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 of petitions filed with the agency due to the pandemic. USCIS depends on filing fee revenues to fund its operations.

During the last week of June, USCIS provided notice to AFGE, the union representing the agency’s employees, of the critical impact of the revenue gap the self-funded agency. While the House Appropriations Committee has expressed its support for including some level of funding in the next phase of coronavirus response legislation, the Senate so far has declined to begin those negotiations. If a substantial portion of the $1.2 billion requested is not appropriated before the end of the month of July, some 13,400 fee-based employees will be furloughed, which will significantly impact adjudications, with the possible exception of emergency cases, such as those where children may “age-out” of a particular immigration benefit as a minor child.

Continue reading  on The Mobile Workforce blog.

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To address the hardships that small US businesses are facing during the pandemic, a proposed lending program would match local investors with local businesses. Financial Services Regulatory & Enforcement Lauren Pryor partner writes about the model, which she and her colleagues designed, in a July 8 Bloomberg Law article.

Under the auspices of a government agency or an experienced non-governmental group, the “Community Business Capital” (C2B) program would encourage people who “patronize and appreciate local businesses” to make small investments in “the fabric of their communities,” Lauren says.

It’s a “community-based twist to the peer-to-peer lending model,” Lauren says. “Community-minded investors would be able to direct capital to a particular business participating in the program, or to categories of local businesses, such as restaurants or hardware stores.”

Read Lauren’s article for more details about the program, and see her earlier post on this blog about the “hackathon” that inspired the idea.

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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.

In a world where we can no longer host in person events without following all of the latest government guidelines on social distancing, use of face masks and providing a bucket-load of hand sanitizer, online learning tools such as webinars, podcasts, blogs and vlogs, are having their time in the limelight. With this new era, comes new opportunity.

When lockdown began in the UK in March 2020, like many, Nicholas Robertson hunkered down at home and quickly got to grips with various online platforms to be able to continue working effectively. Already a seasoned podcaster and producer of Mayer Brown’s UK Employment Law Podcast, on 15 April 2020 Nick was invited by the Employment Lawyers Association (“ELA”) to host an interview with Judge Shona Simon and Judge Brian Doyle, where (in under an hour) they covered the impact of the pandemic on tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”), and the steps that were being taken to address the impact. To listen to this podcast, you can access it through the ELA website.

Continue Reading UK Employment Law Podcaster Nicholas Robertson Hosts Pandemic Related Broadcasts Produced by the Employment Lawyers Association and the Industrial Law Society

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 to participate in online-only courses of study. Coming only six weeks before the start of the fall semester, the guidance has raised serious concerns for premier US universities, for which foreign students provide one of the greatest sources of revenue, already leading Harvard and MIT to file suit challenging the sudden reversal in posture only six weeks before the start of the fall semester. Other major universities, accompanied by business groups and a number of state attorneys general, are considering challenges to the new policy.

The policy change is expected to affect an estimated more than 1 million student visa holders in the United States, as well as others presently outside the United States who have been admitted for the fall semester.  Students currently in the United States and planning to attend schools that have elected to offer online-only classes in the fall 2020 semester “must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school offering in-person instruction to remain in lawful status” per the release.

Continue reading on 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.

Why do real estate lawyers ask for deeds to be signed in “wet ink”?

The facility agreement is finally agreed. The execution versions of the ancillary documents have been deftly zipped and are ready for email circulation to the wider team. A real estate lawyer interjects that the charge needs to be executed in “wet ink” and the original document sent by post. The invariable incredulity arises as to what makes real estate different from other areas of law, requiring hard copy documents and original signatures.

The situation is even more particular on pure real estate transactions such as the sale and acquisition of property, the completion of leases, deeds and easements etc. Execution version documents, referred to as “engrossments” by real estate lawyers, are sent out in hard copy for signing in original (the part signed by seller or landlord) and counterpart (the part signed by the purchaser or tenant). A typical journey of the counterpart engrossment would take it from the hands of: (1) the seller / landlord’s solicitor, to (2) the purchaser / tenant’s solicitor, on to (3) the purchaser / tenant for signing or executing, back to (4) the purchaser / tenant’s solicitor so the document can be dated, and then finally back to (5) the seller / landlord’s solicitor to retain the document or pass it to their own client.

Continue Reading Executing Real Estate Deeds During Lockdown – Where Are We Now?

