Students and Academics in China Exempted from COVID-Related U.S. Visa and Entry Ban

The State Department has just announced an exception to the COVID-related visa and entry ban for persons present in China. Namely, applicants for F-1 student visas and J-1 exchange visitor visas for academic programs will qualify for a “national interest exception” (NIE) to the ban, so they may be issued visas and enter the United…

State Dep’t Creates National Interest Exceptions for Regional COVID Entry Bans

The Secretary of State has opened up cracks in the the entry bans for foreign nationals who have been in China, Iran, Schengen Area, United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, or South Africa within 14 days of applying for a visa or seeking entry to the United States. These entry bans were created by Presidential Proclamations 9984…

USCIS Lockbox Delays

USCIS lockbox delays are the topic of a Mar. 10 update to the agency’s COVID-19 webpage: “As a result of COVID-19 restrictions, an increase in filings, current postal service volume and other external factors, you may experience a delay of four to six weeks in receiving your receipt notice after properly filing an application or…

Biden Rescinds Presidential Proclamation 10014, Which Prohibited Entry of Immigrants Who Are “Risk” to Labor Market

On February 24, 2021, President Biden rescinded Presidential Proclamation 10014, which prohibited the entry of certain immigrants into the United States due to possible harm to economic interests due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Biden asserts that the ban “harms the United States, including by preventing certain family members of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents from…

Biden Proclamation Continues COVID-Related Entry Suspensions

On January 25, 2021, President Biden signed a proclamation continuing the suspension of entry of certain travelers from the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Brazil, China, and Iran, and expanding restrictions to include travelers from South Africa. U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents are not subject to the proclamations. The full…

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Green Card Holders Staying Abroad Over 6 Months Risk Abandonment

What do you need to do to preserve your status as a lawful permanent resident (LPR)? This question is now critical for persons unable to travel due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic or related travel restrictions. If you are abroad for 6 months or more per year, you risk “abandoning” your green card. This is especially…

USCIS Update: Biometrics Appointment Delays

In a December 29, 2020 Stakeholder Message, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provided an update on biometrics appointment delays at Application Support Centers (ASCs) due to COVID-19. USCIS collects biometrics for certain kinds of applications, including but not limited to: Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status Form I-131, Application for Travel Document (including reentry permit)…

Can USCIS Reuse Biometrics Submitted Previously?

If an individual previously submitted biometrics in connection with a prior application, can USCIS reuse those biometrics in connection with a new application? USCIS requires biometrics appointments in connection with various types of applications, such as for adjustment of status (Form I-485), reentry permits (Form I-131), employment authorization (Form I-765), and naturalization (Form N-400). Once…

Consular Posts May Prioritize K-1 Visas

On Aug. 31 the State Department announced that consular posts may give high priority to K-1 (fiancée) visas: Effective August 28, as it becomes safe to resume more consular operations at each U.S. mission, posts are authorized to give K visa cases high priority.  Applicants should check the website of their nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate…

Update: USCIS Cancels Employee Furlough, But Processing Delays Loom

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced on Aug. 25 that the agency will abandon plans for administrative furlough of more than 13,000 employees, scheduled to begin Aug. 30. USCIS expects to cover budget shortfalls, which were the announced reason for the furloughs, through spending cuts and increased revenue. USCIS Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow…

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National Interest Exceptions to Travel Bans for Immigrants and Nonimmigrants Presenting a “Risk” to the Labor Market

The President’s travel bans are causing chaos for international travel. On July 22, the State Department announced the following about national interest exceptions to the travel bans: On June 22, the President signed Presidential Proclamation (P.P.) 10052, which extends P.P. 10014, which suspends the entry to the United States of certain immigrant visa applicants, through…

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July 14 Update: U.S. State Dep’t Announces Phased Resumption of Routine Visa Services Worldwide

On July 14, the U.S. State Department announced that U.S. Embassies and Consulates are beginning a phased resumption of routine visa services that have been suspended due to COVID-19. This will occur on a post-by-post basis. This is in addition to emergency and mission-critical visa services that posts have been providing since March. The State…

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Trump Amends Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Presenting a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market

If you’ve been keeping count, the President has now issued three different proclamations restricting visa issuance and entry of noncitizens allegedly presenting a risk to the U.S. labor market in the wake of COVID-19. They are: Version 1.0 (Apr. 23): President issues  Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market…

Routine Visa Appointment Availability in China

June 24 update: Bloomberg is reporting that dozens of U.S. diplomats are preparing to return to Beijing next month. Reportedly, some are concerned that the Chinese government could have access to their DNA samples from COVID-19 testing. And some are concerned that dependent family members may be separated if they test positive. June 20: The…

Trump Issues Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Presenting a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market

President Trump on June 22 issued a Proclamation expanding on his prior Apr. 23 Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak. You can think of this as Proclamation version 2.0. Extension of Ban on Certain Immigrants Version 1.0 banned the entry…

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Diplomatic Tussle Continues Over U.S.-China Flights

China has made some concessions, apparently in response to a June 3 Trump administration order that would bar four Chinese passenger carriers from operating into and out of the U.S. effective June 16. Four Chinese carriers have maintained flights to and from the U.S. in recent weeks. They are Air China, China Eastern, China Southern…

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Apr. 24 Update: USCIS Suspends In-Person Services Until at Least June 4

On Apr. 24, USCIS announced that USCIS offices are preparing to reopen “on or after June 4”: 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…

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Trump Suspends Entry of Immigrants Who Are “Risk” to Labor Market

President Trump has published Executive Order 10014, suspending immigration, as he had previously tweeted about. Effective Date: The proclamation becomes effective on Thursday, April 23, 2020 at 11:59 PM (ET). Whose Entry Is Suspended? The order suspends the entry of any individual seeking to enter the U.S. as an immigrant who: Is outside the United…

Trump Tweets of Plan to “Suspend Immigration”

Apr. 23 Update: President Trump just issued the executive order suspending immigration he tweeted about. See Trump Suspends Entry of Immigrants Who Are “Risk” to Labor Market. So President Trump has announced on Twitter that he intends to issue an Executive Order that will “suspend immigration” in light of how COVID-19 has devastated the economy:…