Government Agencies Announce Additional Measures to Accommodate COVID-19-Related Restrictions
Last week, the USCIS, DHS, DOL, and other agencies announced various measures for employers and representatives in an effort to accommodate the impact of COVID-19-related restrictions on immigration-related processes for E-Verify, PERM Labor Certification Applications, and more.
USCIS Announces 60-Day Extension for Responses to RFEs and NOIDs
On March 27, 2020, announced that applicants and petitioners who receive or have received a Request for Evidence (“RFE”) or a Notice of Intent to Deny (“NOID”), dated between March 1, 2020 and May 1, 2020, may submit their response to USCIS within sixty (60) days after the prescribed deadline before any action is taken. USCIS is adopting this temporary measure to minimize the consequences for individuals/applicants seeking immigration benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic.
DHS Provides Temporary E-Verify Policies, Extends Timeframe to Resolve Tentative Nonconfirmations
On March 20, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) announced that it is implementing temporary E-Verify policies to minimize burdens on employers and employees during the COVID-19 crisis. Under the temporary policies, employers must still create cases for new hires within three (3) business days. However, if the case creation is delayed due to COVID-19 precautions, employers should select “Other” from the drop-down list and enter “COVID-19” as the specific reason for the delay.
DHS also announced that E-Verify is temporarily extending the timeframe to resolve Social Security Administration (SSA) Tentative Nonconfirmations (TNCs), also known as social security mismatch, due to SSA office closures to the public. E-Verify is also extending the timeframe to take action to resolve DHS TNCs in limited circumstances when an employee cannot resolve a TNC due to public or private office closures. Generally, the timeframe for an employee to resolve a TNC with the SSA is within eight (8) business days. The DHS has not provided a new timeframe to resolve the TNC.
DOL Issuance of Electronic Certified PERM Applications
On March 24, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification (“OFLC”) announced that beginning March 25 and through June 30, 2020, the Atlanta National Processing Center will issue the certified ETA Form 9089 PERM Labor Certification Application and Final Determination Letter electronically to employers and their attorneys. For those employers who are not able to receive the documents by email, the OFLC will send the original certified PERM via USPS regular mail. The USCIS may consider the printed ETA Form 9089, containing all signatures, as satisfying the requirement that petitioners provide evidence of an original labor certification issued by DOL. Employers should add email@example.com as a safe sender in their email system to avoid being filtered as spam.
SEVP Allows Designated School Officials to Issue Electronic I-20s for F-1 Students
On March 25, 2020, the Student and Exchange Visitor program (“SEVP”) announced that Designated School Officials (DSOs) may electronically send signed Form I-20s to student emails addresses listed in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).