New Rule Impacts International Students Who Take Online Courses

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) instituted a temporary exemption for the spring and summer semesters that allowed non-immigrant students to take more online courses than normally permitted. On Monday, July 6th, SEVP modified these temporary exemptions; the modifications will be effective for the fall 2020 semester. DHS will be publishing these modifications in the Federal Register as a Temporary Final Rule.

 

Beginning in the fall 2020 semester:

 

1. F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not remain the United States. The Department of State will not issue visas to such students, and Customs and Border Protection will not allow them to enter the United States. Active students currently in the U.S. must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to another school that provides in-person instruction. Otherwise, they may face initiation of removal proceedings.

 

2. F-1 students attending schools operating under normal in-person classes are bound by existing federal regulations. Eligible F students may take a maximum of one class or three credit hours online.

 

3. F-1 students attending schools adopting a hybrid model (mixture of online and in-person classes) will be allowed to take more than one class or three credit hours online. But the school must certify to SEVP through an I-20 that the program is not entirely online. They must also confirm that the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their program.

 

Non-immigrant students within the United States are not permitted to take a full course of study through online classes.
Please contact a Graham Adair attorney with any questions.

New Executive Order Further Restricts U.S. Immigration

Today, President Trump issued an executive order further restricting immigration in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic.  This order extends the previous restrictions on new immigrant visas through the end of the year and adds certain nonimmigrant visa classifications to the list.

 

The new executive order will restrict new H-1B, H-2B, J, or L visas, and any dependents accompanying or following to join individuals in those classifications, which includes H-4 and L-2 spouses.  The order goes into immediate effect.

 

Individuals who hold valid H-1B, H-2B, J, or L visas as of today will be allowed to enter the U.S. This order will not impact our ability to file changes of status, extensions of status, change of employer petitions, adjustments of status, or amendments for those who are currently in the U.S.  Largely, this ban on new visas continues the status quo as U.S. consulates around the world continue to be closed and are not currently issuing new visas.

 

This will have an impact on those who are currently outside the U.S. and waiting for the consulates to reopen so that they can apply for visas, and those individuals will likely have to wait until next year to apply for their visas.  There are some limited exceptions to this rule for those who work in national security, health care or medical research directly related to Covid-19, or those who work in the food supply chain.

 

The order contains additional instructions to the secretaries of Homeland Security and Labor to investigate regulatory options to ensure that H-1B petitions and employment-based green card applications do not negatively impact U.S. workers.  We do not have any indication at this point as to what this would look like or when we can expect to see proposed regulations.

 

For further information please contact your Graham Adair attorney.

Chinese Students and Researchers Suspended from Entry to U.S.

On Friday, May 29, 2020, President Trump issued a proclamation entitled, “Suspension of Entry as Nonimmigrants of Certain Students and Researchers from the People’s Republic of China.” The proclamation suspends the entry of certain Chinese nationals pursuant to an F or J visa to study or conduct research in the U.S.

 

Starting Monday, June 1, 2020, the proclamation will bar entry of students and researchers from China who are associated with an entity in China that implements or supports China’s “military-civil fusion strategy.” According to the proclamation, “military-civil fusion strategy” means actions to acquire and divert foreign technologies to advance China’s military capabilities.

 

Undergraduate students will be exempted from the suspension of entry. The proclamation will also not apply to lawful permanent residents; spouses of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents; members of the armed forces; spouses and children of members of the armed forces; students and researchers engaging in fields of study and research that do not contribute to “military-civil fusion strategy;” and students and researchers whose entry into the U.S. is in the U.S. national interest.

 

The proclamation shall remain in effect until terminated by the President.

Executive Order Suspending Issuance of Immigrant Visas

Today, President Trump signed an executive order that will temporarily halt the issuance of immigrant visas to individuals outside the United States. The order goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. on April 23, 2020 and will be in effect for 60 days.

 

Immigrant visas are permanent residence visas issued to individuals who are outside of the United States when they apply for permanent residence.  The order is very limited in its scope and only appears to halt the consular processing of immigrant visas.  It does not appear to limit the approval of adjustment of status applications for individuals who are currently in the U.S. and in the green card process.  The order only applies to those who are outside the U.S. and do not currently have a valid immigrant visa or other valid travel document.

