COVID 19 Update August 2020
US-Canada & Mexico border closures extended
The US, Mexico, and Canada have each agreed to extend restrictions on non-essential travel across their shared borders until at least September 21, 2020.
The land border closures were initially introduced in March and have been subject to 30-day reviews, resulting in consecutive renewals on the grounds of public safety.
Essential cross-border workers such as health care professionals, airline crews and truck drivers are still permitted to cross.
Americans who are returning to America and Canadians who are returning to Canada also are exempt from the border closure.
ICE Further Extends Interim COVID-19 Protections for Form I-9 Compliance
The COVID-19 remote I-9 document inspection policy has been extended for an additional 30 days, through September 19, 2020.
Under the emergency provision, employers will not be required to review I-9 identity and employment authorization documents in the employee’s physical presence in respect of employees working remotely due to the pandemic.
The measure will remain applicable until it formally expires or until 3 days after the COVID-19 emergency is over, whichever comes first.
After this point, and once normal operations have resumed, employers will need to take steps to meet the standard requirements by physically inspecting documents within 3 business days for all employees onboarded and I-9’d remotely, ensuring the reason for the adjusted check is recorded.
DOS lifts Global Level 4 Health Advisory
On August 6, the Department of State (DOS) lifted the Global Level 4 Health Advisory, initially implemented on March 19, 2020, which advised US citizens to avoid all international travel due to COVID-19. The DOS has returned to its previous system of country-specific travel advice levels, with many countries remaining at Level 4 (Do Not Travel).
VWP period of satisfactory departure
USCIS continues to delegate temporary powers to US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to grant a discretionary period of satisfactory departure for up to 30 days to foreign nationals who entered the US under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) but who remain stranded in the US and unable to leave by reason of the pandemic.
For those VWP entrants already granted satisfactory departure and unable to depart within this 30-day period because of COVID-19 related issues, CBP has the authority to temporarily provide one additional 30-day period of satisfactory departure.
To request satisfactory departure from USCIS, a VWP entrant should contact the Deferred Inspection office at the airport where they entered the United States.
VWP travellers continue to be ineligible to extend their stay or change status.
Extensions of Stay & Change of Status applications
USCIS continues to accept and process applications for extension of stay (EOS) and Change of Status (COS), and many online forms are available.
Where applicable, employment authorization with the same employer, subject to the same terms and conditions of the prior approval, is automatically extended for up to 240 days after I- 94 expiration when an extension of stay request is filed on time.
US immigration advice
NNU Immigration is actively monitoring the impact of the pandemic on US immigration policy and application processing.
As the situation continues to develop, please contact our US immigration specialists for the latest advice for your specific circumstances.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.
Last updated: August 25, 2020