The last month has been a difficult one, and the rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak has been declared a pandemic by the WHO. In this time of global crisis, much is changing, especially when it comes to the status of the immigration law, and we’d like to give you a brief update on a few recent developments.
In addition to restricted travel from China and Iran, the USA has added European countries to the list, barring foreign nationals from the Schengen Area from entering the US. Though the travel bans do not apply to American citizens, immediate family members, and green card holders, they will undergo additional screenings and restrictions on arrival in the US. Similarly, the US has also limited non-essential travel across the Canadian and Mexican borders. Between the US and Mexico, exceptions are being made for work or medical-related travel, and migrants at the border will be either removed or repatriated to their countries of origin. The US has enforced travel-bans in the UK and Ireland as well.
Change in Immigration Enforcement Operations:
On account of the pandemic, the ICE has temporarily adjusted its enforcement posture and will focus only on those who threaten public welfare and safety and are “subject to mandatory detention based on criminal grounds.”
Immigration Courts closed and Hearings Postponed:
In the last few weeks, the Justice Department has shut down several immigration courts across the country till April 10. It has also postponed the hearings of all cases pertaining to immigrants who have not already been detained. Refugee admissions have also been paused as, according to the authorities, international travel could increase the refugees’ exposure to the virus furthering its spread. The USCIS has also suspended its in-person services – ceasing the immigration interviews and naturalization ceremonies to prevent the spread of the virus.
We understand that these changes may seem worrisome and may have disrupted the lives of many. However, once we are in the clear regarding the pandemic, the courts and consulates will reopen, your petitions processed, and we will ensure that your work is right back on track. Until that time, however, we will be willing to answer any questions or queries that you may have. We understand that a time like this can be anxiety-inducing, and we are all afraid of what is to come.
As we progress through this national emergency, we will do everything in our power to help you out. Changes are likely to be made continuously until we are past the outbreak. However, until that time, we assure you that we are doing our absolute best to work with efficiency, meet deadlines, and we promise to keep you updated with any new announcements from the US Government. We cannot predict how long this pandemic will last, and in this time of uncertainty, what is most important is that we keep hope and stay strong. We wish for the health and safety of you and your family.
Stay safe and socially distanced, and let us get through this crisis together.