 

There are several exceptions to the suspension of issuance of immigrant visas including:

 

  • any lawful permanent resident of the United States;

 

  • anyone seeking to enter the United States on an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional; to perform medical research or other research intended to combat the spread of COVID-19; or to perform work essential to combating, recovering from, or otherwise alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees; and any spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old or any such person who are accompanying or following to join the person;

 

  • any person applying for a visa to enter the United States pursuant to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program;

 

  • any person who is the spouse of a U.S. citizen;

 

  • any person who is under 21 years old and is the child of a United States citizen, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications;

 

  • any person whose entry would further important U.S. law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees, based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee;

 

  • any member of the United States Armed Forces and any spouse and children of a member of the United States Armed Forces;

 

  • any person seeking to enter the United States pursuant to a Special Immigrant Visa in the SI or SQ classification, subject to such conditions as the Secretary of State may impose, and any spouse and children of any such individual; or

 

  • any person whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees.

 

The order directs the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to advise the President on whether this order should be extended no later than 50 days from now.  Further, they are directed to make other recommendations that the President can take on immigration to help protect U.S. workers.

 

For the time being, this order will largely not impact the clients of Graham Adair.  If you are going through the consular process for your immigrant visa, this will likely mean a delay in the issuance of the visa.  You should check in with your attorney at Graham Adair for further specifics on your situation.

President Trump Provides Additional Details on “Pause” of Immigration to U.S.

On Tuesday, President Trump announced some details about what will be in an executive order related to U.S. immigration in light of the coronavirus pandemic. While the text of the executive order has yet to be made public, the President indicated that he would “pause” the issuance of green cards for a period of 60 days. This 60-day suspension could be extended depending on conditions at the end of the initial 60-day period.

The action is being described as an attempt to protect U.S. workers from new immigrants taking a diminishing number of open jobs. What is not yet clear is whether this will apply to both consular processing and adjustment of status applications. There also is not any clarity on whether there will be exceptions to the policy. Until we know for certain whether this will apply to would-be immigrants both in as well as outside the U.S., it is difficult to gauge the impact to our clients.

President Trump also indicated that there would be further review into other areas of immigration to determine whether additional restrictions should be implemented. Graham Adair will continue to monitor this situation and assess the impact on our clients. Please check back often for updates. When this policy is made public, we will provide more in-depth analysis.

Trump Announces Plans to Temporarily Stop All Immigration to U.S.

President Trump tweeted late Monday that he will sign an executive order temporarily suspending immigration to the United States. His announcement cited the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the millions who have become unemployed in recent weeks.  There are significant questions that are yet to be answered around this announcement: exactly when and how this will be implemented, who it will cover, and how long it will be in effect.  It does seem to indicate that the President plans to extend immigration restrictions beyond those already in place to travelers coming from most of Europe, China, Canada, Mexico and Iran.

 

Graham Adair will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates here as they become available. If you have any questions, please contact your Graham Adair representative.

Routine Visa Services Suspended at All U.S. Embassies and Consulates

As of March 20, 2020, The Dept. of State is temporarily suspending routine visa services at U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  All visa appointments are cancelled as of this date.  Paid Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fees will remain valid within one year of the date of payment, so those who have already paid MRV application fees will still be able to use them for a future appointment.

 

Embassies and consulates will provide urgent and emergency visa services, and services to U.S. citizens, as resources allow.  Emergency visa appointments can still be made. Each embassy has its own rules for requesting emergency visa appointments, so check the website for the embassy where you plan to apply. Requests based on business emergency generally need to be supported by a company letter attesting to the loss of a significant business opportunity.

 

The ESTA website (Visa Waiver Program) will remain active, but suspension of entry remains in place for travelers from countries listed in the Proclamation* as of March 16, 2020.

 

*Proclamation-Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus, as of March 16, 2020 covers the following countries: China, Iran, 26 countries in the Schengen Area, United Kingdom and Ireland.

 

If you have any questions, please contact your Graham Adair representative.

COVID 19 – Global Mobility Impacts and Updates

UPDATE

 

On February 28, 2020 Graham Adair published a Global Mobility per country advisory in light of the Novel Coronavirus. Since then, the virus has significantly spread into Europe and the United States triggering a few countries to significantly change their immigration policies to combat the spread of the virus.

 

UNITED STATES

 

On March 11, 2020, President Donald J. Trump issued a proclamation suspending the entry of foreign nationals who have been in any European country/Schengen country during the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival to the United States. The proclamation does not apply to US nationals/US residents, immediate family members of US nationals, and other individuals identified in the proclamation.

