These are the most important recent updates in response to COVID-19.
On March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services temporarily suspended routine in-person services to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). USCIS plans to begin reopening offices on or after June 4. USCIS staff continues to perform duties that do not involve face-to-face contact with the public. However, USCIS will provide emergency services for limited situations.
During this time, individuals may still submit applications and petitions to USCIS.
USCIS will provide further updates to this page as the situation develops and will continue to follow CDC guidance. [Source: www.uscis.gov]
To know more about how this affects your current paperwork and where you are in the process, please contact our offices.
2. U.S. Embassies
In response to significant worldwide challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State has temporarily suspended routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. Embassies and consulates canceled all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments as of March 20, 2020. As resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide emergency and mission critical visa services. They will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time.
Despite the worldwide suspension of routine visa services, U.S. embassies and consulates will continue to provide emergency and mission critical visa services to the extent possible, given resource constraints and local government restrictions. Medical professionals with an approved U.S. non-immigrant or immigrant visa petition (I-129 or I-140 with a current priority date, or similar) or a certificate of eligibility in an approved exchange visitor program (DS-2019), particularly those working to treat or mitigate the effects of COVID-19, can request an emergency visa appointment. Local government restrictions may limit the ability of some embassies/consulates to process emergency visas at this time.
3. Presidential Proclamations Restricting and Suspending Entry
Several Presidential proclamations established restrictions on the entry of certain travelers into the United States in an effort to help slow the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). With specific exceptions, foreign nationals who have been in any of the following countries during the past 14 days may not enter the United States. The travel restriction do not apply to U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents (Green Card Holders), most immediate family members of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, and specific categories of individual visa holders who are identified in the Proclamation.
Brazil - Entry is suspended, per Presidential Proclamation, of foreign nationals of all nationalities, including Brazilians, who were present in Brazil within 14 days prior to their arrival at the port of entry in the United States. This policy, which is intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (Brazil has the third highest number of confirmed cases in the world according to the World Health Organization as of May 23, 2020), entered into effect on May 28, 2020.
Other countries - The United States has suspended and limited the entry of aliens recently present in certain foreign jurisdictions where significant COVID-19 outbreaks have occurred. These jurisdictions include the People’s Republic of China (excluding the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau), the Islamic Republic of Iran, the European Schengen Area (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City), the United Kingdom (excluding overseas territories outside of Europe), and the Republic of Ireland.
To learn more please visit CDC.GOV
RESTRICTIONS ON ENTRY FOR CERTAIN IMMIGRANTS
On April 22, 2020, President Trump issued a proclamation suspending the entry of any individual seeking to enter the United States as an immigrant who:
- Is outside the United States on the effective date of the proclamation;
- Does not have a valid immigrant visa as of April 23, 2020; and
- Does not have a valid official travel document as of April 23, 2020, or issued on any date thereafter.
The proclamation went into effect on April 23, 2020, for at least 60 days. It can be extended and modified. The following categories are exempt from the proclamation:
- Lawful permanent residents (green card holders)
- Individuals, and their spouses and children, seeking to enter the U.S. on an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional; to perform medical research or other work essential to combatting COVID-19 (as determined by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State (DOS))
- Individuals applying for a visa to enter the U.S. pursuant to the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program
- Spouses and children under the age of 21 of U.S. citizens, including prospective adoptees on an IR-4 or IH-4 visa
- Individuals who would further important U.S. law enforcement objectives (as determined by DHS and DOS)
- Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their spouses and children
- Afghan and Iraqi nationals who were translators/interpreters or employed by the U.S. government and their spouses or children seeking entry pursuant to a Special Immigrant Visa
- Individuals whose entry would be in the national interest (as determined by DHS and DOS)
Nonimmigrant Visa Holders Are NOT Prohibited from Coming to the U.S. by the Proclamation
If you have concerns about how these new regulations may affect your current or future plans please contact our office immediately for a consultation. These are challenging times and we are here to help.
Solimar Santos, Esq.
Florida Bar Board Certified Specialist in Immigration and Nationality Law
201 S. Biscayne Blvd., Suite 800
Miami, Florida 33131