Recent Updates on COVID-19 and US Immigration

Last week, we shared how the COVID-19 crisis is impacting US Immigration and immigrants. The health crisis are far from over.  However, we do have some respite as far as it relates to its immigration impact.

This blog will feature the recent announcements and will also summarize the situation since the start of the crisis.

 

Latest Updates From the Local USCIS Offices (San Jose & San Francisco) & USCIS (National)

The initial local guidance issued by the local offices at San Jose and San Francisco continues to be in effect. Per that guidance, Requests for Evidences that are due during the closure for the San Francisco or San Jose Field Offices will have a one-month extension.

 

Per today’s national USCIS guidance below, Response to Requests for Evidence, Notice of Intent to Deny, Motions to Reconsider/Appeals will be accepted 60-days after their deadline if they were issued between March 1 and May 1, 2020.

 

Travel Restrictions Into the US

Entry into the US has been suspended for nearly all foreign nationals who have been in China, Iran, and certain European countries at any point during the 14 days prior to their scheduled travel to the U.S. These European countries, include: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

 

American citizens, legal permanent residents and their immediate families who are arriving from impacted area must travel through one of 13 airports where DHS has established enhanced entry screening capabilities.

 

All persons not affected by the travel restrictions, arriving from travel-restricted countries into designated airports, are being requested to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival to their final destinations.

 

US Visa Services at Consular Posts Abroad

In response to the concerns brought on by the spread of COVID-19, certain consular posts have begun alerting applicants of reduced or temporarily suspended visa services. Here is a list of embassy websites for country-specific information concerning COVID-19.  Please check with an immigration attorney if you are planning to leave the United States.

 

Immigration Impact on Nonimmigrants and Resident Aliens in the US

There is growing concern and unease amongst temporary visitors to the US on B-1/B-2 visas and the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).  Visitors on B-1/B-2 are authorized to remain the US for 6 months while those on the VWP can stay for 90 days.  Ports of entry may be contacted by VWP travelers already in the United States who are unable to depart the United States before their authorized period of admission ends.

 

As of March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has suspended routine in-person services until at least April 1 to help slow the spread of COVID-19.  Thus, the San Francisco and San Jose Field Offices; Oakland, Salinas, San Francisco, San Jose and Santa Rosa Application Support Centers; and the San Francisco Asylum Office are closed.   USCIS will send notices with rescheduling instructions to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments impacted by this closure. USCIS will automatically reschedule Application Support Center (ASC) appointments due to the office closure.

 

USCIS has temporarily suspended premium processing for all Non-Immigrant and Immigrant visa petitions.

 

In response to growing pressure by Immigration attorneys, the Department of Justice’s Executive Office of Immigration Review offices were finally closed for both Master Calendar as well individual hearings on March 18th 2020. The “deportation machinery” was in full swing until then even in this time of crisis.

 

Agencies like Department of Labor, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) do have the discretion to extend deadlines in exigent circumstances.  If you and/or your employer has an impending deadline that cannot be addressed due to the COVID-19 threat, please contact our offices. We would love to assist you.

 

Our offices are open to accepting new cases.  We are not meeting clients in person but are conducting consultations and meetings virtually using Skype/Zoom/Phone. We will address and respond to all statutory deadlines in a timely manner.

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Sweta Khandelwal

Sweta completed her Masters in Law from the University of California, Los Angeles and her JD from the Faculty of Law, Delhi University in India and has been practicing law for 15+ years getting visas, green cards, and citizenship for 1000+ clients, 100+ companies across 50+ nationalities.

Sweta has been recognized as a ” Super Lawyer, Rising Star,” and as amongst the ” Top 40 under 40″ immigration attorneys in California (American Society of Legal Advocates). She is also the recipient of the Advocacy Award by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Sweta is also a chartered accountant — the equivalent of a CPA. This makes her uniquely positioned to understand the immigration needs of her business clients in the broader context of their corporate objectives.

Sweta is actively involved with immigration issues and immigrant communities in various capacities. She has assumed key roles at the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), both at the local and national level. She has been a past chair at the Santa Clara Valley Chapter at AILA and has also been involved in various practice area committees at AILA National. Sweta has addressed multiple conferences/forums in the United States and worldwide on immigration and business issues.

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