 

It is expected that the Department of Homeland Security will implement a supplemental Notice of Arrivals Restriction procedures to conduct tests at airports for those traveling from the European countries identified in the proclamation. The supplemental measure will likely apply to all US nationals/residents/exempted individuals and will require them to travel through select airports where the United States Government will have screening procedures.

 

The countries identified in the proclamation include: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland

 

ISRAEL

 

Currently, Israel has a ban-on-entry policy of non-Israeli nationals who have visited China, Thailand, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland, Spain, and Austria.

 

On March 12, 2020, the Israeli government, in conjunction with the Ministry of Health, will issued a total ban-upon-entry policy which will prevent all non-Israeli nationals from entering Israel unless they can prove, before entry with a consulate abroad, the location/residence where they will be quarantined. It was advised that “home isolation” cannot be replaced by a stay in a hotel room. If they cannot prove the location where they will be quarantined, they will be sent back – this determination will be at the sole discretion of consular officials.

 

SINGAPORE

 

On March 04, 2020, the Ministry of Manpower (hereinafter MoM) issued a directive requiring all passholders, and their respective dependents, entering Singapore exhibiting a fever, respiratory illnesses, or related symptoms to undergo a COVID-19 swab test at the port of entry regardless of the countries they have visited.

 

Once tested, the entrants may enter Singapore and will be contacted about their results after 3 – 6 hours. Those with positive results will be sent to the hospital.

 

Singapore currently maintains a pre-approval policy which requires pass holders who have traveled to China, South Korea, Iran, and Italy, to secure MoM’s approval before entering Singapore. Pass holders with Hubei-issued passports or with recent travels to Hubei should defer their travels to Singapore.

 

If approved, the pass holders will be required to serve a 14-day mandatory home quarantine upon entry.

 

Pass holders who refuse testing and the quarantine policies set out by MoM, may be subject to significant penalties, including, but not limited to, having their work pass privileges revoked and/or face prosecution under the Infections Diseases Act

 

How to Prepare Your Business

 

Given the current trend from the United States, Israel and Singapore, it is highly likely that countries will follow in the same direction imposing either a pre-approval immigration policy, or a total-ban immigration policy, for non-residents. Businesses should be prepared for sudden changes in business and work travel for the time being. Graham Adair is dedicated to ensuring full employer compliance and providing the most up-to-date information on country responses to the Coronavirus. Graham Adair continues to closely monitor global trends and policies for several countries across the globe, since this situation is ongoing, please note that information may change. Please do not hesitate to contact us for any information or with any concerns

Coronavirus – Global Mobility Impacts and Updates

The novel “Coronavirus” has now spread to over 50 countries internationally and certain countries are taking immigration-related measures to attempt to control or slow the outbreak of the virus. The Coronavirus is affecting the ability for people to travel around the globe for business or work purposes, especially those requiring immigration permissions to enter their intended country of travel. This information is quickly changing as more countries start to develop their own in-country immigration policy restrictions and guidance.

UNITED STATES

The United States has issued a directive temporarily barring foreigners from entering the United States if they have been to China within the last 14 days. Exceptions have been made for immediate family members of US nationals and permanent residents. Hong Kong and Macau, however, are excluded from the travel ban. The US consulates in China are currently not processing any visa applications.

UNITED KINGDOM

The UK Government has imposed significant restrictions between the UK and China with many commercial flights to China being suspended. In response to the heightened security measures, employers should forbid work-related travel to China. Employers/sponsors are not required to report absences nor withdraw sponsorship for extended absences stemming from the Coronavirus as it is considered an exceptional circumstance.

In response to the virus outbreak, Visa Application Centers (VAC) operated in China, through VFS, are closed until further notice. Thus, foreigners seeking to enter the UK from China may find it impossible to attend interviews to apply for their visas.

It has been reported that the closed VAC’s hold several individuals’ passports despite their offices being closed. Individuals with passports currently being held at a VAC should contact the authorities, and or, their respective consular authorities to obtain an emergency travel document.

The Home Office issued guidance which indicates that Chinese nationals who are in the UK with upcoming visa expiration dates between now through March 30, 2020 will receive an automatic extension on their visas through March 31, 2020. Depending on the status of the Coronavirus, the extension policy may be revised.

