Virginia, US

Mar 12 2020

Weekly Immigration Update: March 6-12, 2020

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belgium, Bermuda, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, El Salvador, Greece, Guatemala, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Macau, Malaysia, Mexico, Mozambique, Nepal , New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Panama, Peru, Qatar, Republic of Korea (South Korea), Republic of the Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, The Bahamas, Trinidad & Tobago, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam

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/Schengen Area: Under a new presidential proclamation effective March 13, with limited exceptions, foreign nationals will be barred from entering the United States if they have been physically present in one of the 26 countries of the Schengen Area within 14 days before their attempted entry.
  • United States: During the first week of H-1B cap registration for FY 2021, employers and immigration counsel experienced system slowdowns and other technical issues. As with any new online system, technical problems are possible during the remaining week of the registration period, which closes on March 20. Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Somalia has been extended for 18 months, through September 17, 2021. Current Somalia TPS beneficiaries have until May 11, 2020 to re-register.   
  • United Kingdom: The UK government introduced a bill intended to end free movement from the European Economic Area (EEA) after 2020 and pave the way for a single immigration system applicable to EEA and non-EEA nationals starting January 1, 2021. Effective October 1, the Immigration Health Surcharge – a mandatory fee that applies to all foreign nationals staying in the United Kingdom for at least six months – will increase to GBP 624 per year, up 56 percent from the current amount.
  • Costa Rica: Effective April 21, the immigration authorities will begin enforcing penalties on certain foreign nationals leaving the country after their authorized period of stay. Those who fail to pay the fine will be subject to a reentry ban three times the number of months they were out of status.

 

These items and other news from Bahrain, Belgium, Indonesia, Mexico, and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

Schengen Area, March 12, 2020

Guidance for Travelers from Schengen Countries Following U.S. Travel Ban

  • It is strongly recommended that, wherever possible, travelers impacted by the U.S. entry ban return to the United States before the ban is implemented, which is expected to be on March 13, 2020 at 11:59 pm EDT.
  • After March 13, impacted travelers from the Schengen Area may need to make arrangements to prolong their stay in Europe, or to travel to another country of residence.
  • All travelers, particularly EU citizens, should prepare for questioning at the U.S. border about their recent travel patterns.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, March 12, 2020

Coronavirus Update: What Employers and Foreign Nationals Need to Know about the European Travel Restrictions

  • With limited exceptions, foreign nationals will be barred from entering the United States if they have been physically present in one of the 26 countries of the Schengen Area (which comprises much of Europe) within 14 days before their attempted entry to the United States.
  • 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 classes of exempt foreign nationals. However, exempt traveler groups may be subject to health screenings and other measures.
  • The travel restrictions will take effect at 11:59 pm EDT on Friday, March 13, and remain in effect until terminated by President Trump.



To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, March 12, 2020

State Department Clarifies Changes in Online Visa Status Updates

  • The State Department’s online portal for visa applicants will no longer use “administrative processing” to describe a visa application refused under 211(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
  • A visa application under “administrative processing” will be deemed “refused” unless and until the application is overturned.
  • While the agency claims the new change is intended to more accurately describe a cases status, the change may also have been made to limit lawsuits requesting action on applications in administrative processing on the grounds that they have not been adjudicated. 



To view entire article, click here.

 

United Kingdom, March 12, 2020

Immigration Health Surcharge to Increase in October

  • Effective October 1, 2020, the Immigration Health Surcharge – a mandatory fee that applies to all foreign nationals staying in the United Kingdom for at least six months – will increase to GBP 624 per year, up 56 percent from the current amount.
  • The discounted rate for students, their dependants and Youth Mobility Scheme applicants will increase to GBP 470, up 56.7 percent from the current amount.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, March 12, 2020

Coronavirus Update: President Trump Orders European Travel Ban Starting 11:59 pm EDT on Friday, March 13

  • With limited exceptions, foreign nationals will be barred from entering the United States if they have been physically present in one of the 26 countries of the Schengen Area within 14 days before their attempted entry.
  • 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.

 

United States, March 11, 2020

Somalia TPS Re-Registration Period Opens 

  • Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Somalia is extended for 18 months, from March 18, 2020, through September 17, 2021. 
  • Current Somali TPS beneficiaries have until May 11, 2020 to re-register to maintain status through September 17, 2021. 
  • Current Somali TPS employment authorization documents with an expiration date of March 17, 2020 will automatically be extended through September 13, 2020. 

