By: Dawn M. Lurie

Seyfarth Synopsis: This announcement extends the flexibilities in rules relating to Form I-9 compliance that was initially granted last year. It also expands the scope of the “in-person” exemption benefit to certain employees, and offers flexibility for companies that are phasing back in employees, as doing so will no longer trigger the in-person requirement for all new hires.  While an improvement in the overall dialogue, the guidance leaves uncertainty regarding the end of I-9 virtual flexibility, and as such, employers should consider moving away from the virtual completion model while continuing to heavily document current practices.

With employers impatiently waiting, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced (at 2:00 PM EST on March 31, 2021) another sixty (60) day extension of the flexibilities in rules related to Form I-9 compliance, initially granted in March 2020. These flexibilities have been extended until May 31, 2021. The announcement was expected, as a portion of the American workforce is still very much remote, including much of the federal government in Washington, D.C.  However, the delay in the announcement was disappointing, causing unnecessary stress on already fragile H.R. departments.
Continue Reading ICE Warms to the Cold Realities of COVID-19: Latest I-9 Virtual Flexibility Guidance Extended to May 31, 2021

By Dawn Lurie

With a new Administration moving into Washington D.C. amidst tension and confusion, immigration compliance remains top of mind for employers.  I know that because I hear from H.R. leadership, General Counsel’s offices, administrators running small family businesses, and shift managers at local pizza places across the country.  Some companies tell me they continue to “work from home,” some never left the workplace, and others are operating in a hybrid model.  Whatever the industry, wherever the location, and no matter the size, we are witnessing a significant shift in the onboarding process to produce outcomes similar to those achieved in-person; how we complete the Form I-9 is no exception.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt technological barriers that prevented remote work in the past. In doing so, it is forcing changes to the onboarding process while simultaneously addressing health and safety concerns. Employers facing these vexing Form I-9 compliance issues and ongoing confusion are hungry for more explicit directives from the government, and in turn, the government is trying to keep pace.  I am hopeful that the new administration, along with the hardworking career government corps, will recognize these challenges and partner with companies as they create effective and safe processes that meet the challenges of 2021, including those hurdles presented in 2020.

Below, we travel back into 2020 in order to flag concerns and frame various I-9 issues for employers, including a slightly updated set of Form I-9 Examples Related to Temporary COVID -19 Policies posted on I-9 Central’s Temporary Policies Related to COVID-19 page, as well as an October 2020 update to the M-775, E-Verify User Manual, concerning Tentative Non Confirmation (TNC) practices.
Continue Reading What’s New in the New Year? Initial I-9 Musings & Treasures from 2020

As of early Friday morning, July 17, there’s been no announcement by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirming whether it will continue the flexibility granted in the Form I-9 process, temporarily suspending the in-person physical inspection requirement.  ICE originally announced the relaxation on March 20, as employers were beginning to grapple with COVID-19 work-from-home and shelter-in-place orders. The initial guidance allowed companies to review “Section 2 documents remotely (e.g., over video link, fax or email, etc.) and obtain, inspect, and retain copies of the documents within three business days for purposes of completing Section 2.” The relaxation of this requirement was extended through Sunday, July 19. Employers who have been using the virtual process, and will need to switch gears over the weekend, are getting very nervous.   
Continue Reading Still No Word From ICE On Virtual I-9s

This blog was updated on July 8th to reflect the Harvard and MIT lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced a policy change on July 6 that will substantially disrupt higher education for the fall semester. This major change in policy was issued without any opportunity for notice and comment by the public.

Despite the resurgent COVID-19 pandemic, ICE announced that it will no longer continue to allow 100% online studies programs for F-1 (academic) and M-1 (vocational) students. ICE has directed international students who presently participate in 100% online studies programs must either (1) transfer to an ICE-approved educational institution that allows hybrid (online and in-person) or fully on-campus, in-person courses, or (2) leave the U.S. or (3) remain in the U.S. without the underlying support of the school and suffer the possible initiation of removal (deportation) proceedings. ICE also indicated that it would publish a temporary or interim final regulation to a similar effect.
Continue Reading ICE Gives the Cold Shoulder to Foreign Students

Seyfarth Synopsis:  The President’s Proclamation will pause the issuance of immigrant visas for those seeking lawful permanent residence (Green Card) status through consular processing at posts outside of the U.S. for the next 60 days.  This order is limited in scope and should not have a significant impact on the transfer of global talent.

On Wednesday, April 22, 2020, President Trump issued a proclamation to pause the issuance of new Immigrant Visas outside the U.S. for an initial period of 60 days, taking effect at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, April 23, 2020.
Continue Reading It Shall be Tweeted, It Shall be Written: Temporary Suspension of Immigrant Entry

Seyfarth Blog SynopsisIn today’s posting we discuss the impact that furloughs and layoffs may have on F-1 student workers and related employer obligations.

Attracting and retaining talent involves recruitment of recent graduates and those completing their studies at universities in the U.S.  This talent pool often includes great candidates who are in the U.S. as students on temporary F-1 visas.  U.S. Based businesses  and the F-1 students who they employ now face new challenges as employers move forward with temporary or sometimes permanent cost saving measures through salary reductions, furloughs or layoffs in response to the impacts of COVID-19. This post provides an overview of some of the commonly asked questions to help employers navigating through ongoing changes.
Continue Reading F-1 Student Workers & COVID-19 Impacts on Employment

Seyfarth Blog Synopsis: In today’s posting we discuss the impact that COVID-19 related changes in working conditions, furloughs and layoffs have on  businesses with employees currently working on H-1B, H-1B1 or E-3 work visas.

As we continue complying with shelter-in-place and safer-at-home orders implemented in response to COVID-19, organizations nationwide are also starting to assess the impact of these measures on their businesses and operations.  For some employers and industries the sudden transition to a work-from-home model may have been seamless, but overall, the sheer force of the economic impact of these changes is now being felt as company after company considers possible furloughs, salary reductions, and layoffs to help them revamp operations and survive the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. For employers who also sponsor non-citizens for temporary work visas like the H-1B, H-1B1 and E-3 (specialty occupation) categories, opting for work-from-home models, furloughs, changes in employment terms, or layoffs as cost-saving measures will require additional analysis.  
Continue Reading Visa Obligations & COVID-19 Changes in Working Conditions

Please note, while we address some country-specific updates related to the COVID-19 outbreak, the below is a list of global restrictions and closures as they stand today. Given the constantly changing nature of this situation, we highly recommend reviewing any global mobility inquiries on a case-by-case basis, including any consulate-specific or immigration authority resources in real-time before traveling internationally. Please reach out to our Global Mobility Team in advance of any international travel.
Continue Reading Seyfarth Global Immigration Update: April 2020

In-Person Services Suspended Until At Least May 3

In response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) developments, as of April 1, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated its office closures suspending routine in-person services until May 3rd.

What does this mean for cases in progress?

USCIS will reschedule appointments for applicants with permanent resident (green

With the closure of Social Security Administration (SSA) offices in the wake of COVID-19, we are receiving questions concerning the impact on work authorization for individuals who may have recently entered the U.S. in a temporary work authorized visa status, i.e. H-1B, L-1, TN, E etc.

While the Social Security Number (SSN) is used and required, in a variety of areas, it is not mandatory to be presented as proof of work authorization.
Continue Reading SSA Office Closures and the Impact on SSN Issuance For Foreign Nationals