US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency within Homeland Security responsible for adjudicating applications and petitions seeking immigration and naturalization benefits, announced on Friday that staffing furloughs originally planned to begin August 3, have been delayed until August 31.  The delays, which could have affected some 70% of USCIS staff engaged in processing these

The establishment of the COVID-19 virus as a global pandemic halted international movement for travelers around the globe since March. Countries across regions enforced varying levels of restrictions on incoming travelers, particularly for non-essential travel, as host governments attempted to restrict additional sources of infection through extraordinary means. Now, an increasing number of countries and regions are working together to bridge the once necessary divide by developing networks of “air bridges” and “travel bubbles” to allow cross-border travel where the virus appears to be under control. “Air bridges,” “air corridors,” “travel bubbles,” or “travel corridors” are reciprocal agreements between any number of countries that allow for non-essential travel, generally without requiring a self-isolated quarantining period upon arrival and return.

Continue Reading Air Bridges and Travel Corridors: Regional Travel Agreements in the Face of COVID-19

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

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

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

Over the past two weeks, US agencies with immigration regulatory authority have issued new guidelines to ease employer obligations while employees stay home during the COVID-19 national emergency.  In addition, accelerated filings review has been restricted. The announcements are summarized below.
Continue Reading COVID-19 Leads US Immigration Agencies to Ease Burdens for I-9 and E-Verify, Wet Signatures, In-Person Appointments, Responses, While Also Suspending Premium Processing

On Friday, March 20, 2020, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a virtual verification process that an employer may adopt as a temporary measure when onboarding employees who are located remotely during the COVID-19 national emergency. This temporary measure, which will be available to employers for a period of 60 days from the date of the notice (i.e., through May 19, 2020) or up to 3 business days of the termination of the national emergency, whichever comes first, supplements existing law that allows employers to onboard remote hires through the use of an authorized agent.
Continue Reading Remote Verification of New Hires Allowed for Employers to Meet I-9 Obligations During The COVID-19 National Emergency

As the novel Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) prompts such workplace responses as “work from home” arrangements, lockdowns and “skeleton crew” operations, among others, employers in countries that require right to work (RTW) validation are facing logistical challenges in onboarding new employees. Authorities in some countries permit the employer to designate a responsible adult to serve as the employer’s agent for purposes of an in-person review of RTW documentation submitted by the new employee. Others allow for the review of scanned documents to be followed by the standard in-person review when operations return to normal. Still others have created government-administered online portals for purposes of validating certain specified RTW documents.

The following is a sampling of practical approaches employers can adopt to fulfill RTW validation requirements remotely during the current pandemic.
Continue Reading Right To Work Validation While COVID-19 Encourages – or Mandates – Work From Home