United States – Covid-19 – Immigration update

Update: March 26th, 2020

USCIS in-person services remain suspended until April 7

What is the change?

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced today it is extending its office closures and suspension of in-person services until at least April 7.

Key points

  • On March 18, USCIS temporarily closed its field offices, asylum offices and Application Support Centers until April 1 to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
  • Today’s announcement extends the current closures, and says that offices will reopen April 7 unless the closures are further extended.
  • The announcement only applies to in-person services at public USCIS offices, and does not affect USCIS Service Centers, where immigration petitions are processed.

Background

The closures affect in-person services, including interviews, biometric collection appointments and naturalization ceremonies. USCIS will send cancelation notices to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments affected by the closures. The agency will automatically reschedule Application Support Center appointments, and affected individuals will receive a new appointment letter in the mail. Applicants who had InfoPass or other appointments at a field office must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center when field offices reopen. Those seeking emergency appointments may contact the USCIS Contact Center. USCIS also has a COVID-19 webpage where it is posting updates

Update: March 20th, 2020

State Department suspends visa services, issues worldwide Level 4 travel advisory

What is the change?

According to a notice posted by the State Department Visa Office, the U.S. State Department is suspending all “routine” visa services in most countries as of March 18 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The notice advises to check the website of the appropriate U.S. embassy or consulate for its current operating status. On March 19, the State Department issued a worldwide level 4 travel advisory.

Key points:

  • Visa applicants should anticipate suspension of nonimmigrant and immigrant visa services in most countries worldwide. U.S. embassies and consulates at those locations will cancel visa appointments as of March 18.
  • U.S. citizens are advised to avoid all international travel.
  • The suspension in visa services does not affect the visa waiver program (ESTA).
  • The State Department directs those requiring emergency appointments to follow guidance at the relevant U.S. embassy website. The agency says that it will continue to process “urgent and emergency” requests, but does not define those terms.

Background

The State Department has already suspended visa services at numerous consulates around the world, and travelers from 30 countries are currently under entry bans to the U.S.

Employers and visa applicants should plan for significant delays as travel becomes increasingly curtailed and as more U.S. consulates suspend visa services.

H-1B cap electronic registration closes tomorrow

What is the change?

H-1B electronic cap registration closes at noon Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), Friday, March 20. The mandatory process requires that H-1B petitioners submit an online registration through myUSCIS.gov for each prospective H-1B candidate and pay a $10 government registration fee per registration.

Key points:

  • ll companies must create an H-1B registrant account in myUSCIS before registrations can be submitted, even if a law firm will be submitting registrations on the company’s behalf.
  • H-1B registrations may be submitted until noon, EDT on Friday.
  • After the registration period closes, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will conduct a lottery on properly submitted registration and post notifications of selected registrations in the myUSCIS accounts. Those selected will be invited to file full H-1B petitions during a 90-day filing period beginning April 1.
  • USCIS has posted instructional videos and screenshots of the system on its website.

Background

Companies should be prepared to review and electronically sign the H-1B registrations and the Form G-28 if a law firm is submitting registrations for them.

Trusted Traveler Program enrollment centers close

What is the change?

U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced it will close Trusted Traveler Program enrollment centers nationwide beginning March 19 until at least May 1, to reduce risk of COVID-19 exposure. Enrollment on Arrival remains open.

Key points:

  • The closures affect Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST enrollment centers. Additionally, Global Entry mobile enrollment events are also suspended until further notice.
  • Applicants who have been conditionally approved and seek an interview at an enrollment center must reschedule their appointments after May 1. They should monitor their Trusted Traveler Program account and email for further information.
  • The Enrollment on Arrival program for Global Entry applicants remains operational. Conditionally-approved Global Entry applicants may complete their enrollment when arriving on an international flight at any of the 60 airports that offer this program.
Photo de Diane Artis
Diane Artis

Diane Artis, Avocat Associée, possède plus de 20 années d’expérience dans le domaine de la fiscalité personnelle. Elle assiste quotidiennement les grands groupes internationaux dans le cadre de leur politique […]

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Sophie Carlei

Sophie est Directeur au sein de l’équipe Mobilité Internationale de Lyon et dirige l’équipe immigration. Elle conseille les groupes français et internationaux et intervient tant pour des clients travaillant dans le domaine […]

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Fatia Bouteiller

Fatia Bouteiller a rejoint Taj en 2017 pour renforcer l’équipe Immigration. Fatia dispose d’une expérience de 15 ans en mobilité internationale dans les domaines du droit de l’immigration, de l’expatriation […]