On March 25, we reported that US Citizenship and Immigration Services had closed all local domestic offices, including asylum offices, field offices, and application support centers, due to COVID-19 contagion risks.  Those closures, while initially short term, have been extended several times and remain in effect as of today.

Continue Reading COVID-19 UPDATE: USCIS To Reopen Certain Local Offices on June 4

On May 24, 2020, the White House added Brazil to the list of countries triggering denial of admission to the US if travelers have been physically present in those countries for the preceding 14 days.  The presidential action cited “widespread, ongoing person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2” as the reason for the ban, listing the WHO’s ranking of Brazil with the “third highest number of confirmed cases in the world.”

Continue Reading COVID-19 UPDATE: Brazil Joins US Prohibited Entry List

On March 12, we recommended that employers designate authorized representatives to complete and reverify Forms I-9 in person during COVID-19 closures and furloughs.  On March 24, we updated our guidance in detail because, in response to COVID-19, USCIS began allowing employers and employees to complete Forms I-9 remotely.  The agency has now further relaxed I-9 verification requirements.

Continue Reading COVID-19 UPDATE: USCIS Relaxes Requirements To Verify Identity on Form I-9

Since 1990, the United States has granted up to 50,000 green cards each year to immigrants selected through the “Diversity Visa Lottery.”  Recently, the US Department of State announced delays in processing these cases due to COVID-19.  This development further exacerbates challenges caused by COVID-19, including the temporary suspension of visa appointments and USCIS in-person services, which we reported on last month, and the April 22 Executive Order halting immigrant visa admissions for 60 days.  See our analysis of the Order here.

Continue Reading COVID-19: Impact of Closures, Delays, and Executive Order on Diversity Visa Program

On the night of Monday, April 20, 2020, the President tweeted that he would “protect” American jobs during the COVID-19 crisis by issuing an Executive Order that would “temporarily suspend immigration.”  After several uncertain days of conflicting information, reported in the media, about how sweeping the scope of the order would be, it turns out

On March 23, 2020, we wrote about the impact of the global pandemic on travel between the United States and neighboring countries, in COVID-19: How Does the Outbreak Affect Travel Between the United States and Mexico or Canada?  We explained that the US, Mexican and Canadian governments had agreed to close their contiguous borders between March 20 and April 20, 2020, and then reassess whether borders should be reopened depending on the progress of the pandemic.

Continue Reading COVID-19 UPDATE: Travel Still Stymied Between US and Its Neighbors

On March 30, 2020, we wrote about “satisfactory departure” in COVID-19:  How Does the Outbreak Affect Visa Waiver (ESTA) Travelers?  As we explained, visitors to the US who arrive under the Visa Waiver program who cannot depart within 90 days due to the pandemic may request a 30-day “satisfactory departure” period from US Customs &

Unemployment insurance, as described in a recent blog post by our Labor and Employment colleagues, is a “joint federal-state program, administered separately by each state following guidelines established by federal law.”  While the requirements of these programs vary from state to state, eligibility criteria generally exclude nonimmigrants whose work authorization is tied to a specific position with a specific employer (e.g., TN, H-1B, and L-1 workers).

Continue Reading COVID-19: Are Nonimmigrants Eligible for Unemployment Benefits?

President Trump signed the eagerly awaited Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27, 2020.  What does it mean for people who are affected by COVID-19 and living here on work-authorized visas?  They, like their colleagues who are US citizens and permanent residents, have also been furloughed without pay, laid off, and affected by university closures.  But, unlike their colleagues, nonimmigrant workers are also at risk of involuntarily violating or even losing their US immigration status during COVID-19.  To understand why, see our earlier blog, COVID-19: How Do Furloughs Affect Nonimmigrant Workers?  Unfortunately, the Act is silent on the fate of these workers.  While it provides general relief that may also aid nonimmigrants, their eligibility for that relief is not entirely clear.

Continue Reading COVID-19: CARES Act Offers No Specific Relief to Nonimmigrant Workers, But May Help Them Anyway

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted travel across the globe.  Many US travelers who entered under the Visa Waiver Program (commonly called “ESTA,” the acronym for the online pre‑authorization system) now find themselves on the horns of a dilemma:  leave at the end of their 90-day authorized stay and thus endanger their own health and potentially that of others, or overstay due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Continue Reading COVID-19: How Does the Outbreak Affect Visa Waiver (ESTA) Travelers?