The following is a list of developments which have occurred over the last 10 days or so (the most recent are listed first), with links to reliable sources on each topic for further information:

March 20: DHS Announces Flexibility in I-9 Verification Requirements: https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/dhs-announces-flexibility-requirements-related-form-i-9-compliance

March 20:  As of Friday, March 20, 2020, Governor Cuomo has put New York State on PAUSE, directing all non-essential employers to have 100% of their office staff work from home.  But what is an essential business? See Guidance issued by New York State Department of Economic Development: https://esd.ny.gov/guidance-executive-order-2026  See memorandum issued by US Department of Homeland Security on identification of essential critical infrastructure workers during COVID-19 response:  https://www.cisa.gov/sites/default/files/publications/CISA_Guidance_on_the_Essential_Critical_Infrastructure_Workforce_508C_0.pdf

A note on ‘Essential’ Businesses

It is our understanding that law firms and other providers of legal services in New York are essential businesses only to the extent that their services are currently needed to support the essential functions of health care providers, utilities, state and local governments, the federal government, financial institutions, businesses that have been designated as essential; or to support criminal defendants in court proceedings or individuals in family court proceedings; or to participate in proceedings concerning the imminent release or detention of individuals subject to criminal or civil detention under any applicable provision of state or federal law, or proceedings to address emergency risks to health, safety or welfare.

While Ireland has not yet implemented a total ‘lockdown’, the government has asked all non-essential businesses to close, and for employers to allow employees to work from home where possible.  In practice, the majority of people are remaining at home, effectively self-isolating in many cases.

 March 20: USCIS announces temporary suspension of premium (expedited) processing due to COVID-19: https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/uscis-announces-temporary-suspension-premium-processing-all-i-129-and-i-140-petitions-due-coronavirus-pandemic

However, a request to expedite, on a case by case basis may be made, if it meets one of the expedite criteria: https://www.uscis.gov/forms/forms-information/how-make-expedite-request

March 20: A joint US-Mexico agreement is announced to close the Southern border to non-essential travel for 30 days, beginning March 21: https://www.dhs.gov/news/2020/03/20/joint-statement-us-mexico-joint-initiative-combat-covid-19-pandemic

March 18: US and Canada announce that the Northern border will be closed to non-essential traffic: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/18/trump-says-the-us-will-close-the-border-with-canada-to-non-essential-traffic.html

March 16: US Embassy, Dublin suspends appointments until March 29: https://ie.usembassy.gov/author/iemission/  Other US embassies around the world also closed to the public, except for emergency US citizen services.  Although the embassy has temporarily suspended visa interviews, it continues to accept and process E treaty visa applications.

March 16: For those admitted through JFK or Newark airports (Raleigh Durham subsequently added) on ESTA/Visa Waiver only, who cannot leave within the required 90 days due to Covid-19, an additional 30 days may be requested under what’s known as ‘Satisfactory Departure’: https://www.natlawreview.com/article/cbp-updates-satisfactory-departure-process-travelers-forced-to-remain-united-states

March 14: Effective March 16, Ireland and the UK are added to US travel ban: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/us/ireland-s-open-border-with-uk-a-key-reason-for-us-travel-ban-1.4203662

March 11:  US Presidential Proclamation banning foreign nationals from Schengen countries from entering the US to go into effect on March 13: https://www.dhs.gov/news/2020/03/11/homeland-security-acting-secretary-chad-f-wolf-s-statement-presidential-proclamation

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