COVID 19 Update July 2020
Here we summarise the latest COVID-19 announcements and developments affecting US immigration processing:
Reciprocal border closure through August
The United States, Mexico, and Canada have extended the reciprocal land border closures through August.
Initially introduced in March 2020, the closures continue to be actively reviewed in response to the pandemic, and on July 20 were most recently extended until at least August 21, 2020.
The border closures continue to apply to all non-essential travel, including travel for tourism and recreation.
Essential travel includes:
- US citizens and permanent residents returning to the US
- People traveling to the US for work purposes Lawful cross-border trade (such as trucks delivering goods)
- Travel for other specific purposes such as attending school or receiving medical treatment
While the provisions of the border closures will remain the same, heightened security measures are also being introduced to enforce the rules.
ICE Further Extends I-9 Compliance Flexibility Due to COVID-19
Temporary flexibility measures in relation to Form I-9 compliance have been extended through August 19, 2020.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) initially introduced the flexible requirements on March 19, 2020, which have since been extended in 30-day phases.
Under the emergency measures, employers and workplaces operating remotely due to COVID-19 are permitted to obtain, inspect, and retain copies of employment eligibility and identity documents for Form I-9 compliance using virtual means, and do not have to review the documents in the physical presence of the employee.
Employers are advised to keep track of the latest guidance in this area for indication of when the usual rules will resume and to ensure they comply with the full extent of the temporary requirements and any subsequent corrective checks that may be required.
USCIS Extends Flexibility for Responding to Agency Requests Due to COVID-19
USCIS has further extended flexibility for petitioners and applicants responding to certain agency requests.
USCIS first implemented flexibilities on Initially introduced on March 30, 2020, the temporary measure has been extended to allow to respond
The provisions apply to certain documents where the date of issue is between March 1, 2020 and September 11, 2020. These include:
- Requests for Evidence
- Continuations to Request Evidence (N-14)
- Notices of Intent to Deny
- Notices of Intent to Revoke
- Notices of Intent to Rescind and Notices of Intent to Terminate regional investment centers
- Filing date requirements for Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion
filing date requirements for Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings
Where the flexible provisions apply, USCIS will consider responses such notices and requests received within 60 calendar days after the response date posted on the notice or request before taking action.
Department of Homeland Security Reopens Global Entry Enrollment Centers
The Department of Homeland Security has reopened enrollment centers for the Global Entry program.
Enrollment centers reopened on July, 6, having been closed since March 19 in response to the pandemic emergency.
With centers now open, applicants are able to attend in-person interviews for conditionally approved SENTRI, Global Entry, and U.S.-Mexico FAST applications.
While some in-person appointments are now available, in-person interviews for other applications, including U.S.-Canada FAST and Nexus, will remain suspended through August 10th.
Those attending interviews will be required to follow certain guidelines, including wearing a face mask and adhering to social distancing rules.
Interviews have to be scheduled in advance through the online booking system. The number of interview slots available will necessarily be limited, as will the amount of seating available in the waiting area.
Applicants must still provide fingerprints to complete the enrollment process.
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: July 24, 2020