EMPLOYEE MOBILITY SOLUTIONS OFFICE IN THE USA:
Despite the current crisis, our immigration practice is fully operational and we are open for business and stand ready to assist you with any immigration needs or questions you may have. We are however, discouraging in-person meetings; instead, as always, we will be happy to consult with you via telephone, SKYPE, ZOOM, WhatsApp, or a platform of your choice. In addition, our case management system is fully electronic and online and it allows you to upload documents we might require. You already know that immigration law has been a moving target for years and the current world-wide health crisis has only added to the many uncertainties. We are in constant contact with our immigration government agencies, please find below the current status is it stands today:
GUIDANCE FOR BUSINESSES & VISA HOLDERS:
- Working from Home: H-1B and E-3 Employers: if you have asked your H-1 and E-3 employees to work from home, make sure your staff lives within the same metropolitan statistical area that you have indicated on the LCA. If s/he does not work within the same MSA, you may need to amend the LCA. If you are an employer and you employ professionals in L, E, O, or TN status, they may work from home or remotely for a short period of time without having to amend the petition.
- Furloughs: Employers must continue to pay wages. This is especially true for E-3 and H-1B employees so as to not come within the purview of “benching.” Additionally, furloughs could adversely affect a visa holder’s status in the U.S. and potentially trigger future inadmissibility. The above examples are not a one-size-fits-all. Be sure to reach out for competent immigration legal advice on these issues.
- Visitors for Business or Pleasure (B-1/2) and Visa Waiver Entrants: If you are stateside with a B-1 or B-2 visa and you are unsure whether you will be able to leave the U.S. timely, now is the time to apply for a visa extension. If you are a business or pleasure visitor under the Visa Waiver Program, you have the opportunity to have your stay extended for up to 30 days at a Port of Entry or at a CBP Deferred Inspection Station.
- Extensions of Current Status: If your I-94 and/or visa is expiring and you are already in the United States, we would recommend applying for an extension of stay of your I-94, instead of choosing consular processing. By choosing this option, the employee can legally remain in the United States. At a later point, when the embassies open up again, they can then choose to go for an interview for their new visa to allow travel.
- New Cases: USCIS has announced that they are continuing to process employment-based cases, with the exception that they have temporarily stopped processing with premium processing (where a decision can be obtained in 15 days for an additional fee). Cases can continue to be filed now without premium processing and then be upgraded at a later point. Additionally, USCIS is now allowing for cases to be filed with electronic copied signatures as opposed to original signatures.
USA IMMIGRATION OPERATIONS UPDATE:
- USCIS Offices: Most USCIS offices have either closed, changed their hours, or limited in person visits. USCIS has published the operations status of each of its field offices, application support centers and asylum offices at USCIS Offices.
- S. Embassies & Consulates: Many of our Embassies and Consulates have suspended visa appointments and visa issuance. If you have a pending visa application at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate, contact that post directly for guidance and updates. A directory of all our missions is at U.S. Embassies & Consulates.
- Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE): Under a temporary “enforcement posture” ICE will only focus on detaining “public safety risks” and immigrants whose criminal record requires the agency to apprehend and detain them. For all other undocumented persons ICE will exercise for now and ICE will not arrest anyone near hospitals, doctors’ offices or other medical facilities.
- Immigration Courts: Immigration Courts have cancelled all non-detained master calendar hearings and postponed many individual hearings. EOIR has published a guidance memorandum concerning a variety of circumstances at Immigration Courts.
USA TAX UPDATES:
- Tax Day now July 15: The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service announced today that the federal income tax filing due date is automatically extended from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020.
- Taxpayer can also defer federal income tax payments due on April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed.
- This deferment applies to all taxpayers, including individuals, trusts and estates, corporations and other non-corporate tax filers as well as those who pay self-employment tax.