The White House recently announced that beginning May 12, 2023, the COVID-19 vaccination requirements for entry to the United States will no longer apply to nonimmigrant international air travelers. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would end the COVID-19 vaccination requirements as of May 12, 2023 for non-U.S.
Seyfarth Synopsis: The below summarizes recent legal updates that impact U.S. immigration:
1. FY2024 H-1B Cap Registration
On March 27, 2023, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that initial registration was complete and that all prospective petitioners with selected registrations selected in the lottery were notified. Petitioners…
By: Jake Campbell
Seyfarth Synopsis: U.S. immigration agencies have started 2023 at full steam and have issued numerous legal updates. The below will provide a summary of these updates that occurred in January 2023:
- H-1B Cap Registration
USCIS announced that this year’s cap registration will open on March 1…
By: Dawn Lurie, Matthew Parker, and Amber Olson
On July 22, 2022, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a reminder regarding the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) termination of the COVID-19 temporary policy allowing employers to accept expired List B documents for the Form I-9. As of May 1, 2022, employers must only…
By: Dawn M. Lurie
Seyfarth Synopsis: On April 25, ICE announced its 13th extension, this time for a six-month period (until October 31, 2022), of the I-9 compliance flexibility rules relating to Form I-9. There is no substantive change in this extension of the policy, allowing for the “in-person” exemption (of identity and work authorization document review), benefiting certain employees and offering flexibility for companies that are phasing back in employees. While we are confident that the government is considering a permanent virtual option, we continue to advise employers to work under the assumption that anyone initially verified using the virtual flexibility will be required to conduct an in-person update as employees return to the workplace, especially in cases where identity was not verified (i.e. those that used the fax/email option).
Lucky #13 – Extension of the COVID I-9 Flexibility
In a thirteenth extension, ending on Halloween 2022, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) posted an unprecedented (it’s been a while since I said that word) six (6) month extension of the flexibilities in rules related to Form I-9 compliance, initially granted in March 2020. These flexibilities are now extended until October 31, 2022. The posting on the website is a bit confusing, as it just updates the December 2021 announcement, and includes an alert attached to the top of the page which indicates the new deadline.
ICE’s announcement affirms that employers who are taking COVID-19 related precautions and offering working in remote or hybrid environments, may continue inspecting I-9 documents virtually for newly hired employees as well as for reverification of work authorizations. See our prior blog for the guidance and discussion on its forward-facing application, noting that ICE will evaluate a company’s situation “on a case-by-case basis” should a company have used virtual without the workforce being 100% remote from March 20, 2020 to March 31, 2021. Given the confusion and lack of guidance surrounding the directive, we remain optimistic that the government will show leniency for early misunderstandings and misapplications of the original policy.Continue Reading Trick or Treat: I-9 Flexibilities Extended until October 31, 2022
Late in the day, on May 26, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced a 90-day extension for remote Form I-9 inspection, allowing flexibilities to continue through August 31, 2021.
While the U.S. appears to have turned a corner in the fight against COVID-19, most companies have yet to formulate and implement back to work policies. Thank you to ICE and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), for allowing these employers to head into the holiday weekend without having to worry about the fate of this anticipated extension. And thank you for the 90 days, rather than the shorter 30 or 60-day extensions issued previously.
The Devil is in the Details
It would not be a exciting blog post, if we didn’t have something interesting to point out. The ICE announcement includes two confusing items:
Continue Reading Nothing “new” Other Than a 90 day Extension of Virtual I-9s
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