begin to accept H-1B cap petitions on behalf of selected beneficiaries for 90 days, beginning April 1.



To view entire article, click here.

 

Other Weekly News Briefs

Egypt: Notarized Lease Contract Required for Residence Permit Approval The Egyptian immigration authorities are now requiring foreign nationals to submit a notarized lease contract with their residence permit application. This new requirement is mandatory for new visa applications, visa renewal applications, and may also have to be provided by individuals whose applications are currently in progress, if requested by the immigration authorities. Since foreign nationals cannot complete the notarization process on their own, their landlord must provide the notarized lease contract, or the foreign national must obtain a letter from their embassy confirming their residential address in Egypt. Additionally, foreign nationals who are housed in company-owned or company-sponsored apartments may have to provide a letter from their employers, outlining the terms and conditions of the lease agreement. The addition of the notarized lease contract step to the residence permit application process may increase the time needed to gather required documents and therefore increase the overall application processing time.

Qatar: Exit Permit Requirement Relaxed for Employees of Companies in the Qatar Financial Center – Foreign nationals sponsored by companies registered in the Qatar Financial Center (QFC) are no longer required to obtain exit permits to depart Qatar. Although Qatar has begun to slowly phase out the requirement for foreign nationals to obtain exit permits before leaving the country, there are still exceptions to this rule. For example, sponsors can nominate up to five percent of their respective workforce who are still required to obtain exit permits. Foreign nationals traveling on business visas sponsored by companies registered in the QFC must still obtain an exit permit prior to departure if their total duration of stay in Qatar is longer than 30 days.

United States: Labor Department to Issue Certified Labor Certifications by E-Mail Between March 25, 2020 and June 30, 2020 – In an attempt to avoid service disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Labor has announced that it will e-mail, rather than send by U.S. Post, all certified Labor Certifications (Form ETA-9089) and Final Determination Letters issued between March 25, 2020 and June 30, 2020. Upon receipt of the e-mail by the employer or its authorized representative, the electronic copy of the certified Form ETA-9089 must be printed, and then signed and dated by the employer, foreign worker and the attorney, where applicable. USCIS has agreed to accept the signed copy of the certified Labor Certification with I-140 Immigrant Visa Petitions in lieu of an original on blue paper, which is typically required.

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