Several countries around the globe have imposed COVID-19 testing as part of their pre-travel requirements.  In line with these measures, Australia has joined the list of countries requiring COVID-19 testing, with the Department of Home Affairs in Australia announcing new measures.  Commencing on January 22, 2021, anyone traveling or transiting through Australia must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test to the airline prior to departure.  The COVID-19 PCR test must be taken at least 72 hours prior to departure. 

Continue reading at the Mobile Workforce blog.

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If you wish to receive periodic updates on this or other topics related to the pandemic, you can be added to our COVID-19 “Special Interest” mailing list by subscribing here. For any other legal questions related to this pandemic, please contact the Firm’s COVID-19 Core Response Team at FW-SIG-COVID-19-Core-Response-Team@mayerbrown.com.

Among the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on legal systems is an increase in the number of arbitration hearings being conducted virtually rather than in person. The 12th edition of Mayer Brown’s Global International Arbitration Update, released in January 2021, shines a light on this and other ways in which the pandemic is changing how arbitrations are conducted around the world. Topics include:

  • The launch of a new online portal by eBRAM in Hong Kong for the settlement of local and global disputes related to the pandemic.
  • Technological advancements in the international arbitration arena that have resulted from the pandemic, such as online case management platforms and the launch of a draft protocol for online case management in international arbitration.
  • The 2020 International Arbitration Survey from the School of International Arbitration at Queen Mary University of London, which delves into how international arbitration has adapted to COVID-19. (Results will be published in May 2021.)
  • An increase in virtual hearings, as reported by the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (SCC) in its October 2020 survey on virtual hearings. Since the pandemic’s outbreak in March 2020, nearly 40 percent of the hearings in SCC arbitration cases have been conducted online. Arbitrators reported a generally positive experience with some hesitations around technology, loss of human interaction and the assessment of witnesses.
  • In what appears to be the first reported US court decision to address the issue in the context of the pandemic, an Illinois federal court denied a request to enjoin a remote arbitration hearing. Legaspy v. Fin. Indus. Regulatory Auth., Inc., 20 C 4700, 2020 WL 4696818 (N.D. Ill.).

Our Global International Arbitration Update is a bi-annual publication that summarizes key events in international arbitration from the preceding six months. It covers both commercial and investor-State arbitration developments from around the globe.

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If you wish to receive periodic updates on this or other topics related to the pandemic, you can be added to our COVID-19 “Special Interest” mailing list by subscribing here. For any other legal questions related to this pandemic, please contact the Firm’s COVID-19 Core Response Team at FW-SIG-COVID-19-Core-Response-Team@mayerbrown.com.

The White House decreed on Monday, January 18, that the entry bans on most of the European Union, the United Kingdom, and Brazil would end as early as January 26, just six days after Mr. Biden takes office, citing the decision last week by the administration to require international travelers to present either the results of a negative recent coronavirus test or evidence that they had already recovered from the disease.  President-elect Biden rejected the move, which means the curbs on incoming travel from these regions, which have been in place since March 2020, will remain in place after the inauguration.  “On the advice of our medical team, the administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26,” tweeted Jen Psaki, spokeswoman for the Biden administration, immediately after President Trump’s decree was issued.  “In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19.” Continue Reading Gates Open, Then Shut – President-Elect Biden Says COVID Bans Will Remain In Place Despite Trump Executive Order

As reported in our prior alert, the Department of Labor (DOL) has issued its final rule Strengthening Wage Protections for the Temporary and Permanent Employment of Certain Aliens in the United States.  Published today in the Federal Register, the Final Rule is effective March 15, 2021.  The rule increases wages employers are required to pay H-1B workers by the percentiles we previously reported for the four wage levels utilized by the DOL—35th percentile for Level 1, followed by 53rd, 72nd and 90th percentiles.  The rule outlines a phased approach to implementing wage increases over the next three and a half years.  On July 1, 2021, the DOL will begin applying its new wage-setting methodology on an incremental basis when releasing its annual wage data by occupation and geographic area.  The introduction of an annual increase in wages on July 1 will result in the DOL reaching the percentiles (discussed below) as of July 1, 2024.

Continue reading on Mayer Brown’s Mobile Workforce blog.

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If you wish to receive periodic updates on this or other topics related to the pandemic, you can be added to our COVID-19 “Special Interest” mailing list by subscribing here. For any other legal questions related to this pandemic, please contact the Firm’s COVID-19 Core Response Team at FW-SIG-COVID-19-Core-Response-Team@mayerbrown.com.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (“the Act”) contains a range of policy reforms and requirements that will impact companies doing business with the Government and the supply chain. Many of these measures will be refined through rulemaking.

Among other provisions, the Act:

  • Modifies the threshold for the Berry Amendment, which restricts acquisition of certain materials to domestic sources.
  • Imposes safeguards to prevent China from acquiring defense-sensitive intellectual property, technology, and data.
  • Expands restrictions on the acquisition of certain materials from China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. Some controls are being phased in over time, which should enable DoD and the defense industrial base (“DIB”) to find alternative sources.
  • Directs DoD to assess supply chain risks for a list of high-priority items, including microelectronics, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and aluminum.
  • Emphasizes building domestic capacity, including by prioritizing “to the maximum extent practicable” the order of sources for “strategic and critical materials,” which are not defined. The conference report directs DoD to increase resiliency by expanding the DIB and fostering industrial cooperation with allies and partners that offer capacity.
  • Reflects continuing concern with cost growth on defense programs. “Middle Tier” programs will now receive additional scrutiny.
  • Requires identification of the “beneficial owner” of a corporation and mandates that DoD conduct periodic examinations of “covered contractors or subcontractors” to assess compliance with Foreign ownership control or influence (“FOCI”) restrictions and requirements.
  • Contains cybersecurity provisions that may impact contractors, including cybersecurity assessments that may increase contractors’ compliance burdens.

