E.U. Lifting Travel Restrictions for Select Countries; U.S. Travelers Excluded

The E.U.’s European Commission is actively planning to re-open its borders on July 01, 2020 for select countries and have noted countries otherwise not selected will be temporarily barred from entering E.U. member states. The countries that will be allowed in are: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay, and China (Subject to reciprocity). Notable countries that are not on the list include travelers from the United States, Russia, and Brazil. The E.U. cites COVID-19 concerns as the reason for the temporary policy.

 

It appears that the most recent E.U. directive is an extension of the already-implemented E.U. travel restrictions that took effect on March 17, 2020. Currently and through June 30, 2020, the E.U. and Schengen Associated countries continue to suspend all non-essential travel from third countries into the E.U.+ area. The “E.U.+ area” includes 30 countries: all 26 E.U. member states (including the UK) as well as the four Schengen Associated states: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.” Exemptions include all EU citizens, and citizens of the Schengen Associated states, and their family members for the purpose of returning home, and non-EU citizens who are long-term residents in the E.U. The newly implemented entry regulations, that will take effect on July, 01, 2020, lifts the travel restrictions to the above-mentioned countries.

 

The new E.U. directive continues to affect wide-spread travel into the E.U.+ entering from specific countries, including for both personal and business travel, while it exempts student visa holders, highly-skilled non-EU workers, and other work permit categories.

 

Companies should continue to consult with a Graham Adair attorney when coordinating any international travel for their employees to ensure country-specific entry requirements are met. Graham Adair will continue to closely monitor developments and provide updates accordingly.

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.

U.S. Supreme Court Blocks the Trump Administration from Ending DACA

This morning, in a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the DACA program could not be immediately rescinded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

 

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, shields 1.7 million individuals brought to the United States as children from deportation proceedings and grants them temporary work authorization. It does not provide them a path to any kind of permanent status in the United States.

 

The Court’s decision leaves room for DHS to potentially revoke DACA by demonstrating how it would avoid harming those who have relied on DACA protections against deportation and the ability to work legally. President Trump had said previously that he would develop a different program for these individuals. Nonetheless, this could take several months and at this time it is unclear whether this effort will be undertaken.

 

For the time being, employers can count on maintaining employment for DACA beneficiaries.

 

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

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.

USCIS to Lift Premium Processing Suspension in Phases in June 2020

On May 29, 2020, USCIS announced that the temporary suspension on premium processing requests for eligible Form I-140 employment-based immigrant petitions—such as EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 petitions, and eligible Form I-129 nonimmigrant worker petitions—such as H-1B, O-1, TN, L-1, and E-3 petitions, will be lifted in phases during June 2020.

 

Back on March 20, 2020, USCIS had temporarily suspended new premium processing requests for eligible Form I-140 and Form I-129 petitions. As a result of the suspension, Form I-140 and Form I-129 petitions (normally eligible for premium processing) could only be filed with regular processing from the date of suspension. Regular processing entails a much lengthier processing time of several months, as opposed to the 15-day processing time that premium processing provides.

 

Based on the May 29, 2020 announcement, USCIS will resume accepting premium processing requests (Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service) for eligible petitions in the following phases in June 2020:

 

Phase 1 (June 1, 2020): Resumption of Premium Processing for Eligible Form I-140 Petitions

 

  • USCIS will accept premium processing requests for eligible Form I-140 petitions on/after this date.

 

Phase 2 (June 8, 2020): Resumption of Premium Processing for Certain Pending I-129 Petitions

 

  • USCIS will accept premium processing requests for pending cap-exempt Form I-129 H-1B petitions filed prior to June 8, 2020.

 

  • USCIS will accept premium processing requests for all other eligible, Form I-129 non-H-1B petitions (such as O-1, TN, L-1, E-1, and E-2) filed prior to June 8, 2020.

 

Phase 3 (June 15, 2020): Resumption of Premium Processing for Certain New/Recent Cap-Exempt H-1B Petitions

 

  • USCIS will accept premium processing requests for certain, cap-exempt H-1B petitions not filed prior to June 8, 2020, which includes premium processing requests for cap-exempt H-1B petitions due to cap-exempt employer; beneficiary is cap-exempt due to qualifying cap-exempt institution, entity or organization; or the beneficiary is cap-exempt under INA section 214(l) based on a Conrad/IGA waiver.

 

Phase 4 (June 22, 2020): Resumption of Premium Processing for Cap-subject H-1B Petitions and All Other Form I-129 Petitions

 

  • USCIS will accept premium processing requests for H-1B cap-subject petitions (includes cap-subject H-1B petitions that were selected in the registration lottery in March 2020).

 

  • USCIS will accept premium processing requests for all other Form I-129 petitions that are eligible for premium processing.

 

For any pending or new Form I-140 or Form I-129 petition, the above filing date restrictions must be considered for any premium processing request as USCIS will reject a premium processing request that is not timely made within the above constraints.

 

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.

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.

Flexibility in I-9 Verifications during COVID-19 Shutdown

The Department of Homeland Security announced that it will defer the physical presence requirements associated with Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9).  As employers and employees observe social distancing precautions, employers can now inspect Section 2 documents remotely via video link, fax or email, etc.  However, please note the following important steps:

 

  • Employers must view Section 2 documents, even if remotely, within 3 business days of the start of employment;
  • Documents submitted via email/fax/etc. must be retained;
  • Once physical examination is conducted:
    • Employers should enter “COVID-19” in the “Additional Information” box on Section 2;
    • Employers should add “Documents physical examined [INSERT DATE]” in the “Additional Information” field on Section 2.
    • The explanation for the delay should also be added on a memo attached to the employee’s I-9 file.
    • Once normal operations resume, employees must present the original documents used during remote verification within 3 business days.  Employers should add the date in which in-person verification took place in the “Additional Information” field on Section 2.

 

Employers may implement the above provisions for a period of 60 days from March 20, 2020 OR within 3 business days after the termination of the National Emergency, whichever comes first.

 

The above rules only apply to employers and workplaces that are operating remotely.  If employees are physically present at a work location, normal I-9 verification rules apply.

If you have any questions regarding I-9 compliance, please contact your Graham Adair representative.

USCIS To Accept Reproduced Signatures During COVID-19 National Emergency

For petitions filed on March 21, 2020 and beyond, USCIS will begin accepting reproduced original signatures on forms and documents, including Form I-129. A document may be scanned, faxed, photocopied, or similarly reproduced provided that the copy is of an original document containing an original handwritten signature. USCIS will not accept signatures created by a typewriter, word processor, stamp, auto-pen, or similar device. The signatory must have authority to sign on behalf of the petitioning entity.

 

Petitioners or applicants who submit an electronically reproduced original signature must keep copies of the original documents containing the “wet” signature. At their discretion, USCIS may request the original documents at any time. Failure to produce the original document can negatively impact the application.

 

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

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