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Costa Rica, March 10, 2020

Update on Implementation of Overstay Penalties and Bans

  • According to an announcement on the General Immigration Directorate's website, effective April 21, 2020, immigration authorities will begin enforcing penalties for many categories of foreign nationals leaving Costa Rica after their authorized period of stay.
  • The penalty is either a fine of USD 100 for each month the foreign national has stayed in Costa Rica beyond their authorized period of stay (retroactive to March 1, 2010), or a re-entry ban for three times the number of months they were out of status for foreign nationals who fail to pay the fine.
  • Foreign nationals and their employers should initiate their visa renewal process as early as possible and should ensure they remain in status during their stay or employment in Costa Rica.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, March 6, 2020

H-1B Cap Update: First Week of Cap Registration Sees Some Technical Issues, New Terms of Use

  • Employers and immigration counsel experienced system slowdowns and other technical issues during the first week of H-1B cap registration for FY 2021, but USCIS has been working to resolve these issues.  As with any new online system, continued technical problems are possible during the remaining weeks of the registration period.
  • Days before the March 1 opening of cap registration, USCIS unveiled new Terms of Use (TOU) for the online system, which confirm that users may not share passwords or grant others access to their registration accounts.  Employers should be sure to read the TOU carefully to ensure that they are in compliance.



To view entire article, click here.

 

Indonesia, March 6, 2020

New Coronavirus-Related Rule Requires Employers to Submit Report Regarding Chinese Employees

  • Employers in Indonesia with workers from Mainland China must submit an online report to the Ministry of Manpower with information about their active foreign employees and a description of the employer’s efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus within the company, among other data.
  • Governments in many jurisdictions are taking immigration-related measures in order to contain the spread of the virus. For more information, visit Fragomen’s Coronavirus site.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United Kingdom, March 6, 2020

Bill Introduced to End Free Movement and Pave Way for Single Immigration System

  • The UK government has introduced a bill that is intended to end free movement from the European Economic Area (EEA) after 2020 and pave the way for a single immigration system applicable to EEA and non-EEA nationals starting January 1, 2021.
  • While it does not set out in any detail how UK immigration will work from 2021, it will enable the UK government to introduce new stringent immigration controls for Europeans while loosening existing controls for non-Europeans.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Other Weekly News Briefs

Bahrain: New Rule Requiring Arabic Language Employment Contracts Implemented – Employment contracts submitted to the Labor Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) for the initial employment visa application process must be in Arabic or in both Arabic and English. Previously, the LMRA accepted employment contracts written only in English without requesting an Arabic version. Unlike in other jurisdictions in the region, employers in Bahrain are currently not required to follow a government template of an employment contract for the issuance of an employment visa.

Belgium: Labor Inspectorate Announces 2020 Inspection Goals – The Belgian labor inspectorate has announced its inspection targets for 2020, including 2,000 inspections targeted at unequal employment conditions (up from 700 in 2019) and 1,440 inspections in non-high-risk industries (down from 2,750 in 2019). This confirms a shift away from the traditional inspections in high-risk industries signaled in November 2019. Additionally, the labor inspectorate aims to improve inspectors' direct access to online data through a mobile application, to improve clarity during inspections. The inspectorate will also review whether to develop a mobile application allowing citizens to flag exploitative employment through a short questionnaire, which would render a notification to the relevant inspectorate.

Mexico: Corporate Registration Update Reminder – As a reminder, employers registered with the National Immigration Institute (INM) must submit updated annual tax returns to the INM every year to renew their Corporate Registration Certificate. Employers that fail to renew their Corporate Registration Certificate by April 30, 2020 may be unable to sponsor foreign nationals for initial or renewed temporary residence visas. Along with filing mandatory annual tax returns (which companies must submit to the tax administration service – SAT – by March 31, 2020), employers should also notify the INM of any changes in their legal representatives, registered address, branches, legal name, tax identification number or corporate purpose, if applicable, to keep their corporate file up-to-date. It currently takes the INM approximately four to eight weeks to process a corporate registration update application, during which time the INM may conduct an unannounced site visit to confirm a company's existence and operation.

United States: Latest PERM and PWD Processing Times – As of February 29, 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) was conducting analyst review for PERM applications filed in October 2019 or earlier, and processing audited cases filed in June 2019 or earlier. DOL is working on standard reconsideration requests submitted in December 2019 or earlier.

DOL is issuing prevailing wage determinations (PWDs) for PERM and H-1B requests filed in November 2019. The agency has been processing PERM and H-1B redeterminations requested in January 2020. PERM and H-1B center director reviews filed in February 2020 remain pending. These reports are available on the iCERT page.

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