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Green and Spiegel U.S. Blog

Jan 29, 2021

USCIS Extends Flexible Response Times for Certain Filings in Light of COVID-19 Pandemic

On March 30, 2020, in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced that it was adopting measures to assist applicants and petitioners who are responding to certain Requests for Evidence (RFE) and Notices of Intent to Deny (NOID) and other filings. USCIS announced that these same flexibilities have been extended for an indeterminate period of time. Learn more in this blog.

Jan 26, 2021

Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Non-Immigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting Coronavirus Disease

On January 25, 2020, the Biden Administration extended the travel restrictions for Ireland, the United Kingdom, the Schengen Area, and Brazil and added travel restrictions for South Africa. Travel restrictions for South Africa go into effect on January 30, 2021 and the others are an extension of existing travel restrictions. The travel restrictions do not apply to a number of categories of Noncitizens and provide a waiver for the national interest. The policy does not contain procedures necessary to request national interest exceptions, likely leaving in place the procedures presently employed.

Jan 22, 2021

Biden Administration Changes to International Travel Policy Leaves People Wondering If the Travel Restrictions Will Remain

U.S. travel restrictions will be lifted unless the Biden Administration steps in. The White House says it will not lift the travel restrictions. COVID-19 testing and quarantine / isolation are not required for international travel. Learn more in this blog.

Jan 4, 2021

H-1B, L-1 Restrictions Extended through March 31, 2021

Late on December 31, 2020, President Trump issued a proclamation continuing Proclamations 10014 and 10052, which suspended the entry of certain immigrants and nonimmigrants into the United States as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The proclamations have been continued until March 31, 2021. Learn more in this blog.

Dec 29, 2020

Employers Can Verify Form I-9 Identity and Work Authorization Remotely Through January 31, 2021

Whether the flexibilities are again extended or sunset on January 31, 2021 depends on a number of factors such as the impact on resurgent COVID-19 infection rates and the transition to the next federal executive administration. It does provide remedies for fully remote working enterprises and it may provide remedies for companies which are hybrid, companies which have some positions fully remote and others in-house. Such analyses are fact-dependent and we’re happy to help companies develop effective processes which meet management goals and necessities.

Dec 22, 2020

State Department Reverts to Phase 1 COVID-19 Guidelines as Cases Surge

The U.S. State Department announced on Monday, December 21, that it was reverting back to Phase 1 Covid-19 guidelines for the National Capital Region, which include limiting travel to mission critical trips and putting restrictions on the size of gatherings, according to a department-wide memo from Brian Bulatao, Under Secretary for Management. The plan is to return from Phase 2 guidelines to the more restrictive Phase 1 for almost a month. Learn more in this blog.

Dec 16, 2020

Holiday International Travel Update

With limited international flights and country-specific restrictions, leaving the United States may present issues up front. Ongoing travel restrictions, consular closings, visa suspensions, and other issues may hinder readmission to the United States. In particular, direct travel from mainland Europe, the UK/Ireland, Brazil, Iran, and mainland China to the United States remains very limited, and may require an exception. Certain H, L, and J Visas remain unavailable through the end of the year, and routine visa services continue to be sporadic and subject to cancellation. These restrictions may change in the coming weeks depending on COVID-19 developments in the United States and around the world.

Dec 10, 2020

Biden Administration: Expansion to the Ability of Physicians and Nurses to Obtain Permanent Residence and Reduction of H-1B Restrictions

Medical associations and hospitals are joining forces with immigration groups to advocate for legislation that will address the healthcare worker shortage by allowing unused immigrant visas to be allocated to highly skilled foreign workers: doctors and professional nurses. However, in order for this bill to pass a bipartisan solution must be reached.

Nov 19, 2020

Until the End of the Year, Employers Can Verify Form I-9 Identity and Work Authorization Remotely

The federal government has created “flexibility” protocols, designed to accomplish the Form I-9 goals remotely. It has extended the period companies can use those protocols until December 31, 2020. Learn more in this blog.

Oct 13, 2020

US and European Partners are Moving Towards Reopening Transatlantic Travel by Adopting New Pandemic Protocols

KEY POINTS: • Foreign nationals who wish to travel to the United States from Europe either must fit into one of the travel restriction exceptions or obtain advance permission to board a plane to the U.S. • In the alternative, they may travel to a third country and quarantine there for two weeks prior to coming to the United States. • The U.S. and overseas partners are anxious to relax those restrictions. Advanced COVID-19 airport testing may provide a solution. • We expect some testing of these technologies followed by the announcement of new travel protocols in time for the winter holidays.

Aug 19, 2020

State Department Waiver Guidance Further Opens the Door to the Return of Some of Our Foreign Workers

Foreign national employees of U.S. companies struggle to return to their employment because of Trump Administration travel restrictions. There are exemptions written into those restrictions but they have been difficult to access with closed consulates and embassies and a lack of guidance. The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has begun issuing visas and consular services are becoming more available. August 12, 2020 guidance lays out approaches to getting exemptions to travel restrictions through U.S. consulates and embassies and may help people apply for exemptions through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Carefully framed requests for these exemptions is a remedy for some foreign workers seeking to work for U.S. employers.

Jul 24, 2020

USCIS Staves off the Axe... For Now

Patrick Leahy (U.S. Senator, VT) announced today that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is postponing a proposed furlough of employees through at least August 31, 2020 to provide Congress and the White House an opportunity to address its projected $571 million deficit. Learn more in this blog.

Jul 15, 2020

U.S. Consulates Begin Phased Resumption of Visa Services

Limited resumption on consulate-by-consulate basis, depending on local conditions. No timetable for universal reopening, resumption of normal workload, or availability of all services. Travel restrictions and visa suspensions still in place. Learn more in this blog.

Jul 8, 2020

M.I.T. and Harvard Sue the Trump Administration over Plan to Require In-Person Classes for International Students

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced plans to severely modify temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students taking online courses during the fall semester forcing students enrolled in programs operating entirely online to depart the United States or transfer to another school in order to avoid deportation. Universities across the country were swift to criticize and decry this decision by the Trump administration; and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T) and Harvard have filed a lawsuit against them. Learn more in this blog.

Jul 7, 2020

SEVP Modifies Temporary Exemptions for International Students Taking Online Courses During the Fall 2020 Semester

On Monday, July 6th the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced that it has implemented modifications to temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students taking online courses during the Fall 2020 semester. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a change in policy had permitted nonimmigrant students to take more online courses than usually permitted by Federal regulations to maintain their nonimmigrant status. Learn more in this blog.

May 30, 2020

UPDATE - U.S. Adds Brazil to Ongoing Travel Restrictions

Effective 11:59 PM March 26, 2020, recent visitors to Brazil will also be banned from traveling to the United States. U.S. Citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents, immediate relatives of U.S. Citizens/Lawful Permanent Residents, and NATO/UN/Diplomatic personnel amongst those who continue to be exempted. Travelers returning from restricted countries subjected to significant delays and uncertainty at designated airports as restrictions take effect.

May 14, 2020

USCIS Issues Temporary Policy Changes for Certain Foreign Medical Graduates Complying with J-1 Waiver Employment Obligation During the COVID-19 National Emergency

On May 11, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a Policy Memorandum introducing temporary policy changes regarding the full-time work requirement for H-1B foreign medical graduates who have received a J-1 waiver of the 2 year foreign residence requirement based on an Interested Government Agency (IGA) or through the Conrad State 30 Program. Learn more.

May 13, 2020

H-2B Nonimmigrants in the Country with Valid Status Are Allowed to Extend Their Stay Beyond Three Years During Pandemic

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is temporarily removing certain limitations on employers or U.S. agents seeking to hire certain H-2B workers already in the United States to provide temporary labor or services essential to the U.S. food supply chain, and for certain H-2B workers, who are essential to the U.S. food supply chain, seeking to extend their stay. Learn more in this blog.

May 12, 2020

Companies Can Use Some Expired Identity Documents in Completing Form I-9s

Last week (May 5, 2020) we wrote that executing a Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9) required a valid, current identity document. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has modified the policy to permit employers to accept validly issued but expired List B identity documents during the pandemic as long as they record a valid replacement document after the pandemic. Learn more in this blog.

May 12, 2020

The Quarantine Presents Restaurants with a Unique Opportunity to Clean Up Their Form I-9s

The quarantine is creating havoc in the restaurant industry. Many places temporarily closed, others went to curbside pickup or delivery, and some have thrown in the towel. Those which switched to takeout during the quarantine may be off more than fifty percent, while some businesses accustomed to delivery already have seen an uptick in business. However, this chaos presents an opportunity to get restaurant management in better order. Learn more in this blog.