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Immigration Update: Suspension of All Premium Processing, Additional Visa Services Closures and I-9 Flexibility for Remote Workers

March 20, 2020

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced suspension of all premium processing until further notice due to COVID-19. Petitioners who have already filed premium processing petitions that do not receive action within 15 calendar days will receive a $1,440 premium fee refund. There is no confirmed date for resumption of premium processing. 

Additional U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide have suspended or significantly limited visa appointments and interviews. Routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments at U.S. consulates in the United Kingdom, Germany, India, France and Mexico, for example, have been canceled until further notice. Other U.S. consulates, including the U.S. consulate in Toronto, are cancelling routine nonimmigrant visa appointments but not immigrant visa appointments. Those with upcoming visa appointments should monitor the relevant consulate’s website for the latest information on services. Emergency appointments that require an individual to travel immediately may be available in very limited circumstances.

Effective March 20, 2020 the U.S. Department of Homeland Security removed physical presence requirements associated with Form I-9 for employers operating remotelyThis does not apply to workplaces with any employees physically present at the work location. Employers operating remotely will not be required to review an employee’s identity/employment authorization documents in the employee’s physical presence and, instead, may do so remotely within three business days. Employers should complete Section 2 by listing COVID-19 as reason for the physical inspection delay and retain copies of the documents presented remotely. Once normal operations resume, all employees that completed onboarding remotely must report to their employer within three business days for in-person document verification. Employers should add the date documents were physically inspected to Section 2. This policy is in effect until May 19, 2020 or three business days after termination of the national COVID-19 emergency, whichever is first.

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