With the spread of the Coronavirus subsiding or at least holding

steady in the U.S., many government agencies that are involved with

U.S. immigration case processing are beginning to resume

services. At the same time, some agencies have experienced

processing issues as a result of fewer people working at government

facilities.  In addition, President Trump has issued a couple

of proclamations suspending the entry of certain foreign nationals

into the U.S.  Here is an update on where various agencies

stand with respect to immigration case processing as of early June

2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • District Offices Reopening:  On June 4,

    2020, local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field

    offices across the U.S. reopened for non-emergency in-person

    services such as interviews and oath ceremonies.

  • InfoMod Appointments:  USCIS is

    continuing to schedule local InfoMod appointments only for issues

    where there is an emergency need. The public should contact the

    USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283 to make an InfoMod

    appointment. 

  • USCIS District Office Reopening Webinar

    USCIS is hosting a webinar on Thursday, June 18, 2020 from 3:00

    p.m. EST to 4:00 p.m. EST, which will provide an overview of

    reopening procedures for district offices, application support

    centers, and asylum offices. If you have any questions about the

    webinar or would like to register for the webinar, please send an

    e-mail message to the following address: 

    public.engagement@uscis.dhs.gov.

  • USCIS Vermont Service Center (VSC) Delays in Issuance

    of Receipt Notices:  There are reports of delays at

    the USCIS' VSC with respect to the issuance of receipt

    notices.  There has been no explanation, but it is assumed

    that with more officers working remotely because of the COVID-19

    pandemic, delays have resulted with respect to receipt notice

    issuance.

  • USCIS Resumes Premium Processing

    Services:  USCIS will resume premium

    processing for Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) and

    Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) petitions in the

    month of June 2020 on a gradual or phased-in basis, as follows: On

    June 8, 2020, USCIS will accept premium processing

    requests for H-1B petitions filed before June 8, 2020 that are

    pending adjudication and are cap exempt, as well as all other Form

    I-129 petitions (non-H-1B petitions) for nonimmigrant

    classifications eligible for premium processing filed before June

    8, 2020.  On June 15, 2020, USCIS plans to

    resume premium processing for H-1B petitions filed on or after June

    8, 2020 that are cap exempt, based on the employer being cap

    exempt, or because the beneficiary will be employed at a qualifying

    cap-exempt institution, or because the beneficiary is cap exempt

    based on a Conrad 30 Waiver or Interested Government Agency (IGA)

    waiver under the Immigration and Nationality Act. On June

    22, 2020, USCIS plans to resume premium processing for all

    other Form I-29 petitions, including all H-1B cap-subject

    petitions.  This would include those H-1B cap-subject

    petitions for Fiscal Year 2021, requesting a change of status from

    F-1 nonimmigrant status.  In addition, all other Form I-129

    petitions for nonimmigrant classification, eligible for premium

    processing service, will resume on this date.  

  • U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Released Round Four of

    Frequently Asked Questions Regarding COVID-19

    Pandemic:  DOL has rescinded and replaced Question #3

    of the COVID-19 Round 1 FAQs published on March 20, 2020.  In

    the COVID-19 Round 1 FAQs, Question #3 provided additional time for

    employers to file an ETA Form 9089 beyond 180 days from the start

    of the placement of recruitment, provided the recruitment began on

    or after September 15, 2019 and the ETA Form 9089 was filed by May

    12, 2020.  Going forward, DOL will no longer accept

    recruitment completed after the 180-day regulatory deadline has

    passed.   In addition, DOL has indicated that its

    National Prevailing Wage Center will not approve any requests to

    extend the validity date of a prevailing wage determination.

  • E-Certified ETA Form 9089s are still acceptable for

    Form I-140 Petition Filings through at least June 30,

    2020:  USCIS has indicated that when filing a Form

    I-140 petition, “No” should be marked on Question 10,

    Page 3 of the Form I-140 regarding whether the petitioner is

    requesting a duplicate labor certification from the DOL.  DOL

    has indicated that e-certified ETA Form 9089s issued by the DOL

    between March 25, 2020 and June 30, 2020 will satisfy the

    requirement that the petitioner provide evidence of an original

    certified ETA Form 9089.  USCIS has confirmed that photocopied

    signatures on the e-certified ETA Form 9089 are acceptable to

    USCIS.

  • National Visa Center Communications:  The

    U.S. Department of State's National Visa Center (NVC) has

    indicated that as of June 1, 2020, NVC is responding to messages

    received on or before May 23, 2020.  NVC has indicated that

    all messages received on March 27, 2020 or before should have

    received a response.  NVC has indicated that only critical

    case updates and urgent medical or humanitarian issues should be

    submitted at this time, because of reduced staffing levels at the

    NVC due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • U.S. Northern and Southern Land Border to Remain Closed

    to all but Essential Travel until June 22, 2020:  The

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has extended the closure

    of the land border at ports of entry to all but essential travel

    until June 22, 2020.  While non-essential travel includes

    sightseeing in the U.S., recreational activities, gambling, or

    attending cultural events, there are reports of foreign nationals

    being denied admission when claiming the travel to the U.S. is

    essential for employment.  Foreign nationals should contact

    the CBP office at the port of entry prior to traveling to the U.S.

    to confirm the travel meets the criteria for essential travel to

    the U.S. U.S. citizens and U.S. Green Card holders, as well as

    certain other individuals, still have the ability to enter the U.S.

    at the northern and southern land borders.

  • Presidential Proclamation Suspending Entry into the

    U.S. Certain Individuals Traveling from Brazil:  On

    May 25, 2020, President Trump issued a proclamation restricting the

    entry of certain immigrants and nonimmigrants to the U.S. who were

    physically present in Brazil for 14-days preceding entry or

    attempted entry into the U.S. This decision is based on data

    collected from the World Health Organization (WHO) that reflects

    Brazil is currently undergoing a widespread transmission of

    COVID-19.  The restriction does not apply to U.S. Green Card

    holders, U.S. citizens, spouses of U.S. citizens or Green Card

    holders, as well as certain other foreign nationals.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general

guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought

about your specific circumstances.

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