ICE Announces Extension, New Employee Guidance on I-9 Compliance Flexibility
In a welcome development, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced an extension until August 31, 2021, of the flexibilities in rules related to Form I-9 compliance that were initially granted last year due to precautions related to COVID-19. The latest extension includes guidance for employees hired on or after June 1, 2021, who work exclusively in a remote setting due to COVID-19-related precautions. Those employees are temporarily exempt from the physical inspection requirements associated with the Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9) process until they undertake non-remote employment on a “regular, consistent, or predictable basis,” or the extension of the flexibilities related to such requirements is terminated, whichever is earlier. If there are employees physically present at a work location, no exceptions are being implemented for in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation.
Details: ICE announcement, May 26, 2021, https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/ice-announces-extension-new-employee-guidance-i-9-compliance-flexibility-0
USCIS Eases Visitor Restrictions for Fully Vaccinated Individuals
Keeping up with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has updated its visitor policy. Fully vaccinated individuals no longer have to wear a face covering. Individuals two years old and older who are not fully vaccinated must still wear a face covering. “Fully vaccinated” is defined as at least two weeks having passed after receiving a second dose in a two-dose series or at least two weeks having passed after receiving a dose of a single-dose vaccine. USCIS also eased other requirements for fully vaccinated individuals who do not have COVID-19 symptoms. Those who have returned from domestic air, international air, or cruise ship travel in the past 10 days may enter USCIS facilities if they are fully vaccinated. Individuals who have been in close contact (within six feet for a total of 15 minutes or more) with anyone known to have COVID-19 in the previous 14 days may also enter USCIS facilities if they are fully vaccinated. Healthcare workers who consistently wear an N95 respirator and proper personal protective equipment or equivalent when in contact with COVID-19-positive individuals continue to be exempt from reporting close contact, USCIS said. In Department of Homeland Security-controlled spaces, “this guidance supersedes state, local, tribal, or territorial rules and regulations regarding face coverings,” USCIS said.
Details: USCIS notice, May 27, 2021, https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-eases-visitor-restrictions-for-fully-vaccinated-individuals
CBP Continues Temporary Travel Restrictions from Canada and Mexico Into United States Via Land POEs and Ferries
Travel restrictions between the U.S., Canada and Mexico continue. DHS has announced that temporary limits on nonessential travel of individuals from Canada or Mexico into the United States at land ports of entry along the border, including ferry service, will continue through June 21, 2021. The restrictions allow processing for entry into the United States only of those travelers engaged in “essential travel,” as defined in the notice. Travel into the United States by air is not affected by this notice.
Details: Federal Register notice (Canada), https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-05-24/pdf/2021-10991.pdf Federal Register notice (Mexico), https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-05-24/pdf/2021-10992.pdf
DHS Designates Burma (Myanmar) for Temporary Protected Status
In another demonstration of agency flexibility, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has designated Burma (Myanmar) for temporary protected status (TPS) through November 25, 2022. The designation allows an estimated 1,600 Burmese nationals (or individuals having no nationality who last habitually resided in Burma) who have been continuously residing in the United States since March 11, 2021, and continuously physically present in the United States since May 25, 2021, to file initial applications for TPS. The 180-day initial registration period began on May 25, 2021 and runs through November 22, 2021. Applicants may also be eligible to apply for TPS-related employment authorization documents and for travel authorization.