WEEKLY IMMIGRATION UPDATE 9.28.2020
- October Visa Bulletin Shows Major Movement in Employment-Based Cases; USCIS Applies Filing Date Rather Than Final Action Date to Certain Adjustment Applications- USCIS issued guidance the same day stating that the Filing Date, rather than the Final Action Date, applies to employment-based I-485 adjustment of status applications.
- ICE Proposes a Fixed Time Period of Admission and Extension-of-Stay Procedure for Nonimmigrant Students, Exchange Visitors, Foreign Media Representatives – ICE proposes to amend its regulations by changing the admission period of F, J, and I individuals from duration of status to admission for a fixed time period.
- EAD Delays Due to COVID-19: E-Verify/I-9 Guidance –To complete the Form I-9 work authorization verification process, new employees who are waiting for their EADs, and current employees who require reverification, may present certain Forms I-797, Notice of Action, as a List C document that establishes employment eligibility.
- DOL Announces Permanent Adoption of Electronic Issuance of PERM Labor Certifications – The Department of Labor announced that it is permanently adopting the electronic issuance of PERM labor certifications to employers and their authorized attorneys or agents.
- CBP Publishes Notices Extending Travel Restrictions at Land Ports of Entry Between the United States and Canada, Mexico – CBP issued notices extending temporary restrictions on travel of individuals from Canada and Mexico into the United States along land ports of entry at the border. Such travel is limited to “essential travel,” as defined in the notice, effective through October 21, 2020.
- USCIS Issues New Guidance on Application of Public Charge Rule- Following litigation, USCIS said it will apply the public charge final rule and related guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to all applications and petitions postmarked (or submitted electronically) on or after February 24, 2020.
Please scroll down to view the full updates.
1. October Visa Bulletin Shows Major Movement in Employment-Based Cases; USCIS Applies Filing Date Rather Than Final Action Date to Certain Adjustment Applications
On September 24, 2020, the Department of State released the October 2020 Visa Bulletin, which shows significant advancement in employment-based categories.
USCIS issued guidance the same day stating that the Dates for Filing chart, rather than the Final Action Date chart, will apply to employment-based I-485 adjustment of status (AOS) applications for the month of October. Historically USCIS has been reluctant to allow applicants to use the Filing Date, only doing so in very limited instances. Use of the Dates for Filing chart is only permissible when specifically authorized by USCIS, and allows the filing of the I-485 with USCIS, but does not allow the approval of the I-485 until an immigrant visa is available under the quota. The Final Action Date chart determines when lawful permanent residence may be granted and the USCIS may issue the immigrant visa.
A major area of advancement: the Filing Date for an EB-3 chargeable to India has advanced nearly five years to January 1, 2015, from February 1, 2010, while the Filing Date for an EB-1 from India advanced to September 1, 2020, from July 1, 2018. By contrast the Filing Date for EB-2 India advanced to only May 15, 2011, from August 15, 2009. This has created interest in the “downgrade” strategy.
Our ABIL colleague Cyrus Mehta has written an excellent article on the various considerations of downgrading an I-140 from EB-3 to EB-2:
- “Downgrading from EB-2 to EB-3 Under the October 2020 Visa Bulletin,” The Insightful Immigration Blog
- October 2020 Visa Bulletin
- “When to File Your Adjustment of Status Application for Family-Sponsored or Employment-Based Preference Visas: October 2020,”
- State Department guidance, updated September 17, 2020
2. ICE Proposes a Fixed Time Period of Admission and Extension-of-Stay Procedure for Nonimmigrant Students, Exchange Visitors, Foreign Media Representatives
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) proposes to amend its regulations by changing the admission period of F, J, and I individuals from duration of status to admission for a fixed time period. ICE said that admitting individuals in those categories for a fixed period will require those who wish to remain in the United States beyond their authorized admission period to apply for an extension of stay with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or to leave the United States and apply for admission with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol at a port of entry.
If finalized without change, the rule would make the biggest changes to regulation of international students and scholars in 20 years. Written comments on the proposed rule are due by October 26, 2020, via the method identified in the notice.
- ICE notice of proposed rulemaking, 85 Fed. Reg. 60526 (Sept. 25, 2020)
- “Fact Sheet: Proposed Regulation on the Change of Admission Period of F, J, and I Nonimmigrants from Duration of Status,” Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration
3. EAD Delays Due to COVID-19: E-Verify/I-9 Guidance
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a notice on September 23, 2020, stating that issuance of certain employment authorization documents (EADs) may be delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
To complete the Form I-9 work authorization verification process, new employees who are waiting for their EADs, and current employees who require reverification, may present certain Forms I-797, Notice of Action, as a List C #7 document issued by the Department of Homeland Security that establishes employment eligibility, even though the notice states it is not evidence of employment authorization, USCIS said. For the notice to be acceptable, it must include a Notice Date issued between December 1, 2019, and August 20, 2020, and indicate that USCIS has approved the employee’s Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. Both new and current employees may present this notice to complete the I-9 until December 1, 2020. New employees must also present an acceptable List B identity document.
USCIS said that by December 1, 2020, employers must reverify employees who presented the notice as a List C document. Those employees must present new evidence of employment authorization-either their new EADs or any other acceptable documentation they choose-from either List A or List C.
