Over the past few weeks, the spread of the Coronavirus (or COVID-19) has caused major upheaval all around the world. Every facet of life has been impacted in the United States including immigration. President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on March 13, 2020. His complete proclamation can be found here.
One of the measures that President Trump has taken is to suspend entry of all foreign nationals who were present in countries with COVID-19 outbreaks within the prior 14 days including China, Iran, and the Schengen area of Europe. This temporary ban only applies to foreign nationals and does not include lawful permanent residents or U.S. citizens.
In addition, this week, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) cancelled all non-detained Master Calendar and Individual Hearings that were scheduled to take place from March 16, 2020 to April 10, 2020. These hearings will be rescheduled for later dates. Detained hearings are still taking place at this time. These measures are being taken to combat the spread of COVID-19, which is spread from person to person through respiratory droplets caused when a person coughs or sneezes. Immigration courts may be filled with hundreds of immigrants, attorneys, staff, and judges daily, and to ensure their safety, limiting the amount of people in each court is a necessary precaution.
While many immigrants have been waiting for their hearings in courts for several years, the importance of combatting the spread of the virus is of utmost priority.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has also suspended all in-person services including biometrics appointments and interviews until at least April 1, 2020. These appointments and interviews will all be automatically rescheduled for later dates. In special circumstances, USCIS will conduct emergency appointments.
In our own effort to ensure the safety of our clients, we urge clients to schedule phone and video appointments as an alternative to in-person meetings. Our office is still open for clients who wish to drop off documents as well as to sign forms. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. We wish you good health and safety in this difficult time.