CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 INFO

The novel coronavirus outbreak has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). Numerous countries, including the United States, have implemented travel or entry restrictions at their ports of entry. These changes will impact nonimmigrant visa holders as well as certain immigrants. The outbreak has severely disrupted immigration services and proceedings within the United States.

As of June 23rd, 2020 USCIS is still accepting and receipting applications.  

USCIS has resumed interviews, hearings, and in-person appointments as of June 4th.  

June 22-Trump Signs Proclamation Limiting Certain Work Visa Entries

On June 22, 2020 President Trump issued a widely expected Executive Order placing various entry restrictions on certain work visas.   The  “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak”  is effective immediately and expires on December 31, 2020. 

The restrictions only apply to foreign workers outside the United States without valid visa stamps already in their passports. This proclamation does not prohibit the entry into the U.S. of foreign workers (and dependent family members) that currently have valid visas in their passports.

Furthermore, the petition and application processes inside the U.S. will continue uninterrupted.  Extensions of status applications (I-129, I-539), change of status applications, adjustment of status applications (I-485), I-140 Petitions for Immigrant Workers, EB-5, and all other petitions and applications will still be processed.   Green Card filings, including PERMs, are not affected by this Proclamation.

Those barred from entering are foreign nationals that do not hold valid visa stamps in their passports and seek to enter the U.S. pursuant to H-1B (and dependent family members), H-2B (and dependent family members), J-1 (intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair or summer work travel program) (and dependent family members), and L-1 (and dependent family members) with limited exceptions. The exceptions may include the following: foreign national who is the spouse or child of a United States citizen; foreign worker whose entry into the U.S. would be in the national interest as determined by the Secretary of State, Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees; any foreign worker seeking to enter the U.S. to provide temporary labor or services essential to the United States food supply chain; and any lawful permanent resident of the United States.

Other work visa categories, such as R-1, E-1, E-2, E-3, O-1, P, H-3, H-2A, and TN are not impacted. Also not impacted are certain J-1 categories including college and university student, physician, professor, research scholar, secondary school student, short-term scholar, and specialist.  While rumored to be in the crosshairs, F-1 OPT and H-4 EADs were not included in the restrictions. 

Please note that such foreign workers are still subject to the restrictions based on the various COVID-19 “travel bans” and restrictions placed on the visa application process due to the  continued closures of U.S. consular posts

We will update this page regularly with information about COVID-19 and its effect on U.S. immigration.  

April 22

President Trump has signed a Proclamation suspending the issuance of Green Cards from outside of the United States for 60 days, claiming the order is necessary "to protect American jobs" amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The order is very limited in scope, and only applies to foreign nationals applying from outside of the US.  

The proclamation will not apply to:

  • Any green card applicant filing from within the United States (“adjustment of status“)

  • Spouses or minor children of U.S. citizens, even if applying from abroad

  • Special Immigrant Visas (I-360) or EB-5 (“immigrant investor”)

  • Nonimmigrant visas (H1-B visas, L-1 transferee visas, E-2 Investor/Trader visas, F-1 student visas, etc.)

 

It will affect:

  • Spouses and children of legal permanent residents (F-2A, F-2B categories) filing from abroad (“consular processing“). 

  • Parents of US citizens (Immediate Relative category), siblings (F4 category) , and adult children of U.S. citizens (F1, F3 categories) filing from abroad.

 

PLEASE NOTE: There is no indication within the Proclamation that DHS will stop accepting or processing petitions (I-130, I-140), even for the green card categories that fall under the ban and the applicants are outside the US. Those approved for green cards won’t be allowed to enter the country for the next 60 days.

U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES (USCIS) and DEPT OF STATE (DOS) UPDATES

April 1

USCIS Temporary Office Closure Extended until at least May 3.

On March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services temporarily suspended in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices, and application support centers (ASCs) to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). USCIS offices will begin to reopen on May 4 unless the public closures are extended further. Employees in these offices are continuing to perform mission-essential services that do not require face-to-face contact with the public. 

 https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-temporary-office-closure-extended-until-least-may-3

March 20

The Department of State is temporarily suspending routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. Embassies and consulates will cancel all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments as of March 20, 2020.

