Immigration continues to be a political football amidst COVID-19 and U.S. visa holders have been at the forefront of public discourse as they face furloughs, layoffs and wage reductions.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said that it is “adopting several measures to protect our workforce and community and to minimize the immigration consequences for those seeking immigration benefits during this time.”
60-day Grace Period for Document Submission
On Friday, May 1, 2020, USCIS granted a 60-day grace period to H-1B visa holders and green card applicants who have been served notices for submission of various documents.
The 60-day grace period for responding to document requests include:
- requests for evidence;
- continuations to request evidence (N-14);
- notices of intent to deny;
- notices of intent to revoke;
- notices of intent to rescind and notices of intent to terminate regional investment centers; and
- filing date requirements for Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.
USCIS said that it “will consider a response to the above requests and notices received within 60 calendar days after the response due date set in the request or notice before taking action.”
Extensions for Nonimmigrant Visas
Nonimmigrants may apply for an Extension of Stay (EOS) or Change of Status (COS) if they have to unexpectedly remain in the U.S. beyond their authorized period of stay because of COVID-19. There are options available to anyone who finds themselves in a situation where they are unable to leave the United States.
According to USCIS, delays in filing documents caused by the pandemic will be considered as extraordinary circumstances. Individuals still need to apply for a visa extension and provide credible evidence supporting their request. USCIS maintains that these steps are designed to help address immigration-related challenges as the direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
60-day U.S. Immigration Ban
On April 23, Donald Trump signed an executive order temporarily barring people outside of the U.S. seeking permanent residency green cards for 60 days. The temporary ban will be evaluated after 60 days to determine whether there is a need for continuation or modification. The ban does not apply to temporary, nonimmigrant visas. This includes E-class and P-class visas, L-1, H-1B, and O-1, among others.
Who is exempt from the temporary immigration ban?
- Spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens;
- health care professionals;
- any member of the U.S. Armed Forces and their spouses and children;
- anyone entering for law enforcement or national security reasons;
- EB5 Investor Visas
- special immigrant visas for Iraqi and Afghan nationals who’ve worked for the U.S. government.