The UK government has advised that foreigners who have returned from the Wuhan or Hubei provinces in China should self-quarantine for 14 days even if they do not show any symptoms of illness. Foreigners who have traveled from other Chinese provinces are advised to closely monitor their heath. Employers who have employees to whom the above directives apply should prevent them from going into work until after the 14 days, and, until after their symptoms subside.

SINGAPORE

The Singaporean Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has issued an advisory to abandon all travel plans to the Hubei province in China and also to only travel to Mainland China on very selected circumstances.

As of January 31, 2020, until further notice, MOM will reject all new Employment Pass applications (or any work permit applications) for applicants from China. Renewal applications, however, will remain unaffected.

As of February 18, 2020, foreign employees who have traveled to China within the last 14 days from their arrival to Singapore are required to obtain MOM’s pre-approval. Employers are required to submit the online form at least 3 days before the intended date of arrival. The foreign employee must have the approval letter at the time of entering Singapore.

Work Permit holders who successfully enter Singapore from China will be issued a 14-day Stay Home Notice (SHN) where they must self-quarantine themselves at their place of residence. During this time, work permit eligible employees who have work permits approved, but must complete the immigration work permit pass process, may not proceed with finalizing their processes until after the 14-day period ends.

MOM will be enforcing strict penalties against employers who attempt to circumvent the above procedures.

INDIA

The Indian authorities issued a directive which restricts any Chinese nationals and foreigners traveling from China to enter India through March 2020. The restrictions apply at all ports of entry, including, air, land, seaport, and land borders with Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar.

Effective immediately, the Indian government has suspended all existing issued visas issued to Chinese passport holders (both regular sticker visas, as well as e-visas), issued prior to February 05, 2020. Any hardship concerns should be brought up to the Indian embassy in Beijing, or consulates in Shanghai and Guangzhou for a new visa. This specific policy does not apply to other foreign nationals entering India from China.

ISRAEL

The Israeli authorities have closed land crossings, seaports, and airports to arrivals from China, except to permanent residents and Israeli nationals, who must self-quarantine themselves for 14-days if arriving from China.

More recently, Israel has extended the ban to foreigners entering Israel from Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea.

VIETNAM

The Vietnamese Embassy in China has stopped issuing all types of visas (Tourist, business, and work) to Chinese nationals and to all other foreign nationals applying for visas in China. Foreign nationals applying for a visa-on-arrival, must have a pre-approval letter and establish they are not coming from China, Hong Kong, or Macau.

JAPAN

The Japanese government (GOJ) has issued a directive which has banned people who have been infected with the Coronavirus from entering the country. As of February 18, 2020, any foreigner who has traveled to China in the last 14 days from the date of entry into Japan, and foreigners who have a Chinese passport issued in the provinces of Hubei and Zhejiang, will not be allowed entry except in special circumstances.

AUSTRALIA

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT), has issued a notice to not travel to China. They have issued a directive that Foreign Nationals who are in China will not be granted entry to Australia until 14 days after they have left China.

Australian permanent residents and citizens, as well as their immediate family, will still be allowed to enter China.

CZECH REPUBLIC

The Czech government has suspended flights to and from China and have halted the issuance of visa at Czech visa application centers. An exception to the widespread restrictions are for family members of Czech nationals who may apply for short-term Schengen visas at the consulate in Shanghai.

What Can You Do?

Graham Adair is dedicated to ensuring full employer compliance and providing the most up-to-date information on country response to the Coronavirus. Graham Adair continues to closely monitor global trends and policies for several countries across the globe, since this situation is ongoing, please note that information may change. Please do not hesitate to contact us for any information or with any concerns.

Temporary Suspension of Nonimmigrant Visa Operations in Russia

On August 21, 2017, the U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Russia announced a temporary suspension of all nonimmigrant visa (NIV) operations across Russia beginning August 23, 2017. The halt is a result of the Russian government’s personnel cap imposed on the U.S. Mission to Russia. Beginning September 1, nonimmigrant visa interviews will only be conducted at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow; NIV interviews at the U.S. Consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and Vladivostok are suspended until further notice.

Because of the cap on staff numbers, visa operations will resume on a greatly reduced scale. The staffing changes will also affect the scheduling of some immigrant visa applicants. Affected applicants will be contacted if there is a change as to the time and date of their interview.

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