By KoKo Huang, Gregory McCall and Asasia Pierce

The Trump administration has implemented numerous immigration proposals via executive order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, President Trump has signed the following immigration-related executive orders, all which are currently in effect:

  • On January 31, 2020, a proclamation barring individuals from China from entering the United States.
  • On February 29, 2020, a proclamation suspending entry of individuals from Iran into the United States.
  • On March 11, 2020, a proclamation suspending entry of individuals from the Schengen Area (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland) into the United States.
  • On March 14, 2020, a proclamation suspending entry of individuals from the UK and Ireland into the United States.
  • On April 22, 2020, another presidential proclamation limiting immigration for individuals outside of the United States seeking U.S. permanent residency. Please see our summary of this proclamation.
  • On May 24, 2020, a proclamation barring individuals from Brazil from entering the United States.
  • On May 29, 2020, a proclamation restricting the entry of certain Chinese national students and researchers into the United States pursuant to their visas to study or conduct research in the United States. Please see our summary of this proclamation.
  • On June 22, 2020, a proclamation temporarily barring certain non-immigrants who were outside of the United States and without valid nonimmigrant visas as of June 24 from entering the United States. Please see our summary of the proclamation.

Continue Reading Summary of Implemented and Proposed COVID-19 Immigration Rules

By KoKo Huang, Gregory McCall and Asasia Pierce

On July 6, 2020, the Student Exchange Visitor Program of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not remain in the United States if taking a full online course load. Subject to certain restrictions, F-1 students who are attending schools adopting a hybrid model with a mixture of online and in-person classes may remain in the United States if they take more than one class or three credit hours online. F-1 students attending schools operating under normal in-person classes are bound by existing regulations and may only take a maximum of one class or three credit hours online. A number of universities, including Harvard and MIT, are challenging this in court.

By KoKo Huang, Gregory McCall, and Asasia Pierce

On June 29, 2020, President Trump issued an amendment to his June 22, 2020, proclamation which temporarily suspended entry of certain nonimmigrant groups into the United States as a result of the COVID-19-related economic crisis. The proclamation originally exempted foreign nationals who, as of June 24, had a valid visa in any category. The amendment narrows the scope of individuals exempt from the ban to foreign nationals who, as of June 24, had a valid visa in the specific nonimmigrant visa categories set forth in the proclamation (H-1B, H-2B, J-visa, L-visa, and family members accompanying or following to join individuals in any of these visa categories). This could affect, for example, a student who was in the United States pursuant to an F-1 visa who then departed the United States and was planning on reentering on an H-1B visa. Under the amendment, such an individual will not be eligible to apply for the new visa until at least after December 31, 2020.

Many issues remain to be resolved with respect to the president’s June 22 proclamation. We continue to monitor developments.

By Jim Davis, Norton Cutler, and Bradley Dlatt

The insurance industry in the United States continues to thwart legislative solutions for disputed COVID-19-related losses under property/business interruption policies and resists efforts to group lawsuits together into multi-district federal litigation or class actions. Meanwhile, the independent regulator of insurers in the United Kingdom, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), is trying to take a more organized and direct approach. Although the FCA indicated that it did not believe coverage existed for most claims for COVID-19-related losses, the FCA has identified the key language at issue in the various insurance policies, the universal or prevalent facts presented, and the legal questions posed. The regulator has announced an initiative to begin resolving these disputed claims by bringing a series of test cases in U.K. courts to answer these coverage questions. Though the test cases are being resolved under the law of the United Kingdom, the outcomes are likely to influence American courts that are grappling with many of the same issues under similar insurance policy language. Depending on the success of the test cases in streamlining these disputes in the U.K., U.S. policyholders may want to consider adopting a similar approach to fast-track their claims towards settlement. Continue Reading UK COVID-19 Business Interruption Disputes Process May Offer Guidance to US Policyholders

By Joe Bailey, Sean Apfelbaum, and Andy Smetana

On July 1, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives approved an extension of the application deadline for loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), following the U.S. Senate’s approval of the extension the previous day. Once signed into law by President Trump, the deadline, which was previously June 30, 2020, will be extended to August 8, 2020.

