The People’s Republic of China – COVID-19 Update

Effective September 28, 2020, The People’s Republic of China, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Immigration Administration, announced that foreign nationals with valid residence permits issued for work, personal matters, or family reunions, will be allowed to enter China without needing to apply for a new visa. Chinese consulates and embassies will be renewing said visas if they have expired after March 28, 2020 provided that the purpose of the foreign national’s visit to China remains unchanged.

This measure is specifically targeting the temporary suspension of entry by foreign nationals holding valid Chinese visas or residence permits issued on March 26, 2020. The partial lifting of the travel ban could signal the start of a different enforcement attitude and a trend towards immigration “normalization” in China.

Graham Adair is closely monitoring all global immigration trends and providing updates as they are received. Please contact your Graham Adair attorney with any case-specific questions.

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.

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.

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.

RELIEF Act Introduction Brings Both Senate Immigration Bills To Standstill

The?journey?of H.R.1044/S.386 through the Senate hit another roadblock as S.2603, the?Resolving Extended Limbo for Immigrant Employees and Families (RELIEF) Act,?was brought up for a vote by unanimous consent. At least one senator objected, blocking the unanimous consent fast-track and stalling both bills for the time being. A unanimous consent vote on H.R.1044/S.386 was originally expected to be held on Thursday, October 17th.

The RELIEF Act was introduced to address the massive green card backlog, with the goal of eliminating the backlog over five years. Building on S.744, the 2013 bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill, the bill would clarify spouses and children of Legal Permanent Residents as immediate relatives and exempt ?derivative beneficiaries? of employment-based petitions from the annual caps that contribute to the backlog. It would also protect children who qualify based on a parent?s petition from ?aging out? while waiting for approval, helping to keep families together.

We will continue to monitor developments and share updates as more information becomes available. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact your Graham Adair representative. For more frequent updates, please follow us on Twitter (@GrahamAdairLaw).

Amended Public Charge Rule Will Not Go Into Effect on October 15th

Earlier this afternoon, a federal judge in New York issued an injunction against the recently amended “public charge” rule. We discussed the amended public charge rule?a few weeks ago. People deemed to be a public charge may be prevented from applying for permanent residency. The amended rule altered the definition of “public charge” to include?an individual who receives one or more designated public benefits for more than 12 months, in the aggregate, within any 36-month period. Additionally, it was broadened to include many common services, such as public housing assistance, food stamps, supplemental income, and certain Medicaid costs.

The temporary injunction issued today will prevent the amended public charge rule from taking effect on Oct. 15.

The rule is being challenged in several federal courts by immigrants’ rights groups and more than a dozen state attorneys general.?While the public charge requirement has been a long-standing rule, it has not previously been defined this specifically.

As the rule continues working its way through the court system, we will continue to monitor it and provide updates. But for now, people filing for permanent residency will not be subjected to the newly amended public charge rule.

For more frequent updates,?please follow us on?Twitter?(@GrahamAdairLaw).

UPDATED: Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act Goes Before Senate

UPDATED 9/20/19
H.R.1044/S.386 went before the Senate on Thursday and was blocked by a Senator who expressed unenumerated concerns about how the new rules would impact specific industries. Leading proponents of the bill say they will work to address those concerns and bring it up for a vote again next week.?We will continue to monitor developments and share updates as more information becomes available.

9/19/19
After passing the House with 365 bipartisan votes, H.R.1044, the Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act will be brought before the Senate today, September 19, 2019 as S.386. U.S. Senators Mike Lee and Kamala Harris have led negotiations with Senator Rand Paul, who agreed to remove his hold on the bill after reaching a reasonable compromise.

H.R.1044/S.386 would remove the per-country quotas for employment-based immigrant visas, reducing the green card backlog. The per-country quota currently remains at 7% of total annual green cards, meaning Iceland (pop. ~338,000) has the same quota as India (pop. ~1.3 billion). The resultant backlog has resulted in extreme wait times and uncertainty for employers that rely on highly-skilled immigrants. Eliminating the quotas and backlog is intended to ensure that the United States continues to attract top talent from around the world.

The bill is expected to be brought up by Unanimous Consent, expediting the process.?We will continue to monitor developments and share updates as more information becomes available.

BREXIT: Anticipated Changes Under New PM Boris Johnson

Mr. Boris Johnson was elected as the new PM of the UK in July 2019 after former PM, Theresa May, stepped down. Much of the angst surrounding the UK in light of the PM switch has been how Brexit would be handled.

Previously, under PM Theresa May, the UK was set to leave the EU on March 29, 2019. Theresa May?s government had plans in place in the event of a no-deal Brexit allowing free movement of EU nationals until January 2021 and offering an EU Settlement Scheme. After many failed attempts to pass a resolution, the UK leave date was delayed to October 31, 2019 with, or without, a deal.

Former PM Theresa May?s plans in the event of a no-deal Brexit included free movement until January 2021 and a grace period where EU nationals could apply for settled status up until December 31, 2020. The Government?s previous plans in the event of a no-deal Brexit, however, are now being significantly altered by the PM Boris Johnson?s Government signifying that a no-deal Brexit would include ending free movement immediately on October 31, 2019, and that the UK will absolutely leave no matter what. The Government further notes that it does not have an immigration plan in place on how a new system will impact EU national residents before and after exit day? this poses a chaotic scenario for several UK-based companies with international employees from the EU given that there are only 73 days left until the October 31, 2019 deadline.

As of now, there are no signs as to what a new immigration system would look like that will replace free movement, leaving significant unclarity as to how UK-based companies will move EU national employees into the UK after the deadline. The deadline to apply for settled status is still December 31, 2020. However, there will be many EU nationals traveling after October 31, 2019 who will not be able to establish that they have been a resident in the UK before exit day (a key factor and benefit of ?free movement?). In addition to the new changes, it is unclear whether new EU arrivals will be able to work in the UK after October 31 meaning UK businesses will have no idea whether they can recruit EU nationals for openings after the exit date. The UK Home Office indicates that new plans will be announced very soon.

In light of this scenario, UK employers are encouraged to have their EU national employees, and their family members, apply for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. Those who have lived in the UK for extended periods of time may be able to apply for Permanent Residence or even citizenship, avoiding the requirements of the new system.

We at Graham Adair Inc. are dedicated to helping businesses support employees through Brexit and are closely monitoring the volatile Brexit changes. Please contact us at Graham Adair Inc. as we are closely connected with our UK Local Office and are open to answering questions.

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