US

Apr 02 2020

Weekly Immigration Update: March 27-April 2, 2020

Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, European Union, Finland, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal , Netherlands, Nigeria, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea (South Korea), Republic of the Philippines, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, The Bahamas, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, 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: USCIS announced that it received nearly 275,000 H-1B cap registrations this year, a 37% increase over the FY 2020 filing season. USCIS began accepting H-1B cap petitions on behalf of selected beneficiaries on April 1, and will continue to accept petitions through June 30. As part of its COVID-19 response, USCIS has extended its suspension of in-person interviews and biometrics appointments at local offices until at least May 3; agreed to use previously submitted biometrics to process employment authorization document extension requests; and extended response deadlines for requests for evidence, notices of intent to deny/revoke, notices of intent to terminate EB-5 regional investment centers, and appeals and motions to reopen. The Department of Homeland Security has extended the REAL ID Act deadline to October 1, 2021, providing individuals with an additional year to obtain REAL ID-compliant U.S. state driver’s licenses or identification cards.
  • United Kingdom: Effective March 30, employers can complete a right to work check through video call without having the employee’s original documentation, as part of relaxed right to work check requirements implemented while the country's COVID-19 measures are in place.
  • European Union: The European Commission has issued practical guidance on the Schengen travel ban issued in light of COVID-19.
  • Japan: The Immigration Services Agency has expanded the online visa application system for eligible companies to more common visa and application types.
  • Latvia: Effective April 1, the minimum monthly salary for foreign workers increased 7.1 percent from 2019.

 

These items and other news from Ecuador, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, April 1, 2020

USCIS Receives 275,000 FY 2021 H-1B Cap Registrations, Petition Filing Period Begins

  • Employers submitted H-1B cap registrations for nearly 275,000 beneficiaries this year, a 37% increase over the FY 2020 filing season. Approximately 126,500 beneficiaries hold U.S. advanced degrees.
  • The overall chance of selection for FY 2021 H-1B cap employment is approximately 31%.
  • USCIS will today begin to accept H-1B cap petitions on behalf of selected beneficiaries.  The filing period will be open for at least 90 days.



To view entire article, click here.

 

European Union, April 1, 2020

Further Guidance on Schengen COVID-19-Related Travel Ban and Solutions for Overstay

The European Commission has issued practical guidance on the Schengen travel ban issued in light of COVID-19, which includes the following key recommendations:

  • Visa-exempt nationals who will overstay their 90 days of allowable stay in a 180-day period should apply for a long-term national visa or temporary national residence permit in their country of stay.
  • Visa nationals who will overstay their Schengen visa duration should apply for a 90-day extension. Upon expiry of this extension, visa holders may apply for a long-term national visa or temporary national residence permit in their country of stay.
  • Authorities should remind visa holders that they must justify their purpose of travel, which typically must be deemed essential, when seeking entry.
  • EU countries are urged to waive sanctions or penalties related to overstay, and should be lenient with current overstay when assessing future visa or residence applications.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, April 1, 2020

USCIS Offices Extend Suspension of In-Person Services Until At Least May 3

  • 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 May 3.
  • 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 need to 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, with exceptions.



To view entire article, click here.

 

Latvia, April 1, 2020

Minimum Salary Level Increased

  • Effective April 1, 2020, the minimum monthly salary for foreign workers in Latvia has increased 7.1 percent from 2019.
  • Employers must adjust the salaries of current foreign workers and those with pending or new applications, if required.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Japan, April 1, 2020

Online Visa Application System Expanded to More Application Types

  • The Japan Immigration Services Agency has expanded the online visa application system for eligible companies in Japan to apply for Certificate(s) of Eligibility, Change of Status of Residence, Acquisition of Status for Dependents, and Certificates of Authorized Employment.
  • Online applications are available for the following visa types: business managers; intracompany transferees; engineer/specialist in humanities/international services; highly-skilled professional; and skilled labour and dependents of these visa holders.
  • This should reduce waiting times at the immigration office and should also lessen administrative burdens for employers, who would need to send their designated employee or immigration lawyer to the service center to file applications.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, March 30, 2020

USCIS Announces Additional COVID-19 Accommodations: Expanding List of Response Types Eligible for Extensions, and Using Previously Submitted Biometrics for EAD Extensions

  • In light of the COVID emergency, petitioners and applicants will have an additional 60 days to respond to notices of intent to revoke and notices of intent to terminate EB-5 regional investment centers dated between March 1 and May 1, 2020, USCIS has announced. Employers and foreign nationals will also have 60, rather than 30, days to file any appeal or motion to reopen a USCIS decision that was issued between March 1 and May 1.
  • Where a foreign national is seeking an extension of their Employment Authorization Document, USCIS will use previously submitted biometrics to process the application, given the temporary closure of USCIS Application Support Centers that normally collect biometrics.
  • To date, USCIS has not made any accommodations for foreign nationals with expiring periods of stay or employment authorization documents; as such, applications for extensions and renewals must be timely filed.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United Kingdom, March 30, 2020

Right to Work Check Requirements Relaxed

  • Effective March 30, 2020, employers in the United Kingdom can complete a right to work check through video call without having the employee’s original documentation, as part of relaxed right to work check requirements implemented while the United Kingdom’s COVID-19 measures are in place.
  • Once the United Kingdom’s COVID-19 measures end, the previous requirements will resume with prior notice from the Home Office.
  • Please access Fragomen’s dedicated page for COVID-19 updates for more information on other restrictions and concessions offered in the United Kingdom and other countries.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, March 30, 2020

DHS Postpones REAL ID Deadline until October 2021

  • Individuals will have an additional year to obtain U.S. state driver’s licenses or identification cards that comply with the REAL ID Act security standards.
  • Airlines and federal agencies will continue to accept non-REAL ID compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards for domestic air travel and admission to federal facilities until October 1, 2021.