At the time of the extension, it is estimated that $129 billion remained available for new PPP loans. This extension will allow businesses and nonprofits, that did not previously obtain a PPP loan, time to consider whether or not they wish to apply now.

By KoKo Huang, Gregory McCall, and Asasia Pierce

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released plans to furlough over 13,000 employees, representing roughly 70% of its workforce, unless U.S. Congress provides a $1.2 billion cash infusion before August 3. According to USCIS, the budget shortfall is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and a 50% drop in receipts and incoming fees beginning in March. Others argue that the funding shortfall is largely the result of a USCIS hiring surge to detect fraud and vet applications, as well as a general decline in the number of applications being filed with USCIS. These changes put USCIS in a vulnerable position when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The Trump administration’s recent temporary suspension on certain immigrant and nonimmigrant visa categories with high fees, such as the H-1B visa, will compound the budget shortfall.

If Congress grants funding, USCIS proposes to repay the emergency funding by adding a 10% surcharge to all applications. If the furlough is implemented in August, USCIS operations will be disrupted and there will be a significant slowdown in processing times for all immigration cases with USCIS.

We are closely monitoring this situation for developments and further updates.

By KoKo Huang and Asasia Pierce

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced a further extension of Form I-9 compliance flexibility. As previously detailed, on March 19, 2020, DHS began allowing certain employers to defer the physical presence requirement of I-9 documentation inspection and temporarily allowed electronic or remote I-9 documentation review. These provisions were originally set to expire on May 19 but were extended for an additional 30 days. On June 16, DHS announced a further 30-day extension through July 18. Presumably, the extension is for the full 30 days or until the national emergency expires, whichever comes first.

USCIS has also released Form I-9 notation examples to guide employers on how to appropriately notate documents during remote inspection and when normal operations resume.

We are continuing to monitor these policies for updates related to the termination of these extensions or the announcement of additional extensions.

On June 26, 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division Head, Cheryl Stanton, issued two guidance bulletins relating to the impact of COVID-19. The first bulletin, Field Assistance Bulletin Number 2020-3, relates to the impact of COVID-19 on child labor laws, and the second bulletin, Field Assistance Bulletin Number 2020-4, provides guidance on child care leave pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Continue Reading Department of Labor Releases COVID-19 Guidance on the Effect of Closed Schools on Child Labor Laws and Leave for Ruined Summer Camp Plans

By Rebekkah Emerson and Allison Handy

On June 23, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Corporation Finance (Corp Fin) published CF Disclosure Topic No. 9A (Topic 9A) to provide further disclosure-related guidance to public companies whose operations and/or financial condition have been impacted by COVID-19. Specifically, Topic 9A provides guidance in the form of illustrative questions for assessing the impact of COVID-19 on disclosures relating to financial condition, results of operations, liquidity, and capital resources. This guidance supplements CF Disclosure Guidance: Topic No. 9 released by Corp Fin in March, which we covered in a prior blog post, and also refers companies to SEC Chief Accountant Sagar Teotia’s related statement on accounting and auditing matters, also released on June 23. Continue Reading Corp Fin Provides Supplemental Disclosure Guidance for COVID-19

By Andy Smetana, Joe Bailey and Teri Lindquist

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the U.S. Department of Treasury (Treasury), on June 22, 2020, issued new guidance in their interim final rule #20 with respect to the terms of and process for applying for loan forgiveness under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). This new guidance modifies prior rulemaking based on the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 enacted on June 5, 2020 (Flexibility Act) and the new “EZ” form of loan forgiveness application released by the SBA on June 16, 2020. (For our earlier updates on the Flexibility Act and the EZ form, see here and here.) Interim final rule #20 also creates a new limit for business owners and expands a safe harbor created under the Flexibility Act for borrowers who have not been able to restore their prior business activity due to certain government orders related to COVID-19. Highlights from interim final rule #20 are as follows: Continue Reading New Guidance Provides Clarification for the PPP Loan Forgiveness Process