Business Immigration in a Minute by Honigman LLP

  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) recently announced a concession due to the COVID-19 pandemic that allows some U.S. citizens to return to the United States with expired passports. CBP issued guidance to the airlines allowing U.S. citizens whose passports expired on or after January 1, 2020 to use their expired U.S. passports to return to the United States through December 31, 2021. This guidance only applies to U.S. citizens who are currently outside the United States and are seeking to reenter the United States from an international destination. U.S. citizens cannot use an expired passport to travel to an international destination, unless it is for the purpose of a connecting flight to the United States. This concession is helpful to individuals who have been stuck abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic and have been unable to renew their U.S. passports. 

  • As a result of updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has updated its visitor policy. Notably, USCIS no longer requires fully vaccinated individuals to wear a face covering in order to enter USCIS facilities. However, individuals two years old and older who are not fully vaccinated must still wear a face covering. To be fully vaccinated, an individual must be at least two weeks out from receiving a second dose in a two-dose series or at least two weeks out from receiving a dose of a single-dose vaccine.

  • The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) reached a settlement agreement with LNK International Inc. (“LNK”), resolving claims that it violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) when it discriminated against work-authorized non-U.S. citizens by requesting lawful permanent residents (“LPRs”) to provide a copy of their green cards as evidence of permanent resident status when completing Form I-9. Per DOJ, LNK violated the INA’s anti-discrimination provisions by routinely requesting unnecessary and specific documents from LPRs that the company hired for work in certain departments, while allowing U.S. citizens to choose from the various acceptable Form I-9 document types. Per the settlement agreement, LNK will pay the United States a civil penalty of $220,000.00 and will train its employees on the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision. As a reminder, the INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from requesting more or different documents than necessary to prove work authorization based on employees’ citizenship, immigration status, or national origin.

  • The Department of State (“DOS”) has once again updated the criteria for a National Interest Exception (“NIE”) for direct travel to the United States from one of the COVID-19 restricted countries. DOS recently announced that individuals who are seeking to provide vital support or executive direction for critical infrastructure, individuals who are traveling to provide vital support or executive direction for significant economic activity in the United States, journalists, students and certain academics covered by exchange visitor programs, immigrants, and fiancés are all in the national interest for purposes of approving an NIE under the geographic proclamations restricting travel due to COVID-19. These proclamations restrict the entry of individuals physically present in China, Iran, India, the Schengen Area, United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, or South Africa within the 14-day period prior to their attempted entry into the United States. Foreign nationals who are granted NIEs are not subject to the 14-day travel restriction and may travel directly to the United States.

  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) announced an extension of the flexibilities in rules related to Form I-9 compliance that were granted last year. Due to the continued precautions related to COVID-19, the Department of Homeland Security has extended this policy until August 31, 2021.

  • CBP has extended border restrictions permitting only essential travel across the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico land borders through June 21, 2021. Essential travel includes travel by U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and foreign nationals traveling to work in the United States, among other purposes. These restrictions do not affect air travel. 

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