Photo of Paul W. Virtue

Some 70% of the 20,000 employees of US Citizenship & Immigration Services, the agency within Homeland Security that adjudicates visa-related benefits for all foreign workers, could face furloughs starting as early as August 3, 2020, unless Congress provides $1.2 billion in emergency funding. This budget shortfall was caused by a dramatic decrease in the number

In a media release issued on July 6, 2020, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) announced a rollback of the protections it afforded to foreign students in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. The July 6 release announced that foreign students will no longer be eligible for F-1 visas or to remain in the United States

In a sweeping attempt to curb legal immigration, the Trump administration issued a proclamation on June 22, 2020, applying a ban through the end of the calendar year on four visa categories of significance to US companies: the H-1B visa for specialty occupation professionals, the L-1 visa for intracompany executives and managers, the H-2B visa

President Trump is expected to issue an executive order in the next several days either eliminating, or significantly limiting, the availability of non-immigrant visas in categories of substantial importance to US companies (H-1B visas for specialty occupation workers, L visas for intra-company assignees, and other related categories), as well as eliminating or substantially curtailing the

On April 22, 2020, President Trump issued a “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak,” to pause issuance of new immigrant visas to applicants who are outside the United States for 60 days.  As reported on this blog, although the proclamation is currently limited to aspiring immigrants who are outside the United States and do not yet have a valid immigrant visa, it has the potential to affect other visa categories. Specifically, the proclamation requires the Secretary of Labor (“DOL”) and the Secretary of Homeland Security (“DHS”), in consultation with the Secretary of State, to review nonimmigrant programs within 30 days and to recommend “other measures appropriate to stimulate the United States economy and ensure the prioritization, hiring, and employment of United States workers.”

Continue Reading Suspension of H-1B, L-1 and H-2B Visas Reported To Be Under Consideration by the White House

President Trump signed an executive order, the “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak,” to pause issuance of new immigrant visas to applicants who are outside the United States for 60 days.  The order, which takes effect at 11:59 pm Eastern daylight time on April 23, 2020, is limited in its current scope, as it only affects individuals who are outside the United States and do not have a valid visa.

As reported in our post yesterday, the order thus does not currently impact temporary workers, such as H-1B specialty occupation workers, L-1 intra-company executives and specialized knowledge transferees from overseas, treaty visa holders including NAFTA entrants, O-1 extraordinary ability aliens, and F-1 students. Nine categories of aliens also are exempt from the order’s suspension and limitations on entry:

  1. lawful permanent residents;
  2. health care workers, medical research personnel, and other workers deemed essential to combat the spread of COVID-19, and their accompanying spouse and children, seeking to enter on immigrant visas;
  3. EB-5 immigrant investor visa candidates;
  4. spouses of US citizens;
  5. children under 21, including prospective adoptees, of US citizens;
  6. individuals whose work is deemed to further law enforcement objectives;
  7. US military personnel and their spouse and children;
  8. certain holders of Special Immigrant Visas and their spouse and children; and
  9. individuals whose work is deemed to further national security interests.

In addition, the order allows applications for asylum, refugee status, withholding of deportation, or other relief under the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to continue without limitation.
Continue Reading Trump Signs Executive Order Imposing 60-Day Pause on Green Card Issuance

In a tweet late Monday, April 20, 2020, President Trump said he will issue an executive order temporarily suspending immigration  “in light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy” and the “need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens.” The White House did not provide any immediate clarification, including when an executive order would be signed.

Presidents enjoy wide latitude when it comes to unilaterally setting immigration policy, including restrictions to entry of aliens or classes of aliens.  Section 212(f) of the Immigration & Nationality Act provides the president with the authority to “suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants,” or “impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate,” whenever the president finds that such entry would be “detrimental to the interests of the United States,” for “such period as he shall deem necessary.” 8 U.S.C.  §1182(f).
Continue Reading Trump Says He Will Temporarily Suspend Immigration Because of Coronavirus Pandemic

Many visitors and temporary workers are facing expiration of their authorized periods of stay in the United States at the same time they are being advised by employers, family, friends and health care providers to limit their exposure to crowded venues such as airports and airplanes.  In addition, some have been immobilized by government-imposed quarantines or travel restrictions. The following is a summary of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) guidance posted on April 13, 2020, for nonimmigrant visa holders and Visa Waiver visitors who find themselves unable to timely depart the United States, and supplements Mayer Brown’s March 30 Legal Update “Guidance for Visa Holders and Visitors to Seek Additional Time in the United States Because of COVID-19 Travel Restrictions.”

Continue Reading Multiple Courses to Seek Additional Time to Remain in the United States During COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

The Canadian government has now published guidance for travelers on the scope of the US-Canada border closure. Last month, the United States and Canada announced that the two countries would jointly and temporarily close the border, until April 20, 2020, to non-essential travel in an effort to limit the spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). The statement from the Prime Minister defined “non-essential” travel to include “travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature,” as described in our post from March 24, 2020.

Persons engaged in “essential services” are exempt from most of the restrictions.  While the new guidance provides a number of examples of “essential services,” it does not attempt, perhaps intentionally, to provide a single definition of the term. Nonetheless, the new detailed guidance should make determinations by border officials on the eligibility of travelers to enter Canada more predictable.
Continue Reading Update: Canada Clarifies Scope of Cross-Border Restrictions on Non-Essential Travel

On Tuesday, March 24, 2020, the .US. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a Notification in the Federal Register providing the details of last week’s announcements by the United States and Canada of a bilateral decision to temporarily close the US-Canada land border to non-essential travel.  This measure is in addition to restrictions on air travel to Canada implemented on March 18, 2020.  The air travel restrictions include an exemption for flights arriving from The United States.
Continue Reading United States and Canada Close Land Border to Non-Essential Travel