Employees Entitled to Leave Because Camp is Closed? Yes.

Contributed by Suzannah Wilson Overholt, July 2, 2020

text summer camp written with chalk on a chalkboard

After schools and day cares closed in the spring due to the pandemic, employers and parents alike were hopeful that summer would bring a return to normalcy – especially in the form of camp for kids. Alas, that hope has not become a reality as many states have either delayed or prohibited the opening of camps. What are employers and working parents to do?

On June 26, the federal Department of Labor issued guidance stating that, under certain circumstances, an employee whose child’s day camp is closed as a result of COVID-19 may take leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).  

As a reminder, the FFCRA requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide eligible employees with up to twelve weeks of expanded family and medical leave if the employee is unable to work or telework due to a need to care for his or her child whose place of care is closed due to COVID-19 related reasons. (You can read more about the FFCRA’s provisions in our earlier blog). A “place of care” includes summer camps and summer enrichment programs. 29 C.F.R. § 826.10(a). Therefore, an employee may request emergency FFCRA family leave to care for his or her child based on the closure of a summer camp or other summer program.  

An employee who requests leave on this basis is subject to the general requirements for requesting emergency family leave under the FFCRA and should provide the name of the specific summer camp or program that would have been the place of care for the child had it not closed. 29 C.F.R. § 826.100(e)(2). The requirement to name a specific summer camp or program may be satisfied if the child applied to or was enrolled in the summer camp or program before it closed or attended the camp or program in prior summers and was eligible to attend again.  

The request for leave due to the closure of a camp or summer program must be based on planned enrollment and is not appropriate if the child has never attended the camp/program in question or any other camp/program, unless there were some indication that the child would have attended had the camp/program not closed in response to COVID-19. Actual enrollment in the camp/program is not required to qualify for leave. Factors to consider include: submission of an application or deposit before the camp’s closure; prior attendance in the camp/program; current eligibility for the camp/program; and being accepted to a waitlist pending the reopening of the camp/program. 

Employers should also consider that a child who met the age requirement for a summer camp for the first time in 2020 could not have attended the camp in prior years. Similarly, a child who recently moved to a new area may have to attend a different camp/program from prior years. Finally, parents may have delayed making arrangements for summer due to the pandemic. 

The status of summer camps is yet another area employers should monitor as their states re-open.

COVID-19 “Close Contacts” Just Got a Little Closer

Contributed by Suzannah Wilson Overholt, July 1, 2020

Social distancing, black and white figures with face masks

As has come to be expected, the guidance regarding COVID-19 has changed again. This time the CDC narrowed the definition of who constitutes a “close contact” for purposes of tracing people with potential exposure to someone who has COVID-19.

While a “close contact” is still defined as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes, what has changed is when the exposure occurred during the ill person’s sickness. The relevant time is now from two days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, two days prior to specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated. 

Before this change, the relevant period was from two days before symptom onset until the ill person met the criteria for discontinuing home isolation, which requires the person to be symptom free for at least three days and for at least 10 days to pass from symptom onset or, if someone is being tested, to be symptom free for three days and to have two negative tests at least 24 hours apart.

The new definition effectively reduces the time frame for identifying close contacts to as little as a few days – two days before the symptoms started to the start of home isolation could occur in three days. This change should be helpful to anyone who is faced with the task of identifying close contacts of individuals with COVID-19 – including employers, contact tracers, and public health officials. Their jobs just got a bit easier since there is now a smaller field of contacts to consider. The guidance also makes sense since, presumably, the ill person should not have any contacts (outside household members) once home isolation begins.

The CDC’s guidance continues to remind us that the 15 minute standard is not necessarily a rigid test. Factors to consider include proximity, the duration of exposure (e.g., longer exposure time likely increases exposure risk), whether the individual has symptoms (e.g., coughing likely increases exposure risk) and whether either the ill person or contact was wearing an N95 respirator (which reduces the risk of exposure). Note that using a fabric face covering should not be considered as reducing risk.

Different criteria apply in healthcare settings, where a prolonged exposure is defined as any exposure greater than 15 minutes because the contact is someone who is ill. While the CDC recognizes that brief interactions are less likely to result in transmission, symptoms and the type of interaction (e.g., did the person cough directly into the face of the individual) are important.