In June, the Trump administration announced a temporary suspension of H1-B and other US work visas. This decision has already had repercussions for corporate legal departments—larger workloads and new logistical hurdles, for starters. Liz Stern, who leads Mayer Brown’s Global Mobility & Migration practice in Washington DC, shares her insights in a July 2 article in Corporate Counsel/Law.com (subscription required).

She describes how corporate lawyers could face even more complications as COVID-19 travel restrictions let up. Global companies, for example, may begin moving overseas employees to the United States to assist in US operations and relieve time zone challenges. However, according to Liz, departments won’t be able to transfer people on an L-1 visa as easily as before.

“Beyond the visa freeze, lawyers, including corporate legal departments, will be hit with new standards they haven’t even had a chance to opine on once the administration issues rulemaking on H-1B and L-1 visas, since the administration is reported to be planning Interim Final Rules without the benefit of notice and comment,” she says.

The situation caused by the visa suspension keeps changing, making it difficult for companies to figure out next steps.

“It creates a total uncertainty for businesses at a time when the economy is suffering and businesses really need to be able to plan for their future,” Liz adds.

For information on other regulatory developments related to the pandemic, please visit our COVID-19 Portal.

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Effective July 1, 2020 at midnight Japan time, the Japanese government announced that it is banning entry in principle of foreigners who have visited Algeria, Cuba, Iraq and 15 other countries for the past 14 days prior to arriving in Japan.  In addition, all Japanese citizens (and any foreigners excluded from the entry ban) who have visited any of the countries subject to the entry ban will be subject to PCR testing upon arrival and will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days.  A total of 129 countries are now subject to entry restrictions into Japan.  The current entry restriction measures with respect to all countries are expected to continue to apply through the end of the month and may be extended further.  Please refer to the following website (in English) for additional information.

The newly added countries subject to the entry restrictions also include Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Costa Rica, Eswatini, Georgia, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Lebanon, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Senegal.

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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 Friday, 26 June 2020, the UK Government published the Third Direction, which is the legislative update for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. In particular, it implements the flexible working arrangements which are permitted from 1 July 2020 under the Furlough Scheme.

We have now reviewed this Direction in full and provide a summary of the key points for employers, available from MayerBrown.com.

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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.

Effective Wednesday, June 24, 2020, the US President issued a Proclamation that restricts travel to the United States for certain temporary visa holders in three relevant categories of substantial importance to companies, for the remainder of the year: Please see below for Japanese summary.

トランプ米政権は、多くの企業が使用している下記の就労ビザを使った外国人のアメリカへの入国を今年年末まで停止する大統領令を発表した。本大統領令は、本年6月24日から効力を持つ。

  • H-1B(専門職用ビザ。様々な階級の従業員向けで多く利用される。)
  • L-1(企業内役員、管理職、専門職などの従業員向けビザ。シニアの従業員に利用されることが多い。)
  • J-1(インターン、研修生、教師、キャンプカウンセラー、オーペア、サマー・ワーク&トラベルプログラム参加者向けビザ。利用はそこまで多くなく、ジュニアレベルの従業員に用いられることが多い。)

本大統領令は、各国に所在する米国大使館の各種の新規移民ビザ発給手続きを60日間停止した本年4月22日付大統領令(“Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak,”)の条項を延長するものでもある。ただし、米国国内に滞在し、企業のスポンサーを受けて、米国市民権・移民業務局(USCIS)で「グリーン・カード」(米国永住権)の取得手続中の当事者(つまり、海外に所在する米国大使館を通じて手続を行っていない当事者)に影響はない。

Continue Reading トランプ米政権による米国就労ビザ発給停止について 概要

As discussed in earlier posts, substantial uncertainty exists over whether companies in bankruptcy are eligible to pursue funding pursuant to the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, which was established by the CARES Act to support small businesses by offering SBA-guaranteed loans on advantageous terms. Litigation has ensued, with jilted companies looking to restructure in bankruptcy challenging the SBA’s ability to block their loan requests. Recent decisions in certain of those actions have, to date, yielded a mixed bag, leading to increasing uncertainty in some jurisdictions and much-needed (if bleak) clarity in others. Of particular note, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently came down in favor of the SBA’s position likely strengthening the SBA’s stance in other cases.

Continue reading on MayerBrown.com.

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