Business Immigration in a Minute by Honigman LLP

  • In alignment with the White House’s announcement that it will relax travel restrictions for vaccinated travelers, the Department of State (“DOS”) updated its U.S. travel policy. Effective November 8, 2021, the new travel policy will require foreign nationals traveling to the United States to demonstrate proof of full vaccination against COVID-19. DOS also stated that federal agencies are working to develop orders and guidance documents to implement this new travel policy and that these details will be made available to airlines and travelers well in advance of the November 8 start date.

  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) has extended border restrictions permitting only essential travel across the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico land borders through January 21, 2022. Essential travel includes travel by U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and foreign nationals traveling to work in the United States, among other purposes. However, CBP also announced that it intends to lift these restrictions for travelers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to align with the new international air travel system beginning November 8, 2021.

  • Recently, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered DOS to issue 9,905 2020 diversity-based immigrant visas by the end of FY2022. Due to various delays caused by COVID-related travel restrictions and DOS’ improper suspension of the visa adjudication process for diversity visa winners abroad who were subject to these travel restrictions, FY2020 Diversity Visa Program winners were unable to obtain their immigrant visas before September 30, 2020, the end of the FY2020 Diversity Visa Program’s fiscal year. As a result, multiple diversity-based immigrant visa applicants sued the U.S. government over the unreasonable delay in processing their immigrant visas. The court decided in favor of the visa applicants and ordered DOS to conclude processing no later than the end of FY2022, which is September 30, 2022.

  • The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the Department of Labor (“DOL”) announced that they reached separate settlement agreements with Facebook regarding its use of the permanent labor certification program (“PERM”). The DOJ settlement resolves its claims that Facebook violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) by routinely refusing to recruit, consider, or hire U.S. workers, a group that includes U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals and other individuals protected by the INA’s anti-discrimination requirements, for positions it had reserved for temporary visa holders in connection with the PERM process.  The DOL settlement resolves issues it separately identified through audit examinations of Facebook’s PERM recruitment activities.  Under the DOJ settlement, Facebook will pay a civil penalty of $4.75 million, pay up to $9.5 million to eligible victims of the alleged discrimination, and train its employees on the INA’s anti-discrimination requirements.  Under the DOL settlement, Facebook will conduct additional notice and recruitment for U.S. workers and will be subject to ongoing compliance audits for its PERM recruitment activities.

  • The National Visa Center (“NVC”) published its October 2021 immigrant visa backlog report, which showed that the overall number of applicants waiting for DOS to schedule their interview decreased this month. Specifically, NVC reported that there were 22,400 fewer pending interviews in October 2021 compared to September 2021. This small decrease in pending interviews is a sign that DOS is slowly making progress on reducing the backlog and returning immigrant visa processing to pre-COVID levels.

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