Employers must still be vigilant about identifying close contacts of any employees who have COVID-19. If you have not established an internal policy for doing so, now is the time.

REMINDER/IMPORTANT WARNING: July 1 Minimum Wage Increases in Illinois, Cook County and the City of Chicago…and Major Expansion of What Employers are Covered by Chicago’s Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

Contributed by Michael Wong and Sara Zorich, June 26, 2020

It’s that time of year and even a pandemic will not stop Illinois, Cook County and the City of Chicago from increasing their minimum wages on July 1, 2020 as follows:

Non-Tipped EmployeesTipped Employees
(Claiming the Tip Credit)
Illinois (all employers)$10.00 per hour$6.00 per hour
Cook County (employers in
municipalities that did not opt-out)
$13.00 per hour$6.00 per hour*
*Technically, the Cook County Minimum Wage Ordinance for tipped employees only increases to $5.30. However, since that is less than the new State minimum wage for tipped employees of $6.00, following the Cook County Minimum Wage Ordinance for tipped employees would be a violation of the Illinois Minimum Wage Law.

The July 1 change for the City of Chicago includes significant changes and new nuances that employers must be aware of, including different wage rates based on number and age of employees.

Large Employers
(21 or more employees)
Small Employers
(4 to 21 Employees; and Employers with 0 to 21 Domestic Workers)
Youth Workers
(Under 18, subsidized temporary youth employment program or transitional employment program)
Chicago$14.00 per hour$13.50 per hour$10.00 per hour
(same as State Min Wage)
Tipped Workers (Claiming the Tip Credit):Large EmployersSmall EmployersYouth Employers
Chicago$8.40 per hour$8.10$6.00
O’Hare and Midway Airport Certified Service Providers: $14.15 for non-tipped employees and $7.65 for tipped employees.

WARNING MAJOR CHANGES

However, the biggest change that employers must take note of does NOT pertain to the wage rate, but WHO will be subject to the City of Chicago’s Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Ordinances. The Amendment to the Chicago Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave ordinance passed on November 11, 2019, redefines and expands what employers are covered. Currently, only employers who (1) maintain a business facility within the geographic boundaries of the city and/or (2) are subject to one or more of the City’s license requirements in Title 4 of the Chicago Code are subject to Chicago’s minimum wage and paid sick leave ordinances.

Chicago Minimum Wage

The City’s revisions that go into effect July 1 delete the requirement that an employer must have a business facility within the geographic boundaries of the City and/or be subject to the City’s license requirements to be covered. After July 1, the new definition for employer in the Chicago Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave ordinances will be “a person who gainfully employees at least one employee.”

Under this change, it can be interpreted that any employer who has an employee who performs at least two (2) hours of work within the geographic boundaries of the City, during any particular two-week period, must pay that employee the Chicago minimum wage for the time spent working within the City of Chicago.

Chicago Paid Sick Leave

Furthermore, the Chicago Paid Sick Leave ordinance uses the SAME definition for “Employer” as the Chicago Minimum Wage ordinance. This means that ANY employer who has ANY employee perform at least two (2) hours of work within the geographic boundaries of the City, during any particular two-week period, must document and record the amount of paid sick leave accrued by that employee for the time spent working in the City!

As an example of the potentially drastic nature of this change is this scenario: a Texas business sends its non-exempt employee to New York. The employee’s flight has a 2 ½ hour layover at O’Hare (O’Hare and Midway are both within the geographic boundaries of the City of Chicago). Technically under Chicago’s Paid Sick leave ordinance, the Texas business would have to record the amount of paid sick leave that the employee accrued during the 2 ½ hours that the employee was “working” in Chicago.

Any employer who has employees going into the City of Chicago, now MUST review and understand their obligations and whether they are subject to the Chicago Minimum Wage and Paid Sick leave ordinances after July 1.

Posters

For employers that are subject to the Cook County or Chicago minimum wage and paid sick leave ordinances, you will need to get the most up-to-date required poster, which can be found on the City of Chicago webpages for Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave in English or Spanish. Additionally, under Chicago’s new rules, employers will have to provide written notice each year with the first paycheck after July 1, whether by paper or electronic means.