4. DOL Announces Permanent Adoption of Electronic Issuance of PERM Labor Certifications
The Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) announced on September 25, 2020, that it is permanently adopting the electronic issuance of PERM labor certifications to employers and their authorized attorneys or agents.
On March 24, 2020, OFLC announced that due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it would electronically issue PERM labor certifications to employers and their authorized attorneys or agents through June 30, 2020. On June 16, 2020, OFLC announced that it was extending that period through September 30, 2020. On July 30, 2020, DOL signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) providing access to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to all applications for permanent labor certification submitted to OFLC through the PERM online system, including the ability to verify that a PERM application has been certified. OFLC said the MOA “eliminates the need for duplicate certification requests and increases the integrity of the PERM program by supporting efforts to combat instances of fraud and abuse in connection with labor certification and employment-based immigrant and nonimmigrant programs.”
- OFLC announcement, Sept. 25, 2020
5. CBP Publishes Notices Extending Travel Restrictions at Land Ports of Entry Between the United States and Canada, Mexico
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued notices extending temporary restrictions on travel of individuals from Canada and Mexico into the United States along land ports of entry at the border. Such travel is limited to “essential travel,” as defined in the notice, effective through October 21, 2020.
CBP said the restrictions were necessary to lower the risk of transmission and spread of the virus associated with COVID-19.
- CBP notice (Canada), 85 Fed. Reg. 59670 (Sept. 23, 2020)
- CBP notice (Mexico), 85 Fed. Reg. 59669 (Sept. 23, 2020)
- Department of Homeland Security fact sheet, updated September 18, 2020
6. USCIS Issues New Guidance on Application of Public Charge Rule
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said it will apply the public charge final rule and related guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to all applications and petitions postmarked (or submitted electronically) on or after February 24, 2020. For those who sent their applications or petitions by commercial courier (for example, UPS, FedEx, or DHL), USCIS will use the date on the courier receipt as the postmark date.
USCIS released the guidance on September 22, 2020, on its application of the public charge final rule and related guidance to applications and petitions in light of a September 11, 2020, decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (State of New York, et al. v. DHS, et al. and Make the Road NY et al. v. Cuccinelli) that allows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to resume implementing the rule nationwide, including in New York, Connecticut, and Vermont. The decision stays a July 29, 2020, injunction issued during the COVID-19 pandemic that prevented DHS from enforcing the public charge final rule during the national health emergency.
COVID-19 resources. The response of the U.S. immigration agencies to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is constantly evolving, making it difficult to report relevant information that is not rendered immediately obsolete. The list of online resources below is intended to serve as a quick reference to the most current available agency information.
- Coronavirus.gov: Primary federal site for general coronavirus information
- USA.gov/coronavirus: Catalog of U.S. government’s response to coronavirus
- CDC.gov/coronavirus: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information
- American Immigration Lawyers Association: (links to practice alerts on this site are restricted to members)
Immigration Agency Information
Department of Homeland Security: DHS.gov/coronavirus
- USCIS: USCIS.gov/coronavirus
– Overview and FAQs: https://www.ice.gov/coronavirus
– Requirements for ICE Detention Facilities: https://www.ice.gov/doclib/coronavirus/eroCOVID19response
– Updates and Announcements: https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/coronavirus
– Accessing I-94 Information: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home
Department of Labor:
– OFLC Announcements (COVID-19 announcements included here): https://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/
– COVID-19 FAQs:
- Round 1 (Mar. 20, 2020): https://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/pdf/DOL-OFLC_COVID-19_FAQs_Round%201_03.20.2020.pdf
- Round 2 (Apr. 1, 2020): https://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/pdf/DOL-OFLC_COVID-19_FAQs_Round%202_04.01.2020.pdf
- Round 3 (Apr. 9, 2020): https://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/pdf/DOL-OFLC_COVID-19_FAQs_Round%203.pdf
State Department: https://www.state.gov/coronavirus/
- Travel advisories: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/covid-19-information.html
- Country-specific information: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/COVID-19-Country-Specific-Information.html
- J-1 exchange visitor information: https://j1visa.state.gov/covid-19/
- Executive Office for Immigration Review: https://www.justice.gov/eoir/eoir-operational-status-during-coronavirus-pandemic
AGENCY TWITTER ACCOUNTS
- EOIR: @DOJ_EOIR
- ICE: @ICEgov
- Study in the States: @StudyinStates
- USCIS: @USCIS
I-9 AND E-VERIFY WEBINARS
USCIS and Immigrant and employee rights webinars. The Department of Justice’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section, Civil Rights Division,has joined with USCIS to present webinars on employee rights during the E-Verify and Form I-9 employment eligibility verification processes. For more information or to register, see: https://www.justice.gov/crt/webinars.
E-Verify webinar schedule: https://www.e-verify.gov/calendar-field_date_and_time/month/202004.
AGENCY PROCESSING TIMES
USCIS case processing times: https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/
US Department of Labor: https://flag.dol.gov/processingtimes
Department of State Visa Bulletin: https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/law-and-policy/bulletin.html
This newsletter was prepared in collaboration with ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, comprised of twenty U.S. immigration lawyers who head some of the top immigration practices in the country. Larrabee Albi Coker LLP is an active member of ABIL.
Legal Disclaimer: This newsletter is provided for informational purposes only and does not substitute for legal advice based on the circumstances of a specific matter.