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A New Year and More Changes to U.S. Immigration Law A New Year and More Changes to U.S. Immigration Law

A New Year and More Changes to U.S. Immigration Law

We are only one (1) month into the new year, and we have already seen several important updates and changes to U.S. immigration law, including travel restrictions and bans, a new public charge rule, a new I-9 form and a new H-1B registration process for the upcoming annual lottery for new H-1B petitions.
 
  1. Coronavirus travel restrictions: In an effort to prevent further exposure to and spread of the coronavirus, all flights from mainland China and all passengers who have traveled to mainland China within the last 14 days are being routed through one (1) of 11 U.S. airports, effective February 2, 2020. At these 11 airports, enhanced screening procedures and the capacity to quarantine passengers, if needed, have been implemented. U.S. citizens who have been in Hubei province within 14 days of their return to the U.S. will be subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine, and U.S. citizens who have been to other parts of mainland China within 14 days of their return will undergo health screening and up to 14 days of self-quarantine with health monitoring to ensure they have not contracted the virus and do not pose a public health risk. Generally, foreign nationals (other than immediate family of U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and flight crew) who have been physically present in mainland China within 14 days of their arrival will be denied entry to the U.S.
 
  1. Travel Ban: On January 31, 2020, President Trump issued Presidential Proclamation 9645, expanding the Travel Ban to include six (6) additional countries: Burma (Myanmar), Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania, increasing the total number of countries listed under the travel ban to 13. Restrictions on the six (6) new countries only apply to those individuals seeking immigrant visas (permanent residence/green cards), but temporary nonimmigrant visa issuance should not be restricted; other exemptions from the travel ban also may apply. The effective date of the expansion is February 21, 2020. Please see our prior article on the Travel Ban here.
 
  1. Public Charge Rule: on August 14, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a final rule amending the interpretation and determination of a public charge in the immigration context. A “public charge” is an individual who is likely to become primarily dependent on the U.S. government for income support or long-term care. Under U.S. immigration law, such an individual is deemed inadmissible to the U.S. and ineligible for permanent residence. The new rule also required individuals seeking an extension of stay or change of status to demonstrate they have not received public benefits over the designated threshold. See our prior article about the new public charge rule here. Multiple courts had enjoined the rule prior to its implementation, but on January 27, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the injunction, allowing DHS to implement the public charge rule nationwide, except for Illinois, where a statewide injunction against the rule remains in effect as part of separate litigation. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced it will implement the public charge final rule to adjudications and petitions postmarked or submitted electronically on or after February 24, 2020 (except for Illinois-based filings). USCIS will consider all public benefits received on or after February 24, 2020 when determining whether the individual is likely to become a public charge.
 
  1. New I-9: On January 31, 2020, USCIS released a new version of Form I-9. The new form bears a revision date of October 21, 2019, and prior versions of the form will no longer be acceptable for use on or after April 30, 2020. The new version of the form may be found here.
 
  1. H-1B registration deadline: The new H-1B electronic registration for the fiscal year 2021 H-1B cap season will be open between March 1 and March 20, 2020. See our prior article about the new registration process here. Employers wishing to submit an electronic registration to seek H-1B status on behalf of any employees should reach out to counsel as soon as possible.
To discuss these recent immigration updates, or any other immigration matters, please contact Jenifer M. Brown, Christl Glier, Kristin Kelley, or another member of the Ice Miller Immigration Practice.

This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader should consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader’s specific circumstances.
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