The Coronavirus has hit most countries hard. The U.S. are also hit hard. New York and New Orleans are the cities in the USA that have the highest numbers of corona cases per capita. State Governors have initiated multiple precautionary actions to limit the spread of the virus. As a result of the many actions small, medium and large businesses have closed or operating under constricted circumstances. These restrictions have caused and are still causing great economic harm to employees and business owners. How does all of this effect your immigration process?
The U.S. is closing its borders for immigrants
The newest development in immigration happened earlier previous week. On Wednesday April 22th, 2020, President Trump signed a proclamation closing the U.S. borders for specific immigrants for 60 days. The proclamation took effect the following day, midnight, April 23th, 2020. The proclamation, however, does not affect a large number of immigrants, but mainly U.S. permanent residents entering the U.S. for the first time. Are you already in the U.S. applying for a change in status to become a U.S. permanent resident, you are not affected.
Many non-immigrant visa holders are not affected by the proclamation. L-1s, E-2s, H-1Bs, and TNs are some of the temporary visa categories that are not affected. If you already are an U.S. green card holder, you are also not affected., nor individuals that are in the U.S. applying for adjustment of status to become.
The USCIS is closed
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) administers the USA’s naturalization and immigration system. During these challenging times, the USCIS has reduced its services in an effort to limit the spread of the virus among its employees and among the general public.
As of March 18th, the agency suspended for a period of time all services that require people to meet or gather in their offices or centers. Some weeks later the agency extended the shutdown of physical spaces to May 3rd. The shutdown will probably last even longer than that. Are you waiting for the USCIS to open? Keep an eye on the web page: https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/uscis-response-coronavirus-2019-covid-19.
Some services have been temporarily stopped
The agency closed its field offices around the U.S., which affects a large group of people waiting for applications or other paperwork to be processed by the agency. Are you waiting for or working towards one of the following: U.S. green cards, U.S. citizenship through naturalization, work permits, and extensions of status? If so, you will be affected
Reopening will occur slowly
States have put in place various measurements to slow down the spread of the virus. The agency has to consider State measures to mitigate infections and to reopen local communities, when planning to reopen individual field offices. The agency will therefore reopen field offices in coordination with each State government. In the meantime, the agency is still processing some forms, like the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization extension requests. If you have previously given your biometrics in relation to a Form I-765, the information will be reused
We at the ACS Law Firm invite you to send any questions or inquiries about the USCIS’ operations and services during these troubles times to us. Is your immigration process effected by the Coronavirus? Get in touch to see if we can further your case. ACS Law Firm has expert staff speaking multiple languages.
Disclaimer: The article contains general information and does not include legal advice on a particular case.
Dr. Kristoffer Svendsen, Ph.D., New York Licensed Attorney