Running a business in the time of COVID-19 is daunting and often confusing, particularly where immigration is also involved. Here are ten tips from Bellingham business attorney Gene Moses and Cascadia’s Greg Boos on how businesses can navigate corporate and immigration compliance during this difficult time:
- SBA Disaster Loans, Payroll Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EDIL) require signed copies of corporate documents including, but not limited to: Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, Annual Minutes, and Annual Reports from Official Corporate Record Books. Request these documents from your corporate attorney as soon as possible.
- If your company does not have the records listed above in #1 to apply for the various government programs, then you should request them immediately from your corporate counsel to reconstruct them.
- Be proactive and aggressive on all corporate compliance tasks such as Secretary of State Annual License Renewals, Franchise Filings, etc.
- Any request or corporate filing to a governmental agency should be made online or via courier without exception.
- New entity incorporations may be timely filed by Secretary of State Offices using the online filing system.
- People requiring new E-visas or E-visa renewals should file their DS-160’s and Support Letters ASAP–although the U.S. Consulates are temporarily closed for appointments, they are accepting electronic filings. When the Consulates re-open, there will be a scramble for visa appointments, and those with applications in the queue will be at the front of the line.
- Due to a lack of cross-border traffic, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) have closed border NEXUS lanes. NEXUS cards will continue to be honored as entry documentation at land border crossings.
- CBP continues to adjudicate applications for NAFTA Professional (TN) status. However, adjudications at ports of entry may differ. It is best to speak to an immigration attorney before applying.
- U.S. “Essential Travel”: Despite COVID-19 border restrictions, the U.S. is still open for “essential travel,” including travel for business. During the crisis, travel to the U.S. through the land ports of entry and ferry terminals along the United States-Canada border shall be limited to “essential travel,” which includes, but is not limited to:
- U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the United States;
- Individuals traveling for medical purposes (e.g., to receive medical treatment in the United States);
- Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions;
- Individuals traveling to work in the United States (e.g., individuals working in the farming or agriculture industry who must travel between the United States and Canada to further such work);
- Individuals traveling for emergency response and public health purposes (e.g., government officials or emergency responders entering the United States to support federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial government efforts to respond to COVID-19 or other emergencies);
- Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade (e.g., truck drivers supporting the movement of cargo between the United States and Canada);
- Individuals engaged in official government travel or diplomatic travel;
- Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the spouses and children of members of the U.S. Armed Forces, returning to the United States; and
- Individuals engaged in military related travel or operations.
- U.S. “Nonessential Travel”: The following travel does not fall within the definition of “essential travel” for visitors seeking entry at land border crossings:
- Individuals traveling for tourism purposes (e.g., sightseeing, recreation, gambling, or attending cultural events).
Immigration and business options and restrictions are changing rapidly during this time, so it is important that you contact your cross-border business and immigration professionals if you have specific questions.
Corporate tips courtesy of Gene Moses:
Law Offices of Gene R. Moses
2200 Rimland Drive, Suite 115
Bellingham, WA 98226
Immigration tips courtesy of Greg Boos:
Cascadia Cross-Border Law
1305 11th Street, Suite 301
Bellingham, WA 98225