COVID-19 Update December 2020

US-Canada & US-Mexico land border closures extended

The US-Mexico and US-Canada land border closures are to remain effective until December 21, 2020, due to ongoing pandemic concerns.

This is a 30-day extension of the existing closure, which has been in place since March 2020 and has now been subject to eight successive monthly extensions.

The following rules continue to apply for the period of the closure:

  • Non-essential travel is not permitted across the land borders.
  • Travel for reasons of work, education, medical treatment, public health and legal cross-border trade are permissible.
  • Travel by US citizens and US permanent residents returning to the US is also allowed.

Other exemptions may also apply, and may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The closure will be reviewed again in advance of December 21.

DOS phased resumption of US visa services

The Department of State issued an update on November 12 on the status of US visa services.

Visa processing was suspended in March due to the pandemic.

A phased resumption of services across US Embassies and Consulates was initiated in July 2020 and is now being implemented on a “post-by-post basis” as local conditions allow.

There is no indication of when there will be a complete resumption of operations to pre-pandemic service levels, or of when individual posts will resume specific services.

Emergency and ‘mission-critical’ visa services have continued throughout the pandemic and will remain available where essential.

Travellers are advised to take professional guidance on the operational status of any specific post and where emergency visa services are required.

I-9 form extension

Relaxed compliance requirements relating to Form I-9 will continue to be permitted until December 31, 2020, due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirmed the extension of the temporary measure on November 20.

Under the temporary employment eligibility verification compliance requirements, employers operating remotely are permitted to review identity and employment authorization documents remotely, such as by video, fax, or email. Physical inspections can be deferred until after normal operations are resumed.

Timings for completion of the I-9 have not been changed: section 1 must be completed by the employee’s start date, and section 2 must be completed within three business days of the start date.

The temporary policy will not apply where employees are physically reporting to a place of work, instead, standard, in-person I-9 compliance requirements continue to apply when checking identity and employment eligibility documentation.

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: November 30, 2020