USCIS, ICE, DOJ, DHS, and CPB have enacted many changes in the last months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Below summarizes the major changes that have happened to the immigration system.
Border Control and Limit on Travel
Starting with China back in February, the United States have enforced travel limits and bans to many countries including all of the Schengen countries, the UK and Ireland, and Iran. The U.S., Canada, and Mexico have also limited non-essential, tourist travel between the three countries. All migrants who are apprehended at the borders are now quickly removed and repatriated to their origin countries.
Department of Justice Closes Courts, Postpone Hearings
DOJ have closed 11 immigration courts across the country through April 10. All hearings of cases of immigrants who are not in detention have been postponed. Immigration judges, lawyers, and prosecutors have expressed their frustrations on the DOJ’s slowness to act. They have urged DOJ to close more courts for the safety of themselves and the immigrants.
Refugee Admission Paused
On March 18, the US paused refugee admissions until at lease April 6. The move comes after the UN refugee agency accounted a suspension of resettlement travel.
ICE Suspends Deportation Flights and Changes Immigration Enforcement Operations
ICE have suspended deportation flights to Italy, China, and South Korea. Deportation flights to other countries are still continuing, however ICE is checking individual temperatures prior to the flight. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 degrees and higher will be referred to a medical provider.
ICE has also dialed back immigration enforcement operations during the outbreak. The agency said that staffers will not carry out enforcement operations at or near health care facilities except in the most extraordinary circumstances. ICE have stated this change in operations is prevent individuals from not seeking medical care out of fear.
USCIS, ICE, and Most Consulates have Suspend In Person Interviews and most Routine Visa Procedures
USCIS have suspended in person interviews until May 3 and can be pushed back further depending on the situation. All scheduled interviews during this time will be rescheduled to another date. USCIS have also cancelled biometrics appointment for EAD renewal for some applicants. Previous fingerprinting will be used for the renewal. USCIS has also given applicants and petitioners an additional 60 days to respond to RFE’s and NOID’s.
ICE have temporarily rescheduled in person appointment of immigrants who are not in detention. ICE has also allowed recently released immigrants to check in at 60 days instead of 30 days. ICE also ended social visitation at its detention centers to protect the staff and detainees.
Most consulates around the word have stopped all routine non-immigrant and immigrant visa processing. Interviews are no longer being scheduled and previously scheduled interviews are cancelled and rescheduled. Consulates and embassies are still providing emergency U.S. citizen services.
Guatemala Suspends Asylum Agreement with U.S.
Guatemala has suspending the asylum agreement with the United States where the U.S. sent asylum applicants there to wait their interview times. Guatemala has suspended the agreement after the President closed its borders.
You can find key immigration information related to the Corona Virus below.
- Top 10 Covid-19 Immigration Questions
- Implications of Layoffs for employers who have employees on H-1B and/or E-3 Visas
- USCIS announces flexibility for request for evidence (RFE) and Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID)
- Information on Consular closures during Covid-19
- USCIS issues guidance on Remote 1-9 verification during Covid-19
- USCIS office closures due to Covid-19
- Can I apply for Unemployment Insurance Benefits while on a Visa?
- Canada/U.S. Border Closures
- USCIS announces temporary suspension of premium processing
- What can you do if your ESTA is running out?
- Travel Ban for Europe
- Stimulus Bill (All 800 pages)
- Information on Small Business Loans related to the Stimulus package
- USCIS to accept scanned/reproduced signatures instead of “wet” signatures on immigration petitions and forms
- Implications of furlough or termination if you are on a TN visa
- Does the Stimulus Bill impact my immigration status? Is there a public charge concern?
- Understanding the Stimulus Package for Small Businesses and the Paycheck Protection Program
- Small Business Administration COVID-19 Loans
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