Sanwar Ali: workpermit.com recent visa news review June 2020

By Sanwar Ali:

Since the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic there has been more news than usual on visa issues Worldwide, including some recent big US visa and UK visa news stories.  It has been difficult to decide on which news stories to include in this visa review.  We have tried to select news stories that have been the most popular with workpermit.com website visitors.

US still considering a partial US work visa ban

If you are thinking of applying for a non-immigrant work visa you should think of applying ASAP.

Donald Trump on Friday 5 June 2020 boasted about the strength of the US economy.  Levels of employment were far higher than expected with apparently 2.5 million jobs added in May.  Many had predicted a significant increase in the levels of unemployment in the US.  Much of the time you cannot believe what President Donald Trump says.  This time there may be some truth in his statements.  However, some have commented that a national unemployment rate of 13.3 percent is high and nothing to boast about.  There have been concerns about restrictions on the following visa categories.  Perhaps there will be less pressure now to make significant changes.  Restrictions on US work visas will disproportionately affect Indian nationals.

Please note that the following is being considered.  It is very uncertain what will happen in reality.  The "US visa ban" if it does happen could be very much on a temporary basis.

  • All new H1B visa specialty occupation worker applications would be banned unless the worker will be paid at the highest wage level (Level 4), as designated by the DOL.
  • All new L1 visa intracompany transferees, which is for transfers from the overseas office to the US office could be banned.
  • All new H2B visa temporary non-agricultural workers could be banned unless the work is essential to maintenance of the US food supply chain. 

Boris Johnson plans UK visa overhaul for Hong Kong citizens

An offer to allow in up to 3 million Hong Kong Chinese is a bold and generous offer.  However, it is bound to be unpopular amongst some people in the Conservative Party.   It is interesting to note that many of those at the top of Government in the UK have immigrant ancestry including Boris Johnson himself who is partly Turkish Muslim, Jewish and French.  Others with recent immigrant ancestry include Dominic Raab the Foreign Secretary, Priti Patel the Home Secretary and Rishi Sunak the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

This is happening because of threats from China to change security laws that would affect the traditional freedoms of Hong Kong citizens.   Johnson is ready to offer nearly 3 million Hong Kong nationals eligible for a British National Overseas (BNO) passport, the right to live and work in the UK.  China has what some people have called concentration camps in some parts of China.

US immigration agencies to assist amid George Floyd protests

The George Floyd incident has made major news all over the World and has also led to demonstrations around the World.  A statue of Edward Colston a 17th century merchant and slave trader was brought down recently by an angry crowd in Bristol in the UK.  There have been deaths of black people in Police custody in the UK as well.  Also, allegations of widespread discrimination against minority groups by professional regulators.

Due to civil unrest across America, following the death of Afro-American George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are deploying staff and resources across the country to assist local, state and federal law enforcement in dispersing protesters.  This has raised a number of concerns in the US.

UK visa applications phased reopening 1 June 2020

Finally UK visa processing is starting to return to normal.  Recently only about 100 UK visa applications were processed.  There will be a controlled, phased re-opening of Sopra Steria UK Visa and Citizenship Application Centres (UKVCAS) Service Points from 1 June 2020 in the UK.  UK visa application centres abroad are also starting to reopen. Currently appointments in the UK will only be available to those who already had an appointment before the suspension occurred.

If you are applying from abroad it may be worth checking the TLS contact or VFS global websites to check for availability of appointments. 

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