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/suspension-of-routine-visa-services.html

March 17

USCIS will temporarily shut down all of its offices due to the outbreak. The agency said in a statement it would be closing all of its field offices and postponing naturalization ceremonies until at least April 1.

March 16

*All routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa services at the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Mexico will be suspended starting March 18, until further notice. This includes “both visa interviews at the embassy and consulates as well as processing at the Centros de Atención a Solicitantes (CAS).” Applicants with appointments will receive cancellation alerts via email. If you have questions, visit this page.

*All routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments at the U.S. Embassy in Paris have been cancelled indefinitely. If you need to travel urgently, visit this page for more information. If you have questions, email fae_contactus+fr+mrv+en@visaops.net, call +33 1 82 88 29 57 (local number) or dial +1 703 543 9342 (If you are calling from within the United States), to request an emergency appointment.

*All routine and nonimmigrant visa appointments at the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in India have been cancelled indefinitely. If you need to travel immediately, visit this page to request an emergency appointment.

*The Seattle Immigration Court will be closed through April 10. These courts will remain open, but postpone non-detained master calendar hearings: Boston, Los Angeles (North Los Angeles, Olive, Van Nuys), Newark, New York City (Broadway; Federal Plaza; Varick), Sacramento, and San Francisco.

March 13

*USCIS announces that seeking treatment or preventative care for COVID-19 will not  be considered a negative factor under the new public charge rule. The agency says it will not consider “testing, treatment, nor preventative care (including vaccines, if a vaccine becomes available) related to COVID-19” in a public charge determination.

*The Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs (ECA) will temporarily pause international exchange programs that involve travel to and from countries that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) deems a level 2 or level 3 travel risk.

*The USCIS Seattle Field Office reopened Mar. 11 after closing last week when an employee tested positive for the virus. So far, Seattle is the only field office that has shut due to the coronavirus. Learn more here about USCIS office closings.

*The Seattle Immigration Court has been closed since Mar. 11 due to a “secondary [coronavirus] exposure.” According to the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), filings due during this closure “will be considered timely filed if received on the court’s next business day.” In the meantime, emergency filings may be filed with the Tacoma Immigration Court.

*Some government offices are canceling and postponing naturalization ceremonies. But certain USCIS field offices are offering same-day naturalization to those who are over 60, pregnant, and/or sick. USCIS is not permitted to ask about an applicant’s medical history, so if you believe you qualify for a same-day oath ceremony, let the officer know during your interview so the necessary steps can be taken.

* USCIS asks that you consider canceling or rescheduling your appointment at a field office if you:

  • Believe you may have been exposed to COVID-19;

  • Are experiencing flu-like symptoms including runny nose, sore throat, cough, fever, or headache;

  • Recently visited a country designated a “level 3” because of the coronavirus. Currently, the CDC has urged the public to avoid any non-essential travel to China, Iran, and most of Europe.

TRAVEL TO THE UNITED STATES

March 14

*President Trump announces that the United States will expand its European travel restrictions to Ireland and the United Kingdom.

March 11

* President Trump announces restrictions on travel from more than two dozen European countries, including Spain, Italy, and Germany. Note: The ban only applies to foreign nationals and not to:

  • U.S. citizens

  • Legal permanent residents (green card holders)

  • Parent or legal guardian of a U.S. citizen or green card holder, provided the U.S. citizen or green card holder is unmarried and under the age of 21

  • Sibling of a U.S. citizen or green card holder, provided they are both unmarried and under the age of 21

  • Children, foster children, or wards of a U.S. citizen or green card holder, or a prospective adoptee

Visit whitehouse.gov for the full list.

*El Salvador will only residents and citizens into the country, and they will need to quarantine for 30 days.

February 29

* President Trump bans all entry into the United States of travelers from Iran, excluding U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents (green card holders), as well as certain close relatives.

January 31

* President Trump bans all entry into the United States of all travelers from the People’s Republic of China, excluding U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents (green card holders), as well as certain close relatives.

HELPFUL LINKS

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Global Coronavirus Immigration Restrictions

U.S. Government Updates

American Immigration Lawyers Association

Country-specific information concerning COVID-19. (U.S. Department of State)

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