Several education associations, such as the American Council on Education, have submitted a letter to the U.S. Departments of State and Homeland Security urging faster visa processing for global students before the onset of the fall 2021 semester.

The groups requested the Biden administration relax previous guidance barring international students from traveling and studying in the United States when their programs were completely online and issue a written policy exempting new pupils out of current travel restrictions. The groups urged that these moves will help kickstart the U.S. market, as colleges and universities depend financially on international students, who regularly cover full tuition to attend college in the U.S.. In 2020, higher education nationally saw a more than 70% drop in new international student registration, including a more than 90 percent decline in F-1 student visas for the month of August.

While present international students may stay in the U.S. even if their apps are online, an present ICE directive bars new international students from getting visas if their programs are entirely online. This presents a problem for students who enroll in colleges which have moved to remote classes due to this COVID-19 pandemic, as many students cannot finish their coursework from abroad as a result of lack of accessibility to the internet or significant time differences during live courses.

At this time, only students from the Schengen Area of Europe, the uk, and Ireland are exempted from pandemic-related travel limitations; advocates want this exemption enlarged around the globe.

While the Department of Homeland Security has not commented on this issue, a spokesperson for the Department of State issued an announcement that U.S. Embassies and Consulates are”functioning to resume routine visa services on a location by location basis,” and embassies processing nonimmigrant visa applications are compiling student visas. Student visa applicants should check the web site of their closest embassy or consulate for current operational position.

Canada and Mexico Land Border Restrictions Extended Through April 21, 2021
United States Customs and Border Patrol (“CBP”) has decided that the ban on non-essential travel across U.S. land boundaries and ferry travel with Canada and Mexico will continue through April 21, 2021. The ban was set to expire March 21, 2021.

The directive, initially instituted as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, has restricted movement round the U.S.-Canadian border to traveling — such as lawful cross-border commerce, traveling for work in the USA, travel for clinical purposes or to attend educational institutions, and travel for crisis response and public health functions — and travel for U.S. taxpayers, Lawful Permanent Residents, along with associates of the U.S. Armed Forces returning into the United States, along with some other forms of travel dependent on the CBP to a case-by-case basis.

Any business travel will be subject to further review in the boundary, and because CBP has broad discretion to inspect travelers, foreign nationals may anticipate additional questioning about employment or business activities in the USA. CBP will review this directive next month to find out if another extension is required.

Department of Labor Proposal Extending Delay of Legislation Increasing PERM and H-1B Rewards
The U.S. Department of Labor has suggested it will delay enforcement of a law that could have elevated wage requirements for foreign employees working in specialty occupations in the United States. The Department of Labor is seeking to postpone the start date by 18 months and extend the transition period to the new salary to three decades.

The new wage rule, introduced by the Trump administration, sought to restructure the current prevailing wage system and lift wage minimums for many visa applications. The Department of Labor announced it was delaying the effective date through May 14, 2021, in order to give the Biden administration time to review the regulation.

If the new wage principles finally take effect, employers will still be subject to the Department of Labor’s current prevailing wage rates for the subsequent couple of decades. On the other hand, the DOL can make changes to the law and its effective date as it assesses public comments about the proposal also conducts its analysis of their proposed rules.

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