Wednesday, April 1, 2020


COVID-19 UPDATE: ASYLUM OFFICE TO REMAIN CLOSED UNTIL MAY 4, 2020 

The San Francisco Asylum Office will remain closed until May 4th, unless there is a need to extend it longer. All asylum interviews scheduled during that period will be cancelled and applicants and their representatives should be receiving cancellation notices in a week or so.

During this ongoing public closure, the San Francisco Asylum Office will have staff responding to phone and email inquiries. Representatives with case-specific questions or concerns should feel free to inquire directly with the asylum office.

The new San Francisco Asylum Office phone lines are: (415) 865-3586 and (415) 865-3587. For phone inquiries, leave a voicemail with your name, client's A#, and callback phone number.


Tuesday, March 31, 2020



COVID-19 UPDATE: Immigration Courts Will Stay Closed Through May 1, 2020.

The immigration courts in San Francisco and Sacramento have announced that all hearings where the immigrant is not detained --both masters and merits-- are canceled through May 1, 2020.

EOIR staff will work to reset the cases and send new notices over the next week or two.  Immigration Courts at 100 Montgomery and 630 Sansome Street remain open for filings and inquiries.  Persons can call 800-898-7180 or use the online case portal to check case information/next hearing dates to obtain useful information which parties routinely call EOIR SF about. 

The Immigration Courts issued this new update:  https://www.justice.gov/eoir/eoir-operational-status-during-coronavirus-pandemic concerning the COVID-19 outbreak.

Sunday, March 29, 2020



We are happy to announce that attorney Liliana Gallelli offers clients' business law representation in our North Bay offices (Santa Rosa, Napa, San Rafael and Ukiah).  Liliana speaks Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese and has 16 years of experience as a business and immigration attorney.

Here are a few of these services we now offer to our small business clientele:

BUSINESS FORMATION
·       Limited Liability Company (LLC)
·       C Corporation
·       S Corporation
·       Partnership
·       Sole Proprietorship
·       Application for Contractors License (with CLB)
·       Application for Liquor License (ABC)
·       Application for other permits and licenses

CONTRACTS:
·       Agreements for the purchase or sale of businesses
·       Joint venture or partnership agreements
·       Shareholder agreements
·       Confidentiality or Non-disclosure agreements (used to protect confidentiality of intellectual property)
·       Vendor agreements
·       Agreements for sale of products or services
·       Real Estate purchase contracts
·       Investment agreements

EMPLOYMENT DOCUMENTS AND AGREEMENTS:

·       Employment Agreements
·       Independent Contractor agreement (if you will have any independent contractors)
·       Advice regarding employment issues



Wednesday, March 25, 2020


COVID-19 UPDATE. IMMIGRATION OFFICES CLOSE TEMPORARILY.
Last week, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) closed offices temporarily around the country in response to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. USCIS stated in a memorandum posted to its website that the closures would apply to its field offices, asylum offices and Application Support Centers.
The closures will remain in effect until at least April 1. 
USCIS field offices will send notices of postponements to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments and naturalization ceremonies impacted by this closure.
In the meantime, USCIS will provide limited emergency services. Please call the USCIS Contact Center for assistance with emergency services, according to the memorandum posted on its site.

The memorandum reads as follows:
USCIS Temporarily Closing Offices to the Public March 18-April 1
Effective March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is suspending in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices and Application Support Centers (ASCs) to help slow the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). This suspension of services will be effective until at least April 1. In the meantime, USCIS will provide limited emergency services. Please call the Contact Center for assistance with emergency services.
USCIS field offices will send notices to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments and naturalization ceremonies impacted by this closure. USCIS asylum offices will send interview cancellation notices and automatically reschedule asylum interviews. When the interview is rescheduled, asylum applicants will receive a new interview notice with the new time, date and location of the interview. When USCIS again resumes normal operations, USCIS will automatically reschedule ASC appointments due to the office closure. You will receive a new appointment letter in the mail. Individuals who had InfoPass or other appointments must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center once field offices are open to the public again. Please check to see if your field office has been reopened before reaching out to the USCIS Contact Center.   
Education and precautions are the strongest tools against infection. Get the latest facts by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 website. Continue to practice good health habits, refrain from handshakes or hugs as greetings, and wash hands and clean surfaces appropriately.
USCIS will provide further updates as the situation develops and will continue to follow CDC guidance. Please also visit uscis.gov/coronavirus for updates.



Sunday, March 22, 2020


COVID-19 UPDATE.  Part 2. Travel to/from Mexico and Latin America.

