Business Immigration and Coronavirus: Latest Announcements from USCIS and DOL

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Labor (DOL) sent a flurry of operational updates late last week. These updates include a suspension of premium processing for FY2021 H-1B cap petitions, which was quickly followed by a suspension of premium processing for Form I-129 nonimmigrant visa petitions (H-1B, L-1, TN, O-1 and more work visas) and I-140 immigrant visa petitions. USCIS also sent an announcement relaxing certain “wet” original signatures on forms and an update relaxing some I-9 requirements.

For the full alert, visit the Faegre Drinker website.

Cancellations, Closures and Travel Restrictions: Coronavirus Strikes Immigration System Again

Since our last update a week ago, additional and significant immigration developments have taken place in the U.S. and around the world and continue to change. Reports on March 19, 2020, also indicate that the State Department will be announcing a Level 4 travel advisory applying to all international travel. It is expected that this announcement will tell Americans that they must remain in the U.S., and Americans also would be instructed not to travel abroad. With such fluidity of country and border closures, closures of embassies and consulates around the world, and now U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) offices, we are providing an overview of the issues and links to government websites where you can find the most updated information on these important immigration and global mobility issues affecting companies in the U.S. and around the world.

For the full alert, please visit the Faegre Drinker website.

U.K. Immigration Update: Government Unveils New Post-Brexit Points-Based System

The British government released a policy statement on 19 February 2020 about the future of the United Kingdom’s (U.K.) immigration system, and the proposed changes will make it very costly for U.K. companies to employ European Union (EU) citizens. Following the U.K.’s departure from the EU last month, freedom of movement for EU citizens to the U.K. and for U.K. citizens to and within the EU will cease at the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020. The government will also scrap the labour market test and the cap on the number of visa applicants.

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U.K. Immigration Updates

The Immediate Post-Brexit Landscape

The new relationship between the United Kingdom (U.K.) and the European Union (EU), set in motion by the U.K.’s official departure from the EU, will very likely lead to significant changes to the U.K.’s immigration system, and we are beginning to see a few indications of where the U.K. might be headed.

Currently, we are in a transition period where all rules will stay the same until 31 December 2020. Although little will change until then, negotiations between the U.K. and the EU will begin imminently on the new relationship for 2021. Last week, the British government unveiled a new Global Talent visa route, and the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) released their report on the future immigration system.

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USCIS Announces Change to Overseas Services

On January 31, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that, effective February 1, 2020, the majority of its international field offices will no longer accept I-130 immigrant petition filings by locally resident U.S. citizens on behalf of their immediate relatives, absent exceptional circumstances meeting a limited definition. Of note, the field offices in Accra, Ghana, and London will continue to accept such filings until April 1, 2020. The announcement is not entirely unexpected as USCIS has given notice previously of its intention to adjust its international footprint. However, the issuance of the news on a Friday before cessation of service the next day was sudden.

Following the end dates described above, unless they meet the limited definition of exceptional circumstances, all I-130 immediate relative petitions will need to be filed online or with the relevant USCIS lockbox in the United States.

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USCIS Issues New Form I-9, Required of All Employers by May 1, 2020

On October 21, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a new version of the Form I-9. Employers may use the new version starting on January 31, 2020, but will be required to use the new version starting May 1, 2020. Using earlier versions of the form will not be acceptable after that date.

The Form I-9 is a document that employers must complete to verify the identity and employment authorization of every new hire (both citizens and noncitizens), hired after November 6, 1986, to work in the United States. Employers are liable for all errors on the form (even errors made by the employee in completing Section 1), and employers must retain I-9s for inspection for a certain period of time after an employee leaves the company (either one year after the date of termination or three years after the hire date, whichever date is later).

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