The Cook County website has posters for Minimum Wage and Sick Leave that are only in English. Illinois has not updated its minimum wage poster (yet).

Employers that are unsure whether they must comply, what they must do to comply or that fail to implement compliant policies, including tracking sick leave accrual or carryover, should discuss options with employment counsel to mitigate exposure and minimize risk.

Illinois Supreme Court Rules Public Employers Can Keep Disciplinary Records Longer Than Union Contracts Provide

Contributed by Carlos Arévalo, June 24, 2020

3d illustration of scales of justice and gavel on orange background

On June 18, 2020, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that enforcement of a union contract provision mandating the destruction of disciplinary records was against Illinois’ public policy of preserving and retaining public records. The decision settles an ongoing dispute between the City of Chicago and the Fraternal Order of Police, Chicago Lodge No. 7 (FOP) about the disposition of disciplinary records. 

Since 1981, the parties’ contract has included a requirement that disciplinary records be destroyed after five years. Things changed in 1991 when a federal court in a civil rights lawsuit ordered the city to cease destroying complaint register files. The city subsequently attempted to negotiate contract changes removing the record destruction requirements, but these efforts proved unsuccessful. In 2011 and again in 2012, the FOP grieved the city’s failure to destroy records. The city denied the grievance and the FOP initiated arbitration proceedings. Matters became more complicated in 2015 when the US Department of Justice (DOJ) launched an investigation into the Police Department’s alleged use of excessive force and discriminatory policing. 

In early 2016, the arbitrator sustained the FOP’s grievance and ordered the parties to negotiate over the destruction of records. The arbitrator later amended his initial award and denied the FOP’s grievances solely on the “public policy” of the DOJ’s request to preserve documents. However, in response to the FOP’s request for reconsideration, the arbitrator issued a third and final award ruling that the initial 2016 award (allowing the destruction of records) could take effect “once the DOJ completed its investigation.”  The city filed a successful circuit court petition to vacate the arbitration award on the ground that it violated Illinois public policy favoring the retention of public records. The appellate court agreed and the Supreme Court then agreed to consider the case.

In its decision, the Supreme Court rejected the FOP’s arguments that the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act established a public policy in favor of enforcing labor arbitration awards over any other laws. The Court also held that union contracts, and arbitration awards based on those contracts, could not trump state laws where a “public policy exception” exists. Accordingly, the public policy inherent in the Local Records Act regarding the preservation, retention and disposition of public records was given precedence over the union contract disciplinary record destruction requirements. 

While this decision was welcomed by those seeking police reform and transparency, particularly in the current political landscape, labor advocates believe the decision unduly weakens the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act and labor agreements across the state.  We can expect the Illinois Assembly will take on the issue and introduce remedial legislation.  Until then, however, government employers should review contract provisions regarding the destruction or preservation of disciplinary records to ensure compliance with the Court’s decision.

ATTENTION Paycheck Protection Program Loan Recipients: REVISED Forgiveness Application Issued

Contributed by Rebecca Dobbs Bush, June 23, 2020

As written about previously, the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, while short in text, went to great lengths in helping borrowers extend their “covered period” and maximize forgiveness.  As such, the previously issued forgiveness application needed to be revised.

Last week, on June 16, 2020, the SBA released a revised forgiveness application, a short-form and corresponding instructions for both. Generally, the short form is available for: 1) self-employed individuals; 2) those that did not reduce salaries by more than 25% and did not lay off any employees; or 3) those that did not reduce salaries by more than 25% and laid off employees, but did so because they were complying with CDC and OSHA guidance. The latter category is a new category of borrowers that no longer have to worry about prorated forgiveness. The revised applications and instructions can be found here:

Full Application

Instructions for Full Application

EZ Form

EZ Form Instructions

Specifically, the new Safe Harbor that exempts a borrower from having to worry about maintaining employee headcount is available for a borrower, that in good faith, is able to document the following:

…that it was unable to operate between February 15, 2020 and the end of the Covered Period at the same level of business activity as before February 15, 2020, due to compliance with requirements established or guidance issued between March 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020, by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and precision, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, related to the maintenance of standards for sanitation, social distancing, or any other worker or customer safety requirement related to COVID-19.

