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USCIS Experiences Revenue Decline, Asks Congress for Loan of $1.2 Billion

USCIS has announced that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has suffered a steep decrease in revenue and, without assistance, might run out of funding this summer. The agency has asked Congress for $1.2 billion in emergency relief (as a loan) along with a 10% COVID-19 surcharge (to repay the loan) on top of a proposed, but not yet implemented, fee increase.

Is a Fee Surcharge Coming to USCIS?

The U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service is a fee for service agency. Ninety-seven percent of its budget comes from the filing fees paid by applicants, petitioners, employers, and individuals seeking an immigration benefit such as naturalization, a temporary working visa, or green card. In an internal communication widely reported by the media, USCIS revealed that it has a $1.2 billion shortfall this year. USCIS’ leadership is looking to Congress to fund this shortfall with appropriated money. USCIS intends to repay the Treasury with a 10% surcharge on immigration benefit applications.

Workplace Issues of Reopenings, Returning to Work

As businesses begin to reopen after shutdowns to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers should anticipate heightened scrutiny by USCIS, ICE, and the Departments of Labor and Justice regarding wage and hour and immigration requirements.

ICE Extends Temporary Flexibility for Employers’ I-9 Compliance, Reminds to Monitor for Updates

ICE has announced that its flexibility regarding the physical presence requirements for I-9 inspection will be extended for another 30 days, until June 18, 2020 due to continued COVID-19 precautions. The terms and details of this flexibility remain the same.

DHS Issues Temporary Rule for Employers in Food Processing Industry on H-2B Workers

The Department of Homeland Security announced that on May 14, 2020, a new temporary rule will go into effect giving employers in the food processing industry more flexibility to hire H-2B workers who are essential to maintaining the food supply chain.

Reminder: Border Restrictions Still in Effect

On April 20, 2020, Chad Wolf, Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), announced that the previously announced travel restrictions on the Northern and Southern U.S. borders would be continued for another 30 days until May 20, 2020. In March, DHS had announced that due to the COVID-19 crisis, individuals attempting to enter the United States from Canada or Mexico for non-essential purposes would be turned back from land border crossings until April 20, 2020.

COVID-19 Brings Temporary Changes to I-9 and E-Verify Procedures

Recognizing the profound impact COVID-19 is having on the way businesses operate, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has implemented temporary employment verification procedures to address some of these issues.

COVID-19 Dramatically Delays U.S. Passport Renewals, Disrupts Travel

COVID-19 has changed U.S. passport renewal. In the past, U.S. citizens could renew a passport by mail if their current passport was issued on or after their sixteenth birthday and within the last 15 years, or apply for an initial passport or renew in person at a Passport Acceptance Facility (including many local post offices) and expect to receive their new passports within six to eight weeks. There were even ways to expedite the processing if the passport was needed more quickly.

USCIS Issues Updated M-274, Handbook for Employers on Completing Form I-9

The updated M-274, Handbook for Employers: Guidance for Completing Form I-9, from USCIS offers some interesting substantive clarifications and developments.

USCIS Announces COVID-19 Temporary Policy for List B Identity Documents

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has announced new guidance for Form I-9 completion, including implementing a temporary policy for acceptance of List B expired documents in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. List B documents are identity documents for I-9 purposes.
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