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Managing Through COVID-19

17.04.2020
Managing Through COVID-19

In light of the pandemic, we want to assist our clients with their legal needs. We at Leone Zhgun are committed to keeping you well-informed of breaking legal news related to the coronavirus and we’ll continue to provide our legal services. 

Corporations are asking themselves to what extent the crisis will affect their business and the economy as a whole. Businesses and individuals face unknown struggles in uncertain times. Below you will find some useful information to navigate through this difficult time.


1. Tax relief – Tax filing and payment deadline extended to July 15, 2020

The IRS extends the tax filing deadline from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020. Taxpayers can also defer federal income tax payments to July 15, 2020, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed. This applies to all taxpayers, including individuals, trusts and estates, corporations and other non-corporate tax filers as well as those who pay self-employment tax.  The taxpayer does not need to file any additional forms or contact the IRS to qualify for this extension.

 

2. Florida emergency bridge loan program for a small business (2-100 employees)

Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to support small businesses impacted by COVID-19. The bridge loan program provides short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses that experienced economic injury from the coronavirus. The application period will run through May 8, 2020. Business owners can apply for a short-term loan up to $50,000. Who is eligible? A business established before March 9, 2020, that shows economic impacts as a result of COVID-19.

 

3. Small business loans under the $350 billion coronavirus aid bill

The $2 trillion stimulus bill enacted by Congress and President Donald Trump authorized about $350 billion in new loans, at least a portion of which will be forgiven.

a) Paycheck Protection Program

  • Eligible recipients may receive a loan up to $10 million determined by eight weeks of prior average payroll plus an additional 25% of that amount;
  • Loan payments will be deferred for six months;
  • If the workforce is maintained, SBA will forgive the portion of the loan proceeds that are used to pay the first eight weeks of payroll and certain other expenses following loan origination.

b) Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Loan Advance

Small business owners in all U.S. states are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. The Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue. The loan advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds will be made available within three days of a successful application, and this loan advance will not have to be repaid.


c) Express Bridge Loans

The Express Bridge Loan allows small businesses with an urgent need for cash who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to get up to $25,000 with less paperwork. These loans can be a term loan or used to bridge the gap while applying for an Economic Injury Disaster Loans. 

 

4. Economic Impact Payments

Congress and President Donald Trump have enacted a $2 trillion stimulus bill to address the coronavirus crisis. Included in this bill are direct payments to many Americans. Who is eligible? Tax filers with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns will receive the full payment. The economic impact payment is up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples and $500 for each qualifying child. If your income is exceeding those amounts, the payment amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 above the $75,000/$150,000 thresholds. Excluded from the economic impact payments are single filers with income above $99,000 and joint filers with no children with income above $198,000.

How to get paid? If you filed your tax return for 2018 or 2019 and are eligible you will automatically receive an economic impact payment. The majority does not need to take any action. The IRS will calculate and automatically send the payment to those eligible to the bank account on file with the IRS.

 

5. Immigration 

a) USCIS temporarily closed to public

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) temporarily suspended all in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices, and Application Support Centers (ASCs). Applicants and petitioners will receive notices with instructions to their scheduled interview appointments or naturalization ceremonies and biometrics etc. which are impacted by this closure. They will automatically be rescheduled once normal operations resume. USCIS will also provide emergency services for limited situations.


b) Extensions of employment authorization documents - previously submitted biometrics

USCIS announced that it will reuse previously submitted biometrics in order to process valid Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, extension requests due to the temporary closure of ASC to the public. 


c) Temporary suspension of premium processing

Premium processing service for all Form I-129 and I-140 petitions are temporarily suspended until further notice.


d) B1/B2 visa status extension

There is no automatic extension of your B1/B2 visa due to the coronavirus pandemic. Individuals who entered the United States with a B visa can request an extension of status for various reasons. As long as USCIS receives the application before the status expires, the individual is protected. Traditionally, the USCIS grants extensions liberally. But bear in mind that the notice of a decision usually takes about 4-6 months which is usually past the date the individual is expected to depart the U.S. When extending your stay please be aware of the risk of becoming a U.S. tax resident under the “substantial presence test.” Please consult with your attorney to determine if you are eligible for an exception. 



e) ESTA extensions of stay

Individuals who entered with ESTA, a request for an extension is a bit more complicated. Under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) the individual is permitted to stay up to 90 days in the United States. These individuals agree to use the VWP accepting that they are not allowed to extend or change their status. Consequently, if there is an emergency like the current pandemic, their status may expire and they may not be able to leave the U.S. In that situation, they must try to obtain a so-called “satisfactory departure.” If a period of satisfactory departure is granted it is valid for up to 30 days. Departure during that time, qualifies the individual as “having satisfactorily accomplished the visit without overstaying the allotted time.” (8 C. F. R. § 217.3) According to the regulations, the individual may obtain satisfactory departure from USCIS or Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Keep in mind, that the USCIS Field offices are temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. That means the individual would need to visit a CBP office, which would be the Deferred Inspection office at any International Airport.

 

f) Extension of other non-immigrant visas (e.g. E1/E2, L1, H1B Visa)

Individuals with other non-immigrant visas need to make arrangements to file extensions in order to maintain a valid status. For an employment-based visa, the employer must file a new petition with USCIS and follow the procedures they previously followed. But be aware that the visa may have reached its limit on the time allowed for the visa and an extension is not possible. In that case, the individual might be able to change status to another visa to maintain status until the individual is able to depart the United States.  Everyone must comply with the requirements of that visa and is must obtain additional information for their visa.

 

g) American Immigration Law Association demands to USCIS

On March 23, the American Immigration Law Association demanded from USCIS that it take the following three actions on or before March 27:

  1. extend statutory or regulatory deadlines for immigration benefits;
  2. suspend all deadlines during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  3. extend any nonimmigrant status and otherwise maintain the status quo for purposes of eligibility for protection and immigration benefits processed by USCIS from the date the President declared a national emergency on March 11, 2020, until 90 days after the emergency proclamation ends.

 

No response has been yet received from USCIS. 

As we continue to monitor the developments around the spread of the coronavirus, the health and well-being of our staff, clients and friends and our ability to ensure seamless continuity of our legal services are our top priorities. Throughout this challenging time, we wish you good health, safety, and security. We can help you prepare your company and the documents necessary for your legal needs in this stressful time. The article is for general information only. For legal advice, please contact us.

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