The Trump Administration imposed the following restrictions on travel to and from Mexico and Latin America:
·       
  •      On March 20, DHS announced that the United States and Mexico are restricting non-essential travel across the southwest border. The restrictions started yesterday, March 21.
  •          These restrictions cover the entire US-Mexico land border. 
  •      They will stay in place for a period of 30 days subject to extension upon review
  •          These limits do not cover plane travel, although there have been fewer flights between Mexico and the US and longer delays

·       
      The CDC has issued a specific warning against traveling to Brazil, which is considered the Latin American country with the widest spread of the virus

·       
     Several Latin American countries including Guatemala, El Salvador and Peru have closed their borders including to US citizens in response to the epidemic. 
·       This has included travel out of such countries often leaving US citizens stranded indefinitely in these countries.


Below are the limitations on travel country-by-country and CDC recommendations with respect to travel to each:

Argentina
·       Argentina on March 15 announced it was closing its borders to all incoming foreigners for at least two weeks. The ban does not apply to legal permanent residents.
·       The decision to ban most foreigners came days after Argentina announced it would halt all flights from the United States and Europe starting on March 16.
·       CDC recommends that older adults and people of any age with serious chronic medical conditions should consider postponing nonessential travel there (Category 2) but it is not subject to a Category 3 warning against travel there.

Bolivia
·       On March 12, President Jeanine Áñez announced the cessation of all flights to and from Europe, as well as rigorous control measures at the country’s borders. Any person entering will be subject to medical screening outlined by the World Health Organization, Ms. Áñez said.
·       CDC recommends that older adults and people of any age with serious chronic medical conditions should consider postponing nonessential travel there (Category 2) but it is not subject to a Category 3 warning against travel there.

Brazil
·       As of March 14, Brazil had not imposed travel restrictions. Its health ministry recommended that all passengers who arrive on international flights remain at home for at least seven days and seek medical help if they develop coronavirus symptoms.
·       The CDC has issued a Category 3 warning for Brazil.  That means that the CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Brazil.  It is considered the only Latin American country with widespread transmission of the virus.

Chile
·       The government announced on March 16 that it would close its borders to all foreigners starting on March 18 for an undetermined period. Chileans returning home from areas with a significant number of cases of the coronavirus must quarantine for 14 days.
·       CDC recommends that older adults and people of any age with serious chronic medical conditions should consider postponing nonessential travel there (Category 2) but it is not subject to a Category 3 warning against travel there.

Colombia
·       The government announced on March 13 that it would shut down the seven border crossings along its border with Venezuela. Starting March 16, Colombia will bar entry to any foreigner who has been to Europe or Asia within the past 14 days. Colombians who return from affected areas will be subject to mandatory quarantine for 14 days.
·       CDC recommends that older adults and people of any age with serious chronic medical conditions should consider postponing nonessential travel there (Category 2) but it is not subject to a Category 3 warning against travel there.

Costa Rica
·       The government announced on March 16 that it would close its borders to all coming foreigners effective March 18. Costa Rican citizens and permanent residents who arrive in the country will be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
·       CDC recommends that older adults and people of any age with serious chronic medical conditions should consider postponing nonessential travel there (Category 2) but it is not subject to a Category 3 warning against travel there.

Dominican Republic
·       Flights from Milan into the Dominican Republic have been canceled, according to the U.S. Embassy, and all travelers arriving in the country must complete a travel history form. Passengers from China or Italy, including those without any sign of Covid-19 symptoms, may have to quarantine at home. Incoming cruise ships also may be barred from docking.
·       CDC recommends that older adults and people of any age with serious chronic medical 
conditions should consider postponing nonessential travel there (Category 2) but it is not subject to a Category 3 warning against travel there.

Ecuador
·       Beginning March 16 at 11:59 p.m., no one, including citizens and residents, will be allowed to enter the country for the next 21 days.
·       CDC recommends that older adults and people of any age with serious chronic medical conditions should consider postponing nonessential travel there (Category 2) but it is not subject to a Category 3 warning against travel there.


El Salvador
·       On March 11, El Salvador announced it would bar entry to all foreigners, except accredited diplomats and legal permanent residents.
·       CDC recommends that older adults and people of any age with serious chronic medical conditions should consider postponing nonessential travel there (Category 2) but it is not subject to a Category 3 warning against travel there.

Guatemala
·       Guatemala President Alejandro Giammattei announced on March 16 that the country was closing its borders for 15 days.
·       CDC recommends that older adults and people of any age with serious chronic medical conditions should consider postponing nonessential travel there (Category 2) but it is not subject to a Category 3 warning against travel there.

