ICE Rescinds Restrictions on International Students

On March 13, 2020, Department Homeland and Security’s (DHS) U.S. Immigration Custom Enforcement Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) made an exemption for F-1 students to switch to online classes amid the COVID-19 pandemic. On July 6, 2020, SEVP released a modification to the exemption issued on March 13, 2020 for the Fall 2020 Semester, binding F-1 students to existing regulation unless the schools adopt a hybrid course model. Under existing regulations, F-1 students are only allowed to take one (1) online course per semester or term.

On July 14, 2020 a hearing was held involving litigation filed by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) challenging SEVP’s July 6, 2020 guidance. In this hearing, DHS agreed to rescind the July 6, 2020 guidance and all implementing guidance allowing the agency’s March 13, 2020 guidance to remain in force.

Therefore, colleges may continue to implement COVID-19 accommodations aligned with the March 13, 2020 guidance and F-1 students in the U.S. attending classes online will maintain their status.

Borders Between Canada and Mexico Remain Closed to Nonessential Travel Until At Least August 21, 2020

Travel restrictions have been extended between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The borders will remain closed to nonessential travel until August 21, 2020. This closure limits nonimmigrant worker from entering the U.S. unless they can prove to be essential workers for an essential business. Due to these closures, we advise nonimmigrants that would typically travel to extend their status or renew their visa with the Department of State or port-of-entry, to file an extension of status within the U.S. with the Department of Homeland Security to avoid falling out of status or face any complications to re-enter the U.S. to continue their employment.

Customs and Border Patrol Reopen Trusted Traveler Programs Enrollment Centers

In late June, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) announced that they would reopen the Trusted Travel Programs enrollment centers on July 6, 2020. With an increase COVID-19 cases, CBP announced once again that they would suspend operations until at least August 10, 2020. This temporary closure includes all public access to Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, and FAST enrollment locations.

Thousands of Approved Green Cards and Work Authorization Documents Have Not Been Printed

Approximately 50,000 green cards and 75,000 other employment authorization documents promised to immigrants and nonimmigrants have not been printed. USCIS has shut down their printing facility in Corbin, KY which has delayed the printing of documents evidencing legal status and work authorization for immigrants and nonimmigrants. There are also massive delays due to a scale back in printing at the second facility in Lee’s Summit, MO. USCIS reports that they have not renewed the contract with the printing company due to “financial concerns”.

The Department of State Will Restart Visa Services Soon

On July 14, 2020 the Department of State (DOS) released a statement that the United States Embassies and Consulates will soon resume visa services around the world. However, the DOS has not determined when or where but will determine so on a post-by-post basis. Embassies and consulates continue to provide emergency and mission-critical visa services. As conditions permit, the Department of State will begin processing routine nonimmigrant and immigrant visa cases that require urgent travel needs such as students (F-1, M-1 and certain J-1) and some family members of U.S. citizens consistent with the President Proclamation 10014 .

Presidential Proclamations Continue to Restrict Issuance of Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visas

On April 22, 2020 President Trump’s proclamation suspended the issuance of immigrant visas at U.S. Consulates and Embassies for certain preference categories for 60 days. On June 22, 2020 President Trump’s new Presidential Proclamation 10014 extended the suspension through December 31, 2020. Furthermore, this proclamation suspended the issuance of visas for those seeking entry pursuant to an H-1B visa, an H-2B visa, a J visa, and a L visa. This includes dependent family members accompanying the principal applicant or those following to join at a later date.

The Proclamation only applies to an individual identified above if they are outside the U.S. on the effective date of the Proclamation; do not have a nonimmigrant visa in one of the categories that is now suspended and is valid on the effective date; and do not have an official travel document other than a visa valid on the effective date of the Proclamation or issued thereafter permitting the individual to be admitted to the United States.

Please note that this is a general guidance and we strongly recommend that you review your case with your attorney for specific guidance.

If you have questions, please contact the experienced immigration attorneys at Monty & Ramirez LLP at 713-289-4546 or via email at .

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