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?

Employers nationwide are implementing work reductions, closures and furloughs in order to reduce costs during the COVID-19 economic slowdown in the United States.  When employees are put on reduced hours or furloughed, employers face changing legal obligations in multiple areas of labor and employment law.  Companies that employ nonimmigrant workers should not overlook the additional legal obligations they have toward these employees, especially those who are on visas that have prevailing wage requirements.

Continue Reading COVID-19: How Do Furloughs Affect Nonimmigrant Workers?

On January 31, 2020, President Trump issued a Presidential Proclamation amending Presidential Proclamation 9723, commonly called the “Travel Ban.”  This new proclamation imposes travel restrictions on certain nationals of countries the administration has determined to have inadequate identity-management practices, national security and public safety information practices, and otherwise pose a national security or public-safety risk.

Continue Reading Travel Ban Expanded to Include Nigeria, Eritrea, Tanzania, Sudan, Myanmar, and Kyrgyzstan

The Department of State (DOS) has updated its reciprocity schedule with shortened visa validity periods for French citizens. Specifically L-1/L-2 visas are now valid for 17 months and E-1/E-2 visas are now valid for 25 months.  Prior to this recent change, both visa categories were eligible for validity periods of 60 months.

Who is eligible

USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli announced today, via Twitter, that USCIS will close all but seven of its international field offices, leaving only the offices in Beijing, Guanghzou, Guatemala City, Mexico City, Nairobi, New Delhi and San Salvador to service the many US citizens and permanent residents who reside abroad. USCIS has also made the official announcement on their website. The decision leaves the entire continents of South America and Europe without a USCIS office.  Although not ideal, this announcement still marks a welcome change from USCIS’s prior announcement, in March 2019, by then-Director Francis Cissna that all twenty international offices would be closed and their workload shifted to domestic offices.

Continue Reading USCIS Will Not Close All International Offices as Previously Announced; Seven to Remain Open

Since March 2019, all applicants who file Form I-539 Application To Extend or Change Nonimmigrant Status have been required to appear for biometrics appointments so that US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) can compare their biometric data against their identity documents and forward the data to the FBI for security screenings.

Why Is USCIS Taking

The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) announced today that the final rule amending DHS regulations governing H-1B cap-subject petitions will be published in the Federal Register on January 31, 2019, and will become effective on April 1, 2019.

The new rule implements the electronic registration requirement, but suspends it for the FY2020 H-1B cap season.

An H-1B cap registration proposal has been in the works since 2011, but it may have been President Trump’s Buy American and Hire American (“BAHA”) executive order that finally created the right climate to push the proposal as far as it has now come. In its proposed rule, published in the Federal Register on December 3, 2018
Continue Reading What Employers Should Know About the New H-1B Cap Registration Process

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has announced that the suspension of premium processing for FY2019 H‑1B cap cases, announced on March 21, 2018, has been extended until possibly February 2019.

USCIS also announced that effective September 11, 2018, premium processing will be suspended for H‑1B cases filed at the Vermont and California