Peru
·       The government on March 15 declared a state of emergency and shut down its borders for at least 15 days, starting on March 16. The measure means all international flights will be canceled. Officials are also restricting the movement of people across provinces.
·       CDC recommends that older adults and people of any age with serious chronic medical conditions should consider postponing nonessential travel there (Category 2) but it is not subject to a Category 3 warning against travel there.

Uruguay
·       On March 15, Uruguay announced it would halt all flights from Europe starting March 20. It had announced earlier that all passengers arriving from China, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Iran, Spain, Italy, France and Germany must go into mandatory quarantine for 14 days.
·       CDC recommends that older adults and people of any age with serious chronic medical conditions should consider postponing nonessential travel there (Category 2) but it is not subject to a Category 3 warning against travel there.

Venezuela
·       On March 12, Venezuela announced it would suspend all flights from Colombia and European countries for at least a month.
·       CDC recommends that older adults and people of any age with serious chronic medical conditions should consider postponing nonessential travel there (Category 2) but it is not subject to a Category 3 warning against travel there.



JOINT STATEMENT OF U.S. AND MEXICAN GOVERNMENTS
·       The joint statement of the U.S. and Mexican governments on the pandemic reads as follows:  
·       
     The strong partnership and close cooperation between the United States and Mexico has allowed us to maintain a productive border environment. We value the health and safety of our citizens and keep that at the forefront of joint decisions made by our respective leaders regarding cross-border operations.
·       Recognizing the robust trade relationship between the United States and Mexico, we agree our two countries, in response to the ongoing global and regional health situation, require particular measures both to protect bilateral trade and our countries’ economies and ensure the health of our nations’ citizens. We agree to the need for a dedicated joint effort to prevent spread of the COVID-19 virus and address the economic effects resulting from reduced mobility along our shared border.
·       The U.S. and Mexican governments further recognize critical services such as food, fuel, healthcare and life-saving medicines must reach people on both sides of the border every day. Essential travel must therefore continue unimpeded during this time. In order to ensure that essential travel can continue, the United States and Mexico are also temporarily restricting all non-essential travel across its borders.
·       “Non-essential” travel includes travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature. Additionally, we are encouraging people to exercise caution by avoiding unnecessary contact with others. This collaborative and reciprocal initiative is an extension of our nations’ prudent approach that values the health and safety of our citizens in the joint decisions made by our respective leaders regarding cross-border operations.
·       This joint initiative will commence at 00:01 Saturday March 21 throughout the USMexico land border for a period of 30 days subject to extension upon review.
·      
     You can read the entire joint statement of the U.S. and Mexican governments at: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDHS/bulletins/2824934




COVID-19 UPDATE.  Part 1. Trump Administration Limits on Travel Worldwide.

As the pandemic has grown, the Administration has gradually limited visas and travel from other parts of the world:
  •      On January 31st, the Trump Administration shut down travel to the U.S. from China; 
  •      On February 29th, the Administration extended that ban to Iran;
  •         Then in mid-March, the Administration extended that ban to most of Europe: closing off travel from most of the continent with exceptions made for U.S. citizens, permanent residents and their family members;
  •         All persons not affected by the travel restrictions, arriving from travel-restricted countries into designated airports, are being requested to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival to their final destinations;
  •          Starting March 20, the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada were closed to all non-essential travel; for more details, see Part Two of these updates.

·       Also in March, the US Department of State issued a Level 4 (“Do Not Travel”) advisory for all international travel.  This advises US citizens not to travel at all internationally, and if they’re outside the US, they should arrange for immediate return back home, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.
For more specific information on this subject, please review the information and links below:

March 17, 2020
On March 17, 2020, DHS issued an updated Fact Sheet for notice of travel restrictions as a result of COVID-19. The U.K. and Ireland have been added to the list of countries with travel restrictions into the United States. Additionally, the list of designated airports where Americans will be allowed to fly into, effective 11:59 pm (ET), March 13, 2020, now include Boston-Logan International Airport (BOS), Massachusetts and Miami International Airport (MIA), Florida. All persons not affected by the travel restrictions, arriving from travel-restricted countries into designated airports, are being requested to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival to their final destinations.


March 12, 2020
President Trump has issued three proclamations in recent weeks suspending the entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of individuals who were physically present within the Schengen Area, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the People’s Republic of China during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States, subject to certain exceptions. This practice alert outlines the scope of each of these proclamations. AILA members can read the full text of these proclamations on AILA’s Featured Issue Page: https://www.aila.org/advo-media/issues/all/covid-19
Schengen Area
On March 11, President Trump issued a proclamation, effective 11:59 pm (ET), March 13, 2020, that with some exemptions, suspends and limits the entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of individuals who were physically present within the Schengen Area during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. The proclamation will remain in effect until terminated by the President.
During an address to the nation on Wednesday night from the Oval Office, President Trump stated that this suspension will remain in place for at least 30 days in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus. It has since been reported by some media outlets that the President has indicated that it is possible that the suspension could extend beyond, or end before, the 30 days.
For purposes of this proclamation, the Schengen Area comprises 26 European states: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
The suspension and limitation on entry of this proclamation does not apply to:
·       persons aboard a flight scheduled to arrive in the United Sates that departed prior to 11:59 pm (EST) on March 13, 2020;
·       any lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States;
·       any alien who is the spouse of a U.S. citizen or LPR;
·       any alien who is the parent or legal guardian of a U.S. citizen or LPR, provided that the U.S. citizen or LPR is unmarried and under the age of 21;
·       any alien who is the sibling of a U.S. citizen or LPR, provided that both are unmarried and under the age of 21;
·       any alien who is the child, foster child, or ward of a U.S. citizen or LPR, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications;
·       any alien traveling at the invitation of the U.S. Government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus;
·       any alien traveling pursuant to a C-1, D, or C-1/D nonimmigrant visa as a crewmember or any alien otherwise traveling to the U.S. as air or sea crew;
·       any alien (A) seeking entry into or transiting the U.S. pursuant to one of the following visas: A-1, A2, C-2, C-3 (as a foreign government official or immediate family member of an official), E-1 (as an employee of TECRO or TECO or the employee’s immediate family members), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6 (or seeking to enter as a nonimmigrant in one of those NATO categories); or (B) whose travel falls within the scope of section 11 of the United Nations Headquarters Agreement;
·       any alien whose entry would not pose a significant risk of introducing, transmitting, or spreading the virus, as determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, through the CDC Director or his designee;
·       any alien whose entry would further important U.S. law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees, based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee;
·       any alien whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees; or
·       members of the U.S. Armed Forces and spouses and children of members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Please note that two other presidential proclamations restricting travel to the United States based on concerns regarding the transmission of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus remain in effect:
Islamic Republic of Iran
On February 29, President Trump issued Proclamation 9992 suspending and limiting the entry of all individuals who were physically present within the Islamic Republic of Iran during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States, subject to certain exceptions.This proclamation is in effect as of Monday, March 2.
This proclamation does not apply to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents of the United States. Foreign diplomats traveling to the United States on A or G visas are excepted from this proclamation. Other exceptions include certain family members of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, including spouses, children (under the age of 21), parents (provided that the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident is unmarried and under the age of 21), and siblings (provided that both the sibling and the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident are unmarried and under the age of 21). There is also an exception for crew traveling to the United States on C, D or C1/D visas.
People’s Republic of China
On January 31, 2020, President Trump issued Proclamation 9984 suspending and limiting the entry of all individuals who were physically present in the People’s Republic of China, excluding the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States, subject to certain exceptions.The proclamation is in effect as of Sunday, February 2.
This proclamation does not apply to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents of the United States. Foreign diplomats traveling to the United States on A or G visas are excepted from this proclamation. Other exceptions include certain family members of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, including spouses, children (under the age of 21), parents (provided that the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident is unmarried and under the age of 21), and siblings (provided that both the sibling and the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident are unmarried and under the age of 21). There is also an exception for crew traveling to the United States on C, D or C1/D visas.
For more information about the Presidential Proclamation impacting travel from the People’s Republic of China, please see Practice Alert: Coronavirus Impact on Individuals Seeking Entry into the United States After Travel in China and on U.S. Consular Processing in China.
Designated U.S. Airports to Receive Flights with Recent Travelers to China or Iran
Per instructions issued by DHS for inbound flights with individuals who have been in China and Iran, the Department of Homeland Security, in coordination with the Transportation Security Administration, Center for Disease Control, and airlines, has directed all such flights to the United States to eleven airports, where health protocols have been implemented to account for treatment and handling of individuals who might have contracted the virus. Those returning from the Schengen nations may also be routed to these 11 airports. These airports include:
·       John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York
·       Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) in Illinois
·       San Francisco International Airport (SFO) in California
·       Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) in Washington
·       Daniel K Inouye International Airport (HNL) in Hawaii,
·       Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) in Georgia
·       Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) in New Jersey
·       Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) in Texas
·       Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) in Michigan
·       Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in California, and
·       Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD) in Virginia


COVID-19 UPDATE: ASYLUM OFFICE TO REMAIN CLOSED UNTIL MAY 4, 2020  The San Francisco Asylum Office will remain closed until May 4th...