To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, March 27, 2020

USCIS Completes FY 2021 H-1B Cap Selection Process

  • The annual quota of 85,000 new H-1B cap registrations was exceeded in the initial registration period for employment in FY 2021.
  • USCIS has completed the regular and advanced-degree selection lotteries, and intends to notify employers of selection results by March 31. Employers will need to log into their H-1B cap registration accounts to learn which beneficiaries were selected. Some accounts have already been updated with lottery results.



To view entire article, click here.

 

 

United States, March 27, 2020

USCIS Gives Petitioners and Applicants More Time to Respond to Requests for Evidence and Notices of Intent to Deny During COVID-19 Emergency

  • Petitioners and applicants will have an additional 60 days to respond to requests for evidence and notices of intent to deny issued between March 1 and May 1, 2020, USCIS has announced.
  • The agency has not made any accommodations for foreign nationals with expiring periods of stay or employment authorization documents; as such, applications for extensions and renewals must be filed timely.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Other Weekly News Briefs

Ecuador: Visa Exemptions Revoked for Nationals of Five Countries – Effective immediately, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has revoked visa exemptions for nationals of Egypt, Iran, Philippines, Vietnam and Yemen who enter Ecuador for tourism and business. Nationals of these countries must now obtain a consular Tourist/Business Visa to enter Ecuador, which typically allows an initial stay of 90 days, extendable in Ecuador for an additional 90 days at the discretion of immigration authorities. The measure follows the visa exemption revocation in August 2019 for nationals of 11 countries.

Russia: First Quarter Salary Notifications for Highly Qualified Specialists Due April 30, 2020 – Employers have until April 30, 2020 to file first quarter notifications for salaries paid to Highly-Qualified Specialists (HQS). The notification must state the salary paid to HQS from January 1, 2020 through March 31, 2020. The reported HQS salary should be no less than RUB 167,000 per calendar month or RUB 501,000 per quarter (if there was a break in work during the reported period). Employers will incur administrative fines for violations of the established notification procedures, including the failure to notify. No concessions are available for work/salary reductions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Saudi Arabia: Government Calls for Cancellation of Unused Final Exit and Exit Re-Entry Visas – The General Directorate of Passport is mandating that foreign nationals who obtained their final exit or exit re-entry visas but cannot exit the country because of border closures to ask their sponsors to cancel the visas prior to their expiry through the online portals, Absher and Muqeem. By canceling, visa sponsors will avoid penalties, including fines of SAR 1,000 or the suspension of their Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development’s account, in case of sponsors being employers.

United Arab Emirates: New Rules Announced for Select Employers Affected by Various COVID-19-related Restrictions The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) announced that employers affected by current restrictions due to the coronavirus outbreak, including the suspension of recruitment of workers from overseas, can use a new Virtual Labor Market platform to recruit individuals from other companies that have a surplus of foreign staff. The online platform will connect companies in the United Arab Emirates with skilled workers seeking employment by allowing companies to advertise job vacancies and search for available talent. Employers must obtain the relevant work authorization for any new employee, for example, a temporary or part-time work permit. The liability for the payment of all dues aside from wages (such as accommodation) will remain with the primary employer in the event that the employee changes employers under the new platform. Additionally, the MOHRE implemented a rule where companies amending select conditions of employment of their workers, including annual leaves and payment of salaries, must prepare an addendum to the employment contract in a format approved by the MOHRE. Those seeking to reduce salaries permanently must seek the MOHRE’s approval. The regulations only apply to companies in the mainland and only until the COVID-19-related restrictions have been lifted.

United Arab Emirates: Foreign Residents Outside the Country Advised to Register with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Foreign nationals with residence permits issued by the United Arab Emirates who are unable to return due to COVID-19-related restrictions should register with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC) to apply for permission for re-entry. Similarly, Emirati nationals outside of the United Arab Emirates seeking to return are advised to register with the MOFAIC as the government continues to arrange repatriation flights for citizens stranded abroad. Individuals may register through the MOFAIC’s electronic portal, Twajudi, by providing personal details, including their location and Emirates Identity Card number. Foreign nationals are also required to select a reason for returning to the United Arab Emirates, which currently only includes familial situations, for example, families being separated due to mobility restrictions. While it remains unclear how different applications will be adjudicated, it is likely that individuals whose situation does not match any of the criteria listed in the questionnaire will not be prioritised for re-entry. Those whose requests have been reviewed will be contacted by the MOFAIC telephonically.

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