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The Trump administration took another step to limit legal immigration in the U.S. this week when the President signed the Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak, which halts a variety of visas for foreign-born workers and their dependents from June 24 through December 31, 2020.

Which Visas are Affected?

The proclamation suspends the issuance of the following temporary employment visas:
  • H-1B: Individuals in “specialty occupations” 
  • H-2B: Temporary, seasonal labor in non-agricultural industries
  • L-1A:  Managers and executives from companies operating in the U.S. 
  • L-1B: Employees from companies operating inside the U.S. with specialized knowledge 
  • J-1 (certain): Those coming to the U.S. to teach, study, conduct research, demonstrate special skills, or receive on-the-job training
The proclamation also suspends corresponding visa types such as the H-4 (given to the spouse of an H-1B visa holder) and the L-2 (for the spouses of L-1A and L-1B visa holders).  
Unfortunately for many foreign nationals with plans to work in the U.S. on these visas, they’ll likely be unable to enter the U.S. until the end of the year, unless they obtain a waiver or a court intervenes.  

Who is Exempt?

There are some temporary work visas that are exempt from the recent proclamation. The three most notable exceptions are J-1 visas for physicians, foreign nationals essential to the food supply (such as H-2B workers employed in seafood or food processing), and the spouses and children of U.S. citizens. Other exempt visa categories include O-1, E-2, E-3, P, H-1B1, and TN. Another noteworthy absence from the list of impacted visas is the H-2A, which is used to hire foreign, temporary agricultural workers. 
The order also grants the Secretary of State and acting Secretary of Homeland Security the power to admit anyone who is determined to be in the national interest. For example, researchers working on diagnosing, preventing, and treating COVID-19; clinical care workers; and those critical to national security. 
Lastly, the proclamation does not affect existing visa holders, those who have applied for status changes or stay extensions, and those who are visa-exempt. 

Preceding Proclamation

The recent order also extends through the end of the year the Trump administration’s April 22, 2020 Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak, which paused issuing green cards to applicants outside of the U.S. For a more detailed expansion of the previous proclamation, read our blawg The White House Immigration Proclamation: The Invisible Wall.

Tightening Regulations 

The proclamation also orders a review of the country’s nonimmigrant programs such as the H-1B visa—a long-time target of the Trump administration—making it likely that tougher standards and increased restrictions will be proposed.

GoffWilson Immigration Law

GoffWilson is an ally of immigrants and employers—we’re monitoring the proclamation closely to best advise everyone affected by it. We’ll post updated information and guidance as we learn more. For over 30 years, we’ve proudly practiced immigration law and we are here to answer any questions about how you, your employer, or your business is affected by the recent immigration proclamation. Contact GoffWilson today—immigration isn’t just what we do, it’s our passion! 

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will begin reopening certain field and asylum offices and resume non-emergency, in-person services on June 4th. The reopening is a fluid situation and USCIS is encouraging visitors to check their office closures webpage on the day of their appointment in the event of an office closure or temporary change of hours. 
Increased Health Precautions 
USCIS is taking steps to increase the safety of office visitors and working to prevent the spread of COVID-19 through their reopened offices. With this in mind, visitors may not enter a USCIS facility if they have symptoms of COVID-19—such as coughing, fever, or difficulty breathing—have been in contact with anyone known or suspected of having COVID-19 in the past 14 days, or have been directed by a healthcare provider or public health official to self-quarantine or self-isolate within the past 14 days. 
Other safety precautions being taken by USCIS include: 
  • Visitors may not enter a facility more than 15 minutes before their appointment and 30 minutes before naturalization ceremonies 
  • Hand sanitizer is provided at entry points 
  • Visitors are required to wear a face covering that encloses both the mouth and nose; however, they may be asked to briefly remove their covering to confirm their identity or to take their photograph
  • Establishment of signs and barriers to ensure social distancing guidelines are followed
  • Visitors are encouraged to bring their own black- or blue-ink pens 
USCIS Interviews and Appointments
Applicants and petitioners who had previously scheduled appointments and interviews disrupted by COVID-19 closures will receive notices from USCIS. Those who had other appointments must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center. In addition to the aforementioned precautions, there are additional health measures visitors attending in-person interviews and appointments must follow: 
  • Visitors are limited to the applicant, one representative, one family member, and one individual providing disability accommodations
  • If an interpreter is required, the applicant must arrange to have their interpreter available by phone
Naturalization Ceremonies
USCIS is sending notices to applicants to reschedule postponed naturalization ceremonies. Naturalization ceremonies will be adapted to promote the health and well-being of attendees. Changes include: 
  • Ceremonies will be shorter in length
  • In place of playing videos at ceremonies, attendees will receive flyers with information and links directing them to videos on the USCIS website
  • Attendance is limited to the naturalization candidate and individuals providing assistance to disabled persons
GoffWilson Immigration Law 
As USCIS begins to reopen, GoffWilson remains a resource to the immigrant community and employers, organizations, and committees that support them. We will continue to post current information on our blawg and keep our resource center up to date with the latest forms and guidance. If you have a question or simply need one-on-one assistance, contact GoffWilson today. Immigration isn’t just what we do, it’s our passion!

Even during normal times, immigration law is complex and ever-changing. In the COVID-19 age, laws and protocols are constantly being developed to adapt to the challenges facing employers and in accordance with government dictums. As a leader in immigration law, GoffWilson is continuously updating the Resources section of its website to keep clients and interested parties informed with the most current information available. 
One recent update to know about is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) COVID-19 Temporary Policy for List B Identity Documents, which offers guidance for the temporary acceptance of expired List B documents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This policy is in response to the difficulty many people may have renewing state driver’s licenses, ID cards, and other included List B documentation because of stay-at-home orders and online renewal restrictions. Under this policy, beginning May 1, List B identity documents set to expire on March 1, 2020, or after are valid as an acceptable document for Form I-9 purposes. 
Employers need to enter the word “COVID-19” in the Additional Information Field. The employee is required to present a valid—unexpired—document to replace the expired one within 90 days after the USCIS terminates the temporary policy. When presented with an unexpired document, employers should record the document information in Additional Information, Section 2 under List B, along with initialing and dating the change. 
GoffWilson Immigration Law is committed to being a reliable resource to the immigrant community and the employers, organizations, and committees that support them during these uncertain times. Stay up to date with the latest immigration news, forms, and guidance on the Resource page of our website and make sure to follow our blawg. If you have a question you’re struggling to answer yourself, contact GoffWilson today. Immigration isn’t just what we do, it’s our passion.


Immigration laws are constantly in flux; for example, just the other day, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) updated M-274, Handbook for Employers: Guidance for Completing Form I-9—an essential reference for maintaining I-9 compliance—and it’s vital that deadlines, requirements, and protocols are met.
With this in mind, GoffWilson is continuously updating the employer, employee, and family resource pages of our website, along with our blawg, to ensure our clients have access to the most up-to-date forms and information available. Of course, immigration law is complex and ever-evolving, if you find yourself unable to find the answer you’re searching for, our attorneys are here to help. 
At GoffWilson, immigration isn’t just what we do, it’s our passion. With decades of experience solely practicing immigration law, GoffWilson is an invaluable resource for the immigrant community and the businesses that depend on their contributions. If you have any questions about what the updated M-274 Handbook means for your business, or any other immigration-related questions, contact GoffWilson today.

On Wednesday, April 22, 2020, President Trump signed a proclamation suspending the entry of certain legal immigrants for 60 days, effective as of April 23. Although the order is only effective for 60 days, there is the potential for it to get extended. Researchers at the Migration Policy Institute (MPI)—a non-partisan think tank working to improve immigration and integration policies—estimated that 52,000 individuals will lose their chance at a green card over the proclamation’s initial time span. Furthermore, the MPI approximates that if the proclamation were to remain in place for a year it could affect as many as 350,000 green card-seeking immigrants, about a third of the roughly one million foreign nationals that obtain lawful permanent residence annually. 
Who is Affected By the Immigration Proclamation?
The people primarily impacted by this order are immigrants who are currently outside of the United States and seeking to obtain a visa for lawful residence; it does not apply to immigrants currently in the U.S. Those in the U.S. on employment-based visas are unlikely to be directly affected. However, family immigration to the U.S. is essentially eliminated for everyone but spouses and children (under age 21) of U.S. citizens for as long as the order remains in place. It also pauses the diversity lottery. According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), about 45% of the approximately one million immigrants that obtained permanent residence last year entered as new arrivals. 
For example, a foreign national with a spouse who is a U.S. citizen is still eligible to apply for a green card. Also able to receive an immigrant visa or green card is any child (under age 21) of a U.S. citizen. Who isn’t able to receive a visa per the proclamation is the parents of that U.S. citizen. Conversely, the proclamation prohibits a resident alien from obtaining a visa for their spouse.
Exceptions to the Immigration Proclamation
While the scope of the White House’s immigration order is broad, there are a considerable number of exceptions. Those not impacted by the proclamation include lawful permanent residents, certain investors (EB-5), members of the military and their families, those deemed to be in the national interest, those assisting law enforcement, and immigrants who obtained permanent residence through asylum and refugee programs. 
Also excluded from the proclamation are foreign nationals seeking to enter on an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional working to alleviate the effects of COVID-19. This is particularly important, as the more than three million immigrants working in healthcare fill one in four positions in the field. 
Temporary Workers and the Immigration Proclamation
Foreign nationals participating in guest worker programs such as the H-1B and L-1—visas that allow high-skilled workers, students, and agricultural labor to stay in the U.S. for a limited amount of time—are not immediately affected by the proclamation. If you are working in the U.S. on a visa like the H or L, once your green card application is filed we advise you to stay in the U.S. until Advanced Parole is secured. 
Other non-Immigrant visa holders not affected by the recent proclamation include O, P, TN, B, E, H-2A, H-2B, F-1, and all other temporary visas. If you possess a temporary visa and are traveling outside of the U.S., you should not have a problem re-entering the country; however, we suggest carrying copies of your last several paychecks and a letter verifying your employment from your employer with you. 
It’s important to note that after 30 days, the Secretary of Labor, Secretary of Homeland, and Secretary of State will review the nation’s  nonimmigrant programs and recommend measures to “stimulate the U.S. economy and ensure the prioritization, hiring and employment of United States workers.” Consequently, restrictions for temporary workers are potentially looming in the near future. 
The Importance of Immigrants
On the immigration order, Trump said, “Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs as our economy reopens, and crucially it also preserves healthcare resources for our patients.” However, this view is flawed according to a National Foundation for American Policy study which states: “The results of the state-level analysis indicate that immigration does not increase U.S. natives’ unemployment or reduce their labor force participation… Instead, having more immigrants reduces the unemployment rate and raises the labor force participation rate of U.S. natives within the same sex and education group.” 
While the White House’s proclamation will have an enormous impact on immigrants, it will make a miniscule amount of difference on unemployment. The 52,000 immigrants affected by this represent an infinitesimally small percentage of the 26 million Americans currently out of work.
A lot remains uncertain about the recent immigration proclamation—it’s likely to get challenged in court and even if it stays in place, the future of guest worker programs and overall duration of the order remains in flux. GoffWilson solely practices immigration law and is closely monitoring the proclamation. With over three decades of experience practicing immigration law, GoffWilson is your go-to resource in times like these. If you have any questions about your status, the status of an employee, or need clarification of this order, contact us today!

So many things have changed during the coronavirus pandemic, from social distancing and stay-at-home/shelter-in-place orders to many businesses transitioning to remote work—and the handling of Form I-9 has changed as well. In response to the current situation, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced an increase in flexibility regarding I-9 requirements. 
Changes in I-9 Protocol 
First and foremost, it’s extremely important to note that an employee must complete Section 1 of Form I-9 by the end of their first day of employment—there is no change to this requirement. Likewise, if an employee is physically at the place of employment, there are no changes to the requirement for Section 2—it must be completed within three days of the employee’s hire date. 
However, employers with remote workplaces may inspect the work authorizations necessary for the completion of Section 2 through video link, fax, email, or another format. When completing Section 2 remotely, it still needs to be completed within the same three-day period following the date of hire and the employer is required to retain copies of the Section 2 documentation. When completing Section 2 remotely, employers must enter “COVID-19” in the Additional Information section. 
A physical inspection of the documents is still required and it’s imperative this is done within three days when business returns to normal operation. At that time, the date the physical inspection is made must get recorded in the Additional Information field—the DHS suggests marking “documents physically examined.” Additionally, the date of the original inspection of the documentation and the initials of the person who performed it should be present in the Additional Information section. 
Other I-9 Items
Many of the “relaxed” regulations of Section 2 also apply to Section 3, Reverification and Rehires. According to the “relaxed” regulations, if an employee presents an expired document, but the document’s expiration has been extended, this would qualify as a List B document. For example, an expired driver’s license is an acceptable List B document, provided its expiration date was extended by the issuing state. If an employer encounters this situation, they’re advised to attach a copy of the rule that allows this. 
GoffWilson and I-9
GoffWilson is a leader in Form I-9 training and compliance and has been assisting businesses to remain in compliance for decades. During these ever-changing and uncertain times, we’re committed to being a resource for our business community. If you have any questions about what the current changes to I-9 protocol mean for you or your business, contact GoffWilson today. We will schedule our next I-9 training seminar as soon as we can, hopefully later this summer. Check back with us for any updates on that!

COVID-19 (also known as the coronavirus) has upended the lives of millions of people in the U.S. and across the world—affecting everything from schools to sports. Even Tax Day has been pushed back. Like other government services, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has made changes to normal operating procedures in response to COVID-19, and there is a high probability we’ll see more in the coming days and weeks. We’re here to help by providing the information you need.  
In times of uncertainty like these—with dates, policies, and regulations in flux—we expect everyone has a lot of questions. We’re deeply committed to keeping everyone updated with the latest immigration happenings through our Blawg, or directly via phone and email. With that in mind, here are a few recent USCIS changes to be aware of.
Temporary Suspension of Premium Processing for All I-129 and I-140 Petitions  
Effective as of March 20, USCIS has suspended premium processing service for all Form I-129 and I-140 petitions until further notice. This suspension includes petitions filed for the following categories:
  • I-129: E-1, E-2, H-1B, H-2B, H-3, L-1A, L-1B, LZ, O-1, O-2, P-1, P-1S, P-2, P-2S, P-3, P-3S, Q-1, R-1, TN-1, and TN-2
  • I-140: EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3
Any applications submitted to USCIS for premium processing that were accepted before March 20 will get processed within the premium processing service criteria. Applications received on March 20 or later will not get processed within the 15-calendar-day period and the $1,440 filing fee will get refunded. As of this writing, USCIS has not yet confirmed when premium processing for I-129 and I-140 petitions will resume. 
Flexibility in Submitting Required Signatures
Another change to normal USCIS protocol is that for all petitions dated March 21, 2020, and beyond, a reproduced original signature is acceptable for all applications and documents—this includes forms that require an original “wet” signature, per their instructions (such as Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker). The change in signature policy will last for the duration of the National Emergency.
According to the announcement, USCIS will accept documents that have been “scanned, faxed, photocopied, or similarly reproduced provided that the copy must be of an original document containing an original handwritten signature.” Note, it’s vital to retain copies of the original documents with “wet” signatures, as USCIS may later request the original documents. Failure to produce the original documents with “wet” signatures could have negative consequences. 
GoffWilson Immigration Law
At GoffWilson we like to say, “immigration isn’t just what we do, it’s our passion”—and in unsettled times, we want to provide a steadying hand to the immigrant community, along with the businesses dependent on their contributions. We are a resource, so please reach out if you need help.

As the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation continues to develop, our primary concern remains the health and safety of attendees as well as everyone in our community. At this time, we have determined that it is in the best interests of all those that have registered or were planning to do so for our I-9 Workshop scheduled for April 9, 2020, to be postponed until the COVID-19 is no longer a concern. All those that have registered will be notified once the new date has been established which will be as soon as practical. Thank you for your understanding.

On February 19, 2020, Judge Loretta Biggs, a federal district court judge, issued a permanent injunction against the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS), blocking their August 2018 policy memorandum Accrual of Unlawful Presence and F, J, and M Nonimmigrants along with the same-titled, corresponding memo from May 2018. The result of the ruling is that USCIS must revert to using the prior guidance based on its May 2009 memo. The injunction is a big win for foreign-born students and exchange visitors studying in the U.S. on F, J, and M visas.
What the Injunction Means for F, J, and M Nonimmigrants
The injunction is extremely important for F, J, and M nonimmigrants, as it prevents a vast number of them from suffering a three- or ten-year ban from the U.S. for unknowingly violating their duration of status. For the moment, F, J, and M nonimmigrants will only accrue unlawful presence as defined by the past guidance—after notification from USCIS or an immigration judge. However, it remains unclear what this injunction means for those already found unlawfully present under the August 2018 guidance. 
What the Lawsuit Was Over
The injunction comes as the result of a decision in the case Guilford College, et al v. Wolf, and is in response to the aforementioned August 2018 memorandum from USCIS changing the interpretation of “unlawful presence,” in which they would find F, J, and M nonimmigrants that had violated the terms of their status to be unlawfully present beginning the day after the status violation occurred.  
What the Injunction Means 
The upholding of the prior interpretation of “unlawful presence” by Judge Biggs means that nonimmigrants holding an I-94 with a “duration of status” (D/S) admission will not accrue unlawful presence until they have been notified by USCIS or an immigration judge that they’re in violation of their status. Once a D/S nonimmigrant is notified that they’ve violated their status, they have 180 days to leave the country—the penalty for failing to leave the country in that time is a three- or ten-year bar from the U.S.
According to Paul Hughes, the lead attorney for Guilford College, “The August 2018 Policy Memorandum would have turned an inadvertent error or omission into the basis for being expelled from the country for 10 years, disrupting essential academic, employment, and family relationships. Now, DHS is obligated to use the same policy that had prevailed for more than two decades, across administrations of both political parties. That rule is one of common sense: international students are first provided notice of an alleged status violation, and then the individual may rectify the issue or timely depart, thus avoiding a reentry bar.”
The Importance of the Guilford College Decision 
The U.S. is a leader in global education, attracting a large number of the world’s best and brightest minds. Historically, the United States has been the top destination for international students. In the 2018-2019 academic year, the U.S. hosted 1,095,299 international students—those students contributed $44.7 billion to the U.S. economy in 2018. 
Summed up by Guilford College attorney Paul Hughes, “Recent immigration policies by the Trump Administration have created a climate of fear among international students, to the detriment of not just our colleges and universities but the economy as a whole. This decision is one step in ensuring the United States remains an attractive destination for the world’s best and brightest international students to pursue their studies.”
GoffWilson Immigration Law
GoffWilson has decades of experience solely practicing immigration law. Over the years, we’ve represented numerous colleges, universities, research institutions, hospitals, and individuals. If you have a question about this recent ruling, unlawful presence, or any other immigration matter, contact us today—immigration isn’t just what we do, it’s our passion.

Did you know that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released a new Form I-9 which must be used starting no later than May 1, 2020? Businesses may begin using the new form now, and it can be found on our web site and by also by clicking here.
Our next Form I-9 Workshop will be held April 9, 2020 in Manchester, NH, at Waterworks Café, 250 Commercial Street. This event will be led by Attorneys John Wilson and Autumn Tertin, as well as other members of our I-9 Team, and will utilize the new Form I-9 throughout the workshop and the new and revised Workbook. This workshop will include:
  • Understanding new regulations and current enforcement trends surrounding Form I-9 and identifying the roles and responsibilities of employers and HR Professionals;
  • Intensive, interactive training (limited registration ensures each participant receives close attention);
  • Review of multiple work authorization documents with hands-on completion of I-9s with critique;
  • Identifying form requirements, challenges, and common errors—and learning the consequences for noncompliance.
GoffWilson Form I-9 workshops are recognized for 3.5 credits for the HR Professional.
Save the date of April 9th from 7:30 am to 12 noon for the next Form I-9 workshop and stay tuned for more information and registration.
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