The following are several highlights related to immigration- and travel-related developments due to COVID-19.
Department of Homeland Security
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. USCIS has suspended operations of routine in-person services at all field offices, support centers, and asylum offices until at least May 3.
- USCIS will continue to provide emergency services.
- All appointments scheduled for the closure period will be automatically rescheduled.
- Employment Authorizations. USCIS continues to process Applications for Employment Authorization Extension Requests despite Application Support Center closure.
- H-1B FY2021. The registration period is complete, and the lottery results are released. All selected registrants must submit full H-1B cap-subject petitions by June 1, 2020.
- Request for Evidence and Notice of Intent to Deny. Any requests for evidence and NOID issued between March 1 and May 1 receive a 60-day extension.
- Premium Processing. Premium processing is temporarily suspended for all petitions.
- Form I-9. DHS announced flexibility in complying with I-9 requirements by employers and workplaces operating remotely.
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE detention facilities have stopped social visitations but still permit non-contact (e.g., Skype, FaceTime) legal visitations.
- Customs and Border Protection. Visitors who were admitted to the United States under ESTA and VWP and are unable to depart prior to the expiration of their permitted 90-day stay due to COVID-19, can now request extension of stay for up to 30 days under the Satisfactory Departure provision. To apply for Satisfactory Departure, visitors need to make a request for extension with CBP, specifically with the port of entry where they entered the United States. Procedures vary by location. A list of port of entries can be found here.
- REAL ID. The REAL ID deadline has been extended 12 months, to October 1, 2021.
Department of Justice
- Immigration courts. Most immigration courts are open for filings and detained hearings only. As of today, immigration courts in Boston, Conroe, Guaynabo (San Juan), Louisville, New Orleans, and Tucson are closed.
Department of State
- U.S. Consular posts. The Department of State has suspended routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates until further notice.
- Embassies and consulates will continue to provide emergency and mission-critical visa services.
- Services to U.S. citizens continue to be available.
- Applicants with urgent matters and immediate need to travel should follow guidance provided at Embassies and consulates’ websites to request emergency appointments. To find embassy or consulate websites, go to https://www.usembassy.gov/.
- The Department of State has no plans to substitute video interviews for in-person visa interviews. Consular officers may grant interview waivers for those renewing visas in the same visa classifications. To be eligible for a potential interview waiver, the F, M, or J visa applicant’s application must have been filed within 12 months of the expiration of his or her prior visa in the same category.
The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel at this time due to the global impact of COVID-19.
- Canada-Mexico. Travel to the United States through land ports of entry along the U.S.-Canada and U.S. Mexico borders limited to “essential travel” only. Among individuals who are exempt from the restriction are American citizens, lawful permanent residents, their immediate family members; and certain non-immigrant individuals.
- Any U.S. citizen returning to the United States who has been in Hubei province in the 14 days prior to their entry to the United States is subject to up to a 14-day mandatory quarantine. Any U.S. citizen returning to the United States who has been anywhere else in mainland China in the 14 days prior to their entry to the United States will undergo “proactive entry health screening at a select number of ports of entry,” and up to 14 days of “monitored self-quarantine.”
- Arrival restrictions of the individuals who have been within the EU countries listed in a Proclamation signed by President Trump on March 11. There are only thirteen airports in the United States that accept individuals who might have contracted the virus: John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York, Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) in Illinois, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) in California, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) in Washington, Daniel K Inouye International Airport (HNL) in Hawaii, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) in Georgia, Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) in New Jersey, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) in Texas, Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) in Michigan, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in California, and Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD) in Virginia, Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) in Massachusetts, and Miami International Airport (MIA) in Florida.
For country-specific information regarding impacts due to COVID-19 see here.
Please contact the Pearl Cohen US Business Immigration Group for any questions you may have in connection with the above-stated.