Effective January 5, 2023, the United States will require nearly all air travelers from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Hong Kong, and Macau to present a negative COVID test or documentation of recovery before boarding their departing flight, according to a press release from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). The test must be taken within two days of departure. The new precaution applies regardless of the traveler’s nationality, and only individuals under age two are exempt. The move represents the first new COVID-related travel restriction imposed by the United States since the rollback of pre-travel testing requirements earlier this year. The United States joins a growing number of countries that are considering COVID-related precautions for travelers from China following the abrupt end of the PRC  government’s “Zero COVID” strategy.

Continue Reading United States Imposes COVID Testing Requirements on Travelers from China

On October 5, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a widely anticipated ruling upholding a district court’s determination that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is unlawful. The decision has no immediate impact on current DACA recipients or their employers, as the three-judge panel stayed its decision pending further review by the district court. In particular, the district court must review a new DACA regulation published by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that is set to go into effect on October 31, 2022. The Biden Administration had crafted this new regulation to address the procedural concerns raised by the district court in its earlier ruling against the DACA program.

On October 14, 2022, the district court judge held a status hearing and ruled that the current version of the federal policy can continue, at least temporarily, with the limitations that are presently in place. The judge confirmed that the injunction preventing the government from adjudicating first-time requests for DACA applies to the new regulation. Thus, the new regulation will not take effect on October 31, 2022, for initial applications. The judge ordered attorneys for the federal government to provide more information on the new rule.

Continue Reading DACA Developments: Vital Information for Employers and Employees

Employers are responsible for verifying the identity and employment authorization of newly hired employees. The Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) is critical to any employer’s onboarding process for new hires, but ongoing Form I-9 maintenance is equally important with respect to existing employees who need to renew their work authorization documents with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Some employers have faced challenges in this regard following DHS’s recent announcement of a Temporary Final Rule increasing the automatic extension period for employment authorization for certain individuals from 180 to 540 days. The rule was intended to provide additional security to both employees and employers while their renewal applications are being adjudicated by U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). However, the rule also raises significant considerations for employers seeking to maintain proper Form I-9 compliance and avoid liability for past errors.

Continue Reading Critical Form I-9 Compliance Risks as DHS Changes Work Authorization Rules

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced several new measures including expanding premium processing to additional form types, providing relief to individuals waiting for work permits and setting agency-wide backlog reduction goals. USCIS, a fee-based organization, faced an unprecedented budgetary shortfall and backlog of cases to be processed in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic and resource constraints. According to data published by the agency, there are approximately 9 million forms pending adjudication.

Expanding Premium Processing

As part of the these efforts, USCIS published a final rule that expands premium processing (expedited adjudication for a fee). The final rule is expected to take effect at the end of May 2022, and USCIS will begin implementation – through a phased approach – as soon thereafter as feasible.

Continue Reading US Immigration Agency Announces Measures to Expedite Services and Decrease Pending Caseload

Ukraine At A Glance Since 02/24/2022

3.8 Million – Number of People Fleeing Ukraine

6.5 Million – Number of People Displaced Internally in Ukraine

On March 24, 2022, the White House announced a new set of initiatives designed to address the humanitarian and economic impacts of the Ukraine-Russia crisis. According to a White House statement, the U.S. government will expand its refugee resettlement capabilities and other immigration pathways in order to facilitate the entry of up to 100,000 Ukrainians and others fleeing the conflict. The U.S. government will also provide more than $1 billion in new funding toward humanitarian assistance for those affected by the crisis, with a focus on securing food, water, shelter, medical supplies, and other vital forms of assistance. In addition, the White House announced that $320 million would be allocated toward democracy and human rights funding for Ukraine and neighboring countries.

Continue Reading Ukraine: White House Announces New Humanitarian Measures

Federal law requires that employers attest to verifying each employee’s identity and authorization to legally work in the United States. By regulation, employees must present original, unexpired documents from the U.S. government’s published lists of acceptable documentation, which are classified as List A (Documents that Establish Both Identity and Employment Authorization), List B (Documents that Establish Identity) and List C (Documents that Establish Employment Authorization).

Continue Reading Change to Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification: List B (Documents that Establish Identity)

On March 17, 2022, the Canadian government announced that the country will end its pre-entry COVID-19 testing requirement for all fully vaccinated* travelers arriving via land, air, or water, beginning on April 1, 2022.

Canada’s Minister of Health, Jean Yves-Duclos, noted as part of the announcement that “as vaccination levels and healthcare system capacity

Note:  Originally published on March 4, 2022.  The number of people departing Ukraine has been updated from over 1.2 million to over 2 million.

Over two million people have departed Ukraine for neighboring European countries since the Russia-Ukraine military conflict escalated on February 24, 2022, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) data portal. A spokesperson for the UNHCR reported that as many as 4 million Ukrainians—nearly 10 percent of the country’s population—are expected to flee to other countries if the fighting continues.

Continue Reading Ukraine: Two Weeks Into the War with Russia, Over Two Million Displaced

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated the website information for Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status in January 2022 to include information related to green card availability and a process referred to as a “transfer of underlying basis.”

Each year, approximately 140,000 US employment-based immigrant visas (green cards) are made