See additional analysis on MayerBrown.com.

For more information about US Government contracts and related supply chain issues, please contact Marcia G. Madsen or David F. Dowd.

For other aspects of the NDAA:

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If you wish to receive periodic updates on this or other topics related to the pandemic, you can be added to our COVID-19 “Special Interest” mailing list by subscribing here. For any other legal questions related to this pandemic, please contact the Firm’s COVID-19 Core Response Team at FW-SIG-COVID-19-Core-Response-Team@mayerbrown.com.

Japan has been facing an unprecedented rise in the number of COVID-19 cases into 2021.  The Japanese government has now been forced to broaden its January 8, 2021 implemented national emergency measures.  The state of emergency has expanded beyond Tokyo and its surrounding prefectures to seven additional prefectures, including Osaka and its surrounding prefectures.  The state of emergency is set to expire on February 7, 2021 and may be extended in the future.  The nonresident foreign entry ban into the country (announced in late December and discussed in our prior blog post) has now been expanded to apply to the special entry of business travelers from 11 countries, including China and South Korea.  This special treatment pursuant to bilateral business travel arrangements has now been suspended for the duration of the state of emergency.

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If you wish to receive periodic updates on this or other topics related to the pandemic, you can be added to our COVID-19 “Special Interest” mailing list by subscribing here. For any other legal questions related to this pandemic, please contact the Firm’s COVID-19 Core Response Team at FW-SIG-COVID-19-Core-Response-Team@mayerbrown.com.

On the cusp of the transition of power to President Biden, the Trump administration is pressing forward with three separate rulemakings restricting the H-1B visa program, which employers rely on to hire foreign workers for specialty professions, including in the pivotal science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (“STEM”) fields. The new rules seek to substantially increase the price tag on engaging H-1B talent, narrow eligibility of foreign workers whose academic degrees are not singularly tied to their job role, restrict third-party worksite assignments, and tie the chances of being selected in what has become an annual lottery to those filling senior positions at higher wage levels.

H-1B visas are generally the only way highly educated foreign nationals, including international students, can become employment-based immigrants and contribute to research and development, scientific and technological advances, and new businesses. If the Trump administration rules are allowed to stand, employers will face significant operational challenges, as all H-1B filings – including amendments, extensions, and new cap-subject petitions – will be affected.

The Biden administration will have several tools at its disposal to circumvent the suite of H-1B rules, as well as any other rules issued during the lame duck period between the election and the inauguration – so-called “midnight rules.” These include: Continue Reading Late-Breaking H-1B Rulemaking By Trump Administration Subject to “Midnight Rule” Rollback by New President

The end of 2020 witnessed an alarming spread of multiple COVID-19 variants, including strains that first emerged in the United Kingdom and South Africa. Record high COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations were reported at similarly alarming rates, leading governments to take drastic action. In our December 22, 2020 blog, we reported on the travel restrictions imposed across multiple countries and regions across the globe, a trend that has continued at a rapid pace as governments fight to contain the spread of the virus. Some countries target travelers from the United Kingdom; others outright ban all foreigner visitors.

Continue reading on Mayer Brown’s Mobile Workforce blog.

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If you wish to receive periodic updates on this or other topics related to the pandemic, you can be added to our COVID-19 “Special Interest” mailing list by subscribing here. For any other legal questions related to this pandemic, please contact the Firm’s COVID-19 Core Response Team at FW-SIG-COVID-19-Core-Response-Team@mayerbrown.com.

On December 31, 2020, the Trump Administration issued Presidential Proclamation on Suspension of Entry of Immigrants and Nonimmigrants Who Continue to Present a Risk to the United States Labor Market, continuing restrictions on certain work visa and green card issuance through the end of March 2021.  Citing improved but still persistent unemployment figures caused by COVID-19, the new Proclamation extended two prior executive actions that have limited employers’ ability to sponsor foreign workers for residency and work in the United States:

Continue reading on Mayer Brown’s Mobile Workforce blog.

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If you wish to receive periodic updates on this or other topics related to the pandemic, you can be added to our COVID-19 “Special Interest” mailing list by subscribing here. For any other legal questions related to this pandemic, please contact the Firm’s COVID-19 Core Response Team at FW-SIG-COVID-19-Core-Response-Team@mayerbrown.com.

The Japanese government announced this weekend that it will be suspending foreign entry into Japan (with certain exceptions) from December 28, 2020 until the end of January 2021.  The blanket ban is a precaution against a new and potentially more contagious coronavirus variant that has spread across Britain.

The Foreign Ministry of Japan indicated in a statement on Saturday, December 26 that for the time being, the ban will be maintained through January 31, 2021.  Japan banned entry of nonresident foreigners from Britain and South Africa last week, but broadened the ban to encompass all foreigners on Saturday after confirming the new variant in seven people over the previous two days, including five returnees from Britain who tested positive at airports and two others in Tokyo.

Japan is also suspending exemptions of a 14-day quarantine for Japanese nationals and resident foreigners on a short-track program that began in November. The entrants now must carry proof of a negative test 72 hours prior to departure for Japan and self-isolate for two weeks after arrival, the ministry said.

According to media reports, Japan had 217,312 cases as of Saturday, up more than 3,700 from the day before, and 3,213 deaths.