Immigration agencies lend a hand to employers and foreign nationals during COVID-19 pandemic

Immigration agencies lend a hand to employers and foreign nationals during COVID-19 pandemic

March 30, 2020

 

During this difficult time in the United States, when many are struggling to cope with the varied implications of the novel coronavirus pandemic and the disease it causes, COVID-19, various federal government agencies are rallying to help employers, foreign nationals, exchange visitors, students, and others cope with its secondary effects through easing or postponing certain requirements. Below is a roundup of some helpful steps:

 

 

 

  • Flexibility in complying with I-9 requirements for those with employees working remotely. Employers with employees taking physical proximity precautions due to COVID-19 will not be required to review the employee’s identity and employment authorization documents in the employee’s physical presence. Employers must inspect the Section 2 documents remotely (e.g., over video link, fax, or email) and obtain, inspect, and retain copies of the documents within three business days of hire for purposes of completing Section 2. Employers should enter “COVID-19” as the reason for the physical inspection delay. See https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/dhs-announces-flexibility-requirements-related-form-i-9-compliance

 

 

  • Extensions of time and deadlines for prevailing wage determinations and labor certifications. The Department of Labor’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) said it recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic may have a significant impact on businesses and understands that some employers and/or their authorized attorneys or agents may not be able to timely respond to requests for information and other correspondence regarding the processing of applications for prevailing wage determinations and labor certification (e.g., Requests for Information, Notices of Deficiency, Notices of Audit Examination). Accordingly, OFLC said it will grant extensions of time and deadlines for employers and/or their authorized attorneys or agents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including for delays caused by the pandemic and those that occurred as a result of businesses preparing to adjust their normal operations due to the pandemic. If the specific deadline falls within the period from March 13, 2020, through May 12, 2020, the employer’s response or submission of information or documentation will be considered timely if received by the appropriate National Processing Center no later than May 12, 2020, OFLC said. See https://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/pdf/DOL-OFLC_COVID-19_FAQs_Round%201_03.20.2020.pdf

 

  • Extension of notice requirements for new worksite locations. Notice is required to be provided on or before the date any worker on an H-1B, H-1B1, or E3 visa employed under an approved Labor Condition Application (LCA) begins work at a new worksite location. Because OFLC acknowledges employers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic may experience various service disruptions, the notice will be considered timely when placed as soon as practical and no later than 30 calendar days after the worker begins work at the new worksite locations. See https://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/pdf/DOL-OFLC_COVID-19_FAQs_Round%201_03.20.2020.pdf

 

  • Extensions of stay for ESTA/Visa Waiver Program participants. Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)/Visa Waiver Program participants who are in danger of exceeding their authorized stay in the United States for emergent situations, such as by being stranded due to COVID-19-related travel delays, may apply for “satisfactory departure,” which would extend the authorized period for up to 30 days, subject to certain limitations. They should contact a deferred inspection site or CBP office located within an international airport. See https://www.cbp.gov/contact/ports/deferred-inspection-sites

 

  • Flexibility for F and M nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is allowing flexibility for students who need to change to an alternate physical location for their studies. Schools must provide notice to SEVP. See https://www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/bcm2003-01.pdf

 

 

  • Continued processing for the H-2 program. Although the Department of State temporarily suspended routine visa services at all U.S. embassies and consulates, except for emergency and mission-critical visa services, H-2 case processing will continue “as much as possible, as permitted by post resources and local government restrictions.” Also, consular officers are authorized to expand the categories of H-2 visa applicants whose applications can be adjudicated without an in-person interview. See https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/important-announcement-on-h2-visas.html

 

While we applaud the agencies for providing accommodations, USCIS should also provide a blanket 60-90 days extension of stay for all non-immigrants since many are unable to timely file the required paper filings.

 

By | 2020-03-30T09:59:39-08:00 March 30th, 2020|Other|Comments Off on Immigration agencies lend a hand to employers and foreign nationals during COVID-19 pandemic

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