Without a doubt, COVID-19 has had a disruptive effect on almost every aspect of our lives. The extraordinary and unprecedented public health emergency COVID-19 created has caused different businesses and government agencies to unexpectedly shutter their operations in order to minimize the spread of this virus. One unintended consequence is that COVID-19 has forced U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) processing of cases to come to a virtual standstill. As a result, the production of certain Employment Authorization Documents (Form I-766, EAD), among other things, has been delayed. Because failure to receive an EAD document can result in a foreign national not being able to continue to work (and ultimately) a termination, a lawsuit has been brought against USCIS in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio (Easter Division) challenging the delay in issuance of the employment authorization document (EAD) following approval of the I-765 application.
Today, USCIS announced that employees may use Form I-797, Notice of Action, with a Notice date on or after December 1, 2019 through and including August 20, 2020 informing an applicant of approval of an Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765) as a Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, List C #7 document to establish employment authorization issued by the Department of Homeland Security pursuant to 8 C.F.R. 274a.2(b)(1)(v)(C)(7), even though the Notice states it is not evidence of employment authorization. This newly created exception to the Form I-9 rules will expire on December 1, 2020. Additionally, please note that employees will still be required to present a List B document to establish their identity. Continue reading “USCIS permits use of approval notices as evidence of work authorization due to COVID-19 delays”
Mechelle Zarou, partner in the Toledo office and co-chair of the firm’s Immigration and Labor & Employment practice groups, will be speaking at the American Bar Association (ABA) Young Lawyers Division’s webinar “Business Immigration Issues and COVID-19: Addressing Central Concerns for Employers, Employees and Their Families” on Wednesday, April 8 from 1:00 – 2:00 PM ET.
Join this free webinar if you are interested in learning more about how the coronavirus can impact nonimmigrant workers.
Click here to learn more or to register.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it has received sufficient electronic registrations to reach the FY 2021 numerical limit and has notified all employers whose H-1B registrations were selected. Under the new system, those companies whose registrations were chosen must prepare and submit applications (and have them approved) to receive H-1B petitions. What does history tell us about how many companies will follow through with their applications in light of the current economic downturn?
To read this article in full, please visit the Forbes website found here.
By way of background, under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, employers are required to complete a Form I-9 for each newly hired employee. The purpose of the Form I-9 is to verify the identity of each new employee and ensure that the new employee is authorized to work in the United States. The Form I-9 contains a list of acceptable documents for establishing an employee’s identity and authorization to work. Continue reading “DHS Provides Employers with Some I-9 Flexibility”
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today announced that, due to the ongoing COVID-19 National Emergency announced by President Trump on March 13, 2020, we will accept all benefit forms and documents with reproduced original signatures, including the Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, for submissions dated March 21, 2020, and beyond.
USCIS already accepts various petitions, applications and other documents bearing an electronically reproduced original signature. This means that a document may be scanned, faxed, photocopied, or similarly reproduced provided that the copy must be of an original document containing an original handwritten signature, unless otherwise specified. For forms that require an original “wet” signature, per form instructions, USCIS will accept electronically reproduced original signatures for the duration of the National Emergency. This temporary change only applies to signatures. All other form instructions should be followed when completing a form.
Individuals or entities that submit documents bearing an electronically reproduced original signature must also retain copies of the original documents containing the “wet” signature. USCIS may, at any time, request the original documents, which if not produced, could negatively impact the adjudication of the immigration benefit.
 See Volume 1, General Policies and Procedures, Part B, Submission of Benefit Requests, Chapter 2, Signatures [1 USCIS-PM B.2].
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today announced the immediate and temporary suspension of premium processing service for all Form I-129 and I-140 petitions until further notice due to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Effective today, March 20, 2020, USCIS will not accept any new requests for premium processing. USCIS will process any petition with a previously accepted Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, in accordance with the premium processing service criteria. However, we will not be able to send notices using pre-paid envelopes. We will only send batch-printed notices. Petitioners who have already filed a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, or Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, using the premium processing service and who receive no agency action on their case within the 15-calendar-day period will receive a refund, consistent with 8 CFR 103.7(e). We will notify the public with a confirmed date for resuming premium processing.
USCIS will reject the I-907 and return the $1,440 filing fee for all petitions requesting premium processing that were mailed before March 20 but not yet accepted.
This temporary suspension includes petitions filed for the following categories:
- I-129: E-1, E-2, H-1B, H-2B, H-3, L-1A, L-1B, LZ, O-1, O-2, P-1, P-1S, P-2, P-2S, P-3, P-3S, Q-1, R-1, TN-1 and TN-2.
- I-140: EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3.
This includes new premium processing requests for all H-1B petitions, including H-1B cap-subject petitions for fiscal year 2021, petitions from previous fiscal years, and all H-1B petitions that are exempt from the cap. USCIS previously announced the temporary suspension of premium processing for FY 2021 cap-subject petitions and tentative dates for resumption of premium processing service. This announcement expands upon and supersedes the previous announcement.
For current Form I-129 and I-140 processing times, visit the Check Case Processing Times page and the H-1B page on the USCIS website.
• In response to significant worldwide challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State is temporarily suspending routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. Embassies and consulates will cancel all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments as of March 20, 2020. As resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide urgent and emergency visa services. Our overseas missions will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time.
• Services to U.S. citizens continue to be available. More information is available on each Embassy’s website.
• This does not affect the Visa Waiver Program. See https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/faq?focusedTopic=Schengen%20Travel%20Proclamation for more information.
• Although all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments are cancelled, the Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fee is valid and may be used for a visa appointment in the country where it was purchased within one year of the date of payment.
• Applicants with an urgent matter and need to travel immediately should follow the guidance provided at the Embassy’s website to request an emergency appointment.
Click here for the U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) website.
On March 11, the President of the United States signed a Presidential Proclamation titled: “Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus”.
- Effective at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on March 13, 2020, in accordance with this Proclamation, the entry into the United States of all aliens, with certain exceptions, who have been physically present in the Schengen Area during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States, is suspended.
- CBP will begin enforcement of this proclamation as it relates to any travelers that arrive in the United States on flights that departed after 11:59pm EDT on March 13, 2020.
Continue reading “Presidential Proclamation – Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus”