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EIG COVID-19 Update | March 20, 2020

March 20, 2020

All week, EIG has sent global digests to inform our clients of all the COVID-19 developments impacting global immigration and global travel. Those daily reports are available here: MondayTuesdayWednesday, and Thursday.

International Updates

  1. Australia | The Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, announced yesterday that a travel ban would be imposed in Australia from 9:00 PM AEDT, Friday, March 20, 2020. Australian citizens, permanent residents, New Zealand citizens who live in Australia as permanent residents, New Zealanders and Pacific Islanders in transit to their home countries and the immediate family of those groups are exempt from the travel ban subject to a strict 14 days self-isolation.

    All other non-permanent visa holders, including 457/482 visa holders, will not be allowed to enter Australia after 9:00 PM AEDT Friday, March 20, 2020.

  2. California | Thursday evening, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the “Safer at Home” order, which requires LA residents to adopt additional emergency measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 further. Similar to the Bay Area’s restrictions earlier this week, the order states, “wherever feasible, City residents must isolate themselves in their residences, subject to certain exceptions.” Exceptions include those whose jobs are critical to the safety, health, and security of the city, as well as an “economy of recovery.” The order went into effect on March 19 at 11:59 PM and goes until April 19, 2020, and it may be extended.

    Shortly after, California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered all California residents to stay home. California was the first state to impose such a mandate.

  3. Canada, Mexico, and the US | As reported yesterday, Canada and the United States will likely close their shared border for all “nonessential travel” late Friday or early Saturday morning. On Friday afternoon, the Trump administration announced a similar restriction at the US and Mexico border for all nonessential travel. Members of the White House coronavirus task force said that individuals entering from either Mexico or Canada without proper documentation would be immediately turned away.
  4. India | In a video on Thursday night, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told residents to observe a one-day curfew on March 22 from 7 AM until 9 PM.
  5. Jordan | The government has suspended commercial air travel, and in an alert, the State Department said they are considering all options to aid US citizens.
  6. London | On Friday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new lockdown measures for London, asking cafes, bars, restaurants, gyms, theaters, and other places where large groups congregate to close this evening or earlier.
  7. New York | Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered nonessential businesses to keep 100% of their workforce at home and introduced new restrictions on all New Yorkers starting Sunday. Businesses that provide essential services, like grocery stores, pharmacies, and banks, must implement rules that ensure employees and customers maintain at least 6 feet of space between each other. Public transportation should be used only if it’s absolutely necessary.
  8. The Philippines | The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is operating with a skeletal workforce to service outbound passengers departing the Philippine territory during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). Under the BI Advisory dated March 19, 2020, aliens whose visas shall expire during the implementation of the ECQ may file an extension within thirty (30) days from lifting of the ECQ. Further, the Department of Foreign Affairs shall be temporarily suspending visa issuances by Philippine Foreign Service Posts (PFSP) (primarily 9a Temporary Visitor/Tourist Visas) and will deem all previously issued visas by PFSP’s canceled starting March 22, 2020.
  9. Serbia | As of Friday, Serbia has closed its airports for international traffic. At this time, all borders – air, land, and river – are closed for travel.
  10. Singapore | Effective March 20 at 11:59 PM local time, the Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will require all new and existing work pass holders (including dependents) planning to enter/return to Singapore from any country, to obtain MOM’s approval before traveling. The entry approval requirement applies to existing work pass holders currently out of Singapore; and In-Principle Approval holders who have yet to enter Singapore.
  11. Thailand | The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) has announced the guidelines for Air Operators performing flights into Thailand. As of midnight on March 22, passengers of ALL nationalities will be required to provide a health certificate certifying that the passengers “poses no risk of being infected by the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19),” issued within 72 hours of the date of travel and a health insurance policy that shows minimum medical coverage of 100,000 USD in Thailand and covers the COVID-19 Disease. If the passenger is unable to present the required documents, the Air Operator shall NOT issue a boarding pass, and the boarding shall be denied.
  12. The United States | The Department of Homeland Security announced it will defer the physical presence requirements associated with Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9) under Section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Read more.

    US Citizenship and Immigration Services today announced that, due to the ongoing COVID-19 National Emergency announced by President Trump on March 13, 2020, it will accept all benefit forms and documents with reproduced original signatures, including the Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, for submissions dated March 21, 2020, and beyond. Read more. 

    USCIS has suspended premium processing for all I-129 and I-140 petitions due to the pandemic, effective immediately. Petitions that already have a pending I-907 who receive no agency action on the case within the 15 day period will receive a refund on the premium processing filing fee. Read more.

Also, please listen to EIG’s Immigration Nerds podcast for the country by country updates on all travel and border restrictions as of Tuesday, March 17.

We will continue to send updates daily or as more COVID-19-related news is available. We recognize this situation continues to evolve; if you have specific questions, please contact your employer or EIG attorney.