The current Coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) has created much fear, stress, and uncertainty for many people across the world. On top of the health concerns, COVID-19 is also impacting the processing of U.S. immigration cases. Continue reading below to learn more about how COVID-19 may impact the processing of your current or prospective U.S. immigration case and our recommendations. In addition, this post briefly discusses the President’s April 22, 2020, Executive Order suspending the entry of certain immigrants for labor and economic reasons.
Overview of U.S. Immigration Steps Which Could Be Delayed by COVID-19:
If needed, please refer to our previous post on this matter for an overview of the immigration steps which could be delayed by COVID-19: https://uscg.attorneyngo.com/blog/how-coronavius-covid-19-is-delaying-immigration-cases/.
Below is a summary of the U.S. immigration services currently being provided and not provided as of April 25, 2020, by various U.S. immigration agencies during COVID-19. And the President’s April 22, 2020, Executive Order suspending the entry of certain immigrants for labor and economic reasons is also discussed. This information is subject to change.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS):
On April 24, 2020, USCIS extended the re-opening of its in-person services from May 4, 2020, to on or after June 4, 2020. Here is the relevant updated information from USCIS: “On March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services temporarily suspended in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices, and application support centers (ASCs) to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). USCIS is readying offices to reopen on or after June 4. Employees in these offices are continuing to perform mission-essential services that do not require face-to-face contact with the public while the offices are closed.” Click here for further details from USCIS.
National Visa Center (NVC):
As of April 25, 2020, the NVC is still processing cases, but, because of COVID-19, the NVC is operating with reduced staff. Accordingly, there will likely be delays in the processing of cases. The NVC is requesting that applicants only contact the NVC “with urgent medical or humanitarian inquiries, or necessary case updates that are still pending.”
U.S. Consulates and Embassies Worldwide:
As of April 25, 2020, this is the latest relevant information for all U.S. Consulates and Embassies around the world: “In response to significant worldwide challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State is temporarily suspending routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. Embassies and consulates will cancel 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. Our overseas missions will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time.”
However, services to U.S. citizens are generally still being provided. And services should be available for emergencies and urgent matters.
Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak:
On April 22, 2020, U.S. President Donald J. Trump issued an Executive Order suspending the entry into the United States of certain immigrants who present a risk to the U.S. labor market because of COVID-19. This Executive Order went into effect at 11:59 p.m. (ET) on April 23, 2020, and is currently set to last for at least 60 days from that date. It can be extended or modified. It should also be noted that it currently only applies to immigrants and there are numerous exceptions. Because of the complexity of this topic, please contact us to schedule an initial consultation to obtain more details.
In view of the foregoing, with the exception of non-immigrant visa applications which do not require an approved USCIS petition, U.S. Consultancy Group, LLC, recommends that individuals file for U.S. immigration benefits as soon as possible to avoid even longer processing delays. This is especially true for cases which will require interviews with USCIS or a U.S. Consulate or Embassy because there will likely be a huge backlog of interview spots when USCIS and the U.S. Consulates and Embassies re-open to conduct these interviews. In addition, most U.S. immigration agencies are still accepting and adjudicating cases, but this may change. Likewise, it is important to file some cases as early as possible to obtain an early priority date. And, despite the closure of some of the above-mentioned government immigration services, if you have a humanitarian need or other emergency, U.S. Consultancy Group, LLC, may be able to assist you.
If you have any questions or require the U.S. immigration services of U.S. Consultancy Group, LLC, please contact us.