More Restrictions and Some Steps Toward Normal for Business Immigration

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Starting today, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will allow in-person visits for non-emergencies for the first time in more than two months. USCIS is also phasing premium processing back in this month for businesses looking to process cases filed with USCIS for executives, managers, and other specialized workers.

But as some things head back toward normal, many restrictions remain or continue to grow. Travel suspensions and entry restrictions remain in place for travelers coming from Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Schengen countries, China, and Iran. Further, in recent weeks, President Donald Trump suspended entry of immigrants and nonimmigrants traveling from Brazil and announced new restrictions for Chinese graduate students and researchers. There also continue to be discussions regarding further restrictions on the entry of non-immigrants more broadly, the possibility of which was referenced in the president’s April 22 proclamation imposing a temporary restriction on the entry of immigrants.

Below you’ll find more detail on those announcements impacting business immigration over the past few weeks:

  • Beginning on June 4, USCIS is reopening in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices, and application support centers (ASCs). In-person visits had been restricted to emergency services since March 18. Going forward, visitors will need to wear face masks and follow other instructions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. USCIS is automatically rescheduling a variety of appointments that had been delayed because of the pandemic. You can find a chart explaining whether you need to reschedule an appointment yourself here.
  • On May 29, USCIS announced it will begin phasing premium processing back in for petitions needed to bring executives, managers, and other types of temporary or permanent workers to the United States. As of June 1, USCIS resumed premium processing for all Form I-140 petitions. June 8 will be the start date for premium processing for certain pending Form I-129 petitions, including H-1B petitions that are cap-exempt. By June 22, USCIS will accept premium processing requests along with new petitions as well. You can find more details here
  • Also on May 29, President Trump suspended entry into the U.S. of certain graduate students and researchers from China. The restrictions are specific to those using an F or J visa to study or conduct research, although it does not apply to undergraduates. The proclamation includes exemptions for lawful permanent residents of the U.S., members of the U.S. armed forces and their spouses, and certain others. These nonimmigrant restrictions are not related to the coronavirus outbreak. President Trump says they are necessary to prevent the Chinese military from acquiring “sensitive United States technologies and intellectual property.” While the proclamation only suspends entry to the U.S., the secretary of state is also directed to consider whether such Chinese nationals who are currently in the United States pursuant to F or J visas and who may otherwise meet the stated criteria should have their visas revoked as well.
  • On May 24, President Trump extended travel restrictions into the U.S. to include immigrants or nonimmigrants in Brazil, which has experienced an acceleration of cases during the coronavirus outbreak. A fact sheet from the U.S. embassy in Brazil says the measures “apply to all foreign national travelers, regardless of nationality, but based on travelers’ physical presence in Brazil.” Lawful permanent residents of the U.S. and certain others are exempted. (You can find a full list in the fact sheet.) The U.S. now has similar travel restrictions with Brazil, China, Iran, the U.K., Ireland, and a broad variety of European countries in the Schengen Area as well as restrictions for non-essential travelers on the Canadian and Mexican land and coastal borders.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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