Important update on COVID-19 and US Immigration – March 12, 2020
While the United States government has taken several steps to counter the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the most drastic step was the announcement today that travel has been banned from Europe (except the U.K.) to the US for the next 30 days. Click here for more information on this recent announcement.
Several countries, including Australia, India, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom, have imposed similar travel restrictions to those in the United States. China and Italy have also imposed restrictions on the internal movement of people. Each country globally is enforcing various travel restrictions that could impact international travel.
However, very little has been announced on how it will impact US visa holders within the United States. We know that our clients have questions surrounding their status in the US and if they are close to visa expirations how this might affect their renewals.
Currently, the US is continuing to ban inbound travel from mainland China and Iran as well as halting consular services in China. Up-to-date information regarding travel restrictions to enter the United States is maintained on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website.
At the time of publishing, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the US Department of State have not made any announcements or changes regarding US immigration or existing regulations. Those visiting the United States temporarily or in the US on a work-authorised visa such as an E-2, E-3, H-1B, L-1, etc. (non-US citizens and non-permanent residents) are still required to depart the United States prior to the expiration of their I-94 status. With this in mind, individuals may wish to schedule their departure dates allowing for additional time in case your flight is cancelled or travel is restricted. Current I-94 status can be checked online at the US Custom and Border Protection website.
Additionally, we still currently recommend that those individuals needing to renew their US visas apply for the visa renewal through a US Consulate outside of the United States, typically in the home country of the applicant. Consular closures and various country restrictions on travel could determine the difficulty and timing of this process. Under certain conditions and upon consulting with our team, you may wish to extend your status within the US temporarily.
Within the United States, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) closed its office in Seattle, Washington temporarily. Up-to-date information about USCIS field offices is available directly on the agency’s website. Additional effects, closures, and restrictive measures remain under discussion with the government agencies.
Please continue to monitor the latest updates from government agencies and check with our team at Worldwide Migration Partners for updates regarding US immigration as this is an ever-changing situation. We will do our best to keep our clients informed as this situation evolves.
About The Author
Melissa Vincenty is a US attorney, an Australian migration agent and the founder and managing director of Worldwide Migration Partners. Melissa has over 20 years of experience in migration law, including practising at the world’s largest US immigration firm and more than 15 years as a Country Specialist (China and Tibet) for Amnesty International USA.