The national COVID-19 public health emergency expired at the end of the day Thursday, a change that affects some immigration policies.

  • Vaccine Requirements. As of Friday, May 12, nonimmigrant foreign nationals are no longer required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter the country by land, air or sea. Vaccine requirements remain in place for immigrant visa applicants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued updated instructions to panel physicians, saying that immigrant visa applicants who are “due for the first, second or third dose of a primary (COVID vaccination) series should receive the one dose for which they are due, but should no longer be delayed to complete the entire series before completing the exam.”
  • F-1 Student Guidance. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program ended COVID-19 guidance that allowed F and M students to count online classes toward a full course of study beyond normal limitations. Students will be able to complete spring and summer coursework under the COVID-19 policy, but not coursework undertaken during the 2023-24 academic year. Students participating in Optional Practical Training or a STEM OPT extension can still work remotely so long as they comply with all regulatory requirements and “continue the training’s mentoring relationship”; training plans must be updated to reflect the remote worksite. An updated FAQ is available here.
  • Form I-9 Flexible Measures. Flexible measures that allow some employers operating remotely to inspect Form I-9 employment eligibility documents virtually will expire July 31. Employers will have 30 days from that date (i.e., until Aug. 30), to reach compliance with inspection requirements, including conducting physical inspections of documents that were reviewed virtually while the flexible measures were in place. The Department of Homeland Security continues to work on a rule that would give Immigration and Customs Enforcement authority to allow remote inspection of documents in some cases; however, it is not yet know when the final rule will be published.
  • USCIS Deadlines. In March, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ended COVID-related flexible deadlines for responding to agency requests. Petitioners and applicants for USCIS benefits must respond by deadlines listed in notices and requests from the agency, as they were required to do before the pandemic.

BAL Analysis: BAL will continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on immigration policy and will provide updates as information becomes available.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice Group. For additional information, please contact

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