IMPORTANT IMMIGRATION ALERTS DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC July 14, 2020. On July 14, 2020, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in a hearing involving litigation filed by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) challenging DHS's July 6, 2020, international student guidance, DHS has agreed to fully rescind the July 6, 2020, ICE guidance and July 7, 2020, Frequently Asked Questions, and rescind all implementing guidance. The status quo based upon the agency's March 13, 2020, guidance will remain in force. For more information, see The Hill: Trump Administration Rescinds Foreign Students Rule - July 14, 2020. https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/507293-trump-administration-rescinds-policy-to-strip-visas-from-foreign ******************************************** June 22, 2020. USCIS Released the following announcement regarding the June 22nd Presidential Proclamation: "Monday’s presidential proclamation temporarily restricts certain categories of visas from being issued to protect jobs for American workers while our economy recovers from the effects of COVID-19. This does not affect those currently working in the U.S. on valid H-1B or similar visas. The proclamation also does not prevent individuals in possession of valid visas prior to the effective date of the proclamation from entering or re-entering the country, if they have been abroad, provided they have not otherwise rendered themselves inadmissible. The U.S. will continue to honor these already valid visas as we help American workers get back on their feet." – USCIS Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow *************************************************** Is an H-1B employee who is laid off or furloughed eligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits? It depends on the unemployment insurance rules prevailing in the State in which the H-1B employee is employed. According to the New York Department of Labor, if you are not a U.S. citizen, you may receive unemployment insurance if you: (a) Were working legally when you lost your job (b) Are legally allowed to take a new job (c) Meet the other requirements for unemployment insurance. Please note, however, that in order to claim unemployment insurance the person’s employment ought to have been terminated. For H-1B employees, once they are terminated they can only remain in the U.S. legally for 60 days after which they must either depart or change to other employment or immigration status. If these options are not available to the H-1B employee after 60 days then as a practical matter the unemployment insurance only helps them for 60 days. Also note that unlike public benefits such as food stamps which if claimed by a non-immigrant in the US such an an H-1B employee, would have a negative impact on your future immigration applications, unemployment insurance is not considered a “public benefit” for public charge purposes. Instead it is considered an earned benefit just like any other insurance benefit.
Even in ordinary times, immigration law is complex, and changing. In today’s political environment, merely keeping up with the near-daily developments is a challenge. We try to do that, for individuals and for corporate entities.
Immigration implications can arise in a variety of areas, some obvious and others not so obvious. Certain actions which to most U.S. citizens are ordinary parts of life, like relocating to a different state (or country) permanently or for a sabbatical, adopting a child, marriage, divorce, tax and financial planning, finding a new job or leaving a job, and dealing with estate planning and death, can have unforeseen, even dire immigration consequences for the foreign national if attention is not paid to the immigration implications. For the business which has foreign nationals working for it, such as on the famed H-1B visa, a corporate reorganization or lay-offs, even moving an employee from one office to another, may have significant consequences.
Situations we encounter regularly include
- the U.S. citizen who wishes to marry a foreign national and thereafter have him or her become a permanent resident, and eventually a U.S. citizen;
- the family seeking to adopt a child from another country;
- the U.S. citizen or permanent resident wishing to assist family members (parents or siblings) to immigrate to the U.S.;
- the student or scholar wishing to pursue a career in the United States on a temporary or even permanent basis;
- the foreign artist or performer (or group) wrestling with the immigration bureaucracy to obtain visas required for an American tour;
- the employer trying to ensure compliance with I-9 employment eligibility verification obligations, or to employ a foreign national in a non-immigrant visa category such as an H-1B visa;
- an attorney representing a client on a non-immigration matter such as criminal defense, taxes, or adoption which could have immigration consequences for a foreign national in the United States on a visa;
- a US citizen wanting to claim citizenship in another country from which his/her parents or grandparents emigrated (Italy, Ireland);
- a foreign national on a so-called Green Card (permanent resident status) wishing to be naturalized;
- a foreign national who has tried to negotiate the immigration maze by himself and gotten himself in a tangle with USCIS.
Immigration legal services we offer include:
- Obtaining a ‘green card’ , permanent resident status in the US
- Family-based immigration, including green card applications for spouses of U.S. citizens;
- Naturalization applications and appeals for permanent residents seeking U.S. citizenship;
- Employment-based immigration petitions such as H-1B work visas;
- Non-immigrant visa applications (e.g., student and scholar visas for persons on F-1 and J status and their dependents, or “K”fiancee” visas);
- Handling the immigration aspects of inter-country adoptions;
- Advising family lawyers on the immigration aspects of a divorce;
- Advising criminal defense counsel on the immigration implications of a plea bargain.
Setting aside for a moment United States Citizens, most foreign nationals in the United States fall into one of two broad immigration categories: (1) Legal Permanent Residents (commonly known as “Green Card” holders) or (2) Non-immigrant visa holders (e.g., F1 students, H-1B workers, J-1 exchange visitors or diplomats on G-1 or G-2 visas). Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) status can be obtained either through family (for instance marriage to U.S. citizen) or through employment, if a U.S. employer petitions to employ a foreign national on a permanent basis.
Having a green card offers many (but not all) the benefits of U.S. citizenship such as unrestricted travel, ability to change employers without the need for the employer to petition for work authorization. However, LPRs are deportable under certain circumstances and do not have the right to vote in elections in the U.S. Green card status also provides a path to citizenship. For LPRs who are married to a U.S. citizen and have held LPR status for at least three years, and for others, maintaining permanent residence in the U.S. for at least five years may make you eligible for U.S. citizenship.
People from certain visa waiver countries (e.g., most European countries) are able to travel to the U.S. for a limited duration of ninety days without the need for a visa provided that they will not be seeking employment. However, such people sometimes have plans change, they decide to write a book or pursue other endeavors that would require them to spend more time in the U.S.