As the United States responds to coronavirus, many immigrants are feeling frightened and confused about how this will impact them. While things are changing quickly and it’s difficult to be certain of what we can expect, our team is here for you and wants to help. In today’s blog, we’re looking at a few of the ways COVID-19 has affected the immigration process and what these changes mean for you.
- Limited travel across the United States and Mexico border.
As of March 20th and until at least April 20th, non-essential travel between the United States and Mexico has been forbidden. Essential travel includes U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents re-entering the United States, travel for medical purposes, travel for education, travel for work, travel for emergency response, cross-border trade, governmental and diplomatic travel, and military travel. All other travel is on hold. These changes mean that visits to see family or take a vacation will not be allowed in this interim.
There are also restrictions on travel to Canada, Europe, and other places.
- The Department of Justice has closed most immigration courts and postponed hearings.
For the safety of staff and immigrants, almost all court hearings are on hold until at least the end of April. These hearings will be rescheduled. Immigrants in detention centers may still have hearings. If you have concerns about whether or not your hearing has been rescheduled or if you aren’t sure where your status stands now that courts are closed, we are here to help you.
- USCIS has suspended in-person services.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is responsible for green cards, citizenship, asylum, and granting refugee status. The suspension of their in-person services means that naturalization ceremonies are on hold. Interviews for those in the immigration process are also going to be pushed back to a later date.
- Admission of refugees is paused.
In mid-March it was announced that no more refugees would be admitted into the United States until April 6th. The International Organization for Migration supported this decision, saying that travel would put refugees at risk for getting sick. At present, though the April 6th projection has passed, there has been no update on this suspension.
If you or a loved one is dealing with one of these issues, or any immigration matter upended by coronavirus, you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney right away. Our team is here to help. Contact us today and we will do our best to point you in the correct direction.