There is no reason to doubt that COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of daily life both here and in almost every other country in the world. And if you are in the process of obtaining an immigration permit, the impact on your life may feel overwhelming.
What are some of the restrictions that have been put in place because of the pandemic?
- Many embassies and consulates around the world have temporarily closed. Visa application centers are either entirely shut down or offer only certain services. It’s important to regularly check what the official information is regarding these closings.
- Non-essential travel into the United States is not allowed. Once again, check all official websites to verify the status of this information before booking your trip to enter the United States.
- The USCIS has announced as of March 18, that they have temporarily suspended routine in-person services and applications should be submitted online.
How has the Department of Homeland Security responded to the pandemic?
The DHS has recognized that there are immigration-related challenges brought on by the restrictions imposed because of COVID-19. They are aware that policies and procedures have been put in place to protect the American people and all communities. At this point, they are reminding non-immigrants that they must depart the USA before their authorized period of admission expires. However, if you are part of this category and, for some unforeseen reason are unable to do so, here are some actions you can take:
You May Apply for an Extension
- Mitigate any consequences to your immigration status by applying to an extension in a timely manner. These filings may apply to extensions to stay or change of status.
- File an extension on time if your I-94 is about to expire and extend your stay for up to another 240 additional days.
There May Be Flexibility for Late Applications
At its discretion, USCIS may consider whether to accept an application that was filed late due to circumstances related to COVID-19. As a petitioner, you must submit credible evidence to support your request, which will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
There May Be Flexibility for Visa Waiver Holders
If you are part of a Visa Waiver Program you are ineligible to extend your stay or change your status. However, current conditions have allowed for USCIS to, at its discretion, grant a period of satisfactory departure for up to 30 days.
Flexibility for Foreign Medical Graduates
If you are a Foreign Medical Graduate working during the COVID-19 national emergency, certain immigration consequences will not apply to you for not being able to work full-time due to illness or because of other impacts related to the pandemic. In this case, you will not be considered in violation of your work permit.
The current restrictions and particular situations created by the COVID-19 pandemic have also had a considerable impact on the immigration system and on every person having to deal with it at this time. If this is your case, don’t rely on what you knew before the pandemic regarding this subject since many issues are now being dealt with in a different way. Make sure you understand what changes apply to you and how to act accordingly. If you need more legal information on this and other immigration topics, visit fl-ilc.com and find out.
Michael Davis is the Content Director of Miami’s On the Map Marketing, Inc. As the chief content editor of one of the fastest-growing internet marketing firms in the country, Michael has made it his mission to provide high-level, factual, and error-free content that emphasizes the best SEO practices and helps his company’s clients convert sales.