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USCIS Furloughs Postponed and Possibly Avoided

In June 2020, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) served notice on The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the union representing the agency’s 13,400 fee-based employees, that absent approval by Congress of $1.2 billion requested as part of the pending stimulus bill to make up for a precipitous

Some 70% of the 20,000 employees of US Citizenship & Immigration Services, the agency within Homeland Security that adjudicates visa-related benefits for all foreign workers, could face furloughs starting as early as August 3, 2020, unless Congress provides $1.2 billion in emergency funding. This budget shortfall was caused by a dramatic decrease in the number

In a media release issued on July 6, 2020, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) announced a rollback of the protections it afforded to foreign students in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. The July 6 release announced that foreign students will no longer be eligible for F-1 visas or to remain in the United States to participate in online-only courses of study. Coming only six weeks before the start of the fall semester, the guidance has raised serious concerns for premier US universities, for which foreign students provide one of the greatest sources of revenue, already leading Harvard and MIT to file suit challenging the sudden reversal in posture only six weeks before the start of the fall semester. Other major universities, accompanied by business groups and a number of state attorneys general, are considering challenges to the new policy.

The policy change is expected to affect an estimated more than 1 million student visa holders in the United States, as well as others presently outside the United States who have been admitted for the fall semester.  Students currently in the United States and planning to attend schools that have elected to offer online-only classes in the fall 2020 semester “must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school offering in-person instruction to remain in lawful status” per the release.


Continue Reading New ICE Directive Threatens Status of More Than One Million Foreign Students and Prompts Immediate Lawsuit

On June 22, 2020, President Trump signed Proclamation 10052, suspending four visa categories of substantial importance to US companies—H-1B, L-1, H-2B, and certain J-1 visas—for the rest of the calendar year and laid the groundwork for regulatory changes to transform when and how employers can sponsor foreign workers to work in the United States. For

Today, the Supreme Court—in a 5-4 decision—invalidated the Trump Administration’s rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program, which provides protection against deportation and work authorization for 700,000 undocumented individuals who were brought to America as children. Mayer Brown submitted an amicus brief—which the Court cited—on behalf of 143 trade associations and businesses

On April 22, 2020, President Trump issued a “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak,” to pause issuance of new immigrant visas to applicants who are outside the United States for 60 days.  As reported on this blog, although the

In a tweet late Monday, April 20, 2020, President Trump said he will issue an executive order temporarily suspending immigration  “in light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy” and the “need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens.”  The White House did not provide any immediate clarification, including when an executive order

The Canadian government has now published guidance for travelers on the scope of the US-Canada border closure. Last month, the United States and Canada announced that the two countries would jointly and temporarily close the border, until April 20, 2020, to non-essential travel in an effort to limit the spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

As of February 24, 2020, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is free to impose the regulation it unveiled in August 2019, which gives its officers significantly expanded authority to deny visas and green card applications from immigrants and prospective immigrants whom the government determines rely, or could rely, on certain public benefits like food stamps and government housing programs.  A narrowly divided Supreme Court lifted the nationwide injunction in January 2020, ruling 5-4 that the administration could begin enforcing the controversial policy, leaving lower courts to wrestle with multiple lingering legal actions challenging the rule.  On February 21, 2020, the Supreme Court lifted the last remaining injunction, which had applied to Illinois residents.

As a result, USCIS has reissued new versions of existing application and petition forms which include attestations regarding the redefined public charge policy.  USCIS has also issued a new form, “Declaration of Self-Sufficiency” (Form I-944), which requires comprehensive information about a beneficiary and accompanying family’s assets, resources, and financial status, including liabilities, debts, credit report and credit score, health insurance, and public benefits. Form I-944 also requires information about the beneficiary’s educational history and skill level.
Continue Reading The Top Issues For Global Employers as Nationwide “Public Charge” Rule Affects Millions of Visa and Green Card Applicants

Since January 30, 2020, when the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization (“WHO”) declared the outbreak of the current novel coronavirus (now officially designated by WHO as “coronavirus disease 2019,” abbreviated as “COVID-19”), the total number of cases globally has now reached 80,980, and nearly 3,000 have died. While all but 55 of reported deaths are in China, more new cases were reported outside China than inside for the first time this week, on February 25, 2020. The first case in Latin America was detected in Brazil; Germany is declaring an epidemic; and the United States is bracing for an outbreak, with the president tapping Vice President Pence to coordinate the US response.

Among the issues employers need to address is managing the myriad travel restrictions stemming from host governments as multiple countries and localities seek to prevent further spread of the virus. Mayer Brown’s COVID-19 Global Travel Restrictions by Country, a Global People Solution™ travel tool, provides a summary of the latest country reports Mayer Brown has received regarding travel restrictions.
Continue Reading Travel Disruption Due to the Coronavirus – What Employers Need to Know