In addition to the above, the revised forgiveness application and corresponding regulations and instructions clarify that maximum “payroll costs” are revised to the following:

 Prior to PPP Flexibility ActPursuant to PPP Flexibility Act
Self-employed/sole proprietors/ ownersCash Compensation limited to: $15,385 (for an 8-week covered period)Cash Compensation limited to: $15,385 (for an 8-week covered period) OR $20,833 (representing 2.5 months of compensation with a 24-week covered period elected)
EmployeesCash Compensation limited to: $15,385 (for an 8-week covered period)Cash Compensation limited to: $15,385 (for an 8-week covered period) OR $46,154 (representing 24-weeks of payroll with a 24-week covered period elected)

Borrowers that intend to rely upon the new Safe Harbor should work with knowledgeable counsel to ensure adequate documentation is prepared for reference in the event an SBA audit occurs at a later date.

U.S. Supreme Court Issues Landmark Decision Providing Discrimination Protections to LGBTQ Workers

Contributed by John Hayes, June 15, 2020

Judge’s Supreme Court gavel with law books

On June 15, 2020 the United States Supreme Court handed down a momentous decision ruling that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) protects gay and transgender employees from workplace discrimination. The decision consolidated three cases where the employees were terminated from their jobs: two separate cases involving the terminations of gay employees; and one case involving the termination of a transgender employee.

The vote was 6 to 3, with Justice Neil M. Gorsuch writing the majority opinion. He was joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Justice Alito wrote a dissent joined by Justice Thomas, and Justice Kavanaugh wrote a separate dissent.

Title VII bars employment discrimination based on race, religion, national origin and sex. The question for the justices was whether discrimination “because of sex” applies to gay and transgender workers. While most federal appeals courts interpreted Title VII to exclude sexual orientation discrimination, both the Second Circuit Court of Appeals (in New York) and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (in Chicago) had previously ruled that discrimination based on sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination. 

Writing for the majority, Justice Gorsuch stated:

An employer who fired an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.

… 

In Title VII, Congress adopted broad language making it illegal for an employer to rely on an employee’s sex when deciding to fire that employee.  We do not hesitate to recognize today a necessary consequence of that legislative choice: an employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.

Currently 22 states, including Illinois, have their own laws prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  While these laws remain in force, the Supreme Court’s ruling means federal law now provides similar protections for LGBTQ employees in the rest of the country.

Employers throughout the United States must now be aware that federal employment law (noting that Title VII covers only employers with 15 or more employees) prohibits discrimination against gay and transgender employees. The upside is that employers will no longer have to navigate inconsistent laws that vary from state to state and it will also likely make employee training easier and more consistent for employers operating in multiple states. Employers should update their discrimination and harassment policies to make sure gay and transgender employees are included in anti-discrimination protections.

It should also be noted that, for most employers, attempting to justify an employment action against gay or transgender employees on religious grounds will not be a successful avenue of defense.  The so-called “ministerial exemption” is very narrowly tailored to cover only churches and religious institutions, and applies only to employees performing a “ministerial” role within the institution.   

The takeaway for the vast majority of employers is that it is now crystal clear that Title VII’s prohibitions on discrimination based on sex include gay and transgender individuals. 

Register Now! Complimentary Webcast: Bankruptcy and Alternatives for Business Owners: Timely Action to Take Now in Dealing with Your Bank and Landlord

These are challenging times and many business owners are wondering whether they will have the cash flow to sustain their businesses.

Join Eric Fogel, Mike Cortina, and Bill Hackney for a 90-minute webcast on Wednesday, June 17th from noon – 1:30 PM CT, designed to answer questions for business owners who are contemplating the “what if“ scenarios of bankruptcy, restructuring, assignments for the benefit of creditors, and how to deal with looming bank debt and landlord issues.

Attendees will learn:

  1. If you are experiencing financial distress, what you need to do right now.
  2. My landlord is pressing me for back rent, what do I do now?
  3. My bank is pressing me for repayment, new personal guarantees, forbearance agreements, what do I do now?
  4. What are alternatives to bankruptcy, such as assignment for the benefit of creditors?
  5. The fundamentals of the bankruptcy process and whether it is right for your business.

 Our panel discussion will be followed by a Q&A.

Forgiveness Requirements Relaxed with Passage of Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act

Contributed by Rebecca Dobbs Bush, June 5, 2020

On June 5, 2020, President Trump signed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act. Notable changes will allow businesses more time to spend loan proceeds on permitted costs. This is significant relief for those businesses that were unable to continue operations and bring employees back to work.  With many of those employees being lower paid, paying them to stay at home was not well received as it interfered with the higher amounts of unemployment compensation they could otherwise receive.

The significant changes allowed by the PPP Flexibility Act are:

  • The period during which borrowers have to account for payroll and non-payroll expenses has been expanded from 8 weeks to 24 weeks.
  • Borrowers are only required to spend 60% on payroll costs and can spend 40% on non-payroll costs.  This is revised from the previous ratio of 75/25.  (Note that the definition of payroll and non-payroll costs remains unchanged).  This means a borrower has 16 weeks longer than originally legislated to cover rent and other permitted non-payroll costs.
  • Certain scenarios can provide for a borrower to be excused entirely from the FTE calculation. This means an employer that is unable to maintain the same employee levels during the 24-week period may not need to have the forgiveness of a loan prorated based upon a reduction in their average FTEs.
  • Repayment terms are modified.  Notably, the first payment will not be required to be made within 6 months of loan origination.  Instead, a borrower has 10 months from either the date the covered period ends or from 12/31/20 (whichever is later) to apply for forgiveness.  Initial payment is not due until forgiveness is determined.
  • The previous “cure” deadline of 6/30/20 where borrowers could rehire employees and/or reinstate salary levels has been extended to 12/31/20.
  • PPP borrowers are permitted to utilize the provision of the CARES Act that permits delay of payment of payroll taxes.

Reminder for Chicago Employers: Fair Workweek Ordinance Compliance Begins July 1

Contributed by Peter Hansen, May 28, 2020

calendar on white background. 1 july. 3d illustration.

Chicago employers take note – beginning July 1, 2020, you may be required to post work schedules at least 10 days in advance in order to comply with the Fair Workweek Ordinance. This seems like as good a time as any for a refresher on the Ordinance.

Are We Subject to the Ordinance?

Generally, employers must comply with the Ordinance if they meet each of the below conditions:

  • They employ 100+ employees (both inside and outside of Chicago) or, for non-profit corporations, 250+ employees;
  • They employ 50+ employees who spend the majority of their time at work in Chicago and earn $50,000 or less if salaried / $26.00 per hour if hourly; and
  • They are primarily engaged in one of the following industries: building services; healthcare; hotels; manufacturing; restaurants; retail; and warehouse services.

What About Union Workers?  

Employers subject to any existing Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) need not comply with portions of the Ordinance that conflict with the CBA as to the particular bargaining unit. However, any CBA entered into after July 1, 2020 must explicitly waive the Ordinance’s requirements “in clear and unambiguous terms” in order to avoid compliance through the collective bargaining process.

What Does the Ordinance Require?

The Ordinance places a number of requirements on employers, including:

  • Providing new employees with a written estimate of days and hours of work within 90 days of their start of employment;
  • Posting a written work schedule at least 10 days in advance for employees who earn $50,000 or less / $26.00 per hour or less;
  • Paying employees 1 hour of “predictability pay” for each shift change that occurs after the 10 day schedule notice;
  • Offering additional shifts to existing part-time employees first, then to full-time employees, then to temporary/seasonal workers; and
  • Providing at least 10 hours of rest between shifts, unless the employee consents to a shorter rest period in writing and is paid at least 1.25 times their regular rate of pay for the shift.

Additionally, employers must both post and provide notice of the Ordinance to all covered employees with their first paycheck on or following July 1, 2020.

But Wait, What About COVID-19?

Given COVID-19’s far-reaching impact, Chicago employers may have assumed that the city would delay enforcing the Ordinance. This is not the case, however: the city made it clear that the Ordinance’s schedule change provisions apply unless COVID-19 caused the employer “to materially change its operating hours, operating plan, or the goods or services provided by the Employer, which results in the Work Schedule change.”  This limited exception should be relied upon sparingly.

The city also delayed private employees’ right to file a lawsuit pertaining to alleged violations to January 1, 2021; however, the city can still enforce the Ordinance and issue fines – which could range from $300 to $500 per day, per employee.

This is a somewhat complicated topic, so any employers who are unsure of their covered status and/or how to comply on the most practical level possible should contact experienced labor & employment law counsel.

Charting the Course for H-1Bs and Other Visas Through COVID-19

Contributed by Jacqueline Lentini McCullough, May 27, 2020

USA visa in a passport – travel background

U.S. Immigration laws and regulations have always required immigration attorneys to have a certain level of creativity to problem solve. Keeping current on regulation changes, combined with creativity, helped me navigate the paths to my clients’ goals even when they took unexpected turns.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken creative problem solving and preparedness to a whole new level.

Here are six situations I am helping clients navigate.

Work-from-Home Effect on H-1Bs

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is a traditional organization that has not caught up with some of the modern work world’s innovations. They prefer brick-and-mortar offices as evidence H-1B employees are working.

On a temporary basis, given our reality in many states, H-1Bs working from home is okay within certain parameters. However, if work from home were to become a permanent change, it could jeopardize their status.

Compliance for H-1B Employees Working from Home

H-1B employees working from home need to post the company’s Labor Condition Application (LCA) notice in their home for 10 consecutive days and complete the posting sheet. The posting sheet must then be sent to the employer and placed in the employer’s Public Access File.

Though this procedure sounds silly, it is important to comply with USCIS regulations.

Work and Pay Reduction Effects on H-1Bs

Clients have asked if they can reduce all of their employees’ hours by 20 percent to avoid work force reductions and have their H-1Bs remain in good standing.

The answer is it depends.

If a wage range was listed on the LCA, it will work.

Otherwise, pay reductions would still need to maintain the prevailing wage or risk violating Department of Labor (DOL) regulations and incurring fines. Pay reductions will require filing a new LCA.

Depending on the person’s salary, a ten percent reduction may not negatively impact the H-1B visa holder’s status.

Work Force Reduction Effect on H-1Bs

H-1B status is based on continuous employment during the visa’s duration. Loss of a job jeopardizes the visa. If terminated from the job, the H-1B employee has 60 days to find another one and to amend the H-1B before losing status.

Employers who decide to terminate an H-1B employee must notify the employee and USCIS and offer the employee the reasonable cost of return transportation.

Application Filing During COVID-19

We are in the midst of H-1B filing season and are continuing to file L-1s, Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) and green card applications on behalf of clients.

All applications require a “wet signature,” meaning the applicant signs with ink and there is evidence the application is original, like having an indentation on the reverse side where the pen was pressed into the paper.

For the moment USCIS is accepting copies of wet signatures, but I am having clients send the originals as well just to be ready for any inquiries. E-signatures are not the same and are not accepted.

USCIS’s preference for brick-and-mortar offices to show green card applicants are gainfully employed makes applying for a green card dicey right now. I’m advising clients who can wait to do so.

For others who may be nearing the end of their 6-year H-1B stay, I am helping them assemble the best application possible given the circumstances.

Travel During COVID-19

Many embassies and consulates have reduced or suspended visa processing services. Some posts are starting to accept appointments for late July/early August, such as the U.S. Embassy in London and the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt.

Acquiring passport photos has become difficult. Walmart is now offering a service where you can upload photos taken following U.S. federal guidelines and they will print them for you to pick up.

Visa holder clients who had been planning to travel because their status was expiring have had to file with immigration because they can’t leave. Clients and their family members who have passports expiring soon have had to get extensions.

Visitors in the U.S. who came via the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which allows citizens of participating countries to travel to the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa, have had trouble securing travel for when their 90 days has expired.

The U.S. Custom and Borders Protection (CBP) issued guidance to ports of entry to grant these visitors a 30-day extension via a request for Satisfactory Departure. To avoid jeopardizing their ability to visit the U.S. in the future, VWP visitors need to request Satisfactory Departure before their 90 days expire.

As you can see, the intricacies of immigration regulations coupled with COVID-19 complications require diligence and creative problem solving to keep